Being fairly new to the theater scene in Seattle (I'm a beginning playwright), but with many years of experience managing small nonprofits, John Longenbaugh's article ["Played Out," Jan. 3] was both informative and, with respect to funding difficulties, familiar. But most of all it was a joy to read his thoughtful analysis and warning. I think Longenbaugh's case for keeping midsized theater companies alive (and strengthening their support) was very well made. I hope many people read this piece.
No Free Ride
Well, let's see. I started my day by writing a check for $45 to the P-Patch program to renew my garden plot for 2007. Then I wrote a check for $250 to the P-Patch Trust, to be matched by Microsoft, which will be used to support the program by purchasing property for gardens, tools, and other garden materials and paying fees for less well-off gardeners. As I've done the past six years, in 2007 I'll likely devote well over 100 hours of my time to Bradner Gardens Park, a city gem which exists largely because of the tireless efforts of volunteers. "Squatter"? "Renegade plot"? The city as a "funding source"? Is John Metcalfe kidding? ["Pea-O'd," Jan. 3.]
I'm sure he's been inundated with e-mails disabusing him of the notion that the city's P-Patches don't pay their own way. I doubt that I have to tell him that we pay fees, hold fund-raising events, provide 99.9 percent of the labor (Parks does mow the lawn at Bradner!), and donate an enormous amount of fresh produce to local food banks. And I suppose that more than a few people have pointed out to him that using his garage to store a car in a city is considered a colossal waste of real estate in these parts.
What I want to know is this—when Metcalfe was speaking to Sandy Pernitz of the P-Patch office, did he not think to ask her how the program actually works? Or did he ask but decide that the truth was not as entertaining as a rant about his disappointment in finding his (his landlord's?) garage inaccessible? We have more than enough so-called journalists in this city who use their columns to whine about Seattle's failure to live up to their preconceived fantasies. Why amble down that hackneyed path? The fact that this article appeared under the title "News" is astounding.
May I suggest that after purchasing an umbrella, Metcalfe head on over to Metzger Maps in the Pike Place Market, just a short bus ride from Capitol Hill. He can pick up a map of Seattle and make the amazing discovery that Capitol Hill can easily be "cruised," by foot, in less than a day. That should leave him with plenty of time to devote to the practice of his craft. Perhaps we can look forward to a well-researched article on a subject that actually matters.
Ditch the Car
Hey, John Metcalfe: Get a life and sell the "kaa" ["Pea-O'd," Jan. 3].
Metcalfe's whining about a P-Patch blocking his garage was pathetic. He should relax and enjoy the garden. Maybe if he is nice, the gardeners might share some of their bounty next summer. And one more thing: Plants grow in soil, not dirt.
As a former 19-year resident of the Pelican Bay Artists' Cooperative, which borders the Pelican Tea Garden, and as a board member of the Pelican Bay Foundation for 24 years, I am a pretty good resource regarding this matter ["Pea-O'd," Jan. 3]. That hidden piece of land was a rat-infested dump, and through my efforts, about 15 years ago, and with the full cooperation and delight of my neighbors, it became a garden.
Despite the assertion in "Pea-O'd," there was no "clandestine growing." I contacted the Department of Design, Construction and Land Use before the garden was created to ascertain if there would be any problem in having the garden at that location. I also contacted the Transportation Department. In both cases, I was told it was not an issue.
For two years, gardening was difficult, as a neighboring business kept dumping debris on the garden. In an attempt to protect it, I contacted the community garden coordinator in the Department of Neighborhoods, in the hope that the garden could become a P-Patch, but my request was declined. After 11 years of repeated requests on my part, Sandy Pernitz expressed interest. I then had to obtain signatures, in support of creating the P-Patch, from every property owner whose property borders the garden.
And that was only the beginning. . . . The foundation had to obtain volunteers to work on the garden, including hand digging a long and deep trough for the waterline, in return for a matching grant to pay for the various expenses including the water supply.
Far from being a "rogue," "renegade" plot with "squatter's rights," "guerrilla gardening," and "clandestine growing," creation of this P-Patch took adherence to a multitude of legal and bureaucratic requirements, and, yes, sometimes dealing with a neighboring "anarchist" along the way.
President, Pelican Bay Foundation
Cellist Chimes In
A brief response to your article about current Seattle Symphony problems ["Thugs, Mugs, and Mouthpieces," Jan. 3]:
First, I am reported to be "known for being in the pro-Schwarz camp." It would have been easy for your columnist, or my colleagues, to have checked that claim with me, but neither did. In fact, my views are simple: We, the members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Gerard Schwarz, the conductor and music director, have jobs to do, and we should concentrate on doing those jobs to the best of our abilities. Our public deserves no less. The negativity directed at Schwarz and principal horn John Cerminaro has no place and should stop at once.
Second, I am reported as having "wove[n] a tale" about physical acts by musicians. That tale is true. I have direct personal knowledge of one such act committed by one or more musicians, and therefore stand by my statement 100 percent.
Cellist, Seattle Symphony Orchestra
WHAT ABOUT HIS SHOES?
I have to tell you that I get the biggest kick out of Ask an Uptight Seattleite. I only just discovered the column, and it, more than anything else you do, is most likely to lead me to pick up your paper. The caricature is excellent, too, but I can't tell: What kind of shoes are those?
The editor responds: The Uptight Seattleite wears the Rockport World Tour Elite Encounter Walking Shoe exclusively.
Disagrees With Lee
I disagree with Nathan Lee's negative review of the film Blood Diamond ["Say It With Diamonds?" Dec. 6]. I did not consider the romance between Jennifer Connelly's and Leonardo DiCaprio's characters "stupid," nor did I consider their characters "boring" or their heroics a "sham," and I did not consider the African characters to be frivolous.
Lee cites the violence in the film as evidence that it is not really a criticism of Western exploitation of Africa. Perhaps he'd like to explain how a film that takes place in the middle of a civil war is supposed to avoid the issue of violence, and how the portrayal of said violence is supposed to mean that the (mostly white) audience doesn't care about the Africans being killed on-screen.
His review made it seem as if the film was a generic, formulaic love story that happened to take place in Africa. I think it was much more. It's true that the film could have delved deeper into the complexities of the political and economic issues that caused the problems in Sierra Leone, but I consider this the director and screenwriter's choice, not evidence that this was a trivial or bad film. It's a drama, after all, not a documentary.
Ms. Connelly's character's assessment of Western awareness of conflict diamonds and associated problems in Sierra Leone (when making fun of the Lewinsky scandal and observing that the refugee camp would get precious little screen time on CNN) is accurate. Most Americans, myself included, aren't familiar with the civil war in Sierra Leone or with conflict diamonds. So, "facile" though the film may be, I believe this was a choice made to accommodate uninformed American audiences. If Lee wants to blame someone for that choice, he should blame the media for underreporting the issues that the film talks about.
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