Don't 'improve' front of the Black Swan

Don't 'improve' front of the Black Swan

We are told that the OSF would like the little square in front of the Black Swan theater "improved" along with the removal of the planter and fountain that are part of the charm of the square. The motive for the operation is "congestion" in the area, or so we are told. In my 20 years of living close by and of attending OSF performances, I have never had to shoulder my way through anything like "congestion" in that square.

I say, please do not "improve" that small space by removing the very physical aspects that make it a pleasant place to "meet and greet" and to simply "hang out" for a while. The square is being used as it should be, and without disturbing others' use and enjoyment of the area.

I suspect that, as with the Plaza, the motivation for the "improvement" is to keep the homeless and other "hangers around" from congregating in and around the Black Swan area. This can be done by turning the small area into a sterile, sharp-edged, uncomfortable place to be — the point being to hurry people along and so avoid "congestion."

The "improvements" to the Plaza were motivated, one might argue, to keep the "homeless" and other "layabouts" away from feeling comfortable therein — certainly, the asphalt-like covering of the new space and the lack of comfortable seating suggests "hitting the road."

When any person anywhere is socially disruptive or drunk in public, of course it is not to be countenanced, so that is not at issue here. If the homeless are a social problem, is it too much to ask that we attack homelessness instead of simply making it uncomfortable for our unfortunate fellows?

It is incumbent upon us all to assist those of our fellows in need. Unless we have lost our souls.

I urge the city to repair the fountain in front of the Black Swan and preserve the square in as many ways as possible, maintaining it as a place to see, to visit and to cherish — without fear of "congestion."

Ragan Cavanaugh


Surviving the looming global lobotomy

It's refreshing to return to sweet Ashland after three years abroad in tiny Xin Zheng, Henan, China (population 600,000). Teaching leadership studies and United Nations Millennium Development Goals in China has given me a global perspective on two national problems: economy and defense.

Traveling the world, I see vital economic and national security reasons to support the U.S. Agency for Iinternational Development. In terms of economy, advocating for Ghana will not only help grandma, but also grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. I advocate for USAID from China to Congress for the world's poorest as regional director of The Borgen Project.

An estimated 800,000 people per year will receive lifesaving assistance as the result of food aid reforms passed in Congress, and it must continue. Why does this matter? Because the U.S. is faltering. In order to prop ourselves up, we must start boosting our economy and defense. If you read the national security strategies of both Democratic and Republican administrations, both talk about development as a key component for protecting the United States.

I enjoyed living and working in China and see first-hand how rapidly they are surpassing the very nation that pioneered defense, diplomacy and development in the first place. China is uniting rapidly. The US must advocate strongly forging new markets abroad. History has shown that as people transition from barely surviving into becoming consumers, it opens new markets for U.S. companies and generates American jobs, as well as creating stability among famine victims who face the lure of terrorist organizations. We must act locally to support USAID internationally, if we are to survive an impending global lobotomy.

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Pandora Rupert-Bolt