If you go to the website of the Environmental Defense Fund and locate their Scorecard page, you can find out information that has been gathered about who is polluting your air and water. It is amazing to find out that Rutland County is within the worst top 40% of polluting counties nationside in air and water pollution releases. Can you guess who the worst polluters are in Rutland County? If you guessed Rutland Plywood, you would have guessed right with a release of 5,465 lbs. Second on the list is U.S. Simica with 4,736 lbs. And if you guessed G.E. in North Clarendon, you were close as it came in third place with about 1,058 lbs of pollution in 2002.
What amazes me is that information of this importance is not disseminated with the public. Maybe I'm paranoid, but does the recent problems we have been having with the media extend to literally our back door? Perhaps local newspaper and TV would find publishing this information a bit too sensitive for general public knowledge. We are a community trying to attract jobs afterall. Perhaps its the belief that "some sacrifices have to be made."
Well, of course this is all conjecture on my part. But seriously, this is our home and we as citizens are responsible of taking care of our community.
Over the past century, our self identity has really shifted as we have become more materialistic and more individualistic. Our identify has shifted from seeing ourselves as "citizens" to viewing ourselves as "consumers." I believe that many Vermonters see themselves as interested in what happens to their communities. Polls show that people care about the enviroment such as clean air and clean water and who represents them in Montepelier and Washington. But at the same time, people see themselves as "consumers" expecting that a manufacturer or politician will cater to their "needs." Many of us have watched "the common good" take a back seat to what is good for business and the economy often sacrificing family, neighborhood and community.
So, as I see it, here is where the conflict lies.... Our work weeks have gotten longer with many of us working several jobs. Just staying afloat is a common reality for many families. As a result we have less time to chat with neighbors, help the elderly, and be a good citizen by participating in our communities to make them strong. Community doesn't just happen, people have to make it happen. By engaging in ever-more increase hours of work, to my view, we are trading our life-energy. The cost is declining community life.
So what does this have to do with pollution? If we are too busy to notice, or care, then pollution becomes a concern for our elected officials to worry about. Isn't that what we elected them for? The problem is that we can't elect these problems away. A community's strength can be measured by citizen involvement and personal investment. We can no longer look to our government to fix many of our problems, we have to take responsibility for our quality of life. Because if we don't, we might may get a way of life that diminishes us all.