Sunday, May 16, 2004

Letter to the Editor

I don't do this much anymore, mostly because I don't feel like newspapers represent my opinion anyway anymore, but this article in the Seattle Times just got me a bit hot under the collar, and I had to write. I'd appreciate feedback on how effectively you think I got my two main points across, and if you detect any bias in my letter that I may not be aware of. I just sent this off:

To The Editor,

Susie Peterson says (in your Sunday article) that her daughter "can put her little 6-year-old finger through the chain-link fence" that separates her daughter's school from the location of the tent city. What does Peterson think the tent city is? A group of rabid dogs inclined to bite little 6-year-old fingers? And she's willing to trust her child with the school every day, but unwilling to believe that the school can protect her child from whatever imagined horrors Peterson sees in the tent city?

I live less than a block from the church, and less than two blocks from the proposed placement of tent city. I'm not inclined to panic. St. Brendan has always been a good neighbor, and I trust them to keep faith with the people in our neighborhood. If there's a problem, I expect they will deal with it promptly.

No, I'm much more concerned and disturbed at how this decision was made so quickly and without community input. There was no time given for anyone to get used to the idea, much less for irrational fears, like Peterson's fear for her daughter's finger, to be addressed. Having something like this forced on a group of people will always bring out the worst in those people. While I don't believe that this tent city poses a threat, it would have been nice, not to mention polite, for the church and the representatives to give us some time to discuss and learn.

The resentment they have caused by ignoring the community is not going to help them. I trust they will consider their next move a little more carefully. In the meantime, I'd like to say to them: Welcome to the neighborhood. Please don't disappoint those of us who aren't opposed to your visit.

Laura Gjovaag