Letters to the Editor December 15

Snowboard support

On behalf of the Ashland High School snowboarding team, I would like to thank Ashland and the surrounding communities and the AHS Athletic Department, as well as all our family and friends for supporting the team and our Evergreen Wreath fundraiser this year.

Despite huge budget cuts and a weak economy, through your generosity we were able to sell a record 1,300 wreaths! This only reinforces the great support this community has for the youth and all the extracurricular activities available here.

Our sincerest thank you for giving us the funds to provide the opportunity to compete this year for a third straight state championship at Mt Hood this March!

We understand that as the snowboarders graduate and move on, some people get overlooked from year to year. If that was the case this year and you did not get your wreath, please accept my apology.

If you were overlooked and would like to be put on a list for next year, please contact me at mike.ashland@gmail.com or call me at 301-1407 and I will make sure you are not overlooked next year.

Mike Schilling

AHS snowboard president

Sad to see Harper's go

I'd heard a rumor a week earlier that I didn't want to accept. My favorite restaurant, Harper's, named after the owners' first grandchild, would be closing.

Upon entering their establishment, I always felt a warm welcome from the wait staff. The atmosphere: comfortable, pleasant. The ambience: aesthetic, relaxing. The food: affordable, consistent and delicious. Kathie and Paul, restaurateurs, brought years of successful expertise (and loyal staff) from Salt Lake City. Their unique gift of heartfelt rapport imparted that I was not only a patron, but part of their extended family.

Monday, Dec. 7, their closing day, was sad. I was glad and thankful to have been there, one last time. I will always remember Harper's for being a wonderful way to run a business with respect for customers and employees. Their chef insisted he'd remain until the very end, and he did.

It was just a nanosecond since their 2008 opening, but their presence in my life will live forever. I send blessings to all the Harper's family and extensions full of loving kindness and happiness as they open the next chapters of their lives. I savor, with deep gratitude, the chapter that was mine. Thank you!

Elise Lockhart

Talent

The Christmas spirit?

I cannot believe the level of mean-spirited, self-centered outbursts in recent letters to the editor regarding the replacement of a Christmas tree with two snowmen as part of a school program to collect donations for needy families. People claim to be all in favor of the Christmas spirit and at the same time consider it perfectly all right to say the principal should be fired and that the families who felt it was inappropriate should move away or at least leave school. If we need more evidence that the meaning of Christmas has been lost, we need look no further than these letters to see how people like to claim the moral high ground while denigrating, insulting and ridiculing people they don't know regarding something they don't know much about.

Changing the tree in no way had any effect on the program to help our neighbors in need. And isn't that the most important thing? Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is about, not trees or snowmen?

Christmas is a religious holiday. A Christmas tree is a symbol of Christmas. Really, folks, we all know that. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. So why should a public school display a symbol that everyone knows supports a particular religious view? Because in America the majority rules, as several readers indicated? That is exactly backward. The Bill of Rights was specifically made part of the Constitution to ensure that the majority would not rule when it comes to personal and religious expression and to guarantee your right to display anything you want in your own home.

I am sure all these writers have made their contributions to charity this year. Season's greetings and good will to all.

Donald Abel

Ashland

Acts of leadership

A wise person once said, "There is no failure, only feedback." Michelle Zundel may have come to the wrong conclusion when she pulled the giving tree. That's just one part of the leader's job in decision-making. Since then she has listened to feedback, acknowledged her mistake, and fixed it! These actions are part of the decision-making process that Michelle got right. Having the flexibility to fix what went wrong can be a much more significant act of leadership than getting every decision right. Who can claim that every decision they make is "right"?

Leadership today requires the ability to acknowledge differences, to find ways to build bridges of understanding and inquiry, even curiosity about those differences. Michelle's follow-up commitment to call the family and search for solutions is an important action. It would be all too easy to pretend they are no longer, now that the majority has responded so strongly.

Most of us make decisions every day, some that turn out well and some less so. Our successes and feedback don't end up in the newspaper on a regular basis.

Joan Resnick and Richard Whitley

Ashland

Where's compassion?

I applaud Michelle for standing up for the one, for hearing the voice that others would wish to drown out! Is this really about "the majority wins," as I am seeing in some angry letters? What about compassion, understanding and opening to other ways of being? All of our lives are enriched by listening and experiencing others' ideas, traditions, cultures, etc. Life on planet Earth is by its very nature diverse. We all need to hear and respect one another in order to be in harmony. A public school should either represent and welcome the traditions of all of its students or represent none. Some may think that a mountain has arisen from a molehill. Perhaps the greater purpose in this story is that the narrow vision of too many has been exposed. This is a golden opportunity to change that!

Linda Cohen

Ashland

Grace instead of anger

There have been some very disrespectful letters aimed at Michelle Zundel as a result of the "tree incident." I have been shocked to read some of them. In my opinion, Michelle acted out of compassion, sensitivity and integrity ... and she did not act alone. The original decision to remove the tree was a joint decision with Juli Di Chiro, superintendent of schools, who took full responsibility for not having a policy in place for Michelle to refer to.

At the meeting held at the Bellview School in response to the anger that came up for people around the decision to remove the tree, the kindness, grace and care Michelle expressed in the face of the anger and disrespect that has been aimed at her are to be admired. Rather than have folks express anger and intolerance, Michelle wisely transformed the meeting to an opportunity to open minds and hearts and to raise the bar for our community. She created a safe space for people to come together in small groups and brainstorm ways to make the tree a symbol that is inclusive, rather than exclusive, and turned this into a win/win situation.

We can do better than "majority rules." We can have public schools where every child sees himself/herself reflected within those walls, rather than feeling diminished. I applaud Michelle for having the courage to challenge the many to include the few, and I'm grateful to the family who had the courage to express their feelings and concerns. Let's be the change we wish to see in our world and make the shift to a new paradigm of open-heartedness and expansive thinking.

Ayala Jody Zonnenschein

Ashland

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