Criticism is often directed toward social media networks. A frenzy of "liking," "friending" and "commenting" interferes with actual communication. Easy online connections, pornography and stimulation protect us from the stressful interactions that are inherent in actual individual and group relationships.
Traditionally, neighborhoods, homes and rooms have confined people both physically and emotionally. In Palo Alto people frequently move in and out, represent diverse cultures and traditions, and are subject to financial strains, layoffs and other difficulties. Relationships with others are essential for psychological well-being, but also difficult to build in our ever-changing multinational community.
A new social media form is emerging that has special potential. Next Door College Terrace enables neighbors to connect in real time and set a stage for the development of a more supportive community. A new form of kinder interaction is evolving through sharing tools, help and support.
Next Door offers a means to take us further along a pathway to the creation of a new "Palo Alto Process." Rather than the usual hostile, isolated and aggressive ways, the means for compassionate and caring community is instilled.
Bette U. Kiernan, MFT
Stop unsustainable projects
The proposed downtown "gateway" building, with its 84-foot glass tower and five stories of housing and office space, encompasses everything that is wrong with the planning process in this city. The current zoning for this site is for a two-story building, which would be in keeping with what is currently in the area and what the neighborhood wants.
However, we have a perverted planning process that allows for massive exemptions, and it has turned our zoning code into a free-for-all, growth-at-any-cost planning rodeo. Why are city planners — people you assume work for the city's residents to protect their zoning code — writing reports that describe this plan as "a landmark for downtown?" Their reports are not unbiased analyses.
And why are non-elected planning commissioners demanding taller and bigger buildings when they have no mandate from the electorate to drive this process? In fact, it is pretty clear that this whole "growth is inevitable" mantra and the idea that "planned growth" can be all good and have no negative effects is the Kool-Aid spouted by politically connected developers and their friends who profit from growth and drive its process.
We are fed the line that growth is good for our economy, for our community's livability and for the environment.
This is not true. In a finite city continuous growth is not good. It has serious negative effects, such as crowded roads, parks and schools, more air pollution and water shortages. But this growth is also not inevitable. If residents want to preserve livability and quality of life in Palo Alto, we need to end these massive developments. We don't have to accept and accommodate unsustainable growth.
Palo Alto Avenue