Who Deserves Aid and Concern?To the Editor: I am writing in regard to the Guertin Parklet commentaries (“Perspective on the Folks Living Outside” by Ken Russell, and “Sheir: Parklet is Out of Control,” by Richard Sheir, Jan. 12, 2022). I recall the article, “Several Homeless People Die Recently,” in the Nov. 30 issue of The Bridge informing us of three deaths of unhoused people in Washington County. Shockingly, one of these deaths (was someone who spent a lot of time in) the parklet, a sad and unacceptable event. The recent Jan. 12 commentaries on the parklet use and the homeless population appeared to narrow in on who deserves our aid and concern. Who is worthy? Mr. Sheir states we are “enabling vagrants to conduct an irresponsible lifestyle in our town instead of somewhere else.” I believe, as Mr. Russell comments, that being unhoused is a more complicated situation, not a matter of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The homeless population needs our help by state, county, city, and town support. It is all in our backyard. I applaud The Bridge for printing Mr. Russell’s response to Mr. Sheir’s article; we have two viewpoints. I only hope if I have a friend or relative who ends up on the street, it is in Mr. Russell’s Montpelier, not in Richard Sheir’s town.
MyRide Needs More InvestmentTo the Editor: As the person most responsible for creating the MyRide transit service in Montpelier, I felt I should respond to Ms. Sheppard’s criticism of the system (Letters to the Editor, Jan. 26). While having no operational connection to the current service, I am sorry she is not finding it as convenient as the bus system it replaced. That, sadly, is just one of the many challenges faced by a service designed as the next generation of transportation but financed and operated by an antiquated state bureaucracy which sees public transit as a charity provided to folks who can’t afford a car. Introducing this service into a time of pandemic created challenges, as did the ugly, antiquated equipment used to operate it. The state-mandated work rules of the operating company (GMT) made it impossible to find the needed drivers to operate fluidly and flexibly. While these are all excuses, they should give an inkling of the problems MyRide faces. The primary challenge, however, is lack of imagination on the part of our Agency of Transportation and our legislature. As the climate and economy degrade, we need to massively invest in re-imagining all our transportation priorities. A declining economy should make a subsidized transit system more desirable. However, one operating antiquated equipment with only three vehicles, at best, will be constantly failing to meet the promise of the system’s vision. MyRide needs a lot more smaller vehicles and more drivers; but that requires money, training, and management. All of that is in short supply in a world in which we assume the private car is our main transportation option, now and forever. Our climate and economic disruptions require more imagination and resources than our public servants can possibly imagine. Dan Jones, creator of the Sustainable Montpelier Design Coalition, founder of the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition
Local Children Need MentorsTo the Editor: During the pandemic, our youths have been doing their best to cope with instability, isolation, and uncertain futures. This is where mentors come in. Mentors serve as friendly, fun, and engaged role models who help children connect with their community, explore new interests, and build skills for the future. Every child can benefit from having another caring adult in their lives, and mentors play a unique role in the web of support to help children thrive. It’s a simple formula that works. Mentors bring their wisdom, life and work experience, and social network to broaden the outlook of our youths and open up opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Connecting with a child through mentoring is rewarding and joyful. Research shows that youths who have mentors do better in school, feel better about themselves, get along better with their families, and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Many mentors express sentiments like this, “Mentoring has brought great personal satisfaction to me and helped both my mentee and me to feel more rooted in our community.” Girls/Boyz First Mentoring is recruiting adult mentors now for a spring start. We serve children aged 8–18 in six towns — Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex, Montpelier, and Worcester. Mentors meet with their mentees for two or more hours each week; the initial commitment is for a year. We offer training and support throughout the year. I hope you will consider sharing your time with a young person — it can literally make all the difference in their lives! For more information, call (802) 552-0249; email email@example.com or go to www.girlsboyzfirst.org. Kim Smith, Montpelier, Program Director, Girls/Boyz First Mentoring
This is the Year for Proposal 5To the Editor: Proposal 5, the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, which has been in the legislature since 2019, is almost certainly finally going to be voted on this year. If approved, it will give Vermont voters a chance to amend our constitution to include protections for reproductive rights. I’m an 84-year-old male and I strongly support this legislation. People should have the right to determine how many children to have. Personally, my wife and I had three children, and the last was born in 1969. With agreement from my wife, I decided shortly after the third child to “get fixed.” I have had no regrets in making that decision, and we have two grandchildren. The Reproductive Liberty Amendment will protect the rights of current and future generations. Giving people the opportunity to decide whether they should have a child at a particular point in their lives is going to affect millions of people. Approximately one in four women have had an abortion! It is an inherent right that they should be able to determine for their own health, the welfare of a possible offspring, and, very importantly, the impact on other lives. Please urge your legislators to support Proposal 5 for the reproductive rights of everyone in Vermont. George Plumb, Washington; board member of BETTER (not bigger) VERMONT Editor’s Note: The Vermont House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Liberty Amendment (Prop 5) on Tuesday, Feb. 8, minutes before this issue of the Bridge went to press.
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