Forum, Feb. 21: Praise for Lebanon City Council’s resolution on redistricting

Published: 2/20/2021 10:00:14 PM
Modified: 2/20/2021 10:00:12 PM
Praise for Lebanon City Council’s resolution on redistricting

The members of Open Democracy’s Upper Valley team thank the Lebanon City Council for adopting a resolution at its Feb. 3 meeting calling for nonpartisan, transparent and fair redistricting of electoral districts throughout New Hampshire.

Since the City Council’s unanimous vote, however, the New Hampshire Senate on Feb. 11 struck down legislation that would have created an independent committee to help redraw the state district lines. We are proud that Lebanon, as the first city in New Hampshire to call for an independent redistricting committee in the application of the 2020 U.S. census data, has thrown a spotlight on the redistricting process as it is now playing out in such a blatantly partisan manner in Concord.

SB 80, the bill voted down in the state Senate along party lines, would have created a 15-member advisory committee designed to be bipartisan, with five members chosen by Democrats, five by Republicans, and five more chosen by the initial 10. In the absence of such a committee, we hope that resolutions such as the one passed by the Lebanon City Council will somehow convince our state legislators to act with fairness and openness as the redistricting process plays out — in public, with public participation and for the public welfare.

While the Lebanon City Council has taken this important action, voters across the Upper Valley should also contact their state legislators to remind them that the voters are demanding a redistricting process that is fair, nonpartisan and transparent.

BILL SECORD

West Lebanon

ANN GARLAND, SUSAN KAPLAN and POLINA SAYESS

Lebanon

Poetry essential for our lives, future

In her Jan. 31 Bloomberg Opinion column, Andrea Gabor used the stunning performance of Amanda Gorman at the inauguration as evidence for “why schools should teach poetry.” Gabor noted that poetry is often treated “as impractical, even frivolous,” and that when schools are “encouraged to focus on practical subjects such as math, science and engineering” as well as nonfiction, “poetry has become an afterthought.”

While I haven’t done a systematic survey, my anecdotal search suggests that, yes, poetry is not prominent in current curricula. This represents lost opportunities for encouraging creativity, imagination, an appreciation of the richness of language, and the experiencing of important timeless and timely thoughts. We seem to have left these to our popular music: What middle or high schooler is not singing the latest pop tune or rap, no matter how banal or problematic?

But some teachers are teaching poetry in wonderfully exciting ways. I have the privilege of working with Steve Glazer, who teaches seventh and eighth grade English at Crossroads Academy in Lyme. Glazer includes a poem in every unit, and offers longer units on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edna St. Vincent Millay and W.B. Yeats.

I’ve visited his classroom to introduce a digital version of Dickinson and found his students not just eager to engage her notoriously difficult work but practically devouring it. This year, three Crossroads students memorized more than 50 poems. Last year, four students read her corpus of nearly 1,800 poems. Over the past three years, dozens of Crossroads students have created original work for my blog, White Heat: Emily Dickinson in 1862, which can be accessed at journeys.dartmouth.edu/whiteheat.

Why does the enigmatic verse of a shy woman who lived a century and a half ago resonate with seventh graders in rural New Hampshire? Because Dickinson’s poetry, like Gorman’s, offers insights into our lives, our circumstances and our humanity that we cannot get from other sources, that are essential for our future. Poetry challenges us, speaking heart to heart. We should urge our schools to teach it.

IVY SCHWEITZER

Norwich

America needs to make a national investment in training programs

Regarding the Sunday Valley News op-ed column by Antioch University New England’s Michael Simpson (“President Biden should go big on infrastructure,” Feb. 14): While I agree that it is important for Biden to focus on large public works projects, we also need to invest in people.

There are a lot of angry folks in our nation. I am sure a great deal of that anger is fear that Black citizens and other people of color will stand on equal footing with them. But I am equally sure that a good deal of the anger has to do with finding themselves out of work and no longer skilled for our evolving world economy. These people are in need of training. We, as a nation, are in need of their labor. There is shortage of skilled carpenters, plumbers, electricians and others.

As a nation, we need to focus on massive national investment in training opportunities. And it needs to be accessible in the geographic areas of greatest need.

ALLEN EDWIN HOOD

South Royalton

‘We’ are the key

The longer I listened to the impeachment trial and read comments on social media, the more I thought that “them and us” will tear us apart. But “we” might just save us all.

BARRY WENIG

Lebanon




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