Monday, April 12, 2010

Greensboro Children's Museum Stepping on Tows

When I pulled into the parking lot on March 17, only a few cars were there, which was status quo for early in the evening. Yet, the sign caught my eye -- a warning that vehicles in the lot after hours would be towed. "Has that sign always been there?" I dug around in my brain trying to recall my prior visits. Everything else looked normal, and in spite of the voice on my shoulder warning me to move, I was sure I'd be fine parked in the lot across the street from the main branch of the Greensboro Public Library.
About 1 1/2 hours later, I came out of the library to find my car was gone. Sure it was my fault - I ignored the sign, thinking that the lot would be cordoned off if trespassing was a problem. The Greensboro Children's Museum is non-profit and across from the library, so I assumed there must be some consideration for community neighbors. I assumed wrong.

I am even more disturbed that The Children's Museum is going to great lengths to ensure its lot is clear of trespassers, yet the CEO has her hand out to the Greensboro City Council in hopes of getting around $500,000 to keep the museum going.

I suggest that Ms. Grant exemplify being a good neighbor before she breaches the pockets of the taxpayers. I hand-delivered a letter to the museum on Sunday, while I was there with my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. I don't know if Ms. Grant has read it yet, but I invite you to do so!

Betsy Grant, CEO
Greensboro Children’s Museum
220 North Church Street
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401

Dear Ms. Grant,

On a recent evening, I was visiting the Greensboro Public Library for a monthly community meeting. I have parked in the deck before, but also have parked in the lot of the Children’s Museum as it is after hours and does not deter from patron parking. Doing so is safer than walking to the deck alone at 9 pm where traffic and security are scarce.
I was astounded to find my vehicle had been towed from the museum lot and even more shocked at the $195 fee to retrieve my car. (Not to mention scrounging up a ride to get to the towing lot.)
As a lifelong resident of Greensboro, I have been proud of how the downtown businesses seem to work together to promote the area’s revitalization. The city does not charge for parking after 6 pm and encourages visitors to migrate to downtown for evening gatherings.
The fact that your non-profit agency would collaborate with a towing agency to profit off of such an endeavor is quite distressing. Such actions are contrary to the usual camaraderie among the community. I also find it interesting that you would ask for financial support from the City of Greensboro with such adversarial actions against the local residents and the instigation of this creative method of income.
What if a parent were visiting the museum with his or her child and, upon leaving, decided to visit the library? If the towing has begun because of loitering, then merely install a chain, rather than take advantage of those that would support your ventures.
I am a patron of the Children’s Museum, taking my family, my granddaughter, and several children’s groups from a local recreation department. Just as I have frequently recommended your attraction to others, I will also spread word of your lack of community fellowship. I also plan to share this information with the Greensboro City Council, News & Record, post to my online blog, and social media connections. Rather than blindside you with dispersal of my statements, like I was blindsided by towing, I have chosen to share my story in hopes that someone else will not suffer the same financial and mental duress I have endured.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beyond Tolerance to Acceptance

During a recent class discussion, I questioned my students about their understanding of the difference between tolerance and acceptance. Immediately, I saw facial expressions change with their recognition of the relationship between the two terms. When discussing such issues in a classroom filled with adult students from a rural community, I steady myself in case there is backlash. I also make every effort to create an environment of open discussion rather than judging comments. Still, I was pleased that students nodded in agreement when considering the point that mere tolerance is not conducive to diversity. Several people in the class even noted that "the Bible doesn't say anything about 'tolerating' others; it says we should be accepting of each other."
Since the discussions in my classes, I have continued to mull over the attitudes and comments made, and from that I have drawn a few observations:

  1. Even though I am helping them polish their communication skills through writing, these students are eloquent in their expressions of diversity and acceptance.
  2. A closed mind can not expand or grow, thus any form of education, including life's lessons, comes to a halt.
  3. Fear of the unknown, which includes lack of knowledge, hinders acceptance.

As for Fred Phelps and his cult at Westboro Baptist Church, what are they so afraid of, that they find it necessary to travel from Topeka, KS to Palo Alto, CA to criticize students for celebrating diversity and acceptance? Congratulations to the forward thinking high schoolers in their efforts to demonstrate peaceful unity and for embracing those that claim to be enemies. In order for someone to be an enemy, his aversion must be reciprocated. May others learn to follow Gunn High School's example by letting their little lights shine brightly to shrink the dark shadows of hatred.