VOICE TO PRISONERS
Your feature story on Mark Falkoff's efforts to re-humanize the detainees still held at Guantanamo is inspiring in these dark times when the First Amendment principle of habeas corpus has been so eroded [Cover story, Oct. 17: "Growing Old in Gitmo"].
His tireless human rights work to make these voices heard has also resulted in his publishing of Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak (University of Iowa Press). Many detainees were not allowed pen and paper and were reduced to drafting poems on Styrofoam cups with pebbles or to tracing letters with dabs of toothpaste.
The First Presbyterian Church, Collected Works and PEN New Mexico jointly presented a reading and discussion of Poems from Guantánamo on Oct. 1 to give voice to those prisoners who have been silenced over the last six years. On Friday, Nov. 2, Mary-Charlotte Domandi, a participant in the reading, will broadcast the event on her Santa Fe Radio Café-KSFR, 101.1 FM or www.ksfr.org. Listen to learn more or access the archives from KSFR's Web site.
PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT OF PEN NEW MEXICO
Please allow me to publicly thank all the people who were involved in producing the runway fashion show for Design Week, especially Nicole and her crew from Blue Monkey, who came in and provided hair and makeup, as well as Shawn Trujillo, the most awesome tech guy, and the many others, including many models who volunteered or went underpaid. It is always a ton of work to produce an event in a raw space, and small budgets can get blown sometimes in the last minute.
I have watched the evolution of Design Week from the beginning, having sat on the city's Economic Development Review Committee for three years after "The Plan" was adopted. I voted yes to double the funding in 2006, and watched the organizers this year plan enthusiastically with half that budget, after the city contract was begrudgingly signed in June.
The creative culture, the builders of "The Plan," are taken for granted. Artists and designers and organizers are always scrambling for funding, manifesting the creative physical reality for all to take part in and enjoy. Or, as the case is sadly too often, to sit back and predict its failure or pick apart every aspect of how it is all being done badly.
Organizers worked very hard, with very little time this year, to make a great thing happen, and there surely were great moments. But the fledgling event, entrenched in negative politics and with no real backing, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
If Design Week fans listen carefully to Zane's very reasonable, practical suggestions for Design Therapy, we may not feel the cold winds of systemic dysfunction blowing again next fall [Zane's World, Oct. 17: "Design Therapy"]. It is time to reinvigorate "The Plan" and put the money where our mouths are as a Creative City Destination for the rest of the world.
I am writing in regards to the ad, on page 9 in the Oct. 24 issue of the Santa Fe Reporter, which advertises the upcoming show for the Tiger Lillies. As an avid reader of the Reporter, and as someone who enjoys attending events at the Center for Contemporary Arts, I was surprised that both organizations would choose to publish such a deplorable advertisement.
Showing a photo of three men, with blood at their temples and streaming out of their noses, holding guns to their heads in an apparent mockery of suicide is not only poor taste, it is extremely insensitive.
For the 30,000-plus people who commit suicide each year in the United States, for the millions of people who are affected by those suicides and for those of us who have found loved ones dead at their own hands: To see this treated as a comedic display is cruel, frustrating and very saddening.
It is my hope that the editors of the Reporter will use better judgement in the future.
LOVE FOR ALL
As one of the residents at RainbowVision who was interviewed for the article on our community [Outtakes, Oct. 24: "Over the Rainbow?"], I would like to correct the erroneous characterization that I "wasn't looking for a mixed community." This gives the impression that I am opposed to straight residents coming to RainbowVision.
I said that I was initially attracted to RainbowVision as an LGBT retirement community, and moved cross-country from Washington, DC, to live here. Now I find an additional and welcome feature is the opportunity to create a community with the straight individuals and couples who enjoy living and interacting within our predominantly LGBT population. The beautiful symbol of the rainbow covers everyone here at RainbowVision.
A GOOD DECISION
We appreciated seeing your recent article in the Oct. 24 issue of the Santa Fe Reporter titled "Over the Rainbow" by David Alire Garcia and the fact that the author mentioned many of the positive respects of living at the RainbowVision community.
We are writing as residents at RainbowVision to add our voices to those who feel that moving to RainbowVision was the best decision we ever made.
We feel strongly that RainbowVision has in fact become a vibrant and caring community of gay, straight and other individuals and couples who have chosen to make this their home-a new type of intentional community as envisioned by its developers.
As is common in any new project, we recognize that RainbowVision has had its share of problems during the past year. Bricks and mortar issues and management problems, however, can and will be resolved with dedication and time.
We the undersigned want to invite all citizens of Santa Fe to stop by at any time to take a tour of our facilities and enjoy the warm atmosphere and the many varied activities we provide here at our beautiful home.
I have lived in Santa Fe for 15 years. Last January, I was invited to join a writing group at RainbowVision, was warmly welcomed and settled in easily. Since then, I have spent a lot of time there and made good friends. I am a lesbian and have enjoyed being with those residents, gay and straight, who choose to be active/interactive members of the community.
I am impressed with how they look out for one another, openly embrace differences and rejoice in how life can be shared, regardless of sexual identity. While I am pleased that several people who were interviewed by Mr. Alire Garcia firmly point out that they are happy and satisfied, there is an edge to the piece that seems to contain an agenda to put RainbowVision in a bad light.
Let's face it, there are no road maps for this type of community. While some worry that making it a mixed community could damage their sense of freedom as LGBTQ individuals, the community was always intended, from the beginning, as required by law, to include everyone, with no age or orientation restrictions. And the possibility that RainbowVision would not succeed financially without a broader clientele would do more than alter the dream, it would make it disappear. From what I've observed, this community is not only surviving but thriving as a "mixed" group. I think it's already a model for what those of us who still dream hope for anywhere.
As to those who are complaining about the lack of sold units, I note that they apparently got involved as speculators and are now feeling the pinch of not being able to realize the economic gain they anticipated. It seems they failed to recognize that speculation is inherently risky and that outcomes, especially in the volatile real estate market, are never certain. The market is poor in most communities right now and a unique setting such as RainbowVision is likely to experience more extreme shifts.
This development came from "lofty vision" and, as such, is an easy target. I suggest we spend our energy pulling for them to make it. We need success for projects like RainbowVision to get real change in this world.
RESPECT THE LAND
In regards to a letter from ORV enthusiast W Perry [Letters, Oct. 17: "Right to Ride"] and "Down and Dirty" [Outtakes, Sept. 26]:
I am sorry, but I have had firsthand experience with ATV riders harassing my livestock, cutting fences and cutting up the ground off of trails and starting erosion and personal harassment while riding young colts.
I have hunted and fished all of my life. Anywhere that is accessible to ATVs keeps wildlife away. I personally know of people chasing coyotes and trying to run them down, tearing up everything in the process.
I am not an extremist. I care about my home and the land we are fortunate enough to enjoy. I don't oppose to anyone using main thoroughfare roads and respecting the laws that are in place to protect our forests and wildlife. But unfortunately I have witnessed too much abuse too take your letter serious.
I take exception to W Perry's letter to the editor regarding the "Down and Dirty" battle over ATVs and dirt bikes on Forest Service land. The letter attempts to characterize those who oppose the use of off-road vehicles (ORV) on public lands as "extremists." The definition of extremist is "one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm." ORV riders make up only 6 percent of national forest users.
The norm, in this case, is the other 94 percent who use the forest for recreation. The vast majority of the 94 percent experiences ORVs in the national forest as at least a nuisance, if not a menace. ORV use in the forest is largely incompatible with other recreational uses because of the immediate impact ORVs have on the recreational experience. Dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles can be heard for miles as they tear through the woods.
Their exhaust fumes and penchant for speed makes coexisting with them in the forest highly challenging for hikers, campers, equestrians, bicyclists and lovers of nature. ORV users are ruining public lands in both the short-term and the longterm.
I have had several encounters with ORV users where my dogs and I were endangered by their reckless, high-speed driving and by their aggressive behavior. ORVs damage the soil, pollute the water and air, disrupt wildlife and present a fire danger. For examples of the damage they cause, visit www.wswatch.org or better yet, go just about anywhere in the forest and you can see their tracks off the roads (hence the term ORV).
Allowing this small group of recreational riders to ruin the forest at the expense of everyone else is extreme, but trying to limit where they can go in the forest is like allowing a few tables in a restaurant for smokers and expecting that the rest of the patrons will not be adversely affected by their smoke.
Fortunately, the public eventually rallied to ban smoking in nearly all indoor public spaces. We need to do the same in regards to ORVs in our outdoor public spaces.
The "Right to Ride" letter to the editor you printed is a clear sign that we are working against a group of people that are not open to dialogue. How can dialogue and negotiation happen if they refer to those that are thinking differently as prohibitionists and Nazis? It is sad to hear words like, "If you hear a biker, get off the trail" or someone disregard land as being unimportant.
National forests need to be protected. If we assign land to ATVs, what kind of future are these lands going to have? They will look as wastelands, trashed and destroyed. Is that what we want? I know I don't. I appreciate you putting this issue in your newspaper and allowing more debates about it. It would be nice to hear more from the less extremist and more articulate readers.
CRIME ON WHEELS
Dear W Perry,
It occurs to me that the vast majority of environmental damage and human tension injected into the national forests thanks to dirt bikes and four wheelers completely escapes you. You obviously have never seen a dazed and disturbed herd of Mule Deer who were rousted out of their bedding areas by such off-road vehicles. Apparently, you have never stopped to notice the stench of oil and gas mixed with clouds of mud in our precious water sources after your pals roar through on their ORVs.
Nor have you ever encountered a group of dirt bikers who, when officially informed they were about to violate a motorized vehicle closure, announced, "WE'RE GONNA RIDE ANYWAY" before they roared off. It is the lawless and irresponsible use of ORVs that has led to the general public's conclusion that your compadres are an out-of-control pox on the land.
I suspect that to someone who feels that their right to their ride supersedes the rights of everyone and everything else, calling for a moratorium on these vehicles in our woods might seem extreme. Yet to those of us who are traditional forest users, it is the actions of the ORVers that truly represent the extreme, and it is the call of the motorized clubs to open everything to their desires that screams of Nazism.
I'm sure that you are aware of the Forest Services' Travel Management Plan. If you are not, then allow me to inform you that a large portion of the proposed motorized routes were mapped illegally. In my own area, routes were submitted to the Forest Service that were mapped through criminal trespass, chainsawed into non-motorized areas, layed into endangered species' habitat and illegally smashed through fence lines and gates by ORV users. Wow, I sure am glad that the off-road vehicle folks are not extremists! Just imagine what your pals would do if they were.
Go ahead and brand folks that demand a return to sanity in our forest with whatever label you wish. I don't have to invent a label for the dirt bikers and four wheelers, they've already arrived at it themselves: criminals.
In response to W Perry and his opinions regarding ATVs and motorcycles in our national forests: I was very glad to read that you antidote your life behind the computer screen with a regular trip into nature. But I wasn't so happy to read that your trips don't seem to bring you enough solace to counteract your need to call those of us who are quiet recreationists Nazis, prohibitionists and extremists.
I am personally aware of at least 100 incidents on public lands that concern ATVs and motorbikes conflicting with other users of these lands, and the list grows daily. As for the damage you don't see, I am baffled and I ask you: Can you meet Mother Nature and the wild areas without ANYONE knowing you are there? Can you leave behind the way you move, the way you think, the way you operate, to become a part of her quiet, her power, her spirit? Can you see her not only as a sanctuary for your tired soul, but also for the animals who call it home, and for other humans craving refuge? Do you realize that the more we invade the wild spaces the less all users and residents, motorized or not, have to enjoy?
I am also very concerned that you think you aren't hurting anyone just because you ride slowly around cows and mountain bikers. What about the wildlife living in these areas? Do you ever think about how your motorcycle disturbs them and about the way you are disrupting their habitat?
CANADA DE LOS ALAMOS
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