Letter: Burn baby burn? No, no no!Published 7:39am Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Letter to the Editor
The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas — that brilliant, socially concerned author — wrote the words of conscience addressed to citizens of his day:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Think with me please, about conservation, a clean city, wise use of resources, sustaining a livable environment, management that speaks out against a throw-away culture, the health of our children, the avoidance of air pollution, the encouragement in recycling, the preservation and reusing of the products of the natural world and the commitment of elected officials to, as grandma often said: “Waste not, want not.”
Discussion related to the grandstand at the Mower County Fairgrounds, has surfaced a number of issues that, I believe, need additional community input.
It could begin with the city administrator and Austin’s City Council, communicating the fact that their values set some guidelines on how the city Fire Department makes some of its wide-ranging decisions. For the Fire Department to just go ahead and communicate that we need a training opportunity and burn a landmark of the county may qualify. Approvals?
Some of us may ask: Where are the physicians, Red Cross personnel and health professionals that are concerned with air pollution? Again, have we noted the proposed destruction of an area property by burning, while Austin is committed to being a Green City? Our City Council voted through a resolution to partner with Green City municipalities.
As chairperson of our Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority, I can report that an absolute “NO SMOKING” ordinance in HRA properties has been put into effect. This has been added to the guidelines that apply to 550 residential units to insure the possibility of a healthy environment.
Some of us ask: Where are the forest product companies of the area, the personnel involved in a positive world of nature, the many citizens committed to the wise use of resources, recycling, and the building and trades men and women who regard reusable wood/lumber as a precious resource?
Citizens may wisely become informed that a few thousand feet of usable lumber is present in the Mower County grandstand on the Mower County Fair property. The planks that form the seats are not rotted or in ill-repair. Burn these with the wooden superstructure?
The residents near fairground property, are ill-served by the back-and-forth debates on what happens to the grandstand. Again, a few persons, County Board (experts?) are saying, “gasoline and matches, and now light some fires — burn!”
An example of a non-burn procedure occurred when the Fellowship United Methodist Church on the east side of Austin was disassembled to make room for public school expansion on the property. Before Mr. Hanson’s demolition crew tore down the building, persons were allowed to salvage usable wood. Cannot the same process be initiated on behalf of the grandstand? What are the convictions of the members of the Fair Board, who are preservationists, who encourage the wise use of natural resources, as discussions continue?
It could be that my seminary religious training is now taking a toll on my thinking. About the wise use of nature’s resources, Professor Roth spoke in pithy language: “Don’t kick a tree!” And then suggested that we read a book by the Lutheran author Joseph Sittler from the University of Chicago. Title: The Care of the Earth.
This essay began with the words of a poet urging that a bit of gracious rage may be in order. Elie Wiesel, a survivor of a Nazi death camp, pleads against destroying that which is of value: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never by a time when we fail to protect.” No! to burning is seen as a kind of protest.