Local Schmocal by Zoe Abel: Regardless of whether or not you support a new cell phone tower being erected, I think people on both side of the issue have to come together on one thing...
Of course there's a high level of interst in Ashland over whether a cell phone tower can be put on top of the movie theater. The excitement-laden buzzing is only comparable to a beehive after it's been struck down with a stick. Regardless of whether or not you support a new cell phone tower being erected, I think people on both side of the issue have to come together on one thing: The fact that the citizens of Ashland write letters to the editor, attend planning commission meetings, and threaten to stop attending the movies is all part of why we love Ashland so much. It's also part of why Ashland is known as "three square miles surrounded by reality."
Ashlanders always have a current issue of some kind or another to discuss over our morning chai tea. Now that the primaries are over, and it's a long five months until the elections, we need something to do. We can't fight about the meals tax for another couple years, whining about the economy is starting to get boring, the Mt. Ashland expansion debate seems to be in an eternal holding pattern, so the obvious solution is to take sides over cell phone coverage on the south side of Ashland.
I'm sure that being in close proximity to a cell phone tower is not nearly as healthy as eating a bowl full of crushed oats for breakfast. It's probably as dangerous as being stressed out all day over the plastic content of my water bottle and then microwaving myself a couple hot-dogs for dinner. Do these same people who object to a new cell tower use a cell phone? Do they get x-rays at the hospital for suspected broken bones? Do they share their home with a microwave?
All of us are surrounded by daily choices that we make to protect our health. I admire people for doing as much as they can to protect their own health (obviously little thought is given to protecting the health of others, as the desired alternative is to put the tower over a hotel). We wake up and can choose whether or not to floss our teeth. We can choose between an egg white scramble and a bag of chips for breakfast (guess which one I chose today!), and we can choose to shop organic at the grocery store.
Unfortunately the world is also full of things we can't change. In the short term, I can't control how much pollution is in the air. I have fair skin that is susceptible to cancer, no matter how diligently I try to apply sunscreen. While we all try to relax and control our reactions, we know that some days are more stressful than others. Noise pollution, your waiter forgetting to wash their hands, the fact that you responsibly bought a Prius while your neighbor bought a Hummer"… all things that we have to accept as beyond our control, even if they may affect our own health.
Maybe I'm not sympathetic enough to the concerns of people who believe that a cell phone tower will adversely affect their health. I work in a field where people regularly cough in my face, unexpectedly leak bodily fluids on me, and I continually have to jump out of the way of the portable x-ray machine. Life is full of danger, let's focus on the ones we know have the most impact on our own health. Let's change what we can, when we can, and accept things and move on when we can't. Finally, let's all just remember to wash our hands and have a couple extra servings of fruits and vegetables, this will probably serve us all far better than the presence or absence of a cell phone tower.
Zoë Abel is busy stocking up on alcohol-based hand sanitizers and trying to find the spot in her house with the best cell phone reception. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.