From the Editors
Fertile ground for giving
America has long been advertised as a land of plenty — and in many aspects, it is. Abundant natural resources. Sprawling shopping centers. Unlimited streaming and all-you-can-eat buffets. Yet despite its richness — per capita gross domestic product (total economic output divided by number of people) was most recently measured at $64,906, ranked seventh in the world (Luxembourg was first at $119,719) — there still doesn't seem to be enough to go around.
Our environment suffers the side effects of human activity daily, with reports of Earth's outlook growing more and more dire. Almost one out of five children in the U.S. lives in poverty, underserved and underdeveloped. Elderly and special needs patients cannot afford the care they require as medical costs balloon. People — and the animals we love — have difficulty finding both short-term refuge and permanent homes. Those who would seek solace in music, arts, and culture are rebuffed as programs and budgets are slashed.
All told, we are up to our necks. Accordingly, a number of nonprofits are working tirelessly to help America rise above the flood of concerns, many of which hit Erie particularly hard. Erie's neighborhoods combat air pollution, abuse, and neglect. Erie's peninsula fights the impacts of climate change, invasive species, and erosion. Erie's population declines as businesses and officials scramble for ways to create new opportunities for young adults.
Luckily, however, Erie is neither helpless nor selfish. Those looking for confirmation of that fact need look no further than Erie Gives Day. Established in 2011 by the Erie Community Foundation, the initiative has raised millions of dollars for nonprofits around Erie County since its inception. During its 12-hour run last year, almost $4.5 million was raised for 381 nonprofits, a heartening display of support for a host of charitable causes (a sampling of which can be seen in our staff picks). We at the Reader hope that number is eclipsed once more when Erie Gives Day returns August 13, with eriegives.org open to donations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
While we welcome outpourings of generosity, we condemn the continued outpourings of hateful sentiment made by some of our prominent politicians and policymakers, including President Trump and Congressman Mike Kelly (see contributing editor Jim Wertz's latest "Erie at Large"). Between messy politics, sticky midsummer heat, and a peninsula dealing with unprecedented water levels, things have been awfully mucky around here lately.
But bear in mind that sediment can leave behind fertile ground. For example, the Mississippi Delta region in the Deep South boasts some of the richest soil in the country — but also houses some of its deepest-seated racism. However, from the hardships of the African-Americans working those soils, the American musical institutions of blues and jazz sprouted. Despite ugly displays and trying circumstances, something inspiring and enduring was created — something to appreciate as the sounds of Erie's 27th Blues & Jazz Festival wash over us.
More opportunism of that caliber? We'd give anything.