by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
The monthly meeting of the My Neighborhood group last Thursday, Valentine's Day, in the dining room of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, heard the formation of committees for housing improvements, gardening, cleanup, and public relations. Sign up sheets fluttered around the room as attendees added their names and contact information.
Ashtabula is facing challenges today, with steadily increasing demands on social services as families struggle harder each month just to survive. People have been bound up in fear and a sense of hopelessness. This is changing.
Speakers at the meeting rose to report on their many projects, which are turning into action. Ashtabula needs many kinds of healing and much is now in motion.
Since Valentine's Day, thoughts of what a newly energized Ashtabula could be like have occurred to me as I drive and walk. Abandoned homes, marked with a large X, intended for removal no longer spell defeat and continued decay. Instead, there is hope for what can occupy the ground there instead.
When I look I see homes built on a passive, Deep Green model, sinking foundations into the earth, which could still be there, and in pristine condition, when the date turns to 2300. Not science fiction, but reality.
Today, passive Deep Green homes are becoming standard in Sweden, Germany and Austria because they need no heating and no cooling. No heating in Sweden? Yes, and it is much colder there. No heating bill. No air conditioning.
These homes also will not burn, remaining untouched at temperatures over 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and are water-tight. No flooding, either.
Inside they are quiet because of the massive insulation. They cost less to build than conventional stick construction, so the question is not if we can afford them but how we can afford to build anything else, when the price of wood has doubled in the past several weeks.
What would Ashtabula be like if people began buying homes here because it lowered their expenses while raising their standard of living? Changing this direction is one kind of healing.
Father David of St. Peter's outlined the program his church is carrying out now. This program will also heal minds and spirits.
Walking down Main Street begins to present possibilities. Holding these in mind, along with the problems My Neighborhood is determined to solve, you can see past the problems to amazing possibilities.
When people come together, the “possible” becomes boundless.