Nov. 5, 2021 marks nine years of posting at the Air Quality Matters blog. Take it from me, the run has been both remarkable and amazing! The very first post titled “Smog more than an eyesore – it’s a wake-up call,” ran on Nov. 5, 2012. Wow, it’s hard to believe that that much time has gone by already.
Along the way the blog site itself has evolved. In a way, you could say what you see before you now is the platform’s third iteration or upgrade. In the first iteration at the top, only my name was displayed. This was superseded later with the words “Air Quality Matters” with the blog explanation or defining statement “Discourse for all interested in all things air-quality related,” appearing subsequently. The header, meanwhile – yes, with starburst accenting and all – has had this look since.
So, in looking back, the backstory here is this: With a move during the latter part of the 1970s, relocating from Baltimore, Maryland to Fresno, (the largest town in California’s San Joaquin Valley) by way of San Francisco Bay Area-based Mountain View (I did a one-year stint as a test technician in a company which is Sunnyvale-based), upon my arrival in the region that also goes by the “Raisin Capital of the World,” right away it was impossible for me, a person with sight, to not notice the lingering, pervasive, and at times horrid-looking brownish-gray haze that, at that juncture, mucked up and marred area skies daily.
Blackstone Avenue being this Valley city’s main drag (slang or informal for “boulevard” in this case, also, incidentally, known locally as “the boulevard of dreams”) was the thoroughfare beside which my then employer was located. The company I had been employed by at the time, with 13 home entertainment and 17 car audio outlets located in three western states which the company, by the way, ran successfully, hired me to be the Fresno-based-store’s audio equipment repair technician, a job and a responsibility that I absolutely loved, that is, all the way up to the time, that is, that the company closed its stores.
At any rate, in the early days of my assignment at least, upon my reporting for work each weekday morning and stepping out of my vehicle, with a turn of my head and a glance down Blackstone toward downtown, well, there as plain as day hanging in the air was that unmistakable haze. Day in and day out all during this late-summer/early-fall time, what this was for me was a constant reminder of just how unhealthful and unappealing the then area’s air quality had been. Just so you know, the air here has improved some since. “A sore sight for the eyes,” is but one more way to describe what I was experiencing, the same exact characterization I would use to describe the visible haze that is more often than not, noticeable in the air here today.
Something definitely had to be done to help in terms of cleaning up Fresno’s and the Valley’s poor air quality.
However, for my purposes, what, as a concerned person, could I do? That was the question. Though my time was taken up mostly by work-related activities, before I knew it 20 years had passed. By then I was at least age 45.
Even so, already having becoming fully acquainted with the condition of the area’s air, all the while in the meantime honing my writing skills, it was time to put those skills to work composing and submitting letters on the subject to different media vehicles for publication consideration.
One of those letters, titled “Do a body good,” was published in the Mar. 23, 2007 edition of The Fresno Bee. (The Letter In its entirety can be read online at https://www.valleyair.org. To access, click on the “news” link at homepage bottom. What should then show on screen is the “Press Releases & Recent News” page. By scrolling down to page bottom, the words “News Archive” should appear. By clicking on that and by scrolling down to the “March 23, 2007” selection and upon opening that, the letter in question appears at the top).
From that entry and in no uncertain terms in that letter, I opened: “Two billion dollars in federal roadbuilding funds risk being withdrawn if the Valley air district’s cleanup plan isn’t submitted by June 15 … On the surface, losing $2 billion sounds like a tough pill to swallow.
“One can live with losing $2 billion for more roads, which will undoubtedly lead to more motor vehicle use, thereby adding more pollution to the existing mix. Submitting a hasty plan, especially if misguided, will be an even tougher pill to swallow.”
Now imagine if that money, intended for adding roadway lane capacity, were instead directed to projects that, in actuality, resulted in improved Valley air quality. Think what a positive contribution that would make! Due to the Valley not yet reaching the specified air-quality-improvement threshold in question, to my knowledge those funds are still being withheld and have yet to be released at this point, a time differential of almost 15 years.
Since that letter was published I have been advocating for improved air quality, not only at the local and at the regional and state levels, but more broadly by composing and submitting additional letters, commentary, articles and the like to a variety of media sites.
And, last but by no means least, once I had discovered the existence of the online Science Blog site, and after making a pitch to create a blog and commit to being a regular Weblog contributor, as it turned out through this particular platform, my reach in terms of informing readers on matters dealing with the quality of the air, expanded considerably.
Which all brings me to this contribution today.
The journey as blogger blogging on air quality matters on the aptly named “Air Quality Matters” blog is and has been a most productive and rewarding one. You, the readers, are the reason this blog exists. So, thank you! Many have responded over the years with encouraging, kind, thoughtful, positive words enabled through the “Comments” provision and I am both thankful and more informed because of your input. Though there has also been some negative criticism, I recognize that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that and so I welcome those comments-contributed-criticisms too, so long as such are constructive and not offensive, condescending or denigrating in nature.
Indeed it takes a community to put a blog on this order together. In this case with this blog it has been that and so much more. The total experience of bringing this site online and into the public domain has been a truly incredible one!
So, with that, look for more “Air Quality Matters” contributions to come.
That all said, this begins year 10!
– Alan Kandel