Photo Mandana

One beautiful
Saturday morning

The Iranian
June 1997

A speech delivered on the steps of the Oregon state capital building in Salem on behalf of the Oregon coalition of conservation and environmental protection groups. The audience of 300 included Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.

Hello, I'm Mandana Ramezani and I'm here today because I'm worried about our future and about what may happen to our beautiful land.

I'm here to plead with the adults who are going to decide whether I will have clean air to breath and clean water to drink when I grow up.

I'm here to plead with you because I'm worried about our future.

I'm scared about the fact that there may not be any habitat left for animals to live in. I don't want to live in a world where there are no animals and few trees. I worry about all the chemicals in our waters and in our food chain. I am here to ask when will grown-ups stop acting dangerously?

Up the road from my house there used to be five acres of forest land, full of lush vegetation and wildlife. But, on one beautiful Saturday morning, they came and cut everything but six trees down.

That left many animals homeless. I even saw a snake fleeing the horror while the workers hacked at slabs of wood and bulldozed trees, but sadly the poor snake, seeming to have lost it senses by this tragedy, headed into the street, and it was run over by a car.

I'm not against cutting a few trees to build homes. But cutting five acres and leaving six trees! I think that's insane. They have built huge, fancy houses there, but they didn't leave more than a few trees for all those animals to live in. Not enough trees for fresh air, for some shade on hot summer days, or as umbrellas when it rains. My family, and I used to walk there daily, but now there's nothing left there for us to enjoy.

Trees give us clean air. How can we complain about cutting trees in the rain forests of Amazon and it's effect on global warming, when we can't even save our own backyard?

It makes me mad and sad to see how some humans can destroy the homes of so many animals and disregard the future of our environment and how it affects every body.

Don't we all know that clear-cutting forests causes soil erosion?

And we also know that when we cut a tree which lives close to a stream, the soil held by the tree's roots, get loose, and when it rains the water washes all that soil into the stream and makes it impossible for salmon to breath.

People and many animals like the great bald eagle depend on salmon as a food source. Now, I hear that there is a plan for a dam called MILTOWN-HILL, which does not include a fish ladder.

Don't at least, some of you think that the journey of the salmon is heroic? I was watching a program on public TV and it almost made me cry. These fish struggle for years before they go for the ultimate challenge of getting to their home-streams to lay eggs. If I could make a fraction of that effort in my school work my mom would be so proud!

They show heroic determination to make it back to the stream they were born in. Now, we in Oregon are even going to take away the fish ladder, leaving them no way to get home.

You want to know why I'm here? Because I get really mad when I hear that adults can condemn millions of salmon to extinction to save some money today. I guess those guys figure they're not going to be around when all hell breaks loose and us kids will have to deal with the consequences.

We all need clean water, humans, animals, plants and so on. But in Oregon there are a lot of places where the water is not clean , and is contaminated by chemicals and sewage. These chemicals come from factories, farms, and people who are irresponsible and don't care how this waste affects the environment and don't want to spend their money and time to be responsible citizens.

Isn't it a pity that we can't swim in the Willamette river? Instead of using our natural resources like the Willamette for a better life, now we have to keep away from the dangers that lurk in it. Why are fish in the Willamette deformed?

It makes me scared when I see horrible things like that happening because of some people's carelessness.

Yes, it costs money to keep our environment clean and protect wildlife habitat. It's like my homework; kind of! I can spend a little bit more time than I would like, and do it right the first time, or I can spend a lot more time re-doing it.

Would you rather live in a safe and beautiful environment at some extra cost now or would you rather spend a hundred times more in a few years to fix the damage caused today? And in the mean-while live with uncertainty.

The environment has organized chains. For example: the grass grows, the deer eats the grass and the cougar eats the deer. If one suffers, eventually all will suffer. And that includes us.

But, unfortunately that's where we come in, doing our incessant clear cutting, polluting and passing death sentences to many species. Us humans break those chains and instead of killing one, as we intended to do, we kill many down the line.

It's our choice.

And we need to make responsible choices that will keep our environment the way it was meant to be. Clean, with room for all species as God meant it to be.

My dearest wish is that one day all humans may live in peace and harmony with their surroundings and their critter-neighbors, and these days I can't tell whether it will happen, but I know for a fact that many people like you and I will be working to make it happen.

Thank you.


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