My Wednesday routine includes reading Wednesday Journal. This inevitably stirs ideas that I might put into a letter to the editor, which I then do not get around to writing.

However, the Aug. 24 issue has inspired me to put pen to paper.

First, thanks to Ken Trainor [Words among friends, Viewpoints] for a clever, delightful, hilarious and most enjoyable trip through the wonderful world of words. Teachers of writing would do well to recommend this masterpiece to their students. It is a delightful example of the fun, merriment, and intellectual acrobatics that a wickedly witty wizard can create with words.

On the serious side, thanks to Michael Romain [The problem of the 21st century, News Commentary] for finding the powerful words to describe the endpoint that we have reached in relation to the environment: “There are no new great frontiers to settle … no more mighty rivers or lakes to reverse … no new land to take.” The column starts with a report on “forever chemicals,” so named because they don’t break down in the environment. Toxic levels of these chemicals have leached out of the numerous products they are in: “They are everywhere.” They now pollute the soil and water. “There will soon be no more soil to deplete.”

Romain goes on to look at our destruction of the environment as the destruction of the host by the parasite. It is the product of “the social accretions of racism, conquest, settler colonialism, imperialism, resource extraction and exploitation.” The cost of the destruction falls most heavily on “Black, Brown, indigenous, and poor people.”

Michael Romain has an ability to take a specific case and examine it within a broader perspective. In this column as with his others, he applies complex systems thinking to demonstrate the interconnection of problems. It is always an education for me to read his columns and follow his thinking. This note is my attempt to summarize what I have learned from this latest column. I send it with interest in an ongoing exchange of ideas.

Thanks to Arti Walker-Peddakotla for her candid explanation of her decision to resign from the village board [Why I’m stepping down from the village board, Viewpoints]. I have not met her, but through WJ reports of village government I have come to think of her as an independent voice and one who takes progressive positions. Over the years, I have known a few, and they are only a few, people who have a gift for seeing more deeply than most of us into the injustices and suffering that we humans inflict on one another. Through our propensity to privilege and elevating some groups at the expense of others, we have created extremes of racism, discrimination and inequality. People with this gift, in my observation, usually also have the ability to envision a more humanitarian society. Their ideas come across as radical and “far out”… until the time comes when, through courageous and dedicated effort toward social progress, these values become the norm. I believe Ms. Walker-Peddakotla’s efforts, at cost to her personally, have moved Oak Park in this direction.

Finally, thanks to Monica Sheehan [OPRF’s Project 2 should go to referendum, Viewpoints]. She has brought me up to date on the status of the plan for the OPRF High School swimming pool and its funding. Given the impact that a $90.5 million investment would have on taxpayers now and for years ahead, her call for a referendum seems the only fair and democratic way to go.

With appreciation to Wednesday Journal

Stephanie Ferrera is a family therapist and an Oak Park resident.

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