Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

Common quality-of-life concerns

Dear Editors,

So the Responsible Growth Initiative (RGI) has failed. Does this mean that we should just sigh and say "oh well" or "whew!" and go back to what ever it was we were doing before? In the weeks before Election Day, I found myself swinging back and forth over the RGI. Eventually I felt compelled not to vote in favor of it for two reasons: where the seat for county commissioner was contested, both candidates were against it; and I read a very compelling letter by Dylan Norton who has as his credentials been on the Planning Commission and been a past president of the San Juan Citizens Alliance (SJCA). I believe the RGI was intended for good, but the manner of implementation and potential results were too questionable.

No, I don't feel we should go back to whatever it was we were doing before. I would like to challenge the members of the Friends of the Animas Valley (FOAV) and the Citizens for a Sustainable Durango (CSD) to bury the hatchet. I am positive that these two groups have some interests in common. Because aren't we all concerned about our quality of life? If the CSD didn't just form as a reactionary group and they really believe in what the word "sustainable" means and the FOAV hasn't become discouraged and is willing to compromise, I think theywill find some common ground.

This letter isn't just directed at the FOAV and the CSD. I would like tosuggest to all concerned citizens, community groups and our elected officials to hold a kind of summit that wouldopen up theissues that, if not all but most of us believe are important to address. Issues like: Affordable housing, traffic, recreation, development, natural resources, infrastructure limitations, sustainability and maintaining our quality of life. The purpose of such a summit should not be to point fingers or take sides. The purpose should be to join together andexamine these important issues in an effort to find ways to deal with them that most of us can agree on. We can put aside our disagreements for another day. The outcome might be that we discover how similar we are and that there are actual living, breathing human beings involved, not just a list of names in an advertisement. And more importantly, wecould also put together initiatives that address some of these issues that the voting public will be in favor of.

Perhaps as you are reading this you might be thinking, "This summit sounds like an interesting idea, but who's going to put it together?" Well here I am proposing the idea, I guess that means I'm volunteering. The truth is, I have almost no knowledge or experience in staging this kind of meeting. If what I am proposing is seen by the community as needed and useful, then I would ask for help from individuals and groups with mediation and facilitation expertise to bring about such an event. Let me know what you think, I'm in the phone book.

- Thank you,

Carsten Almskaar,

via e-mail

Horses going hungry in HesperusDear Editors,I'm outraged and hope others will be, also, to see starving horses in Hesperus on Highway 140 approximately 1 miles south of Highway 160. On a daily basis, I see five horses plus two foals on the east side of Highway 140 (owned by a guy named "Leftie") and 11 to13 horses on the west side of Highway 140 (owned by a guy named "Terry") left to their own means without food or water. These horses are not being fed, there is no grazing, and the ditch on the east side of 140 (the primary source of water for the five horses and two foals) is shut off.They need to be fed and watered on a daily basis or moved to a place that provides adequate care!!

Our animals need our protection and care.

- Pamela Hurley,Hesperus

Other avenues to responsible growth

Dear Editors,

FOAV would like to thank the 3,500 city voters who recognized the need for citizen input into the city's planning direction and supported the Responsible Growth Initiative. Although the initiative did not obtain sufficient votes to prevail, it is our hope that the city recognizes that the support the RGI received, more than those who participated in the last City Council election, was not insignificant. We believe city residents are now better informed about the city's plans for Durango's future.

In the Durango Herald's Nov. 7 article "City to Revise Guidelines," City Manager Ledger stated that it is "time to reassess" and "test the validity of the underlying premises and assumptions of the (comprehensive) plan." We agree and are encouraged by Mr. Ledger's acknowledgment.

In that spirit, and as FOAV takes a break to reorganize, we offer the following ideas in the interests of opening the city's planning decisions to a more inclusive, democratic process.

Both the city manager and city planning director refer to "misinformation" and that "understanding of city process is quite superficial." FOAV suggests that, as a first step, the city host a public meeting with a free-flowing dialogue to bring us all to the same page. Because a commitment to Durango's future should be the glue that binds us, we are interested in resolving any possible misunderstandings of fact that the city believes exist regarding issues raised during the initiative's campaign.

Secondly, Mr. Ledger stated it is "difficult to get the pulse of the entire community." FOAV proposes and offers its assistance in preparation of a "Sense of the City" questionnaire on a broad range of planning issues to be sent to every registered voter in the city. To assume that residents who do not attend an evening meeting have no interest in planning decisions is a faulty premise upon which too many flawed decisions have been made. The fact that residents may be pre-occupied with family, work or survival is no reason to be excluded from the process.

Third, we are further encouraged by the joint city-county request for proposal to conduct a regional transportation study announced this week for bid. Such a regional study is long overdue and has the potential to resolve traffic planning concerns raised during the RGI discussion. This study will develop a traffic model to explore various planning scenarios, especially the traffic impacts of "build-out" densities as envisioned in the Comprehensive Plan. If the model confirms that densities in the plan cannot be supported by adequate public facilities, the city will be able to assure that the true traffic implications of the Comprehensive Plan are clear, acceptable choices.

FOAV further suggests immediate consideration of a joint city-county vehicle to address the long-term, cumulative impacts of land-use decisions that are currently being made in a vacuum without recognition that we are one community.

These are but a few common sense approaches to begin a renewed dialogue. In order for a revised Comprehensive Plan to have credibility, any outreach by the city must not be seen as "business as usual" but rather a sincere step toward increased public involvement and respect for the opinion of all citizens.

- Renee Parsons,

Friends of the Animas Valley

Of sex and Snowdown

To the editors,

As a Durango resident and long-time lover of Snowdown, I wanted to express my disappointment in the depiction of "Weather Woman" on the upcoming Snowdown poster. I believe we need to consider the size, shape and vulnerability of Weather Woman's position and unveil a new design showing a powerful superhero, not just an offensive figure. Visit www.snowdown.org for a preview yourself. Women and girls are not sex objects, and this poster clearly objectifies us to be only that.

Studies have shown - and we all inherently know - that images showing a devalued and degraded woman or an unattainable standard of beauty is extremely damaging to the confidence of girls and young women. Continuing to emphasize a women's body and appearance over her other traits is destined to produce generations of women who don't feel good about themselves. Is that what we want for the young women and girls of Durango?

In studies of the way that images affect us, we learn that only 7 percent of an image is taken in by the conscious mind, while the rest is worked and re-worked in our sub-conscious. What that means is while it is understandable that the Snowdown committee hasn't yet declared that 1) Weather Woman's body is a shape that women and girls cannot physically ever be and 2) her scantily clad body shows her only as a sexual object and 3) her bodily position reminds us of a woman bound and tied in submission keep in mind that each of our subconscious minds knows those three facts, and each child and adult that sees this poster will learn these three lessons again and again.

Please contact our Snowdown representatives listed on the website at P.O. Box 1, Durango, CO 81302 and ask them to treat the women and girls of Durango the way we deserve - with respect.

- Cynthia Aspen,


Vigiling peacefully and lawfully

Dear Missy,

In regards to your article in the Nov. 4 Telegraph mentioning the two sign carriers on the corner of College and Main, one of whom was acting rudely and blocking traffic.

I belong to the Southwest Colorado Peace and Justice Coalition and we have been "vigiling" against the impending, subsequent and continued occupation of Iraq for over two years now. We stand, with our signs, peacefully and lawfully, on the corner of 11th and Main every Friday between 4 and 5:30 p.m., in front of the old post office.

We're careful to remain within our First Amendment rights of free speech and the city's request of not blocking traffic or the sidewalk. We get many positive responses but get "flipped off" often, and people in large, newer vehicles frequently shout suggestions not proper for family newspapers. While this barbaric behavior has diminished gradually as there are more and more people coming out of their comfort-induced stupor to realize that America is in really big trouble, we still have those diehards expressing their ignorance.

Perhaps the overzealous person was carried away by the urgency of the day, however, I didn't want his actions to reflect in a negative way on our efforts each Friday. We meet every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church on 489 Florida Road to try to maintain our sanity, join us sometime.

- Most Sincerely,

Mary Dumetria





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