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Letters to the Editors

Our health depends on Earth's health

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001

Re: Shell Key hangover, May 16.

The recent article about the trash left on Shell Key says a lot about our species. This problem -- in fact almost all our environmental problems -- stems from our misperception that we and nature are separate. Viewing nature as "other," we feel no loss or shame in harming it.

This strange belief of separation had never arisen in the thousands of years of human existence until a few centuries ago, in the Age of Enlightenment. Influential figures like Bacon and Descartes, followed by Locke and Newton, accomplished the hitherto unthinkable: They separated the human spirit from its origins in nature. This was an epic and fateful transformation in our species' self-perception, and one that eventually contributed to our willingness to mistreat the Earth.

This new philosophy placed humankind on the slippery slope into the abuses of the Industrial Age, then down into the era of the robber barons. Today we find ourselves in a new world order of transnational corporations that totally lack environmental or social responsibility and are driven solely by profit.

Stricter environmental laws are only a stopgap measure. Environmental destruction will end only when we acknowledge what we already know in our hearts: that the human animal is inextricably woven into the fabric of planetary life.

Today, influential thinkers including Elisabet Sahtouris, Thomas Berry and Joanna Macy are sharing a healthier world view: that human health and survival depend on the health of the planet. Once we grasp this, we will no longer despoil the Earth, for we will understand that to harm the Earth is to harm ourselves. Let us only hope that we are able to recognize this ancient wisdom before we bring about our own extinction.
-- William W. Douglas, St. Pete Beach

Fossil Park has no room for dog park

Re: Ten city parks mentioned for dog runs, May 13.

First, St. Petersburg City Council member John Bryan, District 2, needs to be informed that Fossil Park is not in his district. Fossil Park is in District 3 under council member Bill Foster.

Second, Fossil Park consists of facilities for youth baseball, a recreation center for all ages, tennis courts, basketball courts, two playgrounds and picnic facilities. I, for one, do not want to give up the limited "green space" for a dog park.
-- Sandra Wooldridge, St. Petersburg

Board members' comments appalling

Re: Asian Center's woes escalate, May 13.

I was horrified by the quotes attributed to some Juvenile Welfare Board members that appeared in the story regarding the financial woes facing the Asian FACE (Family and Community Empowerment) Center. Comments by Jeanne Malchon -- "We tried to work with you people" -- and the insults by Bob Dillinger, responsible for defending indigent people oftentimes from minority communities, asking FACE leader Bun Hap Prak, "Is this what you teach your children?" epitomize the problems facing our public institutions that are responsible for working to help lift up communities.

The attitude of superiority, the lack of adequate ethnic representation, and a lack of experienced individuals equal to the specific institutions' strategic direction often result in ineffective efforts within communities, and the communities often are blamed for those efforts failing.

I can't help but wonder if Malchon or Dillinger, neither of whom was a part of the JWB during the onset of the Neighborhood Family Concept, bothered to research the history of all of the JWB-funded Neighborhood Family Centers. I'm not a gambling woman, but my bet would be no. If they had, they may have come to the conclusion that not all of Asian FACE's failure can be attributed to it. The lack of sensitivity and insight demonstrated by these comments is, unfortunately, the norm for most public boards in this community.

It's time for taxpayers to start taking a more active role in analyzing who's responsible for setting policy and practice for their public dollars.
-- Maria Scruggs-Weston, St. Petersburg

Water restrictions kill vegetation

I wonder if our elected St. Petersburg City Council members and Pinellas County commissioners have any idea of the resentment being generated by our current watering restrictions. Grass is turning brown, and shrubs and trees are dying, all due to a lack of water. What is it going to be like when really hot weather gets here?

I have lived in my house for more than 50 years, and it is heartbreaking to see what is happening to my yard. If the water restrictions continue for any length of time, our city will resemble California cities with sand pits for lawns and cactuses for shrubs.

Many people have yards watered by small wells that require watering to be done in many sections. This requires multiple irrigation stations or multiple faucets as usually only two or three sprinklers can be used at the same time. Two four-hour periods one day a week is not enough time to water several areas. We need to return to the two-days-a-week watering schedule and increase the watering time to at least six hours. I think that until the city and county get serious about not issuing building permits for new construction and other projects that require large water usage that this resentment will continue to build. I would gladly make whatever sacrifices necessary to conserve water if everyone else in the county did the same.
-- Ray Lydon, St. Petersburg

Bus fare increases are unconscionable

Re: Through the bus doors, by Elijah Gosier, May 10.

Congratulations to Elijah Gosier and the Times for the fine feature on riding the bus and what the fare increases will mean to the aged, the disabled and the poor, who make up the majority of Pinellas County bus riders.

The politicians who enacted the unconscionable increases ranging from 25 percent to 150 percent do not depend on the bus and are unlikely to associate with those who do. Increasing fares and raising property taxes are the traditional means by which the PSTA board addresses the agency's perennial budget problems. It does that rather than improve service to the degree that most citizens can use the bus, or look at the agency's waste of money, which is so familiar to the employees.

When William Henry Vanderbilt decided to terminate the Chicago Limited, reporters asked him if the train was not run for the public. He replied: "The public? The public be damned." Wonder if he lived in Pinellas County.
-- John Royse, St. Petersburg

For safety's sake, turn on your headlights

There are people driving with no headlights on at 6:30 a.m. or 8:30 p.m.

My remark is: Turn your headlights on so you can be seen more easily by other drivers.
-- Sylvia Carpenter, Largo

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