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Crowd control
As one of many organizers for the Jan. 18 Vigil for Peace in Durham, I want to thank Todd Morman for his article, "In Search of Precision Journalism" [Feb. 5] and the Indy in general for its continued coverage of both local peace work and the lack of coverage by The News & Observer.

One interesting thing to note: We knew there were 1,024 people at the vigil because another organizer, Steve Bocckino, counted them! He spent the hour going up and down each block, literally counting heads. This tactic might not work for large marches, but here at home it did just fine.
–Claudia Horwitz, Durham

Thank you for focusing on the important role that Latino culture plays in healthy birth outcomes for Mexican infants in North Carolina ["The Mexican Paradox," Jan. 22]. As a Mexican woman, I was proud to read that Mexican babies, despite language barriers and lack of access to prenatal care and pregnancy services, have the lowest rate of infant mortality in the state.

The North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation has been working for more than 10 years to reduce infant death and illness. As North Carolina's Latino population has grown, the foundation has focused increasing attention on improving birth outcomes in the Latino community. The Foundation distributes, free of charge, Spanish language educational materials on healthy pregnancies and parenting, and its Ana María campaign provides bilingual information on resources available to Latino women, children and families. Among those resources are Health Check/NC Health Choice, the publicly funded children's health insurance programs.

More information about having a healthy pregnancy is available at or by calling the N.C. Family Health Resource Line, 1-800-FOR-BABY (1-800-367-2229), the state's only bilingual hotline for information about pregnancy and raising healthy and happy children and teens.
–Gloria Sanchez, Latino Outreach Coordinator, N.C. Healthy Start Foundation

Thank you for your quality coverage of the Triangle's growing Latino population and the numerous assets that immigrant families bring to our area [Latino culture issue, Jan. 22]. Many successful immigrant health programs in North Carolina have emerged in the last decade, several of which you featured last week. We want to bring to your attention three additional examples of Latino leaders who are promoting public health and safety.

Two Orange County Health Department programs--the Child Health Awareness Program (CHAP) and the Woman to Woman Promoter Program--and the American Social Health Association (ASHA) through its ¡SALSA! youth project, all train Latino natural helpers to promote health through their informal community networks. They are teens, mothers, grandmothers, and child care providers who are active in their schools, churches, neighborhoods and work sites. On Saturday, Jan. 25, the three groups joined forces in a multigenerational health workshop.

The "Salseros" (¡SALSA! peer educators) trained the health department Promoters about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and safe sex practices, as well as health disparities. One of the Promoters in the class (pictured in your article last week), who works with both health department programs and is a Doula, had the special experience of being taught by her grandson, who is a Salsero.

Family connections, community links and a common goal brought these public health advocates together to make a difference. We commend all of the great programs out there that are building on strengths, while also fighting disparities. For more information please contact the Orange County Health Department at 968-2022 or 968-2042; or ASHA's ¡SALSA! project at 361-4821.
–Ellen Young, MPH, Sr. Public Health Educator, Orange County Health Department

Goin' green
Kudos to The Independent for your articles on building green in the Triangle. Like architect Alicia Ravetto, I also feel "puzzlement and irritation" at the glaring lack of emphasis on sustainable housing design. The barrage of articles and advertisements in the mainstream press touting enormous, energy guzzling McMansions--given America's burgeoning "blood for oil" war--is simply obscene. As a country we are as retrograde in our design of living spaces as we are in that of vehicles. It is simply corporate profits in both cases that have stifled innovations in the last 30 years when it became obvious that modern civilization has a deadly problem.

Please run more articles like these two. I am in the process of designing a "rehabilitation" of my family's small home, and am looking to prove that remodeling an existing structure for energy efficiency can be just as easy and cost effective for D.I.Y.-ers as Mark Marcoplos maintains it is for "building from scratch." Until innovators come up with the radical ideas that will revolutionize housing construction, the majority of basic improvements that exist will have to occur "organically"; the volume of existing homes is vast and status quo momentum of "traditional" builders is strong.

Thank you for all of the free information that these articles held, especially the mention of drainwater heat recovery, which I had never heard of. For my own contribution, the ancient art of pole construction needs to be revived in this area and really any area subject to violent natural forces of any type. With solid timbers locked together in a unified frame and firmly embedded in the earth, a house resists destruction as a single entity, rather than as a bundle of poorly connected "sticks." The use of nontoxic wood preservatives that will soon come to market will make this easier. Also the masterful architect referred to in Bob Geary's article is Giles, not Charles, Blunden.
–Ray Dash, Pittsboro

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