Letter At Length, June 24

City needs to embrace policies of sustainability

Sustainability. It can mean different things depending on its context or who is talking about it. The Sierra Club defines it as "an economic/cultural state where the demands placed upon the natural environment by all species and particularly human beings can be met without reducing the capacity of the natural environment to provide for future generations of all species."

Sustainability is often discussed as meeting the needs of the environment seven generations out. I would submit that sustainability includes an environmental/social justice component that ensures that those of race or lower socio-economic status do not bear an unequal burden of environmental degradation. And third, I believe that sustainability includes protection of human and civil rights for all.

I left the Ashland Planning Commission because it was clear that the issues of sustainability and environmental/social justice and the idea of human and civil rights were never going to be addressed in that forum. Time and time again events occurred that stymied discussion or proposals of any real sustainability in planning around town. Time and time again, those lower on the socio-economic ladder were squeezed out so that those higher up on the socio economic ladder could profit. Recently, we saw the Parks Commission determine that Ashland citizens do not have a right to a pesticide-free environment. This history, I believe, tramples on our inherent human and civil rights.

I believe that the citizens of Ashland want a more sustainable city, one that also embraces diversity and civil/human rights. I just don't think that the city is listening.

We can do better; we must do better — for our children and grandchildren and for humankind and the Earth itself.

Did you know that the city does not have a unified, strong statement on its commitment to sustainability? Portland does. Eugene too.

In addition, Ashland is not proactive in protecting civil and human rights. Eugene has commissioned an Equity and Human Rights Commission and Portland has a Human Rights Commission.

It's time that the city of Ashland gets serious about becoming sustainable. It's time that the city begins proactively protecting the rights of all socio-economic classes. It's time that the city begin proactively embracing diversity and protecting the human and civil rights of all.

Tom Dimitre


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