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March for Our Lives

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Of course the big happening for Saturday, March 24th, was the "March for Our Lives" that took place in the Public Square area of downtown Cleveland.

As we sadly know on February 14, 2018 a gunman took the lives of 17 people (15 students and 2 faculty) at "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School" in Parkland, Florida. Since then young people around the United States have banded together and organized actions calling for stricter measures regarding firearms such as better background checks, the closing of the so-called "gun show loophole" that enables people to purchase firearms without any background check at all, raising the age legal age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, and a ban on assault weapons. Many have also called for more funding for mental health programs to treat victims of gun violence and those who have the potential to be dangerous.

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As was pointed out during the speeches, there have been more than a few school shootings (or shootings wherein a lone sniper or two took out scores of people using an automatic weapon) but it seems that the Parkland incident was the catalyst to get people indignant enough to say "enough is enough" and take direct action to put a stop to the violence which has destroyed or adversely affected the lives of so many.

On an optimistic note, let us note that this rally and march in Cleveland was attended by thousands of people so we want to praise the young people who organized it who were Miss Grace Kelley and Miss Jane Roche (from St. Joseph's), Mr. Kevin LaMonica and Ms. Milla Costa (from Shaker Heights High School), Mr. Sam Hoag (from St. Ignatius) and Mr. Pranav Tyler (from Solon High School). We also want to mention that we learned that 823 such marches were taking place around the world on this day.

To be sure, Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish were there to offer words of encouragement but the rally clearly belonged to the students as several of them took to the podium to convey messages of anger, outrage, fear, determination, and reason.  

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Before the rally started, we spoke with one older activist, who we have known for a long time, and he said about the student leaders, "we will listen and hear what they have to say and act accordingly. These young people are NOW...not the future...they are NOW!"

The march took us through the streets of downtown Cleveland and soon after it concluded we were in our car driving to Parma to attend the "5th Annual World Water Day Celebration" that took place at the "West Creek Reservation" just off West Ridgewood Road.

While we were there we listened to presentations about the water-related challenges of different countries by such naturalists as Mr. Joe Higgins (Puerto Rico), Mr. Matt Knittel (Norway), Ms. Patti Donnellan (Taiwan), and Ms. Debra Shankland (Tanzania). In addition our friend Mr. Andy Fednysky, Director of the Ukrainian Museum in Tremont, was there to talk about environmental conditions in Ukraine.

In addition to the the above, there were samples of cuisines from different cultures as well as a performance by the "Zorya Ukrainian Female Vocal Ensemple" and an exhibition  about the history of Puerto Rican Music and Dance by the Julia De Burgos Cultural Arts Center.

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In the course of the presentations such subjects were talked about and explored such as wastewater treatment, potential hydropower generation, the draining of wetlands, deforestation, danger of excessive nutrients in bodies of water, the negative impact of invasive species of fish, depletion of fish stocks, and ways to lessen the destructive impact of hurricanes.

Needless to say, none of these challenges are restricted to just one country; in fact, many of them are also faced by Northeast Ohio which made them especially pertinent.

Just like the case with the "March for Our Lives" we left the West Creek Reservation motivated to act.

Our last event for Saturday, was "A Celebration of Women's Day and Membership Drive Banquet" put on by the "Chinese Women Association of Cleveland" (CWAC) at the "Bo-Loong Restaurant" on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland.  

"Margaret W. Wong & Associates" purchased a table for the occasion and it was noted by Ms. Fung C. Chu (Judy),  the President of the CWAC, that Ms. Margaret W. Wong has consistently support the organization for over 30 years.

During dinner we shared our table with fellow staffers Mr. Jury and Ms. Lani Pychowycz as well as their lovely daughter, Morgan, who danced in several of numbers that took place during dinner.

In addion to the eight course dinner (yes, some of the courses were vegetarian) provided to us by the "Bo Loong Restaurant" and listening and watching to several musical/dance exercises, there were raffles and karaoke to see us through the evening.

Even though we were tired from acquiring so much knowledge at our first two outings of the day, we were still glad that we attended this event because we very much respect the mission of the CWAC which is:

"To assist women of Asian descent on the issues facing them today, including but not limited to gender discrimination, social justice, domestic violence, and economic empowerment. We also seek to preserve the traditional virtues of Asian culture and the recognition of women's roles in today's society while fostering bonds of friendship between women especially in times of crisis."

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC