How sad that John Clouds’s article “Scents and Sensibilities” (12/20/96) on the trash transfer station in Brentwood showed promise as an insightful example of civic journalism but degenerated into an insensitive and elitist piece of writing. Cloud’s language and flippant tone mock Ms. Wilson and the “rundown neighborhood” where she and I reside. Cloud neglects to mention the role of environmental racism in the site-selection of trash transfer stations. He fails to mention that out of the seven transfer facilities in D.C., five of those are in Ward 5, and yet another waste company seeks a permit to build on New York Avenue in Northeast. With so many facilities in such a small area, the air does smell, and it isn’t a “faint eau d’essence” but an offensive odor.
I take offense at the characterization of Brentwood. Like most of D.C., Brentwood is home to a variety of people of varying economic levels. The residents there pay their taxes, mortgages, and rents and, like Wilson, seek to better their neighborhood. Cloud’s portrayal of Wilson’s concerns in such a cavalier manner did a disservice to the residents of this community.