Letters to the Editor, Aug. 30

    Get the history right

    Marcus Smith's article about OLLI was interesting, but the idea for SOLIR came from Sonny and Doris Klein from UCLA. They brought the idea to "SOU officials" who passed the "buck" to Meredith Reynolds, who contacted Art Kreisman, who got the ball rolling. Years ago, I read that "history" by the third generation is 60 percent hearsay. Let's get this part of the article right.

    Al Scott, Ashland

    Education alone won't do

    In assessing the parlous state of American society today and emphasizing the social barriers that all poor Americans, and black Americans especially, face today as they have for so many centuries, Chris Honoré performs a great public service and offers valuable directions on what steps American society and our politics need to take to finally allow a decent life for all Americans.

    Education, as Honoré emphasizes, is one key element in that solution. But there are other social resources that must accompany, and even precede, education as part of a solution. In a recent New York Times Op-Ed ("Is a Hard Life Inherited?", Aug. 9, 2014) Nicholas Kristof pointed out that America’s successful people did not succeed "just because of hard work and intelligence.” Rather, “Their big break came whey they were conceived in middle-class American families who loved them, read them stories, and nurtured them with Little League sports, library cards and music lessons. The were programmed for success by the time they were zygotes.” (Yes, "zygotes" — look it up!)

    Chris Honore, like Nicholas Kristof, is calling upon Americans to look with empathy upon all of our fellow citizens and, indeed, on all people, and then to set up a society in which all families thrive, with lifelong education and health care and social stability in a social world wherein all zygotes thrive. While time remains for us in this “Anthropocene Age,” we must make the decision to achieve that worthy goal.

    Gerald Cavanaugh, Ashland

    More planters for the Plaza

    The worst thing about the Plaza pavers is not that they are gray, but that they have replaced trees, so now they soak up the scorching sunlight all summer.

    Just around the corner on Winburn Way (opposite Sesame Asian Kitchen) there are beautiful architectural planters that could be a model for giving the Plaza what it needs most: greenery, shade, and seating. Planters like these could immediately elevate newly planted trees to shade more of the Plaza; at the same time their height would protect other plantings from being trampled. These planters have margins broad enough for seating, as well inset wooden benches with backs. Installing several of these large planters would transform the "Go Away" Plaza to a green, welcoming space. This would be much more beneficial than replacing the pavers.

    On a larger scale, making the area a pedestrian mall would improve downtown for everyone. If New York City can, why can't Ashland? Watch this TED talk by Mayor Bloomsberg's transportation commissioner, Janett Sadik-Khan: "New York's streets? Not so mean any more." www.youtube.com/watch?v=LujWrkYsl64

    Frances Dunham, Ashland

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