I am a psychiatric social worker in the Duke Emergency Department, and regularly see children and teenagers suffering from mental illness, usually in some of their worst moments. I was moved and inspired by Lee Smith's article "Goodbye to the Sunset Man" (Oct. 6). What a life! Although beset by the mental illness that plagued him and drastically changed his direction in life, Josh made a lasting impression on the lives of so many. He contributed to his community, kept a hold on his creativity, and maintained important relationships. Thank you for printing this important story in a time when it is often difficult for those suffering from mental illness to find a three-night stay in a psychiatric hospital for stabilization, much less quality care in the community. Family support is critical for those seeking remission and recovery from mental illness, and Josh surely had an abundance of that. It is a brave family who is willing to ride on the rollercoaster of mental illness, to have endless patience, and to seek (and demand) help when it is needed. I am sure Josh was a modern day hero to many who knew him, and his mom, Lee Smith, is a modern day hero to me.
Anna van Dis
Clinical Social Worker
A good man gone
I just read Lee Smith's Oct. 6 story "Goodbye to the Sunset Man." My heart goes out to Smith and Hal Crowther. I knew Josh Seay when I was working for the Independent and he was doing well, working first at the dry cleaners, and then thrilled to be working and playing the piano at Akai Hana Japanese Restaurant. It was with real shock and sadness that I read of his death. I never thought of Josh as disabled; he was another affable face that helped make Carrboro what it is--a truly wondrous place. Josh was a sweet, talented and empathetic person and I'm glad I was privileged to have known him.
Jessica Stern Benjamin
A bridge too far
I don't live in Forest Hills or St. Theresa's. Heck, I don't even live in Durham. So it's fair to say I have no stake in the outcome of the Apex Street bridge battle. Which affords me an objectivity that perhaps eludes those who have written about it in the past. I don't know the motivation behind the fight to keep the bridge closed. But it would seem that the good people of Forest Hills missed one crucial point in their argument. Closing one bridge cuts off one avenue in one place. But does it solve the problem of people racing down residential streets? Maybe, but I doubt it. Ostensibly, the problem is people driving too fast--not how they get there.
When I lived in the Brentwood subdivision of Raleigh a few years back, we had a similar traffic problem. Commuters trying to avoid the quagmire that is Capital Boulevard at rush hour would use Brentwood Road or Huntleigh or Ingram to bypass the worst parts of Capital. And they'd usually do so well in excess of the posted 25 m.p.h. speed limit. But Brentwood has no bridges to close to disconnect itself. The solution? Speed humps. Not the parking lot-style suspension wreckers, but wide mounds of asphalt designed to keep traffic speed down to the legal limit.
Did it work? You'd have to ask the people who still live there. But if the aim of the people in Forest Hills is to keep traffic down to a safe speed, it seems like a better solution than closing off a street. And it's significantly less expensive than building more residential streets. It doesn't solve the problem of de facto segregation however. That will always be up to the people who live there. No matter how many streets connect them.
Bridging the gap
Every neighborhood needs a gadfly--I'm glad to have Raj as Forest Hill's gadfly, especially since he's working with me and others in Forrest Hills to revitalize the St. Theresa neighborhood on the other side of the Apex Street pedestrian bridge (which I can see from my home).
And by the way, it wasn't just the white folks in Forrest Hills that wanted the bridge closed; my St. Theresa neighbors on the other side of the bridge were polled and also wanted it closed for the same reasons we did--peace and quiet in our neighborhood.
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