Requiem for an icon | May 26
Renovation marred Pier's beauty
This article captured Bill Harvard's vision for the Pier succinctly, as I remember him telling it to me as City Hall reporter for the Times back in 1981. The original design was one of my favorite things about St. Petersburg when I moved to the city in 1978. Sometimes, at night, friends and I would sit across the water near the Vinoy just to admire the geometric elegance of it. The cantilevered beams had a rhythm, in harmony with the pilings beneath. To learn that this simple form was a perfect answer for the building's expected function only increased my appreciation.
In my view, Harvard's concept and design were ruined in the 1986 renovation. The clutter of new retail buildings at pavement level obscured the beauty of the original structure. These new additions also failed, in the end, to solve the Pier's perennial financial issues.
I find it interesting that the new Lens design, stressing as it does open spaces and opportunities for passive recreation, has some kinship with Bill Harvard's original vision. People can shop anywhere. But given the opportunity to walk, bike, fish and otherwise enjoy a promenade over open water, they will flock to it. The lately lamented Friendship Trail over the old Gandy Bridge proved the appeal.
I don't know enough to judge either the city's claims that repair and renovation are not feasible or the opponents' claims that the Lens materials won't be up to the job. I just know that the jewel that Bill Harvard designed is already gone.
Jim Harper, Tampa
In push for college, rural youth neglected May 26, Bill Maxwell column
The rural perspective
Bill Maxwell was struck by evidence that all aspects of education in rural America have been neglected and deserve more attention, more creative problem-solving, and more funding in order for rural students to attain their dream of a college education.
There is a striking connection between Maxwell's column and the brilliant 2010 book by Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander points out that Martin Luther King believed back in 1968 that the civil rights focus should shift to a human rights paradigm, embracing poor and working class people of all colors.
It's not just about meeting postsecondary goals for rural America. The fact is, we need the unique experiences and perspectives of rural America to be brought to bear on our current challenges through greater participation in all levels of professional life.
Diane Williams, Gulfport
Haves and have-nots
The tragic reality in Bill Maxwell's education concern is that it is not isolated to this segment alone. As a member of the Florida Rural Health Association, I see the ongoing disparity of access to health care, and related facilities, in our rural communities.
What we have is two Americas, the "haves" and the "have-nots" in health care, education and all else. While these residents are the hardworking individuals in our groves, farms, ranches and other rural endeavors, they are woefully neglected in many of the benefits of our American way. They deserve better.
Austin R. Curry, Tampa
Teaching deserves more respect May 26, Perspective
Working daily miracles
I would like to second Sharon Liao's commentary and humbly offer a bit of my own.
I am honored to say that this is my 25th year teaching elementary-aged children in Pinellas County. I can unequivocally say that now, more than ever, we need to respect and value those who give so much to ensure the success of their students and selflessly make that goal the priority of their life's work. Each day I watch, in amazement, as the teachers in my school and other schools in our district work hundreds of daily miracles to serve their students. I am honored to work beside such dedicated educators.
I must, however, offer some advice to those who are considering entrance to this noble and most necessary of professions. You must be brave. You must be dedicated. You must be able to climb over mounting and often unnecessary obstacles that are put in your path, that seem to deliberately impede progress. If you honestly have the courage to face these challenges head-on, you may have what it takes to come and work beside us. We need you.
Ann Gerakios Arfaras, Clearwater
Politics blocking help to hungry May 28, editorial
Doing more with less
Where is the common sense and compassion? If we are spending $1.4 billion on food aid, why are we wasting any of these funds on shipping expenses when direct funding assistance will buy 30 percent more food to feed more hungry people?
We urge domestic consumers to buy locally to obtain fresher food, save on shipping costs, and reduce our carbon footprint. The same should apply to our foreign food aid. Locally grown food is fresher and more nutritious than the food we send from the United States that takes up to 14 weeks to be delivered.
In advance of the G-8 summit, the British and Brazilian governments will host the first global Nutrition for Growth pledging event on June 8 to mobilize new policy and financial commitments to fight malnutrition. This is our opportunity to increase our food assistance without increasing our costs. With direct funding assistance we can provide more food to more hungry people, faster and more cheaply than our current practice of shipping domestic product overseas.
Hunger is still a death sentence for 2.5 million kids a year. Some 165 million children survive hunger but are developmentally challenged due to the lack of proper nutrition. This is preventable with simple, proven nutrition programs that yield the highest return on investment.
So it is time to set politics aside and reform our food aid programs. We can feed more people and save more children from the stunting effects of malnutrition by directing our food aid dollars to purchase more food supplies in and around the crisis areas. This will also boost the economy in these areas and help make their agricultural endeavors be more self-reliant.
Gene Pizzo, Tampa