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Keep the dream alive

To the Editor:

As a statewide organization whose members march annually in Denver's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, we're pleased to know that it ranks high among the nation's largest tributes to Dr. King.

We believe that it is wrong, however, to interpret the relative size of the march (still much less than a single Rockies game) as a symbol, in any way, that Colorado is holding up its commitment to Dr. King's dream of equal opportunity for all.

While Colorado, unlike California, has yet to face an avalanche of racially divisive initiatives, many elected and appointed officials have quietly waged a behind-the-scenes battle on Dr. King's call for equal opportunity. This battle has been waged against affirmative action in college admissions; against women, people of color and people with disabilities seeking promotions in state government; against minority-owned businesses overlooked in state contracting; against women and people of color seeking political appointments from the governor; and against entire communities forgotten in the state's economic "boom."

Let's not forget that, for the one day each year when we attempt to reignite a commitment to Dr. King's dream, right-wing "leaders" work every day to erase his legacy. Gov. Owens, extremist legislators, and appointees selected for their campaign contributions are working to end policies that ensure access to equal opportunity for all. Don't be fooled by their vague, opportunistic calls for "diversity." Colorado can -- and must -- do better to keep the dream alive.

-- Bill Vandenberg, co-director
Colorado Progressive Coalition

Hi ho, hi ho

To the Editor:

One verse you didn't have (Domestic Bliss, Jan. 13):

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to school we go,

They teach us junk and then we flunk,

Hi ho, hi ho hi ho hi,

Ho ...

Thanks for the memories.

-- Ben Roesch
Colorado Springs

Up on the farm

To the Editor:

A belated thanks to you and to Rob Gordon for providing a good read ("Providence Moves," Jan. 6). His adventures at Lone Cottonwood Farm sounded wonderful -- sign me up for the next harvest. If we had more residents with his life attitude and perspective, this could be a wonderful community.

-- Carol Lubell
Colorado Springs

Down on the farm

To the Editor:

Reading Rob Gordon's prosaic and quaint essay about life on the "farm," I was reminded of a valuable lesson learned in a writing class. One of the students had taken all of two tae kwon-do classes and had proceeded to write an essay about Zen Buddhism, martial arts and the soul. The professor stated that he was completely taken aback that she would be so presumptuous as to write the essay with so little real-world experience in the martial arts. He made the excellent point that the truth of the world speaks through us, not us to it -- and he was much more interested in what "real" martial arts practitioners had to say about such issues. He wisely stated that her essay could have been written before she had ever taken a martial arts class. Ultimately, the question of authenticity was raised. The professor taught that respect requires attention and reverence, silence. Respect and reverence, combined with commitment and patience, create a space in which wisdom will eventually speak.

I raise this issue with respect to Gordon's essay, because I grew up in a small farming community in Iowa. I have extended family and friends who farm. I think of how hard those families work and sacrifice to sustain their farms; how they actually live the cycles of planting, caring and harvesting. These families have farmed through drought, flooding, the economic hardships of the farm crises, and the injuries and death so common to the farming life. They feed people. They do not bail out at the first sign of economic inconvenience or a crippled stock portfolio. I have to wonder what this summer dalliance into their vocation and lifeblood really has to say that they could possibly relate to? I think of this essay, and I think of the wisdom of my professor.

I would also like to take issue with the incredibly trite statement that "people need to eat, they don't need software." Rob, are we to suppose that 15 years of coding never put a single meal on your table? Shit, Rob, you should have declared yourself a non-profit and gotten some tax breaks. Yes, people need to eat; the tragedy is that there are so many people that go hungry. And I don't believe that selling lettuce to the Broadmoor crowd, or worse yet, the arrogant and self-righteous Independent crowd exactly qualifies as addressing hunger. Finally, I can't help but feel that a vocation I respect, practiced by people I love, has been sugar-coated, made trendy and spoon-fed to the "enlightened" readers of the Independent, who can now sleep soundly feeling that they have a subtle and firm handle on the rural life. I can see it now, John Hazlehurst and Annie Oatman-Gardner, agrarian communitarians -- and wouldn't that make the rest of us throwup in unison.

-- Jeff Hanson
Manitou Springs

Rob Gordon responds:

It is tough to respond to Jeff's anger, not having read the>resumptuous essay to which he compares my own writing. All I can do is remind him of what my piece said.

I made no claim to be a "real" farmer. In fact, three times I referred to myself as an "aspiring" farmer. I made no claim that writing software never put a meal on my table. I talked only of the difference in meaning, to me, of work as an end vs. work as a means. I made no claim that I was hunger problem. But I would suggest that farming had better become "trendy" if it is to survive at all beyond the control of a few mega-corporations that don't give a rat's ass about world hunger.

As for your charge that I was "selling lettuce to the Broadmoor crowd," I plead guilty with qualifications. I would only add that issues of food justice are important to me, and my long-term farming plans will address them. I made no claim of having anything to say to your farming friends and family back in Iowa, though I do know that at least one member of a local ranching family and one dairy farmer in New York loved the piece.

If the piece was "sugar-coated," it was because it was a good year, I was lucky, and many people had lots of fun. I made no claim that it is always that way. Finally, who said anything about "bailing out"?

Sacrificing the forest for the trees

To the Editor:

The much-discussed new millennium is upon us, and Christmas is over for another year. I love the Christmas season with all its trimmings. The twinkling lights, the cheap and cheerful plastic Santas which brighten the long, dark winter evenings. But, as I packed away my decorations, I felt saddened by the stockpile of discarded Christmas trees outside my apartment window. Their needles still green, they didn't look ready for their impending disposal. I romanticized about taking them to a forest and replanting them, but their roughly sawn trunks reminded me, green as they may have seemed, they were well and truly dead.

Colorado is a mountainous region whose natural beauty is enhanced by forests of fir and pine trees. We enjoy hiking through these forests with their rich earthy scents, listening to the wind whistle through the branches like the waves of the ocean. And how postcard-pretty that first sight of snow-laden branches. What a sad parody of that natural beauty those trees chucked on the dump outside my window.

In an age when globally we are suffering the consequences of our abuse of nature, shouldn't we behave more responsibly? Trees are living things; we enjoy them and probably take them for granted more than we should. I can't claim to be a committed ecologist and don't want to be a Christmas scrooge, but isn't there some other solution to trees which are discarded as soon as the turkey is finished and the presents are opened?

-- Angela Skelton
Colorado Springs

Park your burning butt

To the Editor:

People, tossing a lit cigarette butt out of your car window is LITTERING. It's also IRRESPONSIBLE and downright STUPID! In Colorado's dry and windy weather, it can cause a problem known as FIRE. Unexpected, uncontrolled fire is a very BAD thing. The best place for an unwanted cigarette butt is an ASHTRAY. Your car has one. Please use it.

-- Nicole Rosa
Colorado Springs

The people's candidate?

To the Editor:

For years, conservatives across the nation have been pushing English-only laws in various states, claiming that officially using other languages undermines America. As such, I was surprised to see on the evening news that in California, conservatism's likely standard-bearer in the next presidential election, Texas Gov. George Bush Jr., is running campaign ads in Spanish and, if I heard correctly, Greek. Isn't that blatant hypocrisy?

-- Paul Dougan

Thanks, Colorado Springs

To the Editor:

On behalf of Memorial Hospital and its Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care units, I would like to thank those members of the community who generously donated to the children during this holiday season. Our patients and their families sincerely appreciated your efforts and were touched by the outpouring of holiday warmth and spirit.

-- Linda Edison
Clinical manager of Pediatrics and
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
Memorial Hospital

and more thanks

To the Editor:

Just six weeks ago, Colorado Springs All Breed Rescue came to the aid of seven 3-day-old puppies which were abandoned. At this young age without a mother, we weren't sure they would survive, but we fostered each dog, and now all seven are happy, healthy bundles of fur.

We would like to sincerely thank each and every person and business who came to our pups' rescue with donations of puppy formula and food, blankets and heating pads, baby bottles and prayers which helped these tiny babies live. Monetary donations helped cover the antibiotics and regular veterinary checks. We just simply couldn't have done it without all of you.

What might have been a tragedy became a true Christmas miracle. Thanks you, Colorado Springs!

-- Kat Percival, president
Colorado Springs All Breed Rescue

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