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

Experiencing real poverty

Dear Editors,

I’m pretty floored about this exercise in futility known as “Walk a Mile.” What a nice idea, but it seems like a waste of money that could be better used serving the people it’s meant to help. What a testament to the disparity between the working class and the policy makers to see that such a paltry few decided to participate. My hat’s off to Renee Parsons, Wally White, Sheryl Ayers, Mark Larson and Ed Morlan. They actually are willing to pretend to be underprivileged for one whole month. To not be able to eat in Main Avenue’s wonderful restaurants! To have to actually shop at Walmart! Comical, indeed. But those who actually do struggle to get by (40 percent of La Plata County by Presler’s account) aren’t laughing.

If this exercise were to really be accurate, the participants wouldn’t get their food stamps until December, since it takes up to 45 days from application to receive them. But they might enjoy going to the food bank (only once every two weeks, please!) and letting someone else tell them what they and their family can eat. Perhaps, they’ll have Thanksgiving dinner at the soup kitchen, since their food stamps will surely run out by then. Let’s hope they don’t become ill, because they would have very few choices. They could wait until they’re so sick they need emergency treatment. Or, they could quit their jobs so they can meet the $300/month gross income requirement for Medicaid – for a family of four!! Of course, they could get a second or third job to cover expenses, but at $7.75/hour, it would barely cover child care and gasoline – hardly worth it.

Should I even mention housing in Durango? If it wasn’t for low-income housing (which comes with its own requirements, restrictions and privacy invasions), many families would be sleeping in their cars or living at the shelter.

The cruelest twist? Once one becomes involved in public assistance, it becomes extremely difficult to break free. To bridge the transition between trying to earn enough to support yourself and making five dollars above the cut-off for assistance is frustrating to say the least.

My question to the five participants is: What will you do with this humbling experience? What policies can you change? How can you make it easier for almost half of your constituents to make a living and support their families?

I hope something more than water cooler conversation comes of this. For the participants, this is an interesting and temporary foray into the realities of so many. For so many, this is life.

- Karoline Nixdorf , Durango


Critical Mass backfires

Dear Editors,

I participated in the Critical Mass bike ride last Friday and found that the spirit of community and fun among a large group of cyclists was great. However, I was disappointed in the conduct of the group in general, which in many cases counteracted the goals of the Critical Mass movement.

As promoted, Critical Mass is a “friendly takeover” of streets, hopefully increasing respect and goodwill toward bicyclists. Unfortunately, much of the riders’ behavior was anything but friendly and respectful.

Bicyclists deliberately blocked traffic by circling around in intersections while cars were made to wait at green lights. They surrounded a vehicle so that it couldn’t move until the angry driver had to exit his car to confront them. Sadly, the bike ride ended with the police getting involved so that traffic could continue.

None of this was necessary. A large group of cyclists riding through town can make a strong statement without being rude or breaking traffic laws. If they purposefully anger motorists, they only contribute to a lack of mutual respect which makes bicycling less enjoyable and more dangerous.

I believe the Critical Mass rides have great potential to increase awareness of and acceptance of bicyclists. However, this can only happen if riders show that they and motorists can respectfully share the streets.

– Sincerely, Janae Hunderman, Durango


Throwing out the woman

To the Editors,

President Bush’s far right base has thrown out the woman and now has their “woman punisher” poised for the Supreme Court. The right-wing has not had such a “hard-on” since prolonged hearings where they merrily frolicked in examination of Monica Lewinsky’s panties.

Just as a one-winged bird cannot fly, this country under right-wing control will mire itself in a vicious circle, as our dream of justice, equality, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is screwed.

– Kassandra Johnson, Durango


In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows