Digging a Hole

Monday, December 12, 2011

Obligatory Work Blog

Oh, werd?
I just found out that my job has a blog! Who knew? I am going to use my blog to write and edit a post for that blog. If I get posted, I'll link it up.

Kerry's Work Blog Submission

It's December, and I just saw lightning. At first, I thought it was the strobing LED peppermint candy Christmas lights, but then I got a text message from a trainee:
"Kerry, what do we do when there's lightning?"

As a seven year field organizing veteran, this is not the worst weather I have ever seen, but it will definitely crack the Top 20. My umbrella has been shredded, and my clipboard is almost too wet to sign. The last stop of my night is a house with a seemingly endless driveway where a young mother has *not* promised to write a letter and leave it on her door. She didn't say "no" either, though, but she promised to think about the issue after I left and write the letter if she decided she agreed, so here I am climbing her driveway in driving rain because canvassers are inherently optimists.

Currently in New Jersey, our canvass staff is gathering letters to support the Child Safe Playing Fields Act, legislation that would prohibit the use of toxic pesticides on ball fields and playgrounds where children play. It's a great bill, but apparently some NJ legislators are concerned that, without pesticides, the dirt will get so hard-packed that children will break bones when they fall on it. Memo to NJ politicians: In several months of canvassing on this bill, I have heard many concerns raised by parents and landscapers, but not once has someone pondered the femur-shattering power of organic soccer fields.

One thing that young moms do worry about is predatory insects, chock full of the zombie apocalypse virus, lying in wait on the ball fields. The young mom of this December thunderstorm raised that question immediately. Good news! The bill specifically addresses the ball fields and the playground equipment, not the other park areas. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, and ticks like to hang out in wooded areas and tall grass, so unless your local parks and rec team built a swing-set in a swamp or likes to keep the grass on the soccer field at three feet to slow down play, these should not be problem areas.

But what if ticks slather on the sunscreen and venture out of their native habitat and onto the short, sun-washed grass of the local soccer fields? Maybe the tick parents wanted them to learn about teamwork and signed them up for a youth tick soccer league. Maybe there are tick parents preparing orange slices for after the match right now! Well have no fear New Jersey parents. The Child Safe Playing Fields Act provides exemptions for immediate threats to human health, such as tick youth soccer leagues.

What the act is designed to do is protect kids where they play from chemicals that can impact their development or irritate their lungs. Chemical applications for aesthetic purposes are the true target of the act. We can have lovely playing fields for New Jersey's children without covering them in toxins to take out the dandelions. And besides, what is a Little League right fielder supposed to do if there are no dandelions to play with? Pay attention to the game?

Hopefully, the young mom whose driveway I was climbing had come around to this line of thinking, as well. I stepped onto her stoop, looked at her door, and there it was - an envelope stuffed with letters in support of the bill with pictures drawn by her children. I plucked them out of her Christmas wreath and tucked them into my coat. One more mother for clean and safe parks.


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