Beyond the Curb: Looking back and moving forward


Looking back at 2014, I see that important things took place in the public scene that affect many, if not all of us directly or indirectly. We just had elections and the results show who we are as a people and what we value the most. 

At the county level, we passed the half-cent tax for public schools. Whether we have kids in school or not, the way we voted is evidence of the value we put on good education. We feel it is worth the investment and we trust our current leaders to manage that investment wisely to benefit the future generation.

We also passed the tax-break for attracting new businesses to the area. That indicates we want our county to prosper and want to see more jobs being brought to the area. We have faith that our leaders will make good choices about the kind of businesses they attract to the area.

At the state level, we passed Amendment 1 and that demonstrates how much it means to us Floridians to take care of our natural resources, our land, our waters and our wildlife. We do want those protected and we, as citizens, by passing this amendment to the state constitution, made sure that wish will be respected by politicians — at least for the next 20 years.

However, just recently, at the national level, we saw some activity in the environmental protection realm that became very popular — or unpopular, depending how you look at it. Fracking or no fracking? That was the question and the answer was some fracking. 

As a nation we decided that “drilling for oil and natural gas will be mostly off-limits in the largest national forest in the East, whose streams bring drinking water to Washington and Richmond, Va. […] The decision was a compromise that allowed some fracking while closing 90 percent of the forest to fracking and conventional drilling.” (New York Times)

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, “is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.” (  

I don’t know about you, but the idea of chemicals being injected at a high pressure into the ground close to our drinking water sources does not sound very attractive to me. The ones who are for it guarantee that it is a safe process, but we all know about safe processes — it is safe until it isn’t. We have experienced oil spills enough times to know that things can go wrong and when they do, some of the effects can be very hard to recover from, if at all.

So, even though the New York Times reports that “groups on all sides — industry, environmentalists and the governor of Virginia — claimed victory in the compromise management plan,” it concerns me as a citizen that some fracking was approved. Like all the other results I listed above, this one also defines us and our values. If some fracking is OK now, what guarantees that some more will not be OK in the near future? Is this the kind of thing we want for our nation moving forward?

Every year at the end of the year we look back, evaluate the good, the bad, and the ugly and ponder over accomplishments, challenges and failures of the year that is almost at the end. It is a moment of reflection when we get to the bottom of what really matters and have a chance to adjust our focus to set the tone for the new year. 

Looking back, we have made good decisions. I just hope we can be consistent moving forward.

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