From the Editors: March 14, 2018
The ripples of loss and waves of grief
The opioid crisis has affected our nation in devastating ways. Every death caused from a heroin overdose sends a ripple through society. Virtually everyone in our community has been touched by these waves. It's one of the largest issues our region has faced, walking facelessly like a spectre, leaving us feeling helpless to fight against it.
Death hits us hard. It hurts. Too many people have seen their futures vanish in the blink of an eye, gone far too soon. It leaves us missing everything they would give us, every little gift their presence would bring.
What can we do, then? We can continue the conversation, we can make sure that addiction isn't a death sentence. By openly talking about it, and trying to remove the stigma of drug use, things might begin to get better in tiny ways. In this issue, Dan Schank looks at different aspects of this looming topic. With a few shocking statistics, we get an overview of the enormity of the epidemic. Then, focusing in on one case, the numbers gain an all-too-real face. Finally, there are details about how Erie is dealing with this crisis, through programs and by raising awareness.
A century ago, the world experienced another tidal wave of loss. This time though, it was an outbreak of influenza that shook the nation. With high mortality rates in Pennsylvania, Erie was not spared from this pandemic. Though different strains of the flu virus attack people to this day, in 1918, the results were catastrophic. Jonathan Burdick traces Erie's "patient zero" and reflects on the modern parallel we see every flu season.
On Monday, March 12, Erie made the front page of the New York Times. Reporting on the McBride Viaduct, the article was titled "In Erie, One City Block Is a Trek of Disrespect." The story, penned by Michael Kimmelman, looked to the viaduct as a symbol of a struggling city's lack of concern for its minority population. In this issue, Jim Wertz looks at this same controversial bridge, through the lens of history. Drawing parallels to Brown v. Board of Education, he examines the fundamental importance that safe pathways to school provide in our community.
Things link together our home in different ways. Through tears, pain, and struggle, we continue to stand strong, knowing that we have the responsibility to always be better. By building new paths, and maintaining essential connections, we can hold our city together. Forces are constantly fighting for us, as well as against us. It's important that we continue to make our voices heard, because words of encouragement can travel around the world. Ripples of progress can always be made too.