MCAF: What is unique about protecting South Euclid’s resources?
Councilwoman Jane Goodman: We are a small, older, landlocked inner-ring suburb of a rust-belt city, so we have to balance what growth we can manage with retaining or improving what natural resources we can. We consider natural resources to be essential parts of our infrastructure, since they support the health and well being of our residents as well as our economy. If we have to lose some green in one place in order to raise revenue to pay the bills, we make sure that we’re replacing it with even more green in another, potentially better, place.
Are you worried about the effects of climate change on the children of South Euclid?
Though I don’t have sons or daughters of my own, I am responsible for the well being of all the children in my constituency. I do worry that their generation will be left to deal with issues of bad air, water and food insecurity, and extreme weather events and their aftermath. And there are challenges we haven’t even talked about in the public arena, such as those that come as pests and diseases that might previously have been kept at bay by long winter freezes move north into areas that have no defense against them.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important and how can these efforts be achieved in our politically polarizing culture?
It is important that both sides of the political divide agree to work together on this. When our children, and their children, are dealing with a lower standard of living and crises wrought by climate change, they won’t ask if their parents were Democrats or Republicans. They’ll ask why we didn’t do enough to protect them. Everyone needs clean air and water, shelter from storms, reliable healthy food production and delivery, clean affordable renewable energy, and protection from disease, no matter what our political positions may be on other matters.
If, in every decision, we ask the question “Is this going to help or hurt our children’s and future generations’ ability to live healthy lives?” Then we take the decision out of the political realm and make it nonpartisan altogether.
My watershed organization does a lot of tree planting. Our volunteers come in all ages and all colors, and from all parts of the political spectrum, because planting a tree is giving something to the future. Some do it because it’s important to them that trees clean the air, or protect a stream from pollution, or can mitigate the effects of climate change. But most do it because it’s one thing they can do that they know will make a difference. When you can get a Republican and a Democrat together with two shovels to plant one tree, you’ve created a coalition.
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?
Keep doing what you’re doing in developing advocacy efforts. Lead with your hearts and remind us to do the same. You have to tell us what the right thing is, and show us that if we do the right thing you will work with us and support us, and, if we don’t, you’ll elect someone who will. And then mean it. Sending all the letters in the world matters little if it’s not backed up at the polling place. Show them you have the votes, and vote the bad guys out of office.
About Jane Goodman: Jane Goodman is entering her third term as a City Councilwoman in South Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. She is also Executive Director of a nonprofit working to restore and protect the Cuyahoga River and northeast Ohio watersheds. She was previously Public Information Officer for the League of Women Voters of Cleveland Education Fund, working to get citizens engaged in government, and at Environmental Health Watch to get lead out of children’s homes.
As a Councilwoman, she has brought her backgrounds in civics and the environment together, making her city the first in the region to establish an anti-idling ordinance to reduce the growing rate of childhood asthma. She sponsored legislation encouraging green infrastructure practices to manage stormwater, and has worked to replace vacant lots with community gardens. When faced with the prospect of a new big box retail center in her ward, she made sure it was built as a demonstration site for green practices, from native-plant bioswales to permeable paving to electric car charging stations, and a 21-acre park as well. She is currently working to update her community’s codes regarding alternative energy and urban agriculture.