by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
The number of homes in Ashtabula which have been demolished because they were abandoned and, in the course of time, became too damaged to be saved, is astonishing and heartrending. I was emailed a list, by address, after a meeting held at the Municipal Building on Main Street. Later that evening, I entered the addresses on a Google Map.
Sometimes, there was only one little blue marker on a block, sometimes there were several. Each one marked the end of a house where people lived, raised their family, and dreamed of better things.
I went into the meeting knowing the loss of homes to the downward spiral of job loss had been going on for decades. Seeing it on the map made it seem more immediate and real. Everyone in the meeting shared the same concerns and wanted solutions, ways to save homes from what Ashtabula, and America, is facing.
Levette Hennigan, Ann Stranman, Rick Balog, Jim Trisket, and Earl B Tucker and I sat around a table, talking about how Ashtabula had once been. We talked about bringing commerce back. My partner, Nathan MacPherson, and I have been working on this for some time now. Nathan lives in San Diego. Now, he knows a lot about Ashtabula.
Jim mentioned a call which was received from a resident in Ashtabula, telling the city to take their home. They were leaving and would not even attempt to sell it. Both the husband and wife had jobs lined up in Oregon.
The meeting had begun with discussion of Deep Green Passive building. Rapidly, the subject turned to the need for jobs. Ashtabula needs jobs – and qualified investors need someplace to put their money which is safe from the predators haunting the stock exchange and the threats hanging over our banks today. We want them to invest here, in Ashtabula, producing clean technologies.
After the meeting Earl told us about his ancestor, a Civil War officer who wrote Taps. He has been in Ashtabula all of his life.
The Industrial Revolution began in Ohio after the Erie Canal was built, connecting Ashtabula to New York and Great Lakes through its deep harbor of Ashtabula. Once the third largest port in the world, it was alive with ships moving cargo around the world.
This time, the cargoes will be different, including solar power arrays, and building materials which will last for generations.