Friday, January 4, 2008

Midtown's Response to Winter Blast

Part of what makes Midtown so great are the beautiful old trees that line the neighborhood streets. Unfortunately, the ice storm that hit much of Oklahoma took a devastating toll on the wonderful old timber. I had the good fortune of a surprise visit from an out-of-town friend New Year's Day who, even in the darkness of night, was amazed by the fortress of downed limbs that lines the curb.

There are hundreds of homes in Midtown that lost most or all of their old trees, and even more in the greater Tulsa area. It's sad to drive around the neighborhoods and see how much damage was done and is still not cleaned up. One would think that they would see City of Tulsa work crews at least occasionally, but that's not the case.

Oklahoma weather is never predictable. For instance, yesterday's high was 41 degrees and today, it was in the mid-50s, very comfortable. So one cannot blame the City for not being prepared for all types of weather. It would be economically unfeasible and a waste of the taxpayers' dollars since there are many "mini-seasons" within each season, and the extreme weather is short-lived. The gripe, however, is the way the City _responds_ to extreme weather. The ice storm was a major inconvenience for a couple of weeks. People (mostly poor people) are still without power and utilities like cable and telephone providers are still working round the clock to restore the comfort services. The City is now taking bids for debris removal, which is a positive sign. But the fact that many people who can't afford to hire an electrician to come to their residences still go without what has become a basic need in our society is discomforting at best, and shameful at worst.

What, from my highly-narrowed and self-criticising view, is the Midtown response? For one, I have no idea what or if anything has been done to assist those less fortunate and without power beyond opening church doors and civic centers to provide warm shelter. My neighbors are all financially able and have taken the initiative to clean up their own yards or hire someone to do it for them. (I wish I could say the same for my landlord) Some may have donated to charities helping those in need. I would suspect, since I haven't seen any community action flyers at my local coffee house or on the windows of local businesses, that we forgot about our less-well-heeled Tulsans as soon as the switch turned on the light and refocused our angst upon the cable company or telephone provider.

I am the first to say that I am guilty of purposeful ignorance. I am learning, and adopting, the Midtown arrogance. I like to think of myself as progressive and tolerant and altruistic, but it takes real effort to actually live up to that image. My goal should be to reflect the wonderful things that so many give weight to in Midtown by crossing the line between tolerance and outreach.

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