Pioneers? Not in a condo

by: Jim Clark, Early South Waterfront residents like Jaska Williams (right) have moved in before landscaping, sidewalks, coffee shops and other infrastructure have been installed in the neighborhood. But one reader says the notion that early residents are roughing it without such amenities is a stretch.

I feel compelled to comment on the article '97239: Urban pioneers start unpacking' (Aug. 1). To dub these people 'pioneers' is absolutely ludicrous.

Many suburbanites do not live close to modern amenities. The people buying condos in urban vicinities, such as those in the South Waterfront neighborhood, are very well-to-do and aren't living far from such conveniences. Many are wealthy enough to take cabs, etc., in an emergency.

What about the poor people being driven from the cities in this country who must rely on one- to two-hour bus rides to get to work? When others fled, many stuck it out, living in blighted areas for years. When those same blighted areas are designated for renewal, who are the first displaced? Naturally, the ones who stayed. Some gratitude.

In all fairness, your paper has responsibly reported on the displacement of many - such as me - who lived in apartments like Portland Center, were lied to and unceremoniously kicked out after five to 40 years of renting. A number of the tenants were quite elderly.

In essence, the tag of 'pioneers' reminds me of the musician Prince, who, unhappy with his record contract, wrote 'Slave' on his face. Of course, this is an insult to African-Americans or anyone else with ancestors who were slaves, in addition to all true pioneers who made enormous sacrifices to ensure we live relatively comfortable lives today.

Lee Brodinsky

Southwest Portland

West-side commuter options are limited

The article 'Crafty commuters present conundrum' (Aug. 8) rests on the premise that Northwest Cornell Road is not intended as a commuter road and that commuters are 'craftily' learning to take this route instead of the ones they're 'supposed to be taking - Sunset Highway and West Burnside Street.' Balderdash!

I've lived in Cedar Mill since 1983 and have commuted on Cornell daily.

Folks living on the hillside-view lots along the last mile of Cornell before Northwest 25th Avenue have long complained about traffic. As a professional economist, I have little sympathy, since the perceived 'disutility' of heavy commuter traffic would certainly have been reflected in the price they paid for their lots. If they are surprised by the commuter traffic, they simply haven't been paying attention.

The Sunset Highway is a commuter nightmare that serves the entire west side. It can easily be a parking lot at any time.

Burnside is possibly even worse. I've seen folks get off the eastbound No. 20 bus and walk because that was the much faster choice. I've spent nearly two hours coming from the Sunset Transit Center to downtown on this bus. That's congestion for you.

Commuter traffic from suburban Northwest has few options, and Cornell is an excellent commuter road. It's long, with few traffic signals, and traffic flows along it at speeds of 45 miles per hour - which is legal. Despite traffic engineer Rob Burchfield's feelings about the planners' intent, Cornell has handled commuter traffic for decades.

Greater Portland has a real, emerging traffic problem - much of it exemplified by Portland's willingness to site one of the largest housing projects in Oregon's history (Forest Heights) nestled up against Cornell Road. It won't be solved by pretending that commuters are 'violating the rules' or by assigning Cornell an official planning status of 'neighborhood lane.'

Things might be helped by improvements at Northwest 25th Avenue and Lovejoy Street, but pretty much, we're all just going to have to grin and bear it.

Francis Ferguson

Northwest Portland

Sisters are doing it for their community

In the gay community, we are subject to judgment out of ignorance on a daily basis (Mocking nuns isn't right, Readers' Letters, Aug. 4). It is very easy for people to make statements that have no basis in fact simply because they don't know better.

Many of those with a bigoted philosophy make blanket statements without any facts to back them up. Statements like homosexuals are pedophiles, children are hurt by being adopted by same-sex couples, same-sex marriage is an attack on the sanctity of marriage, or the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are mocking nuns.

Letter writer Mary Ann Johnson condemned the Portland Tribune's July 28 article on the Sisters as being dishonest and partial. I see this as totally the opposite. I commend the Tribune for looking out of mainstream news coverage and reporting on other aspects of the Portland community at large.

Do we mock nuns? Absolutely not! We are nuns. Ms. Johnson seems to think that the Catholic church has a monopoly on nuns.

If she would take the time to look beyond her front door, she'd learn that many religious orders in the world have nuns doing great work as part of their calling.

The nuns Ms. Johnson grew up with were devoted to educating, helping through charitable organizations and giving comfort to those in need.

If she took the time to learn about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, instead of instantly condemning, she'd see that we are also devoted to the same causes.

We educate people on safer sex and the risks of certain behaviors. We help other charitable organizations raise money. We give comfort to those who are ill or in need - the very traits she says she honors in the nuns of her belief. We don't mock those nuns, we honor them.

In our first year, the Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised money to pay for their safer-sex outreach program, held a Christmas toy drive for children affected by or infected with HIV, set up a fund to send HIV-positive children to summer camp, raised money to help HIV-positive people struggling through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina purchase the medication they needed to stay alive, and held a candlelight vigil on World AIDS Day to remind everyone that it's been 25 years and there still is no cure.

Ms. Johnson uses words like 'idiots' and 'ignorance,' and I think those are correct words to be using, but only in the context of her judgments. For those judgments are made out of her own ignorance. Perhaps that is the true sin.

I'd like to challenge Ms. Johnson to use her energy in educating herself before condemning those she knows nothing about.

Sister Mona Little-Moore

Prioress, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Southeast Portland