Letters for the Week of August 31

Readers sound off on gay seniors, Proposition 13, and Bawdy Storytelling.

“Aging Back in the Closet,” Feature, 8/17

American Society on Aging Weighs In

This is a great article, and brings needed attention to an important topic. However, I’d like to offer a correction to one point. You write, “National LGBT organizations like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders) are working to promote LGBT senior rights, and have gotten groups like AARP and the American Society on Aging to consider this population in their efforts.”

As a matter of fact, the ASA, a professional membership organization, has been a pioneer in bringing attention to the issues and concerns of the LGBTQI population. Our LGBT Aging Issues Network, one of eight membership constituency groups, was first formed in 1994 and brought national attention to LGBT aging at a time when SAGE was a local New York City social service provider, and organizations such as the task force were definitely not prioritizing the issues of LGBT elders. All of the organizations and people discussed in your article are doing and have been doing great work. But it is a matter of record that ASA has been a leader, not a follower, in these issues. Visit our website at ASAging.org.

Robert Lowe

Senior Director, Operations and IT, and staff liaison to LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) of the American Society on Aging, San Francisco

New Tools for a New Issue

I want to thank you for your article on LGBT elders who are being forced back into the closet for fear of discrimination in long-term care communities across our nation. Yours was a very compelling, articulate article that very succinctly explained the issues.

I oversee a program called Gay & Grey, in Portland, Oregon. We provide services, activities, and advocacy for older members of the LGBT community. Our newest initiative includes the development of a housing assessment tool that evaluates and rates long-term care communities on how welcoming and friendly their communities are for LGBT elders and LGBT family members. We just finished the training and orientation for the core group of volunteers (older LGBT people) who will begin doing the assessments on a group of communities who have agreed to pilot this project with us. The assessment includes access to diversity trainings that we have been doing for nearly ten years, to help community staff and residents better understand these complex issues.

Thanks again for giving your voice to this very important issue!

Mya Chamberlin

Director of Services for Seniors and Homeless Families, Friendly House Inc.

Help Is Out There

Great article!

I am a registered nurse who has worked in hospice/end-of-life care for more than ten years. This is specifically why I am starting my own business. I have known for some time that a facility where gays and lesbians feel comfortable is needed.

The interesting part of the article to me is that it actually had to print the rights of gay people, and that companies need to train their employees. It really is nothing more than two people who are in love. Do we really need to train people to care for people who care for each other? That is truly sad to me.

My company, Pacific Respite, is an all-inclusive company. This is a place where everyone is welcome. We specialize in terminal illness and end-of-life care, but are not limited to just that.

If you are in need of assistance caring for someone, please feel free to contact me ([email protected]) with any questions. I am not looking for business; I am looking to help. I have been doing this a long time, on both the East Coast and West Coast, and may be able to answer some of your questions.Thank you to Nancy Lopez for the article.

Kay Daniels, Alameda

“An Outside Lands Recap,” 8/17

The Girl-Guitarist Glass Ceiling

“Because having a female member is still a sort of novelty, acts that aren’t really that good get press even if they don’t yet deserve it.”

Wow. Replace any other “visible minority” with “female” and you will see how bigoted that statement is.

Also, she is more than a “capable” guitarist — it sounds, by your tone, as though you were surprised she was able to play at all. Gross.

Clara Engel, Montreal, Canada

“Talking About Sex — and Being Asian,” Culture Spy, 8/17

A Conversation All Teens Could Use

Kudos and keep up the good work, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice! Given the increasingly exploitive market forces targeting teens and parents that are preoccupied with current hard economic times in all ethnic communities, it’s not only the immigrant Asian teens who could benefit from a group like ACRJ!

Ruby MacDonald, El Cerrito

“Thinking About a Career in Yoga?,” Education and Careers, 8/10

Tied in Knots

I just finished three years of advanced yoga studies at the Berkeley Yoga Room. I read the article twice and realized that I had learned nothing whatsoever — and moreover, that it is a great example of the non-sequitur scare story. The author’s only evidence proving how hard it is to find employment as a yoga teacher is “anecdotal evidence.” My job search has revealed the opposite to be true: that there are lots of jobs in the Bay Area for yoga teachers.

I bet when the author started as a journalist, people told her how hard it was going to be for her to break into professional journalism. Americans love to remind one another how difficult it is to start a new career or business, or realize an idea.

Let me make my point by asking a question: Are there really careers or degree programs where one just waits around while the phone rings off the hook with unsolicited offers of employment?

Life is only as hard as you believe it is. This article is time well wasted. Namaste.

Tyler Palmer, Orinda

“Regaining Trust,” News, 8/10

Take Back the Land

I commend Ian Winters, Francis McIlveen, and others striving to revitalize the Northern California Land Trust, a nonprofit provider of permanently affordable housing and commercial space for people and community groups of modest means. The organization’s history actually goes back to the mid-Seventies, when a few activists in the farmworker, organic farmer, land-use planning, renewable energy, peace, and social justice movement (not sic) recognized the need for land reform in the United States. The first community land trust in the United States was organized by black civil rights leaders in the South, with the help of the late visionary Robert Swann, a WWII conscientious objector educated in prison by Arthur Morgan, an FDR brain truster. Secure land tenure is step one of a viable economy, along with community-controlled credit and currency, and worker owned co-ops. Consultants mistakenly apply a nonprofit housing developer model — which is dependent on government subsidy and banks — to community land trusts, which Winters and McIlveen are trying to rectify. The “housing bubble” causing the most recent economic meltdown (along with banks) was actually a land bubble. Japan and Britain, which suffered earlier such meltdowns, are starting to recognize this. Land, which is the birthright of all, must be taken out of the speculative market for any kind of stability or fairness. For a primer in decentralist economics, check the E. F. Schumacher Society’s website, and the work of the late Mildred Loomis, of the School of Living, in Pennsylvania.

Dale Becknell, Oakland

“The Great Land Grab.” Eco Watch, 8/10

Abhorrent and Grotesque

Can our existing, predatory corporate culture, gorging itself as it does on human suffering and misery, get any more cruel and rapacious than this? What is Western civilization if this is what it comes to? If we are incapable of imposing restraints on this behavior by corporate culture, the entire Western system of economics deserves to fail and to fail completely. The sooner the better. Even if we all have to suffer in the process, it is better in the long run.

We have created a system utterly devoid of humanity or conscience, abhorrent and grotesque to the core. God have mercy on us all, if we cannot do any better than this.

Ann Shannon, Portland, Oregon

“A Tale of Two Economies,” Full Disclosure, 8/10

Republicanism and the Red Menace

I think the root of the problem is the false capitalism we’re seeing.

Republicans can agree with Democrats and others on some issues, but when it comes to voting time, those who call themselves Republicans will always choose what they’ve been led to believe is a capitalist over a socialist. “Better dead than red” worked then, and it works now.

Labeling Democrats as socialists, while wearing the cloak of capitalism, has given the Republicans the upper hand for decades. Democrats keep having to prove they aren’t socialists, while no one questions the Republicans on their non-capitalistic actions (e.g., corporate subsidies). Libertarians had a chance when Republicans joined out of disgust with George W. Bush, but quick-thinking Republicans lumped them with radicals — and voilà, Tea Party.

Now, the Republicans are giving voters another false choice: radical Tea Partiers, plain ol’ Republicans, or those damn socialist Dems. And voters who left will return to the Republican Party they “know,” and regard Bush II as just a bad apple.

Tracie Douglas, Columbus, Ohio

“Spicing Up Sexy Storytelling,” Culture Spy, 7/27

Just Listen

The author seems to be going back and forth too much to be able to tell her opinion, honestly. As in any social situation, you are going to have better-than-average stories and just-average stories, but the point of the whole thing is to open up the audience to new perspectives, and having them laugh at the same time never hurts. Some of the more jaded individuals in the audience might text rather than listen, but that is to their detriment. Every story shared enlightens the listening. You just have to pay attention beyond your own ego.

Christine Rosakranse, Oakland

“An Edible Legacy,” Restaurant Review, 8/10


Beautiful article. Berkeley needs to read more inspired stuff like this rather than jealous ranting. Thanks so much.

J. Holland, Berkeley

“The Elephant in the Room,” Feature, 7/27

Prop 13 Is the Problem

Proposition 13 has handcuffed California’s budget by not only limiting property taxes but by making it extremely hard for its legislators to pass any new laws that would raise taxes. People call for lowering taxes but they still want the government to provide all of its current services with no added cost. Where is this money supposed to come from? California’s “fiscal constitution” needs some revision, or soon we will all see the day when we have to pay out of pocket to ensure the fire department will even respond to a call. Or, where we have to provide a credit card number when dialing 911. Is this a little extreme? Who knows, we will see soon enough if California continues its current budget trends.

Cody Stroman, Concord

“The Blair Park Project,” News, 6/22

They Don’t Need a Field

My family has lived in Piedmont for more than fifty years now. My siblings and I are all graduates of Piedmont High School. I find it repugnant and horribly distasteful how some residents choose to show their egos and spread out million-dollar private displays of money for the “children.”

While growing up in Piedmont in the Sixties, we all participated in — and excelled at — sports. Although soccer was not included, we were active in football, baseball, track, tennis, and swimming. All of us kids went on to college and have many different levels of accomplishments.

Don’t develop that strip of land. If anything, just clean it up and enjoy the peaceful scenery. The “children” will be just fine, even if they have to leave the city limits to practice. We even walked to school back in the day and probably got more exercise than playing part of a soccer game; no computers and lounging around watching movies all day. We were street-smart kids and made it just fine. We didn’t need any stinking soccer field.

Michael White, Paso Robles, California

Miscellaneous Letters

A Labor-Day Reminder

While the Express often covers the many contributions made by our community’s working men and women, I hope that on this Labor Day we can all highlight the efforts of a particular group that sometimes goes unnoticed — the construction industry’s merit shop craft professionals.

Merit shop craft professionals are highly trained and highly skilled, performing a wide variety of jobs in the commercial and industrial construction industry — carpenters, electricians, masons, pipe insulators, plumbers, and sheet metal workers, just to name a few. But what sets merit shop workers apart from others in the construction industry is that they can be multi-skilled, with no limit on their opportunity to advance as far as their dreams allow.

The evidence of their hard work is all around us. They build the offices where we work and the schools our children attend, along with hospitals, restaurants, stores, and the other venues that make our communities unique.

So on this Labor Day, let’s remember to thank all of the construction craft professionals, regardless of labor affiliation, whose hard work building America each day improves all of our lives.

Toby Cummings

President, Associated Builders and Contractors, Golden Gate Chapter


Our August 24 Culture Spy, “Sistahs Steppin’ Out,” misstated the year Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride began. It was 2002.

In our August 24 cover story, “The Road Less Traveled,” we misspelled Fred Shuck’s surname.


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