Why Hampden wants own library branchAs a resident of...

Letters

September 08, 1996

Why Hampden wants own library branch

As a resident of Hampden for the last 10 years, I cannot let the impression of my neighborhood given in Laura Lippman's article of Aug. 11, ''Resurrecting the Pratt,'' stand without comment.

My perception from reading your paper since moving to Baltimore City in 1975 is that your writers don't understand Hampden and its residents because you have a basic philosophical difference from folks born and raised here who stay in the neighborhood, as well as with those like me who have chosen to live here.

You are modern provincials, who passionately believe that every 20th century American must have at least one car, love to drive, and rejoice in living miles from all life-supporting facilities outside of your home.

You cruise the mall parking lot for the closest possible space because you hate walking anywhere, then do exercises in expensive gym facilities.

Ms. Lippman reveals her devotion to this philosophy when she compares the Hampdenites' desire to save our library branch with the talk about the good old days when milk was delivered to our doors. Both are to her as absurd as wanting to be able to walk to Home Depot.

We of Hampden are urbanites, who want to live in the city because we like being able to walk to nearly everything. That's how we get most of our exercise.

Forty percent of us don't even own a car, and depend upon public transportation to get to places where we can't walk, and to go downtown without worrying about parking.

The way we live, we need a library branch within walking distance. We already walk to the grocery store, often walk to work, and would love to be able to walk to Home Depot. We'd bring our carts.

As pleased as I am for Ms. Lippman's praise of Pratt director Carla Hayden, whom I greatly admire, I must criticize the way she reacted to my advocacy at the City Council's budget hearing for saving Hampden's library branch.

After hearing my assertion that most of our library users are seniors and school children who walk in, she went to visit our branch on a rainy weekday when school was still in session.

Only someone provincial enough to be addicted to automotive transportation without understanding how anyone could be willing to walk more than a few yards toward any destination, would be surprised (as she was) to find Hampden's branch empty on that day.

Jul Owings

Baltimore

Illegal aliens fulfill a need

One of your Sept. 1 headlines stated that "aliens" easily obtain false working papers to show to prospective employers.

What does it mean when Sun editors choose a word such as "alien" to refer to hard-working undocumented people who do jobs most of us don't want, pay taxes on income they sometimes don't get and frequently live in fear that someone will turn them in to immigration authorities?

Why not call them undocumented workers, which is less biased than illegal immigrant? Maybe then we can better see these new immigrants as the hard-working fellow human beings they are.

Paul Collinson-Streng

Towson

Vo-tech teachers must be new breed

In the Aug. 26 Sun was an article that I could not ignore, ''Bringing vo-tech into a new era.'' Being a retired vocational educator, the title caught my attention immediately. I commend Howard County for taking this ''bold'' step by updating its vocational curriculum. Someone has finally had the guts to publicly acknowledge facts that have been known among vocational educators for years, and do something about it.

Holding vocational students to the same academic standards as ''college prep'' students, not using vocational programs as ''dumping grounds'' for less academically able students and recognizing that the best preparation for life is the combination of a solid academic background and a skill are ideas that were advanced in the late 1970s and early '80s by the vocational education office of the Baltimore City schools.

I am glad that someone recognizes that the ''gap'' exists and needs to be closed. The major factor, however, that seemed to be missing from this change (as it usually is in new education initiatives) is teacher training.

Is having a ''mentor'' going to be enough to provide teachers with the information and skills they need to adequately prepare students in this ''state of the art'' curriculum?

I seriously hope they aren't again touting the same-old same-old under a new name. Perhaps the powers that be will begin looking at restoring the defunct Westside Skill Center to its original intent in this area. And truly bring the city vocational programs up to snuff in all areas and not just a few technical areas.

This valuable area of education has too long been a ''football'' and treated as an educational stepchild.

Janet K. Williams

Baltimore

TWA 800 probe is science at work

The general public often views science as remote and hard to understand.

The current TWA 800 crash investigation, however, shows that science impacts us more than we usually think.

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