Approximately three weeks ago, my wife was a victim of a stray bullet as she was leaving a church service. The bullet struck her. However, even though she was hit, she expressed concern for everyone outside the church, urging them to go inside. She did everything within her power to help everyone else to get to safety, before falling backwards. The family and friends reacted quickly, getting her to safety as well as notifying the necessary authorities. As I arrived at the scene of the crime, I immediately wanted answers.
I am a blessed man. My wife's life was spared. Loved ones have responded. Family has responded. And you, the community, responded, and continue to respond. Many have sent cards, called, and showed love and support in many different ways.
That is the reason I am appealing to you again. We are very strong separately, but are so much stronger when we are unified! Unity brings about changes that can be celebrated together. Our families, our future, our communities, our churches, our schools, and our leaders need us to unify.
We are acknowledging that we have concerns about safety on the streets, going certain places because of fear, etc. Our fears should not define us, but rather direct us.
A challenge has been issued to us. What are the next steps? Will the real leaders come foward!
Ethan Ketterer, Rochester
I was saddened but not at all surprised to read the following comment by Garth Fagan in your November 22 issue ("Fagan on His Dance, His Dancers, and Ren Square"):
"I'm disappointed and ashamed that here at home in Rochester there's no theater where people can see us the way the rest of the world sees us. We perform in the best theaters all over the world, but here...."
Mr. Fagan, a jewel in the crown of our city, has sold out shows on Broadway and around the world, with the Lion King, and has won numerous awards, including the 1998 Tony Award for Best Choreography, the 1998 Drama Desk Award, 1998 Outer Critics Circle Award, the 2001 Ovation Award, and the 2004 Helpmann Award. As he stated, if he had the proper venue to showcase his works, those audiences and their money could be spent in our community instead of other places.
Even Governor-elect Spitzer sees the value of Mr. Fagan's expertise. He has just appointed him to be part of his policy advisory committee on arts, culture, and revitalization, along with another famous Rochester artist, Wendell Castle.
As president and founder of the Rochester Music Coalition, over the years I've heard many of our talented musicians express the same frustration. Unlike Garth, who thankfully has decided to continue to make Rochester his home, many musicians have left our city, feeling that was their only hope to achieve a successful career in music.
They say they receive a better response to their talents elsewhere than in their own hometown. Reversing this trend is one of the major reasons I started the Rochester Music Coalition. We currently have more than 2442 registered members, and our website (www.rochestermusiccoalition.org) has received more than 1,385,656 hits in the last six months.
Richard Florida, author of "Rise of the Creative Class," has said: "The most important thing for places like Rochester is to be open to new ideas and new talent. The existing leadership, if it wishes to keep the city afloat, must welcome to the table a whole host of groups not well represented in the old industrial system."
"Rochester has personality in spades," Florida has said. "The people who need most to be convinced of that are your own young and creative talent. They're the ones who are moving away."
We have a major resource, in the thousands of artists who live and work here, to boost the economy of this community. That resource is right under our noses, but we often fail to see it. According to a 2005 Dun & Bradstreet study, Rochester is Number 1 in the nation, per capita, in people employed in the arts.
We should not be questioning whether we should build a theater for use by Mr. Fagan and other artists. We should be asking where and how fast we can build it.
To Mr. Fagan and the other talented artists of our community: our goal is the same as yours. Please know that we support you and hope to join you in the quest of making Rochester a world-class destination for the arts.
Linda Fullerton, Rochester Music Coalition, Rochester
The local antiwar community in Rochester is demanding that the new Democratic Congress honor its commitment to the vast majority of the American people who put them in office: to use their power of the purse to end the war and occupation of Iraq and to bring US troops home now. On January 27, many of us will join hundreds of thousands in a march on Washington to voice these demands for the entire nation.
We know from polls that over 70 percent of US citizens, over 70 percent of Iraqi citizens, and over 70 percent of US troops want us out of Iraq. Yet already we see Democrats backpedaling: lining up to approve still more war funding, stalling to debate their options, posturing for political gain. They are terrified of being seen as precipitous, weak, too ready to "cut and run."
We demand of the Democrats:
Do cut and run from our continued military presence that only intensifies the insurgency and the slaughter of the Iraqi people.
Do cut off new war appropriations, which will only prolong the war and enrich the war profiteers.
Don't cut and run away from your accountability to the American people.
Don't cut and run from the troops who are dying for nothing in an illegal, immoral war and occupation. Don't cut and run for the cover of an unelected Iraq Study Group.
Don't stop and cut one last deal to profit from Iraqi oil, or run another hopeless surge of troops into Baghdad.
Don't cut and run from your own sordid complicity in starting or prolonging this disaster.
Don't cut and run from these immediate commitments to the American people in a rush to run for president.
The American people have had enough of this war and occupation, now lasting longer than US involvement in World War II. The first and best thing we can do for ourselves and for the Iraqi people, whose nation we have savaged, is to get out of the way and do no more harm. Reparations must come later. We say to the Democrats in Congress, the power is in your hands and the time for waiting is over.
Doug Noble, Brunswick Street, Rochester (Noble is a founding member of the Peace Action and Education Task Force of Metro Justice and of the Rochester Against War coalition. He's also the contact person for a bus trip to Washington for the January 27 protest. You can reach him at 442-3383.)
Regarding what the USA should do relative to Iraq and the rest of the Middle East:
I would like to see us say something like this: From now on, we are turning over a new leaf. We do not wish to fight with you anymore. We are going to do as much as we can to help you and your people to have better lives, including better housing, better health care, better education, and better jobs.
Then, we need to follow through and do it. In time, we will win them over, and we will finally be doing the loving and compassionate things we should.
The USA is a good country. The American people are good people. We can do this and make it work.
Stewart Epstein, Westside Drive, Ogden
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