The Cost of Progress

Here I sit on this 4th of July, 2011 in the Historic town of Williamsport, PA. I’ve discovered this visit there is a storm brewing here. There is something about walking around this town where i grew up that is special. After being gone to live in other parts of the country since 1979, I see the town through a different lense. I’ve watched from a distance as the companies that once were the backbone of the economy either folded up or left. Having lived in many other cities now, I realize the standard of living here until recently has been rather low. Our country is in terrible financial shape. But it seems Williamsport is now beginning a financial new beginning. I see signs everywhere protesting progress. As an outsider now who still loves this city, I want to ask some questions. I drove into town on a nice highway that cut right through the mountain. Did the construction of our highway system do some harm to the environment? Would you rather not have the freedom to travel? I noticed we are proud of our heritage! There is a museum, and murals and pictures celebrating the total rape of the mountains as Williamsport became the logging capital of the world. Ive been to third world countries and some parts of our country are becoming third world like as industry fails or moves to less retrictive countries. Detroit is an example. Did you know the entire state of Michigan is sitting on Shale gas? Are there issues involved in any kind of major progress? Sure! The way I see it Williamsport has an opportunity to be blessed again by using the natural resources to sustain and improve the communities long term commercial and financial well-being. Will there be some mess? Of course, you can’t build or develop anything without some disruption to the environment. There are way more safeguards today than during the lumbering era. So, as a native son of the city, I would suggest proper safeguards be followed, accept there may always be things that go wrong and embrace the opportunities our fair city is now being offered!

About Scott Ranck

Enjoying life with my wife Gayle and our Yorkie, Zoe boy. I've come to believe life begins when through brokenness I can embrace it fully and openly. I've learned the human drama is an adventure and all of us are made of the same stuff. The Lord is the only being who knows me fully and he has an individual educational plan of life long learning for me and I'm enrolled. This blog is all about what I'm learning.
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1 Response to The Cost of Progress

  1. Michelle Koons says:

    Here’s a comment I found on the Williamsport Guardian website. More eloquent than I could express it. He has a different and I think much more accurate vision of the “long-term well-being” of exploitation of natural resources. Also a more accurate view of who exactly will benefit.
    No longer our dream

    June 1, 2011
    By J. M. Petricoin

    It may seem strange to get a gas drilling story from Lancaster County, but the industry has changed our lives. For years my wife and I made regular trips to Lycoming County to visit family and get away from the cities. Neither of us care too much for life down here. There’s too much flat land, bad air, and traffic. Here, we stay home a lot. In Lycoming, we patronized local places as though we were the Chamber of Commerce. We went to Lyon’s for supplies and took off on the Loyalsock. We filled coolers full of Eder’s and Cohick’s to take home. We stocked up on baked goods from Roy’s and Rosencrans. We bought books at Otto’s and growlers at the Bullfrog, and joined the Sons of Italy lodge. And then there was Franco’s, always the best, every time. There are so many treasures in your area, including friendly people who aren’t too stressed out to be good neighbors.

    We had always planned to retire in Lycoming County, buy a house, do some work on it, and get involved in the community. We wanted to start a business and volunteer for the historical society or the library. But that dream is gone. Somehow we can’t get excited about visiting any more, either. Who wants to hike or fish when giant trucks run you off the road and the sound of machinery fills the woods? I know, some people are happy with the so-called economic boom, but that boom is bound to burst, fading when the wells die and leaving nothing behind but the damage. Anyone who doubts this needs to take a trip through West Virginia and see how much rural areas there have benefited from major resource industries. There are counties there that look like alien wastelands. It surprises me that anyone supports fracking in an area where loggers once left the mountains, overnight, bare and spotted with ghost towns. By the time the Northern Tier has been raped to supply the cities again, my guess is that the drillers will have made their fortunes and funneled the bulk of the cash back to Texas or offshore bank accounts. Our kids and grandkids will be left to do magic tricks with their tap water on land they can’t sell.

    I suppose some people will say land values will be fine, but they won’t want to think about people like us. We’re not interested in any kind of investment in this state any more. As soon as we can, we’re taking our pensions, savings, and stocks and moving to New England, out of this mess and above the shale. The problem is, there are thousands of people just like us around here, people who would’ve planted strong, productive roots in this state, people who weren’t in town just for the money. There were a lot of people like that in West Virginia’s mountains, too, once upon a time.

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