Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Being Thankful

I spent the month of September riding my motorcycle cross-country with some friends. We went from the Canadian border in Montana down the Pacific Coast from Oregon, and across the Mexican border in Arizona. Our last point before turning north was New Orleans.

I was somewhat surprised to find a city with lots of people (and terrible traffic jams) and very little damage. Admittedly we didn't make it to the Lower 9th Ward, where most of the flooding took place - a residential area which is substantially gone.

We had dinner with friends who were lifelong residents of St Bernard Parish, another hard hit area. They lost their house, but had excellent insurance, and are now settled north of New Orleans, in Hammond LA. I asked if they intended to move back to New Orleans. They said no, that the city was still unsafe because only a third of the police and fire forces have returned.

These safety forces aren't the only public employees who are missing. I came across this blog by a school official, Dr. Roslyn Smith, who is talking about what it like to restart the school system down there.

As I sit at my desk and watch Bradley High School rise out of the cornfield across Roberts Rd, it strikes me that we have it pretty good here in Hilliard. Our buildings have utilitarian beauty, the faculty and staff is excellent, and our kids perform well both within and outside the classroom.

We've let the economic underpinnings get away from us. Residential development has been out of control, the growth of our commercial tax base has been slow, and the State of Ohio, rather than helping us with new tools such as Impact Fees, is bailing out on us.

Still, we can fix these things. We can insist that the politicians protect our community instead of the developers. We can bring the City of Hilliard and Hilliard City Schools into closer partnership in attracting new businesses. And when we send a new State Representative and State Senator to the General Assembly, we can be sure they are folks who will fight to protect our school district.

And recognize that compared to the people of New Orleans and many other parts of the country, we have it very very good.

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