Letters: Environmental value of White Pond property; affirming care for LGBTQ people

·3 min read

Essential to maintain trees and more

The clear-cutting and building on muck soil and encroachment on wetlands for rental housing and small businesses on White Pond Road in Akron are, I believe, harmful on many levels. The beauty and aesthetic are one thing. But in effect we will be destroying ourselves. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but I believe it is true. The irony of the city tooting its own horn on the Cuyahoga River restoration at the Gorge Dam and the Innerbelt while destroying critical habitat is hypocritical or naive.

I am converting my yard into the very natural environment the city and developers will be destroying. I don’t put my leaves out because the leaf litter is necessary for critical critters for our environment. I don’t use chemicals on my yard because the leaves are better.

The destruction of White Pond property is more than trees. It is habitat to much essential, as well as beautiful, nature. It is essential to maintain such properties to reclaim the Cuyahoga River, Lake Erie and many streams, creeks and ponds. The touted benefits of “White Pond Preserve” pale in comparison to the present and future essential role that property plays in our overall quality of life. Like the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Beaver Marsh, Summit Lake and the Cuyahoga River, if we don’t do any more harm and minimal remedial effort, it will flourish to enhance life at many levels.

I realize the train is out of the station on this project. In fact I figure those extra-large dump trucks going into the property now are fill to begin the process. But I believe this will not only be a scar on the environment, but an emotional and quality of life scar for many people.

David Loar, Akron

LGBTQ advocates found at church

Conversion is a spiritual term. Yet in the news stories about conversion therapy recently, spiritual wellbeing is the absent referent; it is danced around but never explicitly mentioned.

On Oct. 24, Akron joined Lakewood, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Kent in banning conversion therapy for children. All of these cities in our region have thriving faith communities with active Open and Affirming ministries that have been long-time supporters and protectors of queer youth.

We know the undercurrent for the practice is religious in nature, but what is often missed is the deadly spiritual undertow. The individuals and families who are targeted by conversion therapy often live with intense spiritual anguish. I think of the mother of a transgender daughter who, after attempting suicide, was in need of spiritual care and turned to religious leaders that respond by quoting clobber passages. I think of a college student who was afraid to introduce her girlfriend to her parents because of the traumatizing teachings of their family’s church. These examples, and others like them, are why I left my family’s tradition to join the United Church of Christ. The spiritual atmosphere was too toxic, and the obstacles to providing affirming spiritual care for those I loved and had been called to serve seemed insurmountable.

The spiritual wounds that have been done by deadly religious doctrines about gender and sexuality can take a lifetime— even generations — to heal. Spiritual care in the context of an affirming community saves lives. When our affirming spiritual communities are left out of the narrative about practices like conversion therapy, they are eclipsed by the deadly heteronormative, homophobic and transphobic spirituality that makes legally banning them necessary in the first place. When this happens, the life-saving resources of our affirming spiritual communities go unnoticed. That has to change.

The Rev. Michael Anthony Howard of Akron, minister of Faith in Action, Living Water Association, United Church of Christ

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Wrong to destroy natural area on White Pond Road