J500 Media and the Environment


No Way to Roadway! by denzylj

Strolling along the boardwalk in the Haskell-Baker Wetlands, I wondered whether the elegant, furry heads of the cattails possess some mystical sway that makes people blind.

As a child, rumor in the suburb had it that if you played with cattails in the neighboring swamp you’d go blind. Years later, the swamp was drained and a low-income housing complex erected. I doubt anyone lost their eyesight, but could it be that perhaps the plants have instead become a metaphor for ignorance of environmental degradation, that their mere presence works prospective developers into a frenzy. Cattails today, a housing development tomorrow, a multiple lane highway the next.

Walking through the wetland, I don’t see a single animal, except for a small turtle, but I know that billions of microscopic algae lurk beneath the surface of water, that the habitats of birds, insects and plants depends on this ecosystem for their survival, and that to an extent so do we, as wetlands store water that would otherwise flood low-lying areas

Wetlands sustain diverse wildlife, but face growing threats. Picture by Alan NealWetlands sustain diverse wildlife, but face growing threats. Picture by Alan Neal

Building the South Lawrence Trafficway will surely endanger all that. For all the convenience it poses in easing traffic congestion, destroying an endangered ecosystem is not the way to go and certainly one viable option is a roadway that bypasses the wetland. Native Americans also make a case on cultural and religious grounds as to why the wetlands should remain as they are.
I’ve overcome my naivety about the cattail and it’s time for some to stop being blinded by the folly of development and the promises of easier urban living and learn to appreciate that which provides an abundance of life.

-Denzyl

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