It’s May 15, 136th day of the year. Yesterday’s temperatures of Lake Michigan were 51 degrees the Chicago crib and 50 degrees at the Chicago shore.
This day in history (from history.com, timeanddate.com and onthisday.com)
1817, First private mental health hospital opens in the US, Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pa.
2009, General Electric initiates cleanup of polluted Hudson River.
GE may get credit for “initiating” the cleanup of the Hudson, but instigator was folk-singing legend Pete Seeger. Here’s what The Guardian wrote a few years ago: “The river was a raging sewer when Seeger set out to save it in the 1960s, a liquid dump for industries that grew along its banks, full of PCBs from the electrical industry, sewage discharges, pesticides, and other contaminants. The main traffic was cement and oil barges. The public largely stayed away.
“Local lore has it the chemical stew was so potent and so toxic it was seen as a cure for bore worms and other parasites feeding off wooden hulls. Sailors from the Caribbean would reportedly come up to cleanse their boats.”
Traveling on the river in the Clearwater, a wooden boat he built, Mr. Seeger sang and talked about pollution. The U.S. banned the use of PCBs in the 1970s, and a decade later, the EPA designated 200 miles of the Hudson a cleanup site. Now, even more decades later, the planet is in crisis all over.
This week two Evanston Township High School seniors were recognized as leaders in this class of 2020: Echo Allen, the student representative to the District 202 School Board, and Aldric Martinez-Olson, a founding member of the E-Town Sunrise climate justice group.
In their four years, students in the Class of 2020 have excelled in academics, fine arts, debate, athletics and civics. They have grown up in the age of school shootings, racial distrust, political polarization and climate crisis. They will graduate remotely and virtually on May 24, because a pandemic has shuttered their school, their town and their state.
However fragile any one of them might feel on any given day, together they present a vibrant, resilient group of youth. These brave young people, facing a bleaker future than any of us would want for them, grew up here and learned how to be responsible members of society. We are their base, their foundation, the people some of them may leave soon and the place to which it is hoped they will ultimately return. As they fledge, we must do what we can to help them soar.
Remember that all non-essential City services will be shut down on Monday, May 18, which is furlough day for many City employees.