From The Editors: June 10, 2015
What is the genius of our place?
What is the genius of our place? This little corner of the world we call our own. The genius of any place is defined by what makes it unique ecologically and even spiritually. In order for people to live in harmony with their place, with nature, that genius must be accessed whenever we decide to make changes to our place.
Although opinions may vary as to what exactly the genius of our particular place is, odds are most of you will point north to that big, blue, beautiful lake as your knee-jerk response. Lake Erie defines and sustains us as a people, and is as much a part of our future as it has been part of our past. And yes, it's in trouble.
This issue marks the seventh time we've devoted our cover to the threats facing Lake Erie and our water supply in general. Whether it's delving into the topic of fracking, or exploring the myriad invasive species that wreak havoc on fragile aquatic ecosystems, we revisit this topic often because there really isn't a more pressing threat facing us as we move forward through the 21st century.
Exactly two years ago we published an issue with a feature proclaiming "Lake Erie in Peril," wherein Jay Stevens explored four areas of high concern, one of which being the increasing severity of algae blooms on the western part of the lake. One year later, last August, the city of Toledo lost the ability to extract drinking water from their portion of Lake Erie due to the high toxicity of the bloom that festered atop those many hundreds of square miles. As the New York Times observed: "It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year."
Contributor Katie Chriest now tackles this daunting topic, and we echo that same proclamation. This time with a focus primarily on these highly toxic blooms, why they occur, and what we can do to stop them from invading our waters. After all, as she points out, "what's the point of a pretty waterfront if you can't even drink the water?" Good question, and with a whole lot of impending bayfront development beginning to take shape, one everyone should be asking themselves.
It's human nature to alter our surroundings, to adapt to and build upon the places we inhabit. But we must remain connected to the places we live and depend on for life, never ceasing to be good stewards. When it comes to the genius of our place, it doesn't take a genius to see that we must do everything we can to protect it.