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Out & About in Cleveland

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Informational Open House; Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce; Take a Bite of Cleveland, Dreamers: DACA Vigil

On Wednesday, September 6th, we stopped off at the Lakewood Park Women's Club Pavilion to attend an "Informational Open House" pertaining to "public review and comment for the Draft Environmental Assessment for Project Icebreaker" which involves the construction of half of dozen wind turbines approximately eight miles offshore in Lake Erie.

The open house featured about informational sites staffed by qualified professionals from such entities as the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and CH2M (a large nationwide engineering and environmental services company) who disbursed information and answered questions about such topics as Project Icebreaker itself and what its goals are for energy production; its impact on fish, aquatic resources, birds, and water quality; and the permitting process for such a project under the auspices of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)and the progress made so far.

We have written about "Project Icebreaker" several times on our blog because it greatly interests us because it is making use of a lot of international talent; moreover, it has the potential to really enhance the status of wind energy and to create a thriving industry here in Northeast Ohio. We recognized and said hello to several people from "LEEDCo", the project's developer, including Dr. Lorry Wagner, its President, as well as Mr. David Karpinski, VP of Operations, and Ms. Beth Nagusky, Director of Sustainable Development. Dr. Wagner told us that we are now looking at a start date of 2019 instead of 2018. Part of the reason for the delays have been questions raised as to how the turbines might harm local bird species but Dr. Wagner assured us that "LEEDCo" is open to hearing all points of view and to address concerns.

Along these lines, we encountered Ms. Sarah Taylor from "Windustrious Cleveland" who was instrumental in getting the "Cleveland Foundation" to propose the project back in 2003. Ms. Taylor impressed us as being quite an authority on the subject of wind turbines' harm to birds and after listening to her we feel comfortable saying that we believe this issue is being given full consideration. Also on hand at the open house were our good friends Mr. Richard Pogue and Mr. Paul Burik, former President of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation, who both share our interest in this important endeavor.

"LEEDCo" followed up with an email expressing thanks to all of those who attended the open house which read, in part, that "our supporters from the labor, business and the environmental communities and general public turned out in great numbers-sending a forceful message to the decision-makers in attendance that Project Icebreaker is strongly supported by the community."

Our day on Thursday, September 7th, begin with a Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce "Coffee Contacts" this time held at "iSTEM Early College High School" located right next to the Auburn Career Center in Concord Township. In addition to networking, we were addressed by Ms. Tamee Tucker, Chief Academic Officer at "iSTEM", and Ms. Amanda McNamara Lowe, its Engagement Specialist, regarding the purpose of "iSTEM".

As we read in an informational booklet we were given, "iSTEM is a small, intellectually vibrant, Ohio public high school open to 9th through 12th graders. It is an early college program focused on problem-based learning with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics." Its mission is "a personalized education designed to engage all students while creating connectivity to their future."

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We were then treated to a tour of the facility by Mr. Riley Wiest, a very intelligent"iSTEM" student who told us that by the time his tenure at "iSTEM" is finished, he hopes to have earned an A.A. degree. Mr. Wiest really loves his school because he loves being challenged academically and since the student body is relatively small (approx. 175 students) it is very easy for everyone to know each other and the usual high school "cliques" are largely avoided.

Afterwards, we talked to Ms. Tucker for a moment who told us that a relative of hers who immigrated to the United States from Canada was greatly assisted by "Margaret W. Wong & Associates". We also learned from Ms. Tucker and Ms. McNamara Lowe that one of the current students is a young man who speaks six languages which are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, and Arabic. We told them that when the young man is ready to do an internship they should consider sending him over to our office because we just might be able to find some meaningful work for him to do that would put his talents to good use.

Later on Thursday, we went to the Ariel International to attend "Take a Bite of Cleveland" the annual fall fundraiser hosted by"Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland" (NHS) where we sampled Italian, Polish, Asian, and Hispanic cuisine as well as ribs, collards, and biscuits representing the U.S. Southern region.

We had another event to attend in a very short while so unfortunately we the missed the speeches that were scheduled to be given by Ms. Kamla Lewis, First Vice President NHS of Greater Cleveland Board of Directors, and Mr. Michael Pires, Interim Executive Director, as well as one of the NHS customers sharing her story.

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We did have time to visit with Ms. Judith Mansour, Director of Fund Development Organizational Sustainability; Ms. Elizabeth Sanchez, Senior Housing Specialist; and Ms. Marge Misak, Land Trust Program Director who told us of recent developments that should aid the NHS customers. Along these lines we learned that applications for assistance will be submitted on line although there will be a place where those who have trouble with computer usage can go to for help. Assistance will be provided according to the customers' needs in English and in Spanish although they listened to us when we told them there might be a need to provide services in Mandarin at some time.

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We commend Ms. Sanchez for offering financial counseling to people in both English and Spanish two Saturdays a month at "El Centro" in Lorain County.

Interestingly, the mission of NHS is to "provide ongoing programs and services to help others achieve, preserve, and sustain the American Dream of homeownership" because the American Dream was front and center the event we left the NHS friendraiser early to attend which was a candlelight vigil in Market Square in Ohio City to show support for "DACA, Dreamers, and all Immigrants" because during the speeches that eight dreamers gave it was constantly said that the reason that their parents brought them here was for a better life to be realized.

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In spite of the threateningly wet weather, several hundred people turned out at the vigil which was organized by "DreamActivist Ohio", "Cleveland Jobs with Justice", "Indivisible CLE", "LOIRA", "Ohio's Voice", "Interreligious Task Force on Central America and Columbia", "Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network", and "CuyahogaCounty Progressive Caucus" in response to the Trump Administration's plan to phase out DACA.

Another party who was especially instrumental in organizing the vigil was Ms. Eleonor Ramirez who been a legal advocate for immigrants for quite a few years now. Ms. Ramirez acted as moderator and shared with us the facts that she is the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from Mexico and that her own husband was once helped by DACA although he is now, thankfully, a permanent resident of the United States.

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Another point that was reiterated during the speeches is how fearful the dreamers and their families are because they are not sure exactly what will happen to them after DACA is gone. But, nevertheless, everyone was determined to fight as long and hard as they had to in order to remain in the U.S. which they consider to be their own country now.

Our friend, Ms. Crissy Stonebraker-Martinez from the "IRTF" read statements of support for DACA from U.S. Congresspersons Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge and the vigil concluded with Ms. Suzy Scullin of "Indivisible CLE" and Ms. Debbie Kline of "Cleveland Jobs for Justice" urging us all to call and keep calling our U.S. Senators and U.S. Congressional Representatives urging them to support the "Dream Act" which is a bipartisan effort because, as several of the dreamers said during their speeches, this is not a financial or economic issue (although evidence indicates that dreamers and their families contribute a lot) but this is, above all, a human issue.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

 

 

 

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