Columns » Letters to the Editor

Re: Local-washing; Health care reform; Durham buses

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H.R. Rx

In his article "A state of denial" (July 15), Bob Geary describes the plight of Rhonda Robinson, a woman who has epilepsy, lost her job, can't get health insurance and can't afford the medications she needs. In June, Ms. Robinson went with many health care activists, including advocates of single-payer, to Washington to lobby Congress and Sen. Hagan.

Although this is an informative article, I wish Mr. Geary had mentioned House bill H.R. 676, which calls for a universal single-payer system, Medicare for all. The bill is 27 pages long and has 83 co-sponsors. The Democratic leaders in the House have now come out with H.R. 3200—a health care bill that is 1,000 pages long! Advocates of single-payer are heading to Washington on July 30. They want a seat at the table.

Elizabeth S. Axtell
Raleigh


Data on DATA

I am glad the Independent decided to do a piece on DATA bus riders ("The waiting: Stories from Durham buses," July 8). Unfortunately, you ended up doing them a disservice by publishing a sensational article instead of a substantive one.

As an example, the article states that a rider "had the bus break down on him four times." Over what time period? Is this typical of all riders or is this just a case of bad luck? Without presenting any real data, the reader is left with no idea how symptomatic this problem really is.

Worse still is the caption for a photo that reads: "Shopping carts are substituted for benches..." The photo shows a gentleman sitting in a shopping cart despite that fact that there is an EMPTY bench in a bus shelter mere feet away. If the Independent did a photo essay on a yoga studio and someone chose to sit on the floor despite the fact that there were plenty of available mats, would the caption read: "The floor is substituted for mats at the yoga studio"? Of course not.

I do not ride DATA every day, but nearly every time I have taken the bus in Durham, I see acts of kindness to help elderly or disabled citizens get safely on the bus and to their seats. I know I am not the only person who has witnessed such positive aspects of DATA's service, so why was this article focused so singularly on negative experiences?

I'm not saying DATA should be absolved from any criticism, but this article reinforces the negative stereotypes of public transportation and chooses to back up those stereotypes with a few quotes instead of substantive data. This only serves to make it more difficult to fulfill Councilman Woodard's desire to make it the "transportation of choice." And that hurts riders who don't have that choice.

Erik Landfried
Durham


Local-ish

I just had a hearty laugh. After reading "The dirty tricks behind local-washing" by Stacy Mitchell (July 8), I flipped a couple of pages through your "Eight Days a Week" section and found a huge, full-page ad for arguably the biggest sham of a supposedly local/ indie product on the market today: Blue Moon beer. "Artfully crafted" your ad suggests—by Coors Brewing Company, I would add, at a rate of 20 million barrels per year—and "Distributed locally by Long Beverage Inc."—which, I would also add, happens to distribute Miller, Budweiser and other mass-produced beers from coast to coast. Your point is all too clear: One does not need to look far at all to see blatant examples of local-washing!

Brian Gardner
Chapel Hill


Carrboro = local

In "The dirty tricks behind local-washing" (July 8), Stacy Mitchell argues that towns, along with chambers of commerce, developers and others, are co-opting the "buy local" movement to the benefit of big corporations. The Town of Carrboro can serve not only as an exception to this, but as an inspiration to those working for true relocalization.

Among the many things that there are to celebrate in Carrboro are a number of locally owned initiatives: our thriving farmers' market, Weaver Street Market Co-op, mobile food trucks, service outlets, home businesses, etc. When Billy Sugarfix's song "It's Carrboro," highlighting many of Carrboro's businesses, was shared by Alderman Dan Coleman at the 2008 Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) conference, the presentation inspired a lot of people.

The fact that Carrboro had two aldermen (Randee Haven-O'Donnell, as well as Coleman) represented there is itself no small matter. Besides it being rare to have government represented at local economy conferences, our government is part of the reason Carrboro has developed its local sensibility.

Over time, the Town of Carrboro has pursued policies that have led to establishing locally owned/ locally rooted businesses. These include the building of the Town Commons pavilion, the Revolving Loan Fund and the Local Living Economies Task Force (LLETF).

The Town of Carrboro is demonstrating that government can have a positive impact on local economies when it remains true to the ideas behind the relocalization movement. In the process, Carrboro is opening the way for what we can think of as another crucial aspect of any relocalization movement: "local government"—where government is truly accountable to the needs and wants of the community!

Sammy Slade
Chair, Carrboro LLETF

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