Great take on sanity rally

We wanted to take this opportunity, somewhat belatedly, to respond to your writer’s report on the “Rally to Restore Sanity” (by Wesley Ratko, on Nov. 4). Although it was an excellent summary of the salient portions of the rally, we wish to add our personal thoughts.

As octogenarians, we thought our rally-going days had passed us by! When we first heard that an old acquaintance, Jon Stewart, was behind the effort, we knew we had to be there. Our daughter, Sara, flew up from Atlanta, daughter-in-law Nancy and her lovely daughter, Anna Rose (a sophomore at Springside) took the train from Glenside.

Your reporter cites an estimate of crowd size around 200,000; we are fairly certain (at least we want to believe) that the estimate of 1/3 of a million was far more realistic. It was the most orderly and well-mannered group of people one could find anywhere. There were a few signs of a scatological nature, but, for the most part, the tone and rhetoric were subdued. There were also lots of witty signs and plenty of music and speeches.

We recalled attending peace rallies in the Sheep Meadow and concerts by the Rolling Stones. The Rally for Sanity fits in very well with the peace rallies – a reverent tone, coupled with a respect to recognize and appreciate individual differences among various viewpoints in the population at large.

After this exhilarating weekend, among many like-minded individuals, we trudged home from St. Martin’s train station to our home in Chestnut Hill – just ahead of two neighbors from our street. We did not know they had been at the rally beforehand, and they probably did not know our intentions. All in all, it was a fitting end to an historic event.

Alex and Sara Bedrosian
Chestnut Hill

Literate thief

Someone stole my latest issue of The Local out of my car this afternoon (last Friday) along with a library book, a good dog story. I parked in the Seventh Day Adventist Church lot and went into the historical society for a one-hour meeting. I came home and realized both were gone. I guess the thief wasn’t illiterate. The car was unlocked (my fault) because I didn’t think there was anything of value in it. Guess I was wrong.

Barbara Sherf

Re: ‘’Code revisions may restrict CHCA’s role in zoning issues,” Nov. 10:

We welcome the Local’s coverage of zoning code reform and appreciate the fact that the Chestnut Hill Community Association has long recognized that zoning plays an important role in the growth and success of a community.

Philadelphia’s zoning code is in the process of its first overhaul in nearly 50 years, so it is understandable that certain concerns have been raised about the impact of change to the zoning code.  We are confident, however, that change is for the good.

The Zoning Code Commission has worked hard for the last three years to rewrite the zoning code in a way that is fair, sensible and predictable for residents and developers alike. The commission has made an unprecedented effort to inform the community and stakeholders about zoning and to gather public input and recommendations.

The commission has conducted two public hearings, sponsore- d 37 community-based me- etings across the city that attracted more than 1, 500 community representatives, supported three workshops with 199 participants, interviewed 125 professional code users, surveyed  2,000  citizens, and sponsored a series of open houses about the new code.  Further, City Council will host its own set of hearings on the proposed legislation to gather more input from citizens and stakeholders.

We all can take pride in the new zoning code, which will promote investment in our city, encourage sustainable growth, preserve our cherished historical and natural resources, and support the continued engagement of our citizens in planning for our future.

Stella M. Tsai, Esq.
Chair, Civic Engagement
Committee, Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission
Chestnut Hill resident

Deer are not robots

Regarding the letter by Bill Richardson about deer killing (Nov. 11 issue), can the pro-killing forces at least agree that non-lethal means would be preferable if and when they become available? That would be a start.

None of this talk about “sustainability” addresses the issues of human violence and the disruption of deer families. It’s as if the creatures were mere automatons. For us protesters, it’s not about the plants. It’s about the higher forms of life. Let’s try to make some progress together.

Jim Harris

Hunters need to clean up their act

City officials want park users to be safe. And so, various advisories have been posted in Wissahickon Valley Park regarding personal safety and the protection of one’s possessions. One area never addressed at a public safety meeting convened by park officials was archery deer hunting.

The Final Deer Report following an evaluation of the deer begun in 1994 suggested that Friends of the Wissahickon work to facilitate archery hunting around the park. The archery season began on Sept. 18 and continues through January, 2011. Park users need to be aware of its presence on private properties adjacent to the park. Arrows have been found near park trails, stuck in trees and even in deer during this time.

Deer hunters have been told that in order to improve upon their image, they need to “clean up their act.” This purely recreational pursuit continues to thrive on the questionable premise that forest regeneration will be enabled. Deer ecology is very complex and poorly understood. And as always, the devil is in the details.

It came out at a symposium held in Morristown, N.J. that even if every deer were killed, it would not bring back the native species of plants. An American Forests study revealed that deer can actually help suppress the spread of some introduced plant species. And one landowner fenced the deer out only to have the aggressive pin cherry completely take over. Previously, deer browsing had helped control it. A Connecticut study showed that 25 different desirable plant species were germinated from deer pellets.

Killing deer serves to shatter the deer’s familial units, thereby causing instability, aberrant behavior, greater vulnerability, altered reproductive patterns, weakened gene pool and so on, not to mention being vicious, indefensible and ineffective.

Allen T. Rutberg, Ph.D., Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and very knowledgeable in urban deer ecology and management, reminds us that “just because deer are being killed doesn’t mean that deer are being controlled.”

Bridget Irons
Chestnut Hill

‘A great article’

Many, many thanks to Lou Mancinelli for doing such a great article (“Acclaimed artist learned sustainability from nomads,” Nov. 11)! It is very impressive how well he captured my thoughts, experiences, and message. He did in the story what I strive to do in my artworks – to have a positive inspiration for  people.

Stefania Luciani Binnick
Blue Bell