A Landmark Decision
Regarding Steve Jackson's "True Believers," in the April 18 issue:
I am a regular reader of Westword. Since I am a human being and have my own opinions, I don't always agree with everything that is written in your paper. However, that hasn't stopped me from continuing to read it. This time, though, I think you have gone a little far. Steve Jackson's "True Believers" was outrageous. I had a hard time even believing what I was reading because it was so ridiculous. I am a graduate of The Forum and I have completed various other Landmark programs, including assisting/volunteering. I am a successful, normal person who has benefited greatly from Landmark.
From my firsthand experience, I can tell you that Landmark, its staff and the assistants are committed to nothing more than making a difference with the people who do The Forum, their families, communities and, ultimately, the world. If you are so cynical that you can't imagine anyone making a positive difference in the world, then I feel sorry for you. Not only are you closed-minded about people--and especially yourself--having lives that they actually enjoy, but you based the story on the opinion of one man who did not like the program. Mr Plywaski never intended to get anything out of The Forum, and so he didn't. You have to want something out of it in order to get anything (besides having your daughter get off your back). In fact, if you had talked to any of the thousands and thousands of people who have completed The Forum and enjoyed it and gotten something out of it, you would have begged them to let you stay when you were "spying," instead of writing an article that makes fun of people's visions and ideas of ways to make the world we live in a better place.
I'm truly thankful for Landmark and what they have done and are doing, and I know your article won't stop them from continuing to make a difference in people's lives. As for "true believers," I wouldn't be surprised if anyone actually believes the article you wrote, because the media, and especially your paper, strives to have its own opinions put upon thousands of people. That sounds more like a cult to me.
Ah, the mixed feelings from your article on Landmark. I was taking a seminar when the employees took over from Werner Erhard.
Let me say that I had to be dragged into The Forum. I was one of those people who had a preconceived notion that these people were on a ride that was only about money. But by the end of the first two hours, I was interested in what I might learn.
I wound up taking The Forum twice. I took seminars, too. I wasn't a groupie, nor did I succumb to the pressure to bring guests to the special-guest events. I was fine with that. (They would have preferred that I bring all my friends and enemies as well.)
What did happen for me was that I learned that I could step out of what was comfortable and what was succeeding in my life and take it up a notch. Or five notches. Or...
I now own my own business with 22 employees, and I still draw upon what I learned from the Work. It is not for everyone, yet in a society where crime is so high and most of us go home and watch TV, I know that there are people out there who have had training to make a difference in their lives as well as their families' and friends' lives. That is reassuring!
At the very least, these people have taught me that thinking out problems on various levels is far better than reacting from past experiences, which offers no possibility of changing a conditioned way of being. By thinking things through, many opportunities are available. The Buddhists say that there are 2,000 possibilities for every situation.
If this is a cult, I wonder why I am free to think for myself and make better decisions than I did prior to doing the Work? I got my money's worth from the Work I did, yet it is truly up to the individual to determine if he or she is satisfied with life as is.
Keith M. Spiegelman
Comparing the Landmark organization to Hitler and the Nazis is some of the most slanted "reportage" I have ever seen.
I was one of the hundreds of thousands of people who took the est training. I believe I have achieved a higher level of success in life than I would have without the training. I was never "sucked into" doing any recruiting for the est organization.
I have always been a free spirit, and yet I enjoyed the conformity and the devoted attention to detail of the est training. For me, it was training in how to get past attitudinal boundaries in order to achieve personal goals.
If the training made communicating with friends difficult in the short run, it was necessary to develop a common language with other est graduates in order to communicate specific knowledge and experiences (like medical students or Eskimo fishermen do). In fact, some of the est language has become part of our larger culture. For example: "We are making a difference."
I know that the Landmark training has nothing to do with fascism and everything to do with the technology of communication.
Think or Swim
Steve Jackson's "I Think I Can, I Think I Can," in the April 18 issue, was the most biased, narrow-minded piece I've ever read in Westword. Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Anthony's idea of an alternative transportation system was condemned before Mr. Jackson asked his first interview question.
They could very well be brainwashed cronies of the Landmark Education Corporation, as they are brutally depicted in the article, but at least they're trying to improve our world. We could use a little more positivity. I say, more power to 'em. What if the great inventors throughout time took these types of criticisms to heart and gave up? Can you, Mr. Jackson, think of a better idea than theirs? Let's hear it. Or you're probably happy with our carbon-monoxide-spewing, number-one death-causing, asphalt-breeding machines. Ah, yes, I can see it nowEwhat a beautiful sight, as the population continues to double and quadruple, we'll try to keep up with more and more freeways. Ten-lane super-highways, twenty-lane mega-super-freeways. Yes! It'll be great. Concrete everywhere, yee-ha! Imagine the first 1,000-car pileup!
Do you think the CEOs of Shell, Exxon, GM, Ford, etc., give a damn about the welfare of our planet? Yeah, right. If we don't put pressure on the government to change, they won't. Until the day when politicians aren't bought and sold by the huge automobile and oil companies that are exploiting our planet, we'll have to rely on the ideas of dreamers such as Anthony and Hopkins. They don't need the negativity, and neither do I.
I think Westword should ask for suggestions, hold a contest perhaps, asking for the most creative ideas. Imagine the possibilities.
Footing the Football Bill
Regarding Bill Gallo's "And the Hits Keep Coming," in the April 25 issue:
Who is ramrodding the Broncos stadium bill? Who are the lawmakers supporting this abuse of taxpayers' funds? Pat Bowlen has threatened to move the Broncos if he doesn't get a new stadium. Let him move. I think we could do better with the Denver Seahawks or Denver Dolphins. Maybe they can get us to the playoffs. Bowlen's Broncos can't.
Bowlen has said that he needs a new stadium to increase his profitability. I believe it is more important that we increase the profitability of our school systems and law-enforcement and fire departments so that they can provide us with better schools and police and fire protection. That one cent in sales tax for every ten dollars would go a long way to showing our teachers, police and firefighters that they are recognized and are more important than a bunch of multimillionaire football players.
I believe the Broncos stadium should have a very low priority with our lawmakers, voters and taxpayers.
Fredrick G. Clutsom
Center of the Norm
Alan Prendergast's article on Phil Burgess and the Center for the New West ("Winging It," April 11) was not an accurate portrayal. Prendergast insinuates that Phil Burgess recommends programs that benefit US West because he is paid by them. In my seven-year working relationship with Phil, never once have I seen him deliberately skew his recommendations to favor his employer. Sometimes the recommendations do favor US West and sometimes they don't, but they are always based on Phil's strong belief in private enterprise and innovation and are grounded in real-world experiences.
Further, to portray the staff at the Center for the New West as frivolous researchers interested only in media coverage is to ignore nine years of extensively documented studies published there. This felt like a story written by some unhappy former employee, not one carefully researched by an unbiased reporter.
Can't Stop the Music
Whatever happened to saying something nice about people and their professional jobs?
After reading Michael Roberts's April 11 article about radio stations, "The Mouths That Roar," I have one comment: Dave Granger of KTCL rules. He is great, and why shouldn't he be? He makes the radio station fun, plays great music, has a great voice and, best of all, he likes what he does. Quite frankly, not too many people can say that in life. Dave Granger is an intellectual human being and therefore will succeed. I am not the only person who feels this way, and that is why KTCL is happening.
I do not know what challenged Michael Roberts's inner problems. But as a singer and someone who's been in the religious field all my life, I can tell you that if you don't like the music, turn it off--don't criticize.
Life is toooo short.
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