Ec-Ohio, the Green Directory, was created and built by Paula Apynys and Ted Haughawout of TH Design, Inc. Our first iteration of Ec-Ohio.com has chugged along for several years now, with no real change other than additional directory entries and an occasional book review.
But during this time the world has changed quite a bit and, in many areas, not for the better. We started Ec-Ohio from the perspective of the non-professional environmentalist, wanting to learn about the state of our environment and what we could do, as individuals, to reduce and repair ecological damage. We felt overwhelmed by information and, to some degree, powerless. But we also found that lots of other people shared our concerns and used the Directory, which was encouraging.
Meanwhile, in 2008, as the world’s economy threatened to crash we began a new area of learning: economics. I (Paula) remember hearing about “credit default swaps” and “tranches”, CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) and not having a clue what any of those terms meant. Starting down the path of grasping how our economy works, doesn’t work, is reported to work, is debated about, and so on, has been enlightening. And it took us full-circle, in a way, as we began to realize that the way our economy (and other economies around the world) is structured directly impacts the environment.
Looking back, there’s a certain “duh” quality about that realization, but I think its fair to say that “the environment” and “the economy” are generally treated as unrelated topics. When we hear about GDP (gross domestic product), for example, we hear reports about “growth” — whether there was or wasn’t any growth, and how much. What we don’t hear is that an oil spill, a chemical spill, an explosion in a chemical plant, etc. all “contribute” to GDP because GDP basically measures money changing hands and doesn’t distinguish between positive and negative reasons for that movement. In other words, by GDP reckoning, an oil spill is “good for the economy” because the cleanup processes cause money to change hands.
The loss of future incomes for fisheries, for instance, and the cascade of negative ecological consequences, are ignored. How the economy is reported to be doing, we’ve learned, is very much a matter of what is or isn’t measured.
Recently I heard an interview with an attorney who works in West Virginia representing injured coal miners. Among other things he talked about how how coal miners are paid about $80,000 a year, sometimes right out of highschool. While the jobs are incredibly dangerous, when you’re a young man with a highschool education and the only other prospects for work are low-paying service jobs, you’re likely to take the risk to claim the reward AND to resent people who want to scale back coal mining. Coal companies are very skilled at presenting this “now versus later” equation to their employees: why worry about mountain tops, or rivers, or what your body will be like in 30 years when you can live a better-than-average life now?
The intersection of employment and the environment is of great interest to me (Paula), and the challenges are many but they boil down to the need for our economy to not only create jobs, but to create benign rather than malignant jobs. A tall order, for a number of reasons.
This updated Ec-Ohio, launched in May 2014 includes a blog and we’ll be writing about the environment, the economy, and other related topics. Thanks for checking us out!
(Editor’s note: Ted also blogs at Contemplating the Infinite.com.)
Jim Gill is excited to be contributing comic panels (Green Beans) to Ec-Ohio as it aligns with his belief that we can, must and will, improve our relationship with the world we all share.
Jim has been writing and illustrating cartoons since 4th grade. A BFA graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1982, he was recruited out of school and worked at American Greetings both in house and as a freelance contributor for 22 years. He’s also worked as a freelance writer/illustrator for the Paper Magic Group and several book publishers. Along with his illustration, Jim also works in Cleveland area schools as a teaching artist in conjunction with the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning. View some of his artwork at www.Gillustration.com. (Editor’s note: Jim is also a terrific singer/songwriter; check him out at jimgillmusic.com.)