Cheers and jeers: Lofty goals, people who won’t be stopped, impassioned discourse (and rudeness)

As summer turns to fall, we enter a new season of school classes, sporting and recreation events, the wrap of construction projects… and the ramping up of political contests. It’s a time of change, and as such can be both exhilarating and frustrating. Which brings me to roll out a few autumn 2012 cheers and jeers:

• They may have sparked some fierce discussion at the recent Snoqualmie Valley School District board meeting. But I’ve got a cheer for Carolyn Simpson and Geoff Doy’s latest proposal to push for more college prep by teachers and students.

The proposal is no surprise—Simpson made this a plank of her election campaign one year ago. Recognizing that college careers aren’t necessarily right for every student, and that the nuts and bolts of the idea have to be hashed out in a way that includes the folks on the front lines of education—the teachers, administrators and students themselves—why shouldn’t lofty goals be, if not greenlighted, at least explored? Local students have the same potential as all Eastside pupils.

• A hearty cheer to North Bend for fixing Boalch Avenue. The aroma of fresh pavement is a welcome bouquet on that boulevard. However, I’ll reserve my cheer for North Bend’s traffic circle plan at Main and North Bend Way until I get a clearer picture of what’s in the cards there.

True confession: I have come around, no pun intended, to roundabouts. The simple truth is that they work. Some drivers may have had problems at North Bend’s two existing circles at Cedar Falls Way and Interstate 90. But I can’t remember the last time I did. Everyone seems to have gotten the hang of the one at I-90, and the back-ups at the exit are a thing of the past. If you oppose roundabouts because they’re new or seem vaguely European, get over it: Traffic circles have been used in America for a century.

We hire experts, traffic, wildlife and otherwise, to put their knowledge to use for the greater benefit of us all. I am no traffic expert, and so will happily defer to the trained minds behind this latest proposal. However, I think North Bend would do well to explain, simply, plainly and publicly, why a new one is needed here.

• Jeers to the loss of civility that seems to creep into online discussions these days, whether it’s national-level political discussion or local matters. Last week, we ran a piece on the bear shooting in Snoqualmie Ridge, and a few commentators traded barbs like “Tree hugger,” “Idiot,” “Moron” and “Go back to L.A.” I’m all for having a real discussion on politics, say, or human-vs-wildlife safety in the community. But do we really need to resort to name calling? Nov. 6 is still more than a month away, and it’s only going to get worse. So, before you troll, consider the example that you’re setting. Civil discourse bridges minds. Shallow bickering simply breaks people apart.

• Cheers to locals making a difference. In the last few weeks, we’ve met several locals who deal with challenging medical issues, yet take them firmly in stride. I’m talking about Kaylene Alvarado, the 16-year-old Snoqualmie/Issaquah teen who shared her perspective as someone with Cystic Fibrosis in last week’s column, “One breath at a time.”

Then there’s Dave Heyting, the Snoqualmie man who is fighting “Goliath,” a tumor in his brain. He’s written a blog about his experiences at http://davidheyting.wordpress.com and got involved with the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk.

This week, we meet Becky Schandel, a Snoqualmie woman with Multiple Sclerosis. She’s not championing any mighty causes, but she can be found strolling with her young relatives, refusing to be limited. Becky puts it succinctly: She has MS. It doesn’t have her.


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