CHCA driveway efforts misplaced

Here we go again! The CHCA, in the name of preserving the “essence of the historic society,” is fighting Chestnut Hill residents over their right to a parking spot in front of their homes. This is not the first time, nor, if the CHCA gets its way, will it be the last.

I don’t know where most of the CHCA members live, but I would guess that most of them do not have to drive around the block with a car full of groceries, hoping to find a parking place not too far away.

I have noticed one twin house in particular, on East Gravers Lane between Ardleigh and the SEPTA station, where both sides of the twin have a small “parking pad,” in front of the house, with a nicely shrubbed grassy area in between. I think this is very well designed and does not in any way detract from the historic look on that block. Richard, do you think this spoils the historic look of your house one block away?

I appreciate as much as anyone else the historic charm of our beautiful neighborhood, but let’s face it, we live in the 21st century. There are lots more cars than there were when these houses were built. Furthermore, the ridiculous parking restrictions, including the lots with unforgiving kiosks and the meter maids who are trained to pounce the minute a meter runs out, make shoppers search for parking in the neighborhood, leaving residents quite frustrated.

Why doesn’t the CHCA put their energy (and their money) into fixing the paid parking situation so that shoppers will stop taking up residents’ spaces? We had a beautiful few years when parking was free in the lots, and, believe me, shoppers really appreciated that. I have friends who now refuse to shop in Chestnut Hill because of the outrageous parking situation.

I don’t think it’s right for the CHCA to tell neighbors what they can and cannot do on their own properties. This couple obtained signatures from nearby neighbors who were supportive of their plan. Their plan was approved by the ZBA. I think the CHCA can better direct their energy (and money) toward making people feel good about their community instead of making them angry. It would be interesting to find out if the majority of Chestnut Hill residents agree with the Berardinos, and if our opinions are not being honored by our representatives in the CHCA.

One of the things I love most about Chestnut Hill is the friendly, caring diverse community of people. What I don’t like is the arrogance of some residents who are afraid that any kind of change will ruin our precious historic district. Let’s keep Chestnut Hill the friendly community it is and let people adapt their homes to suit their lifestyles.

Linda Baldwin

Chestnut Hill

Unions should blame themselves

Steve Cutler accurately reports the declining influence of the unions, both locally and nationally [“Loss of Union Influence,” Sept. 3]. The unions, however, aren’t part of the problem. They are the problem.

This phenomenon has been happening across the country for many years. But please stop blaming “rich people” and Republicans. Unions have only themselves to blame. Their intransigence when it comes to pension and health care contributions, not to mention intimidation of nonunion workers and their employers, is yet more evidence of the “more free stuff” mentality that has plagued both liberals and unions.

The days of Big Unions are thankfully over. It’s time for honest, hard-working people to prosper without the albatross of unions around their necks.

Sharon M. Reiss

Mt. Airy

Thanks to letter writer

I want to respond to Donald Zipin: Waste (pronounced “wash tay,” a Lakota word meaning “well done”).

I want to thank you many times for the clear and illuminating letter you presented to the non-red audience locally [“Reservation story shows ignorance,” Aug. 27] It was a series of much-needed (and obviously totally unknown) insights into life on “The Rez.”

Not unduly critical, but making salient and valuable points, your remarks were like Earth Mother’s clear breath blowing away long-standing misapprehensions of foggy thinking. I hope they will serve to give any future traveling “good-doers” an understanding of where they are going. Someone in charge of that ill-fated trip did not do their social and historical homework in advance. It sounds like really bad preparation, actually.

The story of their trip reminded me of 10th grade, when my school’s service club went to a neighborhood in West Philadelphia and planted flowers, thinking we were doing someone some good. Amazingly, a sweet old African-American grandmother gave us cookies and lemonade, but we had done nothing to help with housing shortages, medical offices being unavailable, and job opportunities being nonexistent. But, we felt good about our actions, which accomplished nearly nothing.

Put someone, or a whole society, into a version of slavery – give them whiskey containing gunpowder (firewater), free blankets salted with smallpox, so as to cut down their population, forcibly move traditional farming peoples into a desert environment and warrior tribes onto farmland – and ask for gratitude when you give unneeded and irrelevant “gifts” to the embittered survivors? High heels? Really? How about appropriate clothing, canned goods, or some boxes of over-the-counter medications they might need but can’t get since they don’t have a CVS down the block?

My own Picuris Pueblo/Southern Ute teacher, Beautiful Painted Arrow/Joseph Rael, once told me that he thinks the First Peoples should do their own bootstrap-pulling and that we should stop donating. That is food for thought which could be argued in both directions.

Again, Mr. Zipin, I stand in gratitude for your straight and clear talk. It was unexpected and so much better than I could have created. Mitakuye Oyasin! I am related to all things.

Angela Bear Heart Rapalyea


Schuylkill Center and deer hunting

A one-day symposium will take place at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE) in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia on Sept. 19 featuring hikes, workshops, lectures and, especially noteworthy, will be a talk on how one can enhance his or her relationship with nature.

Coinciding with this event is the opening day of bow hunting season for deer in Philadelphia County. This vicious and contemptible pastime has been an ongoing and purely recreational pursuit at SCEE for 15 years by state licensed hunters who are members of a local ‘’deer management’’ organization.

Not to be disregarded are the great many years of “calculated attacks’’ on deer by illegal hunters within the SCEE reported by an independent researcher who studied the deer there for 17 years prior to the year 2000. Even today illegal hunting or poaching is pervasive. I see a clear conflict here between the principles upon which the center was donated and how its designation as a “wildlife refuge” has been ignored.

Following a vegetation survey of the SCEE’s 500 acres in 1989, it was concluded that the deer were “overabundant”’ and had to be “managed.” Killing them using bow hunters was decided upon over the other four approaches. No surprise there.

One criterion for the decision was the effectiveness of the method. Two former executive directors of the center have readily admitted that following implementation of the killing program, there was only a slight reduction in the deer population after which deer numbers increased. Of course. Deer hunter Richard Nelson once said, “Bow hunting alone will never get the deer population down – it’s the least effective approach.” Biologically and ecologically, hunting for recreation cannot be justified.

Bow-hunting deer is extremely cruel. The suffering is extreme, both physically and emotionally. Quotes from hunters themselves express the brutal nature of this pursuit. Wounding rates are unacceptable. Many deer are never recovered. Wildlife biologist Mark McCollough believes that because bow hunting is especially barbaric, it should be banned. This is one area where the savageness of the human predator needs to be tamed. Pope Francis has said, ‘’It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” The wounding of humanity penetrates ever deeper with each violent attack on these innocent animals.

Ethologist Marc Bekoff once said, ‘’Hunting is ethically indefensible.’’ We need to abandon the notion of human exceptionalism, according to Bekoff. Really, who do we think we are? We must also strive to expand our compassionate footprint as we resolve conflicts with other animals.

The SCEE should celebrate the lives of the deer, empathize with their suffering and create a vision of harmony between themselves and the deer as a healing process toward the restoration of a more enlightened mindset. The ingrained human prejudice against deer has been so very destructive for far too long.

Brigit Irons

Chestnut Hill