Footprints tell us where we have been and where others have gone before us. It’s the impression left behind after something has been stepped on. As I attempt to put words to what I feel after observing the still fuzzy outline of greatest impact of the impending wind turbine complex in Champaign County, it’s the realization that I live in the “footprint.”
I live in the footprint and frankly, I feel like I have been stepped on. I live on Parkview Road between US Route 36 and Urbana-Woodstock Pike in eastern Champaign County. Our family moved to Champaign County in 1989 and bought our property here in 2001. We have tried to get involved in the community both locally and in the County. We really like it here. It is not uncommon for us to arrive at our driveway and have one of our boys exclaim: “Home Sweet Home!”
We dubbed our 2.5 acres as “Downsize Farm” … just the right size for two boys with Down Syndrome. They have helped grow it into a business that now serves as a hub for over 60 individuals with developmental disabilities. People arrive in clearly marked buses from five different counties because they have a choice to attend a program that is unique. It’s built around the 4-H motto of “learning by doing.” They choose the projects they want to work in and build friendships with peers and staff. I call the Farm a hub because from here we disperse to integrate into the community … not just go places, but to work and shop and get to know other people who live here. This past October we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of fulfilling our mission: To enrich the quality of life of every person in our programs…to live, love, laugh, learn and leave a legacy.
Because we are in the footprint I am very concerned for the future of Downsize Farm. People with disabilities are especially vulnerable to the side effects of a wind turbine complex. Earlier this month we participated in a memorial service for a client that was very involved in our program: a wonderful young woman who passed away due to complications of a seizure. There is still much to learn about the triggers for seizures and they are person-specific, but emissions from wind turbine complexes are suspect. We serve a high-risk population so we don’t travel in high-risk weather conditions. If the turbines are built we will be in a high-risk zone. If we try to sell and re-locate, our investment here will not be as valuable or attractive.
Being in the footprint feels like being stepped on. So my wife Midge and I have chosen to be intervenors before the Ohio Power Siting Board. I know that there are many who are not in the footprint but believe this project is not in best interest of the county. So as always, Life is Looking Up at Downsize Farm and we are confident that this battle will not be Custer’s Last Stand.