"Everybody Must Get Zoned," Kenny Be, January 21

Code Medicine

I appreciated Kenny Be's "Everybody Must Get Zoned." The spin on "stoned" and "zoned" was not wasted on me, especially having attended recent zoning-code update meetings and the city council hearing on medical marijuana! 

As a concerned citizen, I've been asking in a raised, persistent voice, "Is anyone paying attention?" As characterized in Be's work, Denver's process of rewriting the fifty-year-old zoning code is not without flaws. My experience is that the city is doing a great job of acting as if it is listening to the citizens of Denver. However, those of us who have been involved in the process couldn't disagree more. Why is Community Planning and Development using the rewrite to increase density? Why is CPD changing the definition of "Areas of Stability"? Why isn't CPD implementing Blueprint Denver and neighborhood plans, as previously promised? I and many others believe it is because CPD sees this as an opportunity to grow the city, not protect it. To put money in the city coffers by catering to the wishes of the developers. What about the rights of citizens who can't influence the city's decision process with big investment bucks? Zoning codes exist to protect established neighborhoods from development, not to protect development in established neighborhoods.

I'm disillusioned with the process, to say the least, and appreciated Kenny's humorous approach to some of the absurdities of the proposed new code. It's either laugh or cry...and I prefer to laugh!

L. Anderson

Denver

Hurrah for the urban agriculture section in the new zoning code (though Kenny's drawing is just a touch inaccurate, as the code doesn't allow homeowners to sell produce on-site at their home)! With lots of great provisions for gardening and greenhouses, the urban ag codes will make it easier for Denver residents to produce more of their own food if they choose to do so.

Now we just need to encourage city council to pass an ordinance allowing for the keeping of food-producing animals (like hen chickens and dwarf dairy goats) as a use by right, and we'll really be on our way to sustainability!

Sundari Kraft

Denver

Editor's note: Although you can't post your opinions of the proposed zoning code on the city website — www.newcodedenver.org — we welcome your opinions in the comments section of our website, where you can share them right after Kenny Be's cartoon, at http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/01/everbody_must_get_zoned.php.

"Final Bell," Melanie Asmar, January 14
For Whom the Bell Tolls

I've just finished reading "Final Bell." So P.S. 1 has flunked out. I'm not surprised.

My son was among the first students at that new school. He was already a veteran of charter schools, and he thought that P.S. 1 and he would be a good fit. Not so fast!

P.S. 1 opened in a former Chinese restaurant. The interior was carved into a setting for a school and was very depressing. The flooring was where linoleum had been torn away. The lighting was poor. Classrooms were not state-of-the-art. Also, discipline at the school seemed poor. I took strong exception to the students being encouraged to call the principal and all the teachers by their first names instead of by titles and surnames; the kids actually called Mr. Brown "Rex." I let the teachers know I thought they were doing the students a disservice by promoting such a pal-sy approach.

The "projects" subbed for textbooks, which the school didn't bother to purchase. I helped my son with his homework quite a bit, so I knew what he was into. For instance, one math teacher — "The students call me David" — came up with a worksheet that had the students use specially designed formulas to come up with the answers. My son was proficient in math, but those assignments were a struggle.

I'm surprised that P.S. 1 lasted as long as it did before it finally failed to make the grade.

Cheryl Murphy

Commerce City

As a pioneer student at P.S. 1, it was sad for me to see it close, but not surprising. I went through all of high school at P.S. 1 and graduated as the valedictorian ten years ago. P.S. 1 was good to me in those four years, and I believed that it offered students a place where they could explore learning based on their interests. I spent time studying art, design and science. Under the guidance of Michael Gadlin (a respected painter in the Denver area and a Pratt graduate), I decided I would pursue art and design school. While I was at P.S. 1, I sat on the neighborhood planning board for the newly developing Golden Triangle neighborhood and interned at Fentress Bradburn, a world-renowned architecture firm. Using everything I learned from these experiences, I applied to multiple art schools for industrial design and was accepted to all of them with scholarships. I ended up attending Pratt Institute, where my mentor had gone.

P.S. 1 did not teach me stuff; it taught me to learn. It taught that if I enjoyed what I was studying, I would work harder on it. This has served me well my entire life, through college into the working world. I am a self-directed learner and worker, and I attribute that to how P.S. 1 was structured. The other things I learned at P.S. 1 that have been invaluable to me are critical and creative thinking, and the ability to present my ideas to peers and teachers.

Now they are closing my high school, and I understand why: Our founder, Rex Brown, never envisioned P.S. 1 as a place to house students who had no other place to go or educational/behavioral problems that other schools could not handle. This is what P.S. 1 became. P.S. 1 was created to prove that if you give students the resources, they will want to learn and teach themselves. As Brown taught me, this Jeffersonian style of learning needs to not only be embraced by the faculty, but the students as well for it to work.

Hopefully, at some point the loss of P.S. 1 can be replaced by something else that encourages self-learning and explorations, internships, community outreach, portfolios and student-led presentations. P.S. 1 was a utopia in a myopic school system that overlooked different ways to teach students.

Peter Ragonetti

Brooklyn, New York

"Pot Luck," William Breathes, January 21

Close, But No (Cuban) Cigar

I read with great interest William Breathes's article about 8 Rivers. My wife is JAHmaican and we noted the irony of using the name of the Jahmaican town Ocho Rios in English; cool.

Vizcaya is not a Cuban rum; it's been a Dominican rum since 1960, when it transferred its distillery from Cuba. Sadly, cannabis may be legal to obtain in cuisine and prescription in Colorado, but Cuban rum, cigars, sugar, et al., are illegal in the U.S.; they would shut them down in a Havana minuto.

My wife and I have been making all sorts of cannabis-laced food since the early 1970s. If you haven't seen it already, I recommend the 1968 film I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, with Peter Sellers, as well as the famous Barney Miller episode "Hashish," in which the entire detective squad eats hash-laced brownies without knowing what they are and get high. Hilarious.

Jonathan Jackson

Pasadena, California

Nice article on 8 Rivers. Thanks for getting this info out for those of us who want to learn more about cooking with herb. The place sounds great, and I'll see some of you at the next class.

Paul Wall

Frisco

"Community," Juliet Wittman, January 14

Get Outta the Kitchen!

The Juliet Wittman review of the Kitchen was so boring, yet typical of the vast majority of restaurant reviews written for the last thousand years or so. To paraphrase: I had a bunch of boring crowd-pleasers: mussels, gnocchi and seared scallops. They came in sauces. They were nice.

Especially when you put her summary back-to-back with an extended quote from Sheehan's piece on the same restaurant, the contrast becomes sadly obvious, or obviously sad. Lacking is the passion, style and extreme subjectivity that made his reviews worth reading, whether you agreed with them or not.

Barbara Middlebrook

Denver

I have been reading Juliet Wittman's theater pieces for as long, if not longer than I have been reading Cafe. So I was not surprised at all to discover that she could write about a restaurant and about food with panache and verve. If Ms. Wittman is Jason Sheehan's replacement for good, then I say "Bravo!"

Jason Sheehan: Eat your hat up there in Seattle!

Bill Gardner

Denver

"Drunk of the Week," Drew Bixby, January 14

Malt Shop

Pints is a great British pub — but alas, it does not have the largest collection of pourable single malt whiskeys. That honor goes to the Dundee Dell in Omaha, with over 800 pourable single malts. Still, having visited Pints, I think it is a grand place.

B.J. Reed

Omaha, Nebraska

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