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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Palo Alto Measure E

a photo I took at Bixby Park

It's the morning after Election Day and I'm thinking of Emily Renzel, the loser in a bitterly fought, divisive community battle pitting passionate environmentalists against each other. Emily, a septuagenarian, who has a local park named after her, is as passionate now as when she served as a city council member. She fought to save 10 acres of land that was supposed to be transformed from our landfill area into the adjoining Bixby park - near the bay. Peter Drekmeier, an equally passionate environmentalist and former mayor, (and good friend of mine) led the campaign to rezone the land for the construction of a composting and renewable energy facility. They are two leaders wearing 10 gallon white hats in my eyes - brought into an unlikely battle in large part because our community is so built out. Virtually any development from a homeless shelter to a childcare facility face huge opposition here (on top of "NIMBY-ism). Some years back, the Media Center where I work was stopped from putting a digital arts facility next to a high school - even though the district had agreed to let it take the place of some temporary portable buildings. But the vocal opposition prevailed because that land was supposed to one day become part of the school's playing fields area. This time the development won out over the promise of open land.

I think for many of us who voted for it, it was because global warming has become a game-changer. Global warming has generated an urgent call to action, even for unproven ventures such as one of the possible composter technologies to be considered for the new development.

My job is to produce the videotaped debates that we have before every election. I spent an afternoon with Emily and an afternoon with Peter, editing the visuals into their respective debate statements. I didn't want either one to lose. I didn't want either one to feel the way they did about the "other." They are both heroes who answer the call "think global, act local." Emily wears her heart on her sleeve and these ten acres were virtually sewn into her big, exposed heart. This was one vote I did not look forward to making.

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