"Ain't Studying War No More" (April 16) prompted me to think about families, activism, and my own childhood. Somewhat like writer Jennifer Loviglio, I grew up near Boston, in the '60s, with parents who became activists.
In New England, there is quite a tradition of active citizenship. I have fond memories, from around first grade, of our family joining the local Patriots' Day march to the Concord Bridge. Every April 19, people from the surrounding area would retrace the routes followed by the Minutemen on their way to the first victory of the American Revolution. All along the way --- several miles --- small groups would meet and merge. Eventually the ranks would swell and the roads would fill as we approached our destination.
A few years later, the whole family marched in Washington, DC, with thousands of other Americans, to protest the Vietnam War. It seemed like a natural step. While I can't say I actually understood all that the protest was about, I feel privileged to have been a participant in the history of the times, and proud of my parents for thinking enough of us and caring enough about the world to get involved. Their involvement --- working with individuals, communities, and movements to promote a more kind and just world --- continued from there.
The world's troubles can seem overwhelming, especially to someone raising children, but as I see it, responding to a troubled world and responsible parenthood are anything but mutually exclusive. For adults, action can help to overcome the anxiety, despair, and frustration that may otherwise beset them.
Hope is an active thing, which, like freedom, must be exercised. For children, knowing that adults have an ability and willingness to respond to injustices in the world --- injustices that children may very well perceive and feel helpless to do anything about --- can help children to feel (and be) more secure than efforts to insulate the family. Seeing parents as part of a thoughtful, compassionate community gives children a broader sense of possibility and stability.
The times call for involvement and stretching ourselves beyond our private concerns. Insulating ourselves while our country is bombing innocent families in other countries (not to mention the domestic scene) does not protect but diminishes who we are.
Resistance is not futile; it is necessary and humanizing. Besides protests (and can you honestly believe there won't be more to protest after this?), there are countless things, personal and public, that one can do --- to make the world a little better, to embody a better world in oneself and one's relations.
Writing can help; using it to rationalize retreat and isolation strikes me as counterproductive and unempowering for all involved: not what I expect from a star columnist in an alternative weekly.
(Along those lines, I would like to commend Jack Spula for tirelessly, and in the face of slings and arrows, maintaining a voice of intelligent concern, one that dares to imagine individuals and communities empowered by knowledge and action --- implying hope, against all odds, of a more fair, beautiful and compassionate world.)
Jim Mott, Rochester
Interfaith Advocates for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people wish to acknowledge publicly and with gratitude the dedicated and effective leadership of Nancy Eckerson Fitts. She has been its leader since IA's formation in October 1991. She is now stepping down as its chair.
She has been instrumental in bringing together many faith communities to work for justice for LGBT people. IA's purpose states: "As members of faith communities we seek increased awareness, understanding, and inclusion by our congregations and by the larger community of LGBT people."
IA includes members from Protestant denominations, Roman Catholic, Reform Jewish, Unitarian-Universalist, and Society of Friends faith communities.
James M. Stewart, Rochester (Stewart is co-chair of Interfaith Advocates and sent the letter on behalf of all IA members.)
Lovin' the Eggplant
A friend invited me to lunch one day; I couldn't make it, so later that afternoon he left me a voicemail describing the menu of what he had eaten. It sounded amazing. He'd said I'd be sorry I couldn't go, and he was right.
I first visited the Atomic Eggplant during the ice storm (no electricity; no dinner over here). What an exciting surprise! Dinner was so delicious that my friend and I went back the following night, since there was still no electricity at home.
Since then we have gone back three or four more times, each time bringing friends along, and have heartily recommended it to just about everyone we talk to.
Your recent review is just one person's opinion ("Pleasin' the Vegans," Gut Instincts, April 30). Let me tell you and your readership that everybody I know who's been there raves about the quality and the creativity of the food.
The wait-staff is excellent and the chef is gracious and talented. If I could cook like she does and make vegetables taste like something I'd become a vegetarian/vegan.
In the meanwhile, I'll just eat at the Atomic Eggplant and continue to recommend it to the world.
Deb Messmer, Hickory Street, Rochester
Editor's note: For the record, our Gut Instinct review was highly complimentary, both about the food and about owner-chef Meg Davis.
Spoke too soon
I want to congratulate you: City Newspaper has finally grown up. For the past several weeks I have read with pleasure the many letters-to-the-editor published "as is." Absent are the awful "You're full of shit, and here's why" rebuttals that, once upon a time, followed every letter that took a stance contrary to yours.
Thank you! It's refreshing and makes my City Newspaper experience much more enjoyable.
Keep up the good work and the self-restraint.
Kim Eastman, Oxford Street, Rochester
From the editors: Actually, we haven't changed our policy. We don't respond to all letters, but we do respond to some. Readers continue to be divided on our policy --- as do some of our writers. (Writers make their own decision about responding.)
As we've noted previously, we believe the response policy encourages dialogue. We hope our responses don't come off as slamming our letter writers; our policy is to be respectful.
As for the response policy not being "grown up": Many respected publications include writers' responses in their letters section. Among them: Atlantic and The New York Review of Books.Writing to City
We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: email@example.com or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.
Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than once every three months.