Where were the editors on one-sided Oakwood article?
As a fellow Oberlin alumnus, I applaud Observer intern James Helmsworth’s well written account of the fight over the Oakwood property. A couple of points stand out for me as creating a less than balanced presentation in his article, and I think it’s not the fault of an intern. Presumably there was - or there should have been - some kind of editorial guidance for Mr. Helmsworth. First, he should have been disabused of the notion that the Oakwood property is some kind an unspoiled wilderness where the developers will snatch away homes from the indigenous flora and fauna. I halfway expect to read a claim by the anti-development forces that the property may be home to a previously unknown clan of native Hopewell people whose culture flowered in Ohio over a thousand years ago, surviving now only in the rough near Oakwood's erstwhile fourteenth hole.
Second, somebody at the Observer should have let your intern know that the place has been a golf course for many decades. That means year after year of industrial-strength pesticides and herbicides used indiscriminately in order to maintain a desired appearance. Unspoiled park land? Hardly. The weed-free appearance of the golf course for these many years didn’t happen as a result of volunteers from our schools pulling weeds. It was unregulated heavy duty chemistry, leaving who knows what in the soil.
I share the concern of many that we don't need more big box retail, especially if it means that Severance Center would lose an anchor store. However, as a prospective journalist, Mr. Helmsworth should have been encouraged to be a little more interested in speaking to representatives of the developer's side in this dispute.
I have no use for the peddlers of hatred from the far right who bear irrational antipathy for our current president and see every political and social issue as a good vs. evil moral challenge to their twisted version of evangelical faith. It bothers me even more when I see people with whom I probably share many beliefs engaging in the manipulation of an intern to the point where he writes about only one side of an issue that does actually have two legitimate and rational points of view. If your intern was assigned to do an op-ed piece opposing Oakwood development, you should have labeled it as such and offered the pro-development folks a chance to state their views, as well. The Oakwood property is well on its way to becoming a weed-infested eyesore, and it only will get worse if the two sides don’t attempt to find common ground instead of firing broadsides at each other.
Cary Seidman is a teacher at Ruffing Montessori Middle School. Prior to that he taught for 30 years in the East Cleveland City Schools. A graduate of Oberlin College and John Carroll, Seidman is a lifelong CH resident and Heights High alumnus ('65).