“Where the hills of Pennsylvania stand like sentinels round, nestled fondly in the valley lies my high school town”… Rochester’s Alma Mater.
I grew up with some of the finest people, loyal people, hard working people, passionate people. Generations of immigrants, arriving on the shores of America and winding up in a little bit of paradise in western Pa. Many encouraged to come to work in the coal strip mines and new steel producing plants lining the three beautiful rivers there.
They started their gardens, some brought their skills of glass blowing and glass artistry fostering more industry, while maintaining their artisan dignity. The ends of World War I and II brought the arrival of development and commercialization of wartime industries – and this included highly toxic substances used in nearly all manufacturing and food industries. This new turn eventually upended the smaller glass plants and other small industry driving young people looking for the almighty “job” into toxic wastelands for work.
Chunks of paradise began eroding. One of my off hand comments, “I should glow in the dark for all that I was exposed to in my first seventeen years”, was jokingly said to make light of the reality that was not only my life, but too many of the descendants of the good people of “The Valley”. Wealthier enclaves were able to keep the environmental destruction at arms length. But I am doubting that will continue.
Steel mills long gone, many have struggled to find work with a living wage. The Beaver Valley Nuclear Generating Station still operates, and many residents are rejoicing over the cracker plant soon to become operational, ignoring environmental outcries. Fracking, destroying water supplies and causing earth rumblings is also increasing in the area…
So I have to ask my People, when is enough, enough? How much destruction will we allow in paradise? Have we not witnessed enough times being sold out by industry and left to flounder ? What is being promised to make us believe we will not be duped again? I urge my family, my friends to remember our roots, as I do. Call back dignity; it is waiting for you. Our ancestors stood up for better lives; it is our turn. Our People came here to improve the lives of their children and children’s children. How can we continue to destroy their future over transitory “jobs”?
The Earth is worth more than this. We are worth more than this. Wake up. Stand up.
Trust in better ways and find them.