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Letters 1/20-1/27


In reply to the Source (1/7)

We certainly concur with The Source's comment printed in Letter of the Week 1/7 that this is a space for opinion and discussion. We also understand the importance of freedom of speech and press. However, just as all of us choose our opinions, newspapers also choose which letters they print. That said, we also respect the difficulty at times of doing so responsibly while allowing for differences of opinion.

In his letter printed 1/14/16, Brent asked why we felt his original letter about affordable housing was racist. It was not about the obvious demographics of Bend. As The Source noted 1/7, the issue was that he drew a direct correlation between "white" affluence and a lower rate of crime. There are many reasons for increased crime in a community including poverty, but race is not one of them. That was our point. We are so used to covert and often unintentional racial slurs in our society that we often overlook the inference we or someone else has made. That sends a message, often inaccurate, to others listening.

In response to Martin's letter of 1/14, there are two definitions of cultural diversity. One refers to a community's arts and entertainment and we certainly agree with him that Bend excels in that sense for a community its size. However, the primary definition in our dictionary of cultural diversity is "the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society." The thesaurus indicates "ethnic" refers to a wide spectrum of social groups including racial, cultural, and ancestral. As Brent pointed out, Bend's demographics indicate a very small percentage of minorities live and work here.

So it appears that intention, definition, and as always, each of our own filters, has played a large part in this discussion.

—Marilyn Massey and William Castell

Ode for the Malheur standoff (1/14)

We'll shoot ya, they said

Cause you're better off dead

If you can't see your way

To give us our day.

Hey! Our pistols we'll draw

If you don't change the law

And turn back the lands

To our capable hands.

—Janet Whitney

Old bend Disappearing

"Those giant buildings over there? Can you believe it?" There's pain in her voice as she peers out the window and watches a new three-story building rise.

Mary Jane has lived in this neighborhood, on the edge of downtown Bend, for most of 70 years. She's watched as her neighborhood changed and families were edged out, one by one, and can tell you about the people who used to live here. Vacation dwellings took the place of what was once family housing. Mary Jane is a neighborhood icon-- there's a tiny park named after her on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Lava Road.

She remembers when 3rd Street near Safeway was once the home of sagebrush and wild jackrabbits.

The old lumber mill was the heart of the city and the families in this neighborhood could hear the whistles blowing at night. When the mill closed down, perhaps we lost a way of life?

Old Bend is just about gone now, and those who are in charge of making decisions about building don't seem to answer to 96-year-old grandmas. How different it might be if they did.

—Vanessa Houk

Snowshoe vs. Fat Biking

Fat biking is an increasingly popular sport. I welcome it as an enthusiastic cyclist – mountain biking, road, triathlon - but there is a problem beginning to fester at Swampy and Meissner Sno-Parks. Tense confrontations between those on wheels and those on cross country skis or on snowshoes. Fat bikes are using the snowshoe and country-country trails. Even on multi-use trails the trailhead protocol explains right-of-way: those on wheels give way to those on foot but the claim that the snowshoe trails are 'multi-use' is by itself a point of contention given the unambiguous signage at the Sno Parks. Being asked to step aside by cyclists on trails that are a mere shoulder width wide is provocative. No doubt being invited to 'go around' is equally provoking when a bike and rider would sink several feet into the snow. This has led to heated exchanges which could easily deteriorate into something more. There is a real danger to hikers from cyclists on downhill trails, a bit like being buzzed by a motorbike club on the road, albeit in a snow trench. Stepping off the packed surface is for hikers often to risk being swallowed by the snow and a struggle to regain the trail. Hence the potential for tense stand-offs. Time for cool heads and some clarification by the Forest Service.

There seem to be three options.

1. Rewrite the rules of the trail - give cyclists precedence over hikers. Bound to be horribly controversial and would fly in the face of the existing protocols for trail use.

2. Segregate the users of the Sno Parks. Cross country skiers have separate trails from snowshoe hikers today, so implement a third trail for cyclists, as at Wanoga. Also controversial as cyclists would need to create and maintain a new trail system, just as hikers and cross country skiers break trail, today.

3. Ban fat biking at Swampy and Meissner. Controversial but dogs are banned at Swampy and Meissner but permitted at Wanoga so there is clearly a Forest Service precedent for restricting activities that are deemed disruptive and a precedent for park management of this nature.

Angry words will inevitably lead to pushing and shoving which will escalate at some point to something more serious. The issue needs some light shed on it to ignite a debate and provide an incentive to the Forest Service to address it before we hear of broken noses or worse. No doubt the community should be canvassed but a moratorium on fat biking until the results are in seems a sensible approach.

—Gavin Leslie

In reply to "Malheur Refuge Resident calls out Bundys" (Facebook video, 1/15)

Great message, especially about patience and about the certainty that the refuge still belongs to all of us. Stay steady. Don't let Bundy's Band of Bullies get the wish of martyrdom.

—Nancy Louise Clayton

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