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Web Letter

In response to Michael Chiaradonna's letter:

1. We need to focus on the youngest and oldest of our generations coming together in public school settings where programs such as "The Edible Schoolyard" can provide a social and cultural context for rethinking what our founding fathers (John Adams and his friends) really had in mind.

The restoration of a "John Dewey" based public school system is embodied in the Edible Schoolyard programs, which are being implemented nationally at only three public schools. This is unacceptable.

2. The real ground level is literally the ground level--gardening on public school campuses which are all open 24/7 with public/private partnerships and inter-agency cooperation. This leads to facilities all over the country that become twenty-four-hour citizenship and education centers. And it begins with the comfort and symbolism of the common ground garden.

The revolution, people, is a green one. Now.

3. Teachers need to be re-taught how to teach history properly.

We need to support excellent teacher education programs, such as LAUSD/Annenberg/Huntington collaborative project called the "American History Institute." This program no longer exists in LAUSD. (I believe it's going full force now in Lynwood Unified School District). Perhaps LAUSD dropped this excellent program, developed by Reuben Zepeda, because the thrust of the program was to drastically change the way teachers thought about teaching history.

Throw away the books! Bring in the excitement of the stories of people's lives! Use online primary sources! Read historical fiction! And learn how to garden and market the crops.. Cook the food organic and fine. Empower the poorest of the poor, the least fortunate of all humanity.

Read novels like Walter Mosely's, which teach the inequities that exist but that can be removed from American culture.

Linda Slater Gilbert

Los Angeles, CA

Sep 16 2007 - 2:39pm

Web Letter

Looking back on the days since Hurricane Katrina, I must agree with Mr. Mosley and his assertion of a failed government. In this day and age, our government is so concerned with gaining power and trying its best to become some sort of hegemony. A great example of this is the war in Iraq. There was no real reason for the war, and now there are hundreds of troops dying, and they are trapped in Iraq all over something that never really existed in the first place. It seems as if our government is so concerned with bring others up, but neglecting to focus on the needs of its own people. Hurricane Katrina was a disaster that surely could've been taken care of, had the government invested more time into planning and evacuating the area. But because of factors like race, poverty and age there was no rush to save these people.

Like many have said, this country was built on a democracy that only exists for rich white men. The very foundations rest on the "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" for a small amount of people (which didn’t include a majority of the people that lived in new America). Hurricane Katrina proved to be no different. When it came down to it, only the "haves" were able to successfully evacuate, while the "have nots" suffered terribly. Why should we trust a government that states equal rights for all, when we don't see any of this happening since the disaster? Not much has been done, and some of the pictures that we have seen have made it seem as if the hurricane occurred only days before.

We simply cannot call this time an anniversary. This is the result of lies, and broken promises, and there doesn't seem to be a light to this tunnel.

Adria Johnson

Baltimore, MD

Aug 28 2007 - 1:02am

Web Letter

Walter Mosley's "Shouting Underwater" is a poignant reminder of the ever-widening chasm between affluence and squalor in America.

His words, poetically sad and reflective, lack the trite, cliched phrases too often found in calls to action. Instead, Mr. Mosley, in sparing us the mawkish, compels us to squint--and squiggle--from the harsh light of his perspective and asks, much like Hemingway did, "for whom the bell tolls." At one point, Mosley says, it tolls for our grandmothers and children.

Hidden within the feel-good words of our Constitution and behind the stars and stripes of our flag are hidden agendas and broken promises. From the onset, when about 2.5 million people inhabited the colonies--but only "white men with property" could vote. That meant no women, no Native Americans, no enslaved African-Americans and no poor people had the right to vote. As such, from the beginning of our so-called democracy, the system was rigged for those "who have" and against "those who have not."

Not much different today... 231 years later. Our political and economic systems favor those with money and reject--without conscience or qualification--those without. And today, there are millions more Americans "without."

When the country was founded, Thomas Jefferson spoke of a government and society that honored "the virtues of talents above the virtues of association." It was rhetoric then and remains rhetoric now.

Inaguably, our government has failed us, and leadership--across all levels, all parties, all associations--is absent. As Walter Mosley challenged, "We must unite outside of the systems.... We must organize at the ground level, where the water has already begun to rise."

To believe that the next vote, the next election is our salvation is foolish. To wait for that moment is dangerous.

Michael Chiaradonna

Rosemont, PA

Aug 27 2007 - 12:59pm

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