The Master Builder
Regarding Stuart Steers's "Building for the Future," in the February 18 issue:
David Tryba's dream of a walkable city means the recovery of something wonderful and tangible. Americans are so inured to the convenience of driving that we've lost the very thing that makes life really wonderful: our feet on a city sidewalk fronting beautiful, human-scaled buildings. In other words, a public realm where we can actually encounter one another. Deep down, most Americans know that cars destroy the very thing we're seeking. The evidence is the alienation, ugliness and anomie that characterize most American communities. None of this was an accident. It was a conscious design choice that can be undone.
A beautiful city enhances the human psyche, makes relationships deeper and sweeter, stirs the soul and fires the imagination. It's a public dream rather than a private fantasy (which is what suburbia is for). Denver owes David Tryba a profound degree of thanks for his noble (and ennobling) efforts.
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Thank you for Stuart Steers's wonderful article on David Tryba, an architect who cares about aesthetics and historic preservation. One of the reasons I continue to live in Denver is to enjoy the downtown area. I've grown to prefer urban living and the ability it brings to walk around and take in the ambience and activities. It's especially impressive to watch the transformation of the Golden Triangle and Uptown, following LoDo's lead.
My friends who visit me, especially those from cities with higher population numbers than Denver, are amazed by the liveliness of downtown Denver. Not only do they believe that downtown offers many first-rate dining establishments, clubs and cultural attractions, but they also remark at all the people who are always walking about and enjoying the scene.
I sincerely hope that Denver's civic leaders will work to keep the momentum going as we build a world-class city that is exciting, livable and aesthetically appealing. The key to success, I believe, is to continue to have more people living in the urban areas.
David Owen Tryba's dream of a great city is based on idealism, the result of failure to consider reality.
The urban flight to the suburbs was not created by the automobile, as many assume. The automobile made it possible to realize the real dream of an affordable home with space around it rather than urban housing spaced a few feet apart with small yards and little space for kids to play and to have a garden, if desired. It also provided space between houses for privacy rather than looking out a window and directly into the neighbor's window just a few feet away. (In some suburban areas, that urban housing is being re-created as huge houses are now being built within a few feet of neighboring homes.) The flight to the suburbs was also motivated by more affordable houses than are available in urban development.
As for the "Denver back to the future" dream of pedestrian-oriented facilities, including "valued street life" and other ideals such as living downtown, it will remain a dream until some problems are resolved. First, violence on the streets in downtown Denver and elsewhere precludes families strolling along to partake of the envisioned amenities. Second, housing costs downtown have escalated to unaffordable levels for a family that can find less costly housing in the suburbs.
Tryba wants to "create a suburban space where it will be possible to function without a car." He envisions retail stores with residential space overhead for employees. Why assume that employees of a retail store will always stay in that job? What if they change jobs for better pay or whatever? Move every time? Dream on! He notes that Douglas County is the fastest-growing area but appears puzzled that Douglas County does not have a major-league ballpark, a hockey team or a performing arts center. Perhaps it has never occurred to him that not all people share his concept regarding the "quality of life" and that people cannot always go out to lunch every day or afford to do so.
I thought the article concerning the changing face of Denver was great. I think that urban renewal is the only way to go, and the sooner the better. I'm glad someone is paying attention to the way Denver is changing.
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I believe the statement that Tryba's crowning glory in architectural design is Regis Jesuit High School actually works to defame him. Its chapel is slightly reminiscent of those in Europe, but I think it looks more like a striped shoebox. Its interior is actually worse--homely and prefabricated--and lacks the warmth of many other chapels. Lastly, to call it "new" is not correct, as construction was completed nearly nine years ago.
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Kudos to Westword for "Wayne Dullard's Impeachment Diary," in the February 18 issue--a truly great and deserved lampooning. I've been a longtime resident of Larimer County and have met Mr. Allard on several occasions. He is without a doubt the biggest kneejerk dolt I have had the misfortune of encountering. Many of us involuntary constituents would dearly like to see him come home, get a real job and go back to being a useful part of society again. Keep up the good parodies.
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Thank you, T.R. Witcher, for your expose on child-placement agencies ("Family Values," February 18). As a caseworker for Denver Human Services, I have seen the widely differing levels of care that private child-placement agencies provide. Your article points out that some of these agencies are primarily involved for the money and profit. Thank you for exposing a system that needs greater accountability if we are to truly serve the best interests of our community's children.
Name withheld on request
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There are two substantial errors in Tony Perez-Giese's "A Monkey Wrench." First, animal models are a critical tool for understanding a wide variety of disease processes. The developmental and cellular similarities are so great on a molecular level, even across vast evolutionary distances, that, in general, a protein taken from a fruit fly will function properly when introduced into a mammalian cell. While it is correct that animals are less useful for directly testing the efficacy of drugs, diseases like cancer will never be cured through random testing of compounds; it is necessary to understand their molecular basis, a task that would be made drastically more difficult, if not impossible, without the use of experimental animals. This is a view that I'm sure you would find the vast majority of scientists in agreement with.
Which brings me to the next substantial error in your article. Either you have a dramatic editorial bias in this matter, or your reporter doesn't understand how to assemble a story. There is a huge amount of publicly available literature explaining the utility of animals in research and no shortage of agencies willing to explain it, but your reporter concentrated only on interviewing either the lunatic fringe or people who were otherwise not capable of giving an expert opinion. It is as though he'd interviewed his neighborhood mechanic about aspects of building a stealth bomber.
In short, the article was, all around, an example of muddy thinking and poor reporting.
James West, Ph.D.
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Today's research is almost entirely based on animal experimentation. But since the inception of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1901, two-thirds of the prizes have been awarded to scientists using various alternative technologies to animal models. While animal research has uncovered some useful information, it is hardly surprising, given the billions of dollars invested in it. Consider the enormous tragedy of maternal-deprivation studies in which infant monkeys are torn from their mothers and abused in numerous ways. These studies show that abuse and neglect lead to psychological damage and maladjustment. Millions of tax dollars have been spent to reach this conclusion, while programs to help abused and neglected children still go under-funded. Monkeys, apes, rats and cats are in many ways different from human beings, marked with anatomical and psychological differences. It is ludicrous to believe that we can learn from an animal that is placed in a stressful and unnatural environment. Artificially diseased and manipulated animals will not give us the correct answers we are looking for to treat and help humans. If we would like to study the behavioral pattern of a human being, we shouldn't waste time and money studying monkeys.
"A Monkey Wrench" is poor journalism. The general public has little knowledge of animal research and animal-welfare regulations and won't know that the so-called facts presented in this article simply are not true. The author would be well-advised to more closely check the credibility of his sources and not play into the hands of people promoting frivolous agendas by pushing the uninformed public's emotional hot buttons. Research your topic more thoroughly, Tony, and you will find that animal research is relevant to human health and that research animals are not kept in "small, barren cages."
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A question for Mark Laudenslager of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center: If your research proves that children removed from their parents' care are more susceptible to AIDS, what do you propose doing with this info? Interfering with parents' choices in their child-rearing? Of course not. Inoculating abandoned children/orphans? With what? Or are you suggesting we should medicate children out of the possibility of any stress? See what stupid questions your research leads to?
Meanwhile, we already knew stress diminishes the effectiveness of one's immune system. And you continue to take AIDS research money away from more valid, focused and useful pursuits. It is also valid for people to be concerned with where their money is being spent, and they should have the right to question it. Ron Banks states that a debate turns into a "he said, she said type of thing." Excuse me, but whenever we, the public, are figuring out what we believe and where our sentiments lie, we like to look at both sides. The research community's smug refusal to engage the views of those who oppose them (for the purposes of public enlightenment, not their own!) is pure arrogance and tends to prove the view of many that much research is done for the money and prestige and cannot withstand criticism or the light of day.
Monkeys have a divine right to life.
Linda E. Stander
A Minor Complaint
After reading Harrison Fletcher's "Arrested Development," in the February 18 issue, I was struck by parallels with experiences I have had with police in Boulder. Last summer, while eating lunch on the Pearl Street Mall, I saw four young people handcuffed and arrested. Knowing from previous experience that asking about what they were doing at the time would yield the "interfering with a police officer" response, I waited until the four were not only handcuffed but also placed in a police car. I then asked an officer what had happened. His response was to ask who I was. I responded that I was a citizen. At that point, all he would say is that they were minors and he couldn't discuss it. I asked him if he couldn't at least tell me what the charges were, and he said no.
It seems that for some officers, "serve and protect" has come to mean "intimidate and harass" and that policies designed to protect the safety of the officer have come to be used as a way to make sure the public is prevented from questioning anything they do. This is bad policy. It reduces trust between average citizens and the police, raises resentment and prevents the police department from learning about officers who are overstepping their authority.
A Mobile Effort
Just a few lines to thank you for all the fine articles throughout the years. One of your best, in my opinion, was Harrison Fletcher's February 4 "Chicanery Row," about mobile-home dwellers in our area.
As a longtime mobile-home owner, I get chills every time I think that a mobile-home dealer intends to buy a mobile-home park. I presently live in a privately owned park, and it's a very nice one. But I foresee a chance that it might go up for sale in the near future, and if it does, a dealer could run all of us out and put in his own homes to new buyers.
I lived in one of the parks presently owned by the parties in question, and I thank God I'm not there now. The person who owned the park was a slumlord who allowed anything and everything to go on as long as you paid your rent. But at least it wasn't in his best interest to move you out.
We live in a near police state with lots of useless laws, but if AARP or VAMPA or someone doesn't stop this, there won't be any old people around.
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