Help change world
Ask someone why they volunteer. Often, regardless of the response, we see affirmative answers frequently followed by a compelling silence that resonates, a silence and pause that demonstrate the true power, elegance and grace of volunteering.
Maybe we don't have the vocabulary or the cognitive complexity to even fathom the impact of our efforts. Maybe words fall short because volunteering is doing. It is getting things done. It is community building. It is action over rhetoric. Maybe our answer is a memory deeply rooted in a performance we witnessed as a child. Maybe the thank you's have added up over the years, and we volunteer because of that moment of silence we are afforded when the question is presented, when we can pause and reflect upon all the opportunities afforded to us, all the people we have met along the way, all the things we have learned and helped teach, all the people and places and communities we still want to help. It's maybe that simple.
A better question this week is, "Why aren't you volunteering?" April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week, and I hope we all take some time to volunteer somewhere in our community. With the addition of 50 new Dreamers into the program, the "I Have a Dream" Foundation is looking for tutors to help third- through 12th-grade students with math, science and reading, as well as volunteer adult mentors to help build sustainable and supportive relationships with the Dreamers.
If you are interested in volunteering as a tutor or mentor, apply online at ihaveadreamboulder.org or contact us at 303-444-3636, ext. 19.
Be the change you want to see in the world!
Problem with bison
Ted Turner's proposed gift of bison to the city of Boulder has good and bad things connected with the gift, including hidden and unintended consequences. Distracted drivers and tourists' cars suddenly stopping on the highway shoulders could become an additional hazard. There are the additional expense of constructing an under-highway tunnel, to let the buffalo roam the two tracts of land, and operation and maintenance issues. The size of the proposed buffalo herd is also important.
The principal use of a highway is to move cars from point A to point B at optimum speed. The principal use of this buffalo herd is to allow people to observe these animals without bothering the buffalo. Good luck on having these two uses coming together in a good way.
Darien a role model
I am the former owner of Buzz Coffee, which was right next to Longmont High School. It was a gathering place for Longmont High's students, parents, teachers and coaches.
I watched Jay Darien and his assistant coach come in to Buzz at 6 a.m. on so many occasions and observed them talking about the team, the players and basketball. Their commitment was unbelievable. The kids on the team who would come in were terrific. They were clean cut and so polite. Jay would be mentoring them on many occasions as I watched from a distance, and I wished all of the kids coming through the doors of Buzz would have access to such a great role model.
I went to the games. Yes, he was demanding. Yes, he expected the best from each girl. Yes, it was tough on them. But so is life. And I was thrilled see those girls fight through adversity to be the best they could be.
And then there was the flip side, the 23-year-old guy with the orange hair with quarter-size holes in his ears looking like he was in the Trench Coat Mafia, holding court out in front of Buzz with his cigarettes, his substance abuse and his bad attitude. Recruiting his team. Exactly what Longmont and our great country don't need. The exact opposite of Jay Darien. We need great role models, like him -- not like the guy with the orange hair.
And Jay Darien gets fired. For wanting these kids to be the best they can be. To have great values. To reach beyond their limits. I am ashamed of whomever made this bad decision, and if there was ever a time to change their mind, I think it's now. We need him back, not so much for basketball but for what he stood for.
The state rightly controls drilling
Hey, look: We don't want the oil companies to drill here (NIMBY), or there or anywhere. So, how many of us have abandoned our automobiles (which are significantly more dangerous to our children) and unhooked our homes and businesses from natural gas to cancel our need for fossil fuels?
While I appreciate NOAA's mission to save us from ourselves, it seems odd that one of its scientists would be out discussing a study (Erie) that scares the daylights out of people, but apparently hasn't been vetted or even published yet for review. This is a sure recipe for panic.
Further, knowing something of the critical role fossil fuels play in the newspaper industry, I was surprised to see Times-Call business editor Tony Kindelspire jumping aboard the anti-fracking bandwagon (April 1 column), for it should be clear that this issue is being exploited as a way to stop all drilling.
In his April 4 guest column, former city manager Gordon Pedrow wants each municipality to be allowed to put its own restrictions on drilling. The Colorado Legislature long ago considered that aspect and decided, properly, that to avoid the chaos that overregulation brings, the state must keep control. For the city of Longmont to even consider suing the attorney general of Colorado for enforcing the law is not a good idea.
Instead, I say, use that lawsuit money to chip-seal the streets. Uh-oh. That would require using lots of oil, and where does it come from?
Please, I'm not out to harm children. Also, I respect the gentlemen mentioned here and honor their freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, I feel sorry for people who have to drive to work to make a living. Shut down drilling and there's no place for gasoline prices to go, except up.
Medicare for all
There are only two essential elements to any health care system. The first element is that it provide quality access to health care and the second is that it be cost-effective and sustainable. Most of the advanced countries of the world have accomplished the first element and to some degree the second, although the sustainable part remains problematic.
From the standpoint of both of these essential elements the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act receives a resounding F. It qualifies as a political bill and one of the greatest examples of sausage making in the history of American legislation. There is literally something for everyone in the bill, but it fails to address the health care issues in any meaningful way.
The mandate is probably going to be ruled unconstitutional; mandating that the public purchase a private product is questionable. The Medicare program is partially supported by a tax, which is under the constitutional authority of Congress, and you can opt out if you choose. Second, the penalty for not buying the insurance is ridiculously low and hardly a deterrent to someone who doesn't want the coverage.
We could have accessible and sustainable health care for everyone (universal coverage) and no pre-existing conditions by simply expanding Medicare to everyone, with low-cost buy-ins for all individuals under 65: Everyone in and nobody out! We could also reduce the drug cost substantially by simply allowing Medicare to purchase drugs in bulk, as Veterans Affairs does.
The public understands the issue of accessible and affordable health care, no pre-existing conditions and no lifetime dollar limits. The only thing that stops us from having real health care reform is moneyed stakeholders and their puppet politicians. This issue speaks volumes about today's representative democracy.
Diversity Day at NHS was a valuable event
Niwot High School did an excellent job providing valuable information for our students on Diversity Day. My daughter said that the way it was presented was moving and meaningful. The inclusion of information about gender identity and understanding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities is essential in creating an environment that is safe and healthy for all students.
Local data show that youths who identify as non-hetero experience frighteningly high rates of unsafe school climate, harassment and violence. Boulder County lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) youths report "feeling unsafe or afraid at school most of the time" 10 times more often than their straight counterparts. And 22.9 percent of local LGBQ youths also report having felt "too unsafe to go to school" at least once in that past 30 days. This is unacceptable. Regardless of whether or not one sees sexual orientation and/or gender identity as a moral or ethical issue, it is concerning to me that any parent would not want to work to ensure that schools are safe for all of our children. In communities where there is more tolerance for diversity, LGBTQ youths are safer and heterosexual youths do better as well.
We live in a world made up of complex diversity and variation. We need to teach our kiddos to be respectful of the experiences and backgrounds of others. They need critical thinking skills and a basic education, as well as compassion and respect for others. Thank you, Niwot High School, for taking the time to tackle this material.
Marginalizing Ron Paul in the media
If you read both the Times-Call and the Post on Sunday, you would have seen articles on the Republican Assembly that was occurring that weekend. The Post article, written by a Post reporter, detailed the main story, that of Ron Paul and how he's picking up more actual delegates than expected. They even ran a picture of Ron Paul supporters on the front page and talked of the dissent within the party over Ron Paul.
The Times-Call article, on the other hand, was an AP article and was almost comical in its attempt to marginalize Ron Paul, even to the extent of calling his delegates "Non-Romney Delegates" just so his name wouldn't appear. And according to AP, everything within the party is fine and unified, with almost all delegates going to Romney. It was very interesting to note the differences in a local article versus a national one. It might tend to make one ask: Why is the national media marginalizing one particular candidate to the point of being blatant and trying to push another candidate with biased national reporting?
People really should be thinking about that, at least people who think for themselves and don't just blindly follow authority. As Ben Franklin said, "It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority."
Diversity Day good for students at NHS
I support Niwot High School's Diversity and Multicultural Day as a great opportunity for students to increase their awareness, knowledge and empathetic understanding.
Mr. and Mrs. Lamb wrote in part about their own high school experience with "the school sponsoring certain activities that exposed us to other cultures." My experience attending public schools in Boulder County in the mid-'60s and '70s was similar. In social studies we'd learn about different countries, and wrap up with a Cultural Day that included ethnic food, music and traditional clothing.
Times have changed since the Lambs and I were in high school, and I am grateful. We know that students who are harassed in school for being different do not succeed academically.
Diversity includes race, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, language, gender expression, religion, disability, and socioeconomic background. Diversity is not "left-wing political ideology" or "inculcating students with political correctness," as stated by the host of a local talk radio show. The goal of Diversity and Multicultural Day is to increase understanding of fellow students who may be different so they don't have to deal with the name-calling and prejudice of previous generations.
As parents, we are all concerned about the academic success of our students, which depends in part upon their feeling safe and accepted in school. Academic success goes beyond core classes and grades. Core character traits like responsibility, citizenship, kindness, respect, honesty, self-control, tolerance and cooperation are equally important.
We can probably all agree that we want our children to be happy and healthy and to grow into awesome adults. A school climate of acceptance is a significant factor in that happiness.
I would like to see all schools include age-appropriate Diversity and Multicultural Days because it's important for every person to be respected, valued and better understood.
Weeklong Library Festival a success
The weeklong Library Festival held April 9-15 in Longmont has been declared an unequivocal success by all who contributed.
Kudos to the Friends of the Library and library staff who worked hard to organize each event, especially the Authors Open House. It was not an easy task since there were more than 70 authors eager to discuss their writing and give autographs. The reception and evening of author readings earlier in the week were an entertaining highlight. The "You Belong Collection" of poems and essays displaying local talent was published expressly for the festival. It is well worth its $15 price tag.
"Hang out with writers" was the advice local author Bill Ellis received when starting out as a novelist. As an aspiring writer, I did just that and had a wonderful time.
If popular acclaim is any indication, the Longmont Library Festival could be a repeat performance next year. I certainly hope so.
Open house at the Senior Center
The Senior Citizens Advisory Board of the Longmont Senior Center, 910 Longs Peak Ave., is sponsoring a Welcome to Spring open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 27. It will be an opportunity for people 55 years or better to view our city-sponsored programs. We especially welcome those whose jobs prevent participation in daytime activities to come and explore the services and programs offered. The Longmont Hospital Prestige Plus and the city recreation department will also be participating.
We have computer classes, sports, trips, wellness clinics and many diverse classes. We have support groups for caregivers and grandparents raising grandchildren.
The junior leadership class at Silver Creek High School will be serving light refreshments. Try out line dancing and view our drumming group. A fun way to start off the weekend.
On human nature
It is in our nature to complain, boast and compete against one another. I do not like how much tomfoolery and cruel comments are thrown from one party to another or from one religion to another; however, if everyone thought, acted and looked the same, there would be no competition and independence would disappear. Plus it would most likely be quite boring, wouldn't you think?
I ask one question to all: If an individual is a member of one political party, and his/her brother is a member of the other, would they still discriminate against them? Nine times out of l0 the answer would be, "No he is my brother, so it's different."
Does that mean that everyone outside biological family is not important? I can go on about the everyday hypocrisy, but my point is there are just as many fools in one religion as the other, as well as every political group, business association, race and even among the poor, middle and upper class. This is just an ongoing competition of being better than others, when really they keep losing respect on the way!
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