Day 49: Ron finishes, alone — “what Kukai had in mind for my last day”

(6th in a series of posts on Ron Yoshida’s pilgrimage)

https://88-photos.com/

Yoshida 5

This final day, I traveled alone though I thought of Ichigo, Ichie – one lifetime, one moment. Perhaps that is what Kukai had in mind for my last day.

On April 21, Ron Yoshida completed his incredible pilgrimage.

I thought about reaching the finish. Indeed, a moment to enjoy as I passed through the sanmon and rang the temple bell – over two hundred years old.

88 Temples.

You might want to know what pilgrims do when they are at a temple and what I do as a secular person who respects other people’s beliefs but is not religious but spiritual. . . . I put my hands together, bow my head and think the following. I am grateful that I am healthy in mind and body to have walked to this temple (83 so far). I am grateful to my grandparents who had the courage to leave Japan for whatever reason and who endured in a new land. I am grateful to my parents who nurtured me even though at times I rebelled. I am grateful to have Sharon as my wife and partner who has shared my life and supported me on this trip. I am grateful for my friends who I know have helped me and will help me again when needed. I am grateful for all of my girl cats and Sherman who purr and give unequivocal love. I am grateful to all of the people who have given me acts of kindness. For those fellow pilgrims and for those performing osettai whom I will never meet again, Ichigo, Ichie (in one lifetime, one meeting), thank you.

Yoshida 11

1200km.                        745.6454 miles.                   Over mountains thousands of feet high.

I am sad to leave the road with the excitement of what possibilities lie ahead. Each day brought surprises and experiences that can’t be bought. Walking put the moments into slow-motion. I saw details that would have been missed while on a bike, in a car, bus, train, or plane. I am sad because although I have hiked before, I have never gone this distance and time appreciating nature and our environment. Will I ever hear frogs as I did when I walked around the pond having missed Temple 36 on Day 19? Will I walk along a coastline and feel the wind for as long as I did in Kochi prefecture? Will I hear the sweet spring sounds of the birds as I was walking through the forests of Shikoku?

We look forward to Ron’s reflections on his return.

“Please wear the clothes of the Buddha’s great compassion.”

Kukai (Kobo Daishi)

Buddha: “I am the awakened one.”

  https://88-photos.com/

Council Candidates – 4-year seat – Prompt 5 (31)

(31st in a series of posts on candidates for election)

 BCDC is hosting a candidates’ forum May 6, 6PM,
at Steelworkers Hall,
53 E. Lehigh St.

Election Day is May 21

5 candidates

vote for 3

5th in the series of candidate statements

statements in reverse-alphabetical order this time

https://thebrownandwhite.com/2019/03/24/packer-avenue-transformation-lehigh/

On March 24, The Brown and White, the Lehigh University student newspaper, reported that Lehigh was exploring a pedestrian walkway on Packer Avenue, presumably between Brodhead and Webster Streets. Such a street “vacation” – should it ever be formally and officially proposed – would ultimately come before City Council for final disposition. Without prejudging how you would vote on such a now hypothetical proposal, describe what factors you would need to consider before reaching a decision.

Gadfly has been adding a bit of context to each of the prompts for the candidates. Here is what he gave to the candidates with this prompt:I’m assuming you wouldn’t make a snap decision. I’m assuming that you wouldn’t immediately see such a proposal as “black and white.” I’m assuming that you would weigh factors. I’m assuming that you will see that there are legal, technical, economic, cultural, historical, and political considerations involved in such a decision. I’m not sure we would call Lehigh a ‘developer,’ but some of the same tensions and controversies we have seen with developers may come into play here. Lehigh and the Southside have a ‘history.’ So, what different kinds of information would you want to have? Who would you want to hear from? Who are the stakeholders in such a decision? Preliminarily, what benefits do you see? Preliminarily, what concerns do you have? Preliminarily, what issues will you need to be sensitive to? What do you immediately ‘get’? What would you need to do more thinking about? Do not make a decision in your response to this prompt. The idea behind the prompt is to get an idea of how you would approach making a decision that may not be as clear-cut to many people as it seems on the surface and that may have conflicting ramifications. The idea behind the prompt is to get an idea how prepared you are to recognize and reconcile multiple perspectives.”

Paige Van Wirt (incumbent)Van Wirt 2

When I think of how the closing of Packer Avenue between Brodhead and Webster is conceived and presented to the community, a framework which does not include just the few blocks around the area but rather all of South Bethlehem, and even Bethlehem proper, is useful.

From a City Council perspective, we are charged first and foremost with keeping our citizens safe. This means getting a traffic study done by an independent firm, chosen by the city and funded by Lehigh, to understand the impact of closure on our emergency vehicles access to the community. Is it safe?

Once this factor is understood, the traffic study should address impact on local residents’ commute. Will this closure shunt traffic to quiet neighborhood streets? If so, different avenues of access and egress need to be determined and then upgraded by Lehigh to assure there is not an impact on local neighborhoods.

We would require an understanding of how this project would impact local businesses, schools, and cultural organizations. These stakeholders must be brought into the planning from the very start, preferably with the leadership of local neighborhood organizations, and organized by the city, rather than Lehigh University. Citizen participation in well-organized “Town halls” in the neighborhood, can help break down many issues, forge new relationships between “town and gown” and give opportunities for innovative solutions from the local citizens themselves.

Paige Packer image
Lehigh University, center bottom; E. 4th St., l. to r. along top

Once we understand the impact of the project on safety, traffic, local businesses and
neighbors, we then turn to strategy. Council would be giving city-owned land to Lehigh
University. If we are to vacate such a large swath of city land, in the name of increasing
walkability for Lehigh University, we should use this opportunity to require Lehigh U, in
exchange for this city land, to conceptualize and implement dedicated bike lanes and walking path upgrades that connect the University better to 3rd street and 4th street, grocery stores, cultural arts organizations, and other bike/walk trails such as the Greenway and the D and L (https://delawareandlehigh.org/map/). Let’s not just increase the walkability of the Lehigh campus but all of South Bethlehem. This web of interconnectivity, of walking and biking and not dependent on cars, could change the experience living and working in South Bethlehem.

Any vacation of such a large swath of city- (read: citizen-) owned land should be used to create a new relationship between the university and Bethlehem citizens. This land belongs to the citizens of Bethlehem, and figuring out how to knit together this grand university and this dynamic, diverse city should be the framework for any action by City Council.

David Saltzer David Saltzer

There are a multitude of factors to consider when discussing the “hypothetical” building of the pedestrian walkway as part of the Path to Prominence that Lehigh is exploring. When thinking about this and all the talk about walkability in the city, it is a good discussion to have. However, there are many questions with closing the street and building this walkway. How does this affect emergency responders’ access to buildings, residences, and other areas in that location? How will it be paid for: will Lehigh pay for it, will it be built with city funds, are there grants available or will be it a combination of all 3? Who would maintain it, keep it clean, supply the electric for lighting for safety? Who will patrol it — the Lehigh Police, the City Police, or again a combination of both? Assuming there was a study done, what is the amount of foot traffic that would be generated? What is the access to city streets from the walkway and access for emergency responders for any emergencies that would occur on it?

Without any answers to these questions, studies, a plan to look at, or until something actually is brought forth, I feel that this is still in a discussion phase and will need to continue to be watched and looked at until something formal is presented.

J. William Reynolds (incumbent) Reynolds 3

Let me start by saying that this is a great question. Most important decisions should be made using a rational, deliberate process. In no particular order, here is a look at some of the questions that I consider as I am formulating a decision.

1) What are the short and term long benefits/potential negative consequences for the
proposal?
2) Who are the important stakeholders, and how do they feel about the proposal?
3) What (if any) are the legal questions surrounding the proposal?
4) What is going to happen if the proposal does not go through?
5) Who are the internal city staff/professionals that I should be speak to, and how do they feel about the proposal?
6) And, yes, how does the proposal “feel”? (Our “feeling” shouldn’t be the only factor but
often reflects our comprehensive experience making similar decisions in the past.)

As important as those questions are, it is vital on significant questions of policy to be able to explain your decision-making process publicly. I, personally, like to respond to certain arguments made by the side that I disagree with as a way to show that I have considered the major opposing points in a policy discussion.

It is usually impossible to make everyone happy when policy decisions are made. The goal, however, is to come to conclusions that balance as many of the communal interests as possible while also building faith in the process you undertook to come to your policy position.

Michael  Colon (incumbent) Colon 2

Like most issues that find themselves on the City Council agenda, there are a number of pros and cons that come to mind off the top. Of course, this is still in its early stages granting many unknowns.

Some immediate questions that come to mind for Lehigh: First thing I’d need to know are what are the boundaries of this project? Packer is many city blocks long. Why should this strip be vacated? Why not extend the proposed walkway? Why not shorten? I’d like to hear from faculty and students about safety. I’m familiar with the area but won’t pretend to walk it as much as the students/faculty. Is it perceived as an unsafe environment for pedestrians? Have there been accidents there? Does the current state of the street actually present a boundary to unifying the campus and accessing the community as stated? Are there other alternatives to reaching this goal? If there are alternatives, how feasible are they? Have new bus routes been proposed? How does this tie-in to the new student housing at Packer & Brodhead?

From the City Administration: how do we see this impacting traffic? Will it create a bottleneck of vehicles on Morton and 4th? Will any changes have to be made to the surrounding infrastructure to accommodate the vacation?

For the Bethlehem Parking Authority: what are their overall thoughts on the vacation? How does this elimination of parking spots impact parking? What does the elimination of these meters do to their revenues?

From the community: How do the BASD and Broughal parents feel about the vacation behind the school? Local business owners in the neighborhood? Neighborhood residents?

Question for myself: Given what’s known, is this a good project for the community? Often times these are not easy decisions to make. During my first term on Council, I’ve been on both the majority and minority sides of votes. Each situation is unique, and I will continue to bring an open mind to all issues whether it be this project or the next one.

Carol Ritter

Carol has posted responses to prompts #1 and #2, and Gadfly will post additional responses (and notify) when received.

Council Candidates – 2-year seat – Prompt 5 (30)

(30th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

 BCDC is hosting a candidates’ forum May 6, 6PM,
at Steelworkers Hall,
53 E. Lehigh St.

Election Day is May 21

3 candidates

vote for 1

5th in the series of candidate statements

statements in reverse-alphabetical order this time

https://thebrownandwhite.com/2019/03/24/packer-avenue-transformation-lehigh/

On March 24, The Brown and White, the Lehigh University student newspaper, reported that Lehigh was exploring a pedestrian walkway on Packer Avenue, presumably between Brodhead and Webster Streets. Such a street “vacation” – should it ever be formally and officially proposed – would ultimately come before City Council for final disposition. Without prejudging how you would vote on such a now hypothetical proposal, describe what factors you would need to consider before reaching a decision.

Gadfly has been adding a bit of context to each of the prompts for the candidates. Here is what he gave to the candidates with this prompt:I’m assuming you wouldn’t make a snap decision. I’m assuming that you wouldn’t immediately see such a proposal as ‘black and white.’ I’m assuming that you would weigh factors. I’m assuming that you will see that there are legal, technical, economic, cultural, historical, and political considerations involved in such a decision. I’m not sure we would call Lehigh a ‘developer,’ but some of the same tensions and controversies we have seen with developers may come into play here. Lehigh and the Southside have a ‘history.’ So, what different kinds of information would you want to have? Who would you want to hear from? Who are the stakeholders in such a decision? Preliminarily, what benefits do you see? Preliminarily, what concerns do you have? Preliminarily, what issues will you need to be sensitive to? What do you immediately ‘get’? What would you need to do more thinking about? Do not make a decision in your response to this prompt. The idea behind the prompt is to get an idea of how you would approach making a decision that may not be as clear-cut to many people as it seems on the surface and that may have conflicting ramifications. The idea behind the prompt is to get an idea how prepared you are to recognize and reconcile multiple perspectives.”

Grace Crampsie Smith  grace crampsie smith

As an alumni of Lehigh University, I wish to see the university achieve
success in its “Path towards Prominence.” Concurrently, as a resident of Bethlehem and candidate for City Council, I want to assure the best interests of ALL within the community are realized.

There are many unanswered questions re: this proposal. For example, how
do we reconcile the advantages with the disadvantages? While Lehigh students and
faculty may realize conveniences from a pedestrian walkway, what will be the
impact upon commuters, visitors, and city residents? As a lifelong advocate for
individuals with disabilities, how will it affect this population, and will it meet
compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Will accessibility for
some limit accessibility for others? Specifically, how will those with physical
disabilities access locations on Packer Avenue if vehicles are prohibited? We must
consider that the general population frequently visits several locations on Packer
Ave. How many weddings have been held at Packer Chapel, and how would my
physically disabled brother have been able to access this chapel for his son’s wedding if
he could not be driven directly to the Chapel? My daughter, a Lehigh University
High School Scholar, was fortunate to take a course at Lehigh that was located on
Packer Avenue and had little difficulty as a student commuter at the age of 17.
Several buildings on Packer Avenue are venues for community events, and how
would this impact attendees of these events? Thus, it is important to weigh the pros
and cons for all affected — the Lehigh Community, Bethlehem residents, and city
visitors.

Let’s also consider how other prominent universities navigate similar
dilemmas? I can think of several elite universities that lack a pedestrian walkway
and have survived and even flourished, such as Princeton, Penn State, and Notre
Dame. Also, several prominent universities literally exist within city streets such as the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Drexel. Let’s examine how
they address pedestrian traffic within heavily traveled city streets.

We must also be cognizant of the effects that Lehigh’s sprawl has had upon
the community in the past and assure that this initiative is thoroughly considered so
that community relations is enhanced and not damaged. Let’s also consider previous
pedestrian walkways within our city such as Broad St. — what have we learned from
that initiative?

Prior to making a decision upon this proposal, I would want to assure all
avenues are explored and propose a traffic study be conducted, as well as explore
how this will impact accessibility for ALL — students, commuters, visitors, and
residents of Bethlehem.

Will Carpenter Will Carpenter

Providing pedestrian-centric areas in our community is a good thing, especially in a campus environment. Of course, cars and trucks will still need access to most of these areas — and I can enjoy driving as much as I can enjoy walking and riding — but I think we are better served by designing for walkers in our high density areas and not continue to be car-focused in our planning and development.

Making any change to existing traffic patterns must be made carefully and with the input of residents and businesses most affected. Traffic studies are important, but the real experiences and concerns of our citizens will have a greater impact on my decision.

Lastly, I would ask Ed Gallagher to submit a 300-word essay on the topic each Saturday morning so I could make sure I was seeing all sides of the issue.

The candidacy status of Ashley Daubert is uncertain at this time.

 

Gadfly goes modern!

Good Gadfly followers:

Gadfly “goes modern” as the ubiquitous Kathy Fox has already announced to the world!

Gadfly is now on Facebook: search @thebethlehemgadfly

If you are a Facebooker, I hope that you will follow Gadfly and perform all the good Facebook actions like liking/sharing/commenting/inviting your friends, and so forth.

Particularly sharing and inviting your Facebook friends.

Gadfly is taking this step especially because of the upcoming election.

He would like to reach even more people.

We need the best possible City Council members we can get.

We have that “Candidates for election” thread on Gadfly designed to help voters get several steps beyond yard sign and soundbite level of knowledge.

Responses to a 5th prompt should appear tomorrow.

We just don’t get much in the way of newspaper coverage anymore. Sigh. It’s hard to get much in the way of depth on the candidates.

And thus voting — the essence of democracy — can be a hollow exercise.

Ugh.

So Gadfly is trying — with good cooperation from the candidates — to elevate the level of information, if only modestly.

So please help the project by alerting your Facebook friends to follow, calling especial attention to the “Candidates for election” thread: https://thebethlehemgadfly.com/category/candidates-for-election/

Tip o’ the hat and wave o’ the wings to Carol “the provocateur” Burns for nudging and mentoring.

H. D.: let’s get real serious (17)

(17th in a series of posts on H.D.)

We continue to learn about H. D. — Hilda Doolittle — this Bethlehem-born writer (1886-1961), the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure,” as the plaque at the entrance announces to our library patrons.

The next event in the “Finding H. D.” series is a lecture entitled  “H.D. and Emily Dickinson: Bisexual Women Poets Who Made History.”

Let’s get real serious.

The “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure” is a bisexual woman.

Now Gadfly’s pretty sure that his straight followers are not the kind of people who blanch at the word “bisexual,” who would not want to be seen entering an LGBT Community Center, or who would turn to stone sitting next to a bisexual person on an airplane flight.

But if you are straight and of a certain age, as they say, as Gadfly certainly is (older than television), you might not be able to avoid a vaguely odd feeling.

And maybe at any age, you cannot avoid the inclination when you approach bisexual artists to view them through a bisexual lens, to expect to find bisexualness. Whatever that is.

But look at H. D.’s “Evening” again, the beautiful haunting poem Gadfly posted for your afternoon break yesterday.

Anything “bisexual” there?

I don’t know that much about H. D. I’m learning.

But I have read and taught Emily Dickinson for many years.

It is said that when you die, someone comes to meet you. I hope for me it is Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson, the bisexual woman poet who made history.

She’s amazing.

There was recently a death in Gadfly’s near-family. Gadfly was there. Gadfly has now been at bedside for four deaths. He’s a real veteran of mortality events. A person to duck when you are sick.

Nobody captures the death-bed “narrow time” feeling (Dear God, how will we squeeze through this?) better than E. D.:

The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying—this to Us
Made Nature different

We noticed smallest things—
Things overlooked before
By this great light upon our Minds
Italicized—as ’twere.

As We went out and in
Between Her final Room
And Rooms where Those to be alive
Tomorrow were, a Blame

That Others could exist
While She must finish quite
A Jealousy for Her arose
So nearly infinite—

We waited while She passed—
It was a narrow time—
Too jostled were Our Souls to speak
At length the notice came.

She mentioned, and forgot—
Then lightly as a Reed
Bent to the Water, struggled scarce—
Consented, and was dead—

And We—We placed the Hair—
And drew the Head erect—
And then an awful leisure was
Belief to regulate—

And the day after the death

The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –

Anything “bisexual” there?

Just profoundly tragic all too common heart-stabbing “human” experience simply, starkly, solemnly told.

See you Monday night?

——-

Finding H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work
of Hilda Doolittle

The next event in this year-long series is a lecture by Liz Bradbury,
H.D. and Emily Dickinson: Bisexual Women Poets Who Made History,”
Monday, April 29, 6-8pm, Bradbury-Sullivan, LGBT Community Center,
522 West Maple Street, Allentown
(the location may be hard to find, so figuring a bit of extra travel time is good)

Here are the candidates for the 2-yr seats on City Council at the NAACP candidates forum April 22 (29)

(29th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

 BCDC is hosting a candidates’ forum May 6, 6PM,
at Steelworkers Hall,
53 E. Lehigh St.

On May 21 (is the date on your calendar?), we’ll be voting for the one 2-yr. position on Bethlehem City Council.

Here are two of the three candidates for the 2-yr. position (Ashley Daubert is the third) in the order in which they presented at the NAACP forum on April 22.

The presentations are short — you gotta watch!

Will Carpenter

“Democracy has failed to solve some of our problems. . . . I want to be part of what I feel is a swell of good people getting into races and saying we can do better. We should answer to our people only. I am a strong believer in the ethics provision that is trying make its way though our community. . . no way to suffer what Allentown . . . going through. We need to have real transparent government. . . . Director of Real Estate . . . skill set is unique. . . . use our past to forge a great pathway to the future.”

Grace Crampsie Smith

“[My family] instilled in me the vital importance of giving back to the community. . . . currently a high school guidance counselor. . . . previously I was an admissions counselor [in an] outpatient clinic. . . . administered services for people with developmental disabilities. . . . I see a huge increase in opiods and drug addiction. . . . in mental health services . . . homeless. . . . I’m for economic development . . . let’s look at quality, affordable housing . . . work with immigrants . . . advocate and representative for those in need.”

Remember

look for candidate answers to prompt #5 here on Gadfly this Saturday

BCDC is hosting a candidates’ forum May 6, 6PM,
at Steelworkers Hall,
53 E. Lehigh St.