Know better, do better, help children thrive post-divorce.

Last night as I was pretending to sleep during a bout of insomnia, some of my worst memories resurfaced.

My early adulthood was traumatic. I was married at 20 and had my first child at 21. We scraped by on food stamps, his full time service industry job and my two part time, slightly better than minimum wage jobs. Before I was done nursing my first daughter, by some miracle (because the relationship had deteriorated by then) I was pregnant with the second.

That pregnancy was the most isolated I have ever been. My Aunties, cousins, and Grampie were my only local family, and I didn’t tell them or my Mom, Dad or Stepmom that I was alone with my toddler every day. That things were combative or sullenly quiet every evening. That many evenings he would go back out and I would be alone again with my suicidal thoughts. Only the love for my growing, talking, snuggly child kept me going.

In that state, I mostly felt shaken, broken, and vulnerable, but a couple times I lashed out in ways I deeply regret.

I filed for a legal separation a week after my second daughter was born. My Mom and Dad flew out and helped pack the house in a weekend. I was unwilling to file for divorce, since my only goal when I married so young was to give my child(ren) an in-tact family, and I held out languishing hope that we could reconcile.

I spent that summer in Maine, partly in my Aunt and Uncle’s loft, and partly at camp. Two babies in diapers and an existence of sorrow and rage.

Their Dad was lost at the time, unsure of his place in the world or as a father. I was lost and depleted, too, but I at least knew he needed to be in their lives if they were to have their best chance at a healthy life. I vowed never to speak ill of him in their presence, because I had appreciated that from my parents regarding their divorce. Beyond these, I didn’t know what to do.

I returned to San Diego at the end of that grievous summer, with no job prospects, a lot of pain, but a glimmer of hope for the future that I felt at the core of my being. It ran deeper than my sadness and fear of the unknown.

For a long time in the early years following that decision to return, I mostly regretted it. Within a couple years we were battling over custody of the girls. I wished he would disappear. I wished he would remarry and have other kids so I could have “my” two to raise without him. I felt so betrayed, I didn’t want him to have any influence over them. As terrible as it is, my blame at him for my status as poor, body-ruined, life-ruined young divorcee made me wish he was dead – or at least that he would take off to sea captaining boats like he wanted at one time.

After the passage of that phase of angry existence and we reached some court-ordered stability, I was able to let go of some of the inner turmoil that had so consumed me. I began to cling to the hope of that first summer and the slightest positive vision I had – that one day, we could coparent and celebrate the girls without being skeptical, mistrusting, or critical of one another. That we could have birthday parties for them together.

I didn’t know how to get there, but I wanted it.

For years we would still have occasional blow-ups over holiday schedules or other issues. We could still quickly wound each other, and we were both acting in fear of not enough time with our girls. But sometimes after an angry email, he would pick up the phone and call me to neutralize the toxicity. Or sometimes, I would apologize first (even when I didn’t think it was fair, or I thought he was more wrong.) We began to value peace and respect more than being “right.”

We both dedicated ourselves to being healthier for the sake of all of us. A combination of those, the support of my Mom and the girls’ stepmom, and grace has brought us to a beautiful place, nearly 17 years later, where we are truly family. Love lives in our homes and our hearts.

I couldn’t imagine if people knew the details of how we acted toward one another at our worst, gossiping about us, taking sides, and passing judgment. Who we were back then – shaped by elements of our childhoods and our not-yet-adulthood that did not prepare us for relationship success – it wasn’t pretty. We would both be “justified” in holding our grudges or blaming, but then we would be stuck with the pain and bitterness.

I don’t want to think what things would be like for my girls or who they would be without their father. He taught them to stand tall, shoulders back, and to walk with confidence in this world. He has created opportunities and encouraged them through regular family conversations about countless issues to find their own voices and to take up space comfortably. He has instilled in them the pride of their heritage through his side of the family, and he has warned them to avoid mistakes he has made in life.

This doesn’t scratch the surface of the loving force he has been in their lives. I couldn’t see back then how he would step into the role of father. I deeply regret the stretch of time that I angrily wrote him off, focused instead on my own survival – the circumstances of which I thought were 99% his fault. Now, I love him, his wife is as beloved as a sister to me and I’m grateful for her help raising the girls, my Grampie is their Grampie, and my Mom has been the glue. The girls have maybe had TOO much supportive parenting from our collective approach, but we laugh at ourselves, too. It’s good.

I have heard snippets of conversations lately from people who are looking at the deeply personal marital situations of others and drawing conclusions. I hear gossip at work about such things among people I don’t know sometimes, and it makes me a little sick. I know there are people specifically trying to tear apart others for unrelated reasons, and they’re justifying it with tortured logic. It is so destructive, and speaks to the character of those gossiping more than those trying to rebuild their lives.

Instead, let’s help each other rise to our better angels. If we lift up and see the best in each other, especially other parents, we help create a healthier community for children. It’s a gift to the next generation.

If you are a friend going through a relationship at its most toxic, it can be better. You can help make it better in time. This does not define either of you forever. A relative short stretch of not being your best will not ruin your child(ren) for life. Dig deep and find some true care and respect for your former partner. The effort will not be wasted, and healing is accessible.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sara’s note: This is a re-post, shared via Facebook one year ago today. Children are not pawns, and when charged statements about personal matters are made, it is important to question the motives of those spreading the (likely skewed) information and speak directly to the subject whenever possible.
The next generation deserves better.
Our community must lead by example if we are to usher in societal and individual healing…
… and we all need healing.

think

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Anatomy of an Apology, and Living Atonement

So, how does one apologize?

If things have become so broken and toxic between two people that the parties no longer speak, and either via spoken or unspoken agreement there is no contact, how does one extend a for-real, heartfelt, growth-evident, highly specific apology, perhaps seeking but not expecting forgiveness?

And if such deep wounds require layers of cyclical healing to mend, such that additional apologies over time would deepen accordingly, how can complete peace be achieved in the absence of communication?

If a heart-wrenching “I’m sorry” is cried in the middle of the wilderness and there’s no one there to hear it, does it do any good? And is it still helpful if no forgiveness will ever be offered?

Often, social norms and our stoic legal system prevent healing. The icy, quit-cold-turkey separation that is necessary for a time serves to sever unhealthy connections and cycles, but that’s a tourniquet. It serves its purpose to stop the bleeding and prevent re-injury.

At some point, the initial remedy, if not replaced, will hinder healing rather than aid it. The wound underneath will begin to fester, and toxins will enter the blood. A medical fix intended to be temporary will prevent the cure.

I used to feel sorry for myself, ruminating on injustice, wishing I felt morally free to tell the “whole story” rather than a narrative that protected those who I felt had ruined my life. I am twice divorced, and now generally prefer not to remember. But back then, for a time, I wanted to air the ways I had tried so hard, poured myself out until I was depleted time and time again, yet in the end felt taken for granted and betrayed. I wanted Justice (capital “J,” bold). I wanted to sit atop a high throne of righteousness, with my sweet, sweet innocence and the wronging done to me on display, and I wanted sympathy.

I replayed hurtful memories like a sad movie over and over again, re-injuring myself each time. I wanted those I associated with my pain to witness the dramatic art show of my shattered innocence, the purity, wholeness, and happiness that was stolen, and I wanted them to be crushed by guilt and sorrow and pain like the pain that consumed me. (Of course, they were living their own versions of this hell on earth, in part caused by me.)*

But more than that, greater than fantasies of emotional vengeance – especially as a young 20-something (which are so embarrassing to remember now!) – and the impossibility of an “easier” way out of the difficulties of being a young, poor, disconnected, very sad single Mom, I wanted to find the new best path forward for the sake of my daughters.

I knew that harsh words, consumption by anger and hurt and lack of healing, fears for my daughters, raw grief that I may never find love and they would be broken because of my failures to provide a whole, healthy, in-tact family for them, and my sheer loneliness: I knew that if I acted on these and stubbornly stayed stuck in that place, their childhoods really would be at risk.

So instead, I quietly set my jaw and leaned into what felt like gale force winds. I hardened myself to the stark elements of my reality. I determined: “If I have to live through this, I’ll learn all I can so I can help others. I know I am not the only one with a similar experience, and I can use it to love others once I get through. Because I have to get through.”

Most importantly: I established and maintained a high standard of communication to give them the most seamless two-home situation I could. I determined that the girls would never feel torn by our disagreement and anger, though we did engage in bitter battles they were not exposed to in the early years.

When they tearfully asked why they didn’t have one home, why we weren’t all together, I deflected, and talked about how much they were loved and how safe they were in each home. I gently comforted them, saying how lucky they were to have so many loving adults looking out for them.

My stomach in my throat, body trembling, I filled their hearts and minds with the healthiest portions of the truth of the life challenges they did not choose, but were forced to adapt to. For the most part, they were protected from the issues caused by and to be mended by adults.

In my utter brokenness, I put them first.

Slowly, it became easier, and the early, optimistic, blurry vision I had of eventually peacefully sharing life events such as joint birthday parties for the girls began to sharpen into focus.

I hope my daughters don’t see me as weak or broken because sometimes they witnessed my sadness, which at times seemed bottomless. I carried such guilt for not preserving the marriage and for living paycheck to paycheck, including living in a shabby, moldy apartment that caused asthma for my eldest daughter part of the time they were in preschool. These self-judged parenting failures aside, mostly I think they see me as their loving, goofy, nurturing, occasionally spacey, smart, optimistic, earnest Mom.

The best part? They don’t have to think too much about it because they’re living their own rich lives, investing in their interests, education, and friendships. Figuring out life on their terms. Because as candid as I have become with them about activism, my work life, and some limited elements regarding dating relationships when I think there’s life lessons they can learn, it’s not their job to carry my burdens nor worry about me.

I am their parent. They get to be the kids.

And I’m not their only parent who took this approach.

Our daughters would be nowhere NEAR the successful, loving, free, hilarious, and healthy teens they are now without the connection maintained with all their parents. I feel guilty that my early fear and anger prevented some of that free connection with their daddy when they were very young and before they had their own cell phones. That access improved over time, but it should have been greater.

We raised them with a child-centered focus, and we have each individually matured through the parts that were temporarily self-centered. The early, tenuous sacrifices we all made pay off daily.

At some point along the way, I eventually came to realize: their father was the same kind, loving, talented, nurturing person I met at eighteen and knew then would be a wonderful man and father, though it took time for me to see that in him again. Even now, we continue to strive to become our ideal selves. We are closer to being the wholesome people we were always meant to be, before other areas of our own immaturity and less-than-wholeness tried to run the show.

So, how does one find this peace and healing, if they cannot say or receive the words “I’m sorry” sufficient to capture and honor the deep chasm of pained memories?

Believe me – I looked for the magic button for a lot of years, and never found it. You cannot fast forward the process. But you can fake it ‘til you make it.

Day by day, with reflection, and with commitment to change the places that created the hurt, even if the other is not present nor able or willing to see it. Living with hope that someday, some morning, eyes will open to see telltale signs that a new, more healthful reality has been slowly emerging. The old paradigm has forever shifted. Hope and faith can begin to stand on wobbly, new fawn legs that will strengthen, and that soon, youthful bounds of joy will usher in a new season. Grace can begin to breathe.

Spring will bring renewal. Each passing year will bring more freedom and peace. Even if the most thorough apology is never expressed nor accepted, layers of healing will come to those who seek it and live it.

And it’ll be okay.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

*Notes:

There are as many sides to this story as the people who lived through it. I honor and love them, and thank them for participating in the healing process that continues. If I didn’t think this could help other hurting families, I would not ask them to wade through these old personal tragedies with me. I hope our efforts increase justice and wholeness for ourselves and others.

My second husband is a lovely person, probably surfing the coast of Mexico somewhere. We wish one another peace and happiness. As it should be.

AND: if you can avoid divorce, please, by all means, do. Don’t just stick it out without change, but seek every form of support you can find, especially if you have children. If you think marriage is hard, try co-parenting with an ex! Then if you’ve tried it all, at least you know you’ve left it all on the track, and it’s time to renew your energy to take on a whole new challenge.

In all things, be love, and it will be okay.

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Leadership Qualities and Presidential Candidates ~ The Deal with Trump

I’ve read a lot of hand-wringing statements over the years about ‘What’s Wrong with this Nation.’ I agree with some, and many are blown way out of proportion. Many are essentially the same kinds of generational worries that have stressed out humans for millenia (“Kids these days ain’t got no upbringin’ at all,” Dad used to joke).

We tend to have selective memories about the “good old days,” waxing nostalgic about ‘simpler’ times because the bad stuff didn’t apply to us. Or, like childbirth, we survived the excruciating parts but got a wriggly, living bundle of joy with happiness that completely overwhelms the memory of experienced pain.

That said, I’ll throw in my own “What’s Wrong with this Nation” statement: We have experienced too few admirable leaders in recent years. Servant leaders, with great strength in their ability to listen, respond, and lead. Not roll over under the auspices of negotiation, but able to compromise effectively. Able to apologize and grow from occasional mistakes. Able to take an uncompromising, unapologetic stand when needed, but porous and humble enough to adjust policies to encompass broader perspectives wherever possible.

The stalemating and strong arm tactics between Congress and President Obama have made his many compromises to accommodate his political enemies look weak, though he is still loudly blamed for executive overreach. Our media-frenzy- and dirty-money-fueled two-party system has every politician screaming bloody murder and pointing fingers at the other side, with no tact or rightful respect for elective offices.

If you trust one pundit or politician, and they’re spewing carefully tailored, angry political rhetoric, they strike fear and hatred in your heart. You care about this nation, yet they are manipulating that care for financial and political gain and making us all miserable.

It’s no way to live.

Enter Donald Trump. Because there are so few commendable leaders, not only in politics but our daily lives, his hate speech sounds like strength. He sounds like a guy who could go to Capitol Hill with guns blazing to force needed change.

Such war language, especially that which denigrates and raises suspicions toward other Americans, does not bring healing to a hurting nation. Hate does not create peace and prosperity. It’s all bluster and no substance, and it is damaging us.

America is more populated and diverse than ever before. We need a leader who will consider the whole and knit us together with words of unity, not disparagement. Not one who gets attention by saying the most extreme, shocking statements that bully the underrepresented.

Politics is a mess, and one leader isn’t going to fix our nation. But electing a person of grace, inclusion, and strength in leadership is a necessary start.

Check your own internal responses to the things you see and hear. Do you find yourself saying, “Yeah!” out of a sense of inspiration and optimism for the future, or out of fear and anger that some group of people that aren’t “The Real America” might be threatening how you envision our shared country?

We used to have 30 minute sitcom-length attention spans. Now 15 second Instagram videos or Vines seem long. We need to take more time for introspection and reflection.

There can be no political savior, but there can be a great leader. A leader will strive to serve everyone on this soil. I’m going to attune my ears to healing language this electoral cycle, and pay close attention to the red flags of language that inspires or doubles down on division.

The healing of America must come from within each of us. We can help lead our country to new greatness by taking captive the thoughts that separate us. We are accountable for our own attitudes and how we feed them, and we must give leadership positions to those who foster growth and feed our best potential, not our worst.

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Comments on “San Diego Forward”

July 15, 2015

Rob Rundle                                                                                          via electronic mail
Principal Regional Planner                                                              rob.rundle@sandag.org
401 B St. Ste. 800                                                                               sdforward@sandag.org
San Diego, CA 92101

Re: Draft San Diego Forward Plan; Draft EIR

Dear Mr. Rundle, SANDAG staff, and Members of the Board:

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my comments on The Draft San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). While I serve as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I submit these comments in my individual capacity as a 20-year resident of San Diego County. I am a parent, taxpayer, and citizen engaged in volunteer efforts to advance social justice and environmental protections. I want San Diego to be an amazing place for tourists to visit, but primarily I want the region to be the best it can be for current and future residents from all walks of life who call San Diego home.

With great power comes great responsibility. SANDAG is one of our region’s largest agencies, and you are responsible to use the full extent of your expansive budget, power, and influence to serve the best interests of all San Diegans. Some of you, in your official capacities as SANDAG board members or representatives, have made public claims that the agency’s role is limited in scope and responsibility. When you attempt to limit SANDAG’s great potential to make a beneficial difference on climate at this critical time in history, you are shamefully abandoning your political and professional responsibilities. You are choosing politically charged language to abdicate your duties to we, the people who live here, who are impacted daily by your decisions and pay your salaries, and you are doing so in order to maintain a fundamentally broken approach to transportation planning. It is a failure of leadership.

In analyses of various mobility options to serve the growing San Diego population, the presupposition is that SANDAG must build roads. No other approach to moving people and goods throughout the region is given equal consideration. The “balance” you acknowledge you must consider and implement to provide a variety of transportation options to serve the whole of San Diego’s population has long been weighted in favor of roadways. This is a failure in your own terms when you use the word “balance.” ‘Widen freeways now and promise a few transit projects later’ is insufficient to actually provide a variety of functional mobility options, and you are far overdue to shift the priority to other modes of transport to correct the imbalance. The longer you delay implementation of functional, integrated transit, the more it will cost. It is imperative to prioritize transit infrastructure now, without further needless delay.

Your bias favoring roads has served to create polluting congestion with limited non-car options that is our current reality. This continued approach does not take into account one of the most important segments of our population: the young who will be middle aged and older adults by the time many of the roadways projects listed in the DEIR will be built, and who have a declining interest in personal car ownership and driving (Exhibit “A” The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials are Driving Less, CityLab, July 13, 2015).

We can’t pave our way out of the current problem, and more pavement certainly will not serve to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, stormwater runoff pollution, nor traffic congestion (Exhibit “B” The One Chart That Explains All Your Traffic Woes, CityLab, March 2, 2015) and will not adequately serve the San Diegans of the future.

figure4

Clearly, as referenced in Figured 4.8-1, priorities must shift if we ever hope to reach the greenhouse gas reductions targets necessary to achieve climate stabilization. There is a remedy. It is an approach to transportation that can exceed state emissions reductions requirements, provide complete mobility choice, benefit the local economy, and protect San Diego’s future without expanding roads and their negative impacts. You, our heavily funded transportation agency, are obligated to study it, seek federal, state and local funding for it, and prioritize implementation of it.

Your current proposal contains all the same road-based projects as the prior iteration of the RTP, although as the years have passed cost projections have increased. Thus, transit projects have been removed (including the incredibly important below-grade transit station at UTC) in the DRTP to fund your hallowed freeways, and the region thus fails to meet regional greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets set by Executive Orders S-3-05 and B-30-15. While it is not currently a requirement for SANDAG to adhere to the additional emissions reductions set forth in S.B. 32 (Pavley) (which, if passed and signed into law will go into effect January 2016), the trends are clear that California’s legal framework is evolving to include increasingly stringent requirements to limit climate impacts.

The writing is on the wall. You, our leaders and representatives at SANDAG cannot continue to plan in a vacuum as though scientifically deduced targets for the continued viability of humankind are arbitrary guidelines to be ignored.

While some of you give lip service to such principles as “Vision Zero” and its goal of zero pedestrian and traffic deaths, you continue to perpetuate the paradigm that can only induce more traffic-related deaths; not only from collisions, but also the slower forms of death caused by particulate matter emissions from vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Much like the discussion of human health impacts in the DRTP concluding in a veritable shrug (‘impacts are inevitable, because we build roads’), you among SANDAG leadership refuse to meaningfully study or adopt any vision for the region that does not include an expansion of existing freeways.

This is despite documented benefits of a no new roads plan to accommodate the transportation needs of the region by maintaining (but without expanding) existing freeways and instead adding significant investments in light rail transit networks and safe active transportation infrastructure.

Although presented to SANDAG on multiple occasions by various individuals and organizations, I include here a copy of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation’s 50-10 Transit Plan: A World Class Transit System for the San Diego Region (Exhibit “C”), which lays out the feasibility and framework of implementing fifty years’ worth of projected transit in ten years. Realistically, the first phase of such transit investments would build out capacity along existing rail lines within the first ten years, which would lay the foundation for the expansion of the network arterials in the following decade.

More recently in April of this year the same renowned expert, Norman L. Marshall of Smart Mobility, Inc., released a supplemental report: “The 50-10 Transit Plan: Quantifying the Benefits,” (Exhibit “D”).

The human and environmental benefits of the proposed planning approach as discussed in the new report so significantly outshine those documented in the DTRP, the plan deserves more than a dismissive response by you who hold San Diego’s transportation future in your hands. Roads and rail direct growth patterns, thus San Diego’s land use future is also in your hands.

I encourage thorough consideration of the documentation enclosed, primarily the quantification of the benefits of the 50-10 Plan. It is your duty to build mobility options for San Diegans that will not exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions to further degrade our health and increase climate instability.

———–

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Help us help San Diego!

Dear friends:

As a board member of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, I have been an advocate for better transit and San Diego’s urban quality of life as responsible anti-sprawl solutions for many years.

In that time, we have utilized our limited funding on experts who have done the work our tax dollars SHOULD do: identifying key areas already zoned for density in San Diego, funding thorough, professional comment letters on our local transportation plans demanding they prioritize building low-pollution, functional transit alternatives to highways, producing and submitting our own “50-10” Plan: a transit-first vision for San Diego and recently released study quantifying its benefits, and winning litigation when our agencies fail us as residents.

The next phase of CNFF’s advocacy has begun, both in defending our prior court wins and in yet again giving our local transportation agency highly qualified transit-first input regarding the next iteration of our region’s multibillion dollar, multi-year mobility plan.

Our historical successes have been fruitful in establishing some of the good projects and policies around the city and a modification of some language in the new Plan, but we must continue to engage to ensure SANDAG implements responsible planning. So we must continue our efforts.

My biggest request right now: Please help us fund this critical work.

Additionally, there are two upcoming public forums hosted by SANDAG. One is tonight, 6-8:30 p.m. at Jacobs Center (404 Euclid Ave., SD). This will be live streamed at sdforward.com, though you will not be able to submit questions and comments at the forum if you view the live stream. The final forum is tomorrow at UTC Forum Hall, 6-8:30 p.m., 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite E-25.

You can also submit comments on the latest Regional Transportation Plan through July 15, 2015.

Thank you for being a friend and an ally, protecting San Diego and making it a vibrant city for the future, and thank you in advance if you are able to make a donation to support our work.

Sincerely,

Sara

Duncan Points to San Diego from Descanso

Duncan Points to San Diego from Descanso

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SANDAG Closed Session Dec 5: Please Support Transit and Do Not Appeal RTP Ruling

Dear Elected Representatives of San Diego County:

Thank you for your service to our region. I know each of you came into your positions with different goals and visions for change you hoped to effect, and you all serve many members of your respective communities with integrity and valor. Politics can be an ugly business, and preservation of soul and best intentions can fall by the wayside at times.

It is especially difficult, I would imagine, when devoted and engaged citizens disagree with your actions as elected officials. The sentiment of many nonprofit and volunteer community members, many of whom work full time jobs and are raising families, is that their voices and the advocacy they pursue are dismissed when more powerful interests are at play.

As a San Diego County resident, I sometimes commute by bicycle, take the Coaster when possible, but mostly sit in freeway traffic on a regular basis. I would GREATLY prefer to take functional transit than suffer the same traffic congestion on a wider freeway in the years ahead.

I have attended a few SANDAG meetings over the years, and have been dismayed to hear my comments dismissed by some Board Members as “not representative of the community” and/or “infeasible.” That despite the fact that some of the same Board Members have vocally bemoaned the small number of members of the public who attend and participate in public workshops and SANDAG meetings.

The transit and bike advocacy public is showing up in greater numbers over the past months. Many are regular, busy people who deem this engagement with you worth their time.

However, we are still being dismissed, both in the public comments some of you have made and functionally in the Regional Transportation Plans you direct staff to prepare, then approve. Our preferences are too often dismissed in the funding allocations of budgets we provide, yet you control.

I love San Diego County. I went to college here. I am raising my children here. My daughters and I love playing at the beach and camping in the mountains. Now that they are teenagers, I wish they could safely and conveniently go to the beach, shopping, or the movies with friends via transit, avoiding the dangers presented by cars. It is with this love for our natural and built environments, my family, and my fellow citizens that I approach my advocacy, and it is personally upsetting when my science-, data-, and law-supported views are so readily dismissed.

I submit these comments in my personal capacity, but I also serve on the board of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation. While CNFF has engaged in many SANDAG planning processes over the years, including privately funding infill and transit studies with our modest budget and presenting these as options staff could build upon, our input is largely unwelcome. Efforts to engage meaningfully are treated disparagingly by some members of the staff and Board, as though our mission to increase quality of life in the region and protect environmental resources is somehow in conflict with SANDAG’s mission. Indeed, had our straightforward, pragmatic input over the years been met with an attitude of collaboration rather than hostility, Friday’s meeting would be about moving San Diego forward rather than the topic currently on agenda. Unfortunately, I have come to believe some at SANDAG think their role is to increase roads; not mobility.

I am writing to quite honestly share from my perspective, because I maintain hope that you as our regional leaders will recognize signs that the winds are changing, and you will likewise adjust your sails to facilitate moving the region in a new direction (pun intended). We are reaching a critical point of climate disruption, public awareness, a “peak road” condition with disappearing open space, and copious helpful data from other populous regions with successfully implemented transit and infill scenarios. Rather than waste more regional resources, including time and money, in litigation, I encourage you to be wise leaders in these changing times.

If you vote on Friday to further appeal the 2050 RTP ruling, I will be a voice of dissent. I will be critical of that choice, but I hope you know better now the “why” and “who” of yet another San Diegan who has a different vision for our shared future. Regardless of your vote, I maintain hope that you will be open to new information in the years to come, and be willing to adjust your policies accordingly.

The younger generation among our population is more interested in mobility and online connectivity than car ownership. I hope you will represent the future, rather than dig in on transportation planning principles of the past that have created many of the problems that impact all of us today. There are many of us who wish to be partners in that process, and the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Thank you for your consideration of my contributions to this regional conversation.

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A heart for justice.

There’s a song that’s become popular in some churches over the last decade or so that includes a line… “Break my heart with what breaks yours…

I believe we are all made in God’s image. Being made in God’s image is a fundamental attribute of being human – not just for Christians, but for every person. And God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Most of my friends are justice-minded: opposed to oppression of any kind, though some issues resonate more than others based upon life experiences. This hatred of injustice and pursuit of justice is like God’s heart. In God’s image.

Discussions around the Hobby Lobby decision are, in my mind, two sides of the same slippery-slope coin. On one: people are genuinely afraid of being compelled to support something to which they are morally opposed. They take the argument to the extreme (beyond medical and legal realities), and sympathize with presumed pro-life employers who would be forced to fund employee abortions. Some of these are rolling their eyes at “liberals,” saying their arguments are invalidated by the “narrow” rulings. They’re celebrating what they see as a victory for religious freedom, which is a very American freedom. Some even think it’s appropriate for nonprofits to be treated like churches, some of which refuse to provide contraception of any kind for any employee.

On the other side: women’s privacy. Women’s employment options. Unintended pregnancies for those who can least afford them. My ability as a single parent to provide for my children without invasive conversations with employers. A whole new opening to awkward and unprofessional conversations between pretty young female employees and their male managers, who might not hold the same religious views as the company owners, and who might take advantage of conversations about presumed sexual activity. Erosion of doctor-patient confidentiality and access to medication deemed most appropriate (some people are allergic to many forms of birth control, for example, and some have to take it for reasons other than sexual activity – whether single or married).

The worst possible outcome for everyone: An increase in *actual* abortions because employers institute policies wherein they will not fund any form of contraception on religious grounds. (Monday’s ruling was clarified on Tuesday, indicating this is a very real possibility).

This is a travesty of justice. The implications double down on the notion that sex is for women to avoid. The government is endorsing employers’ moral control of straight female employees’ private lives, presumably enforcing standards of “chastity.” This is invasive, and assumes birth control is only for unmarried whores.

It may negatively impact any women applying for jobs, because most employers don’t list the full range and limitations of healthcare benefits prior to hiring. If a woman asks about contraception during an otherwise successful interview, assumptions will be made and she may be passed over. Or the hiring manager may be a male who is inordinately interested to learn the new young employee is presumably sexually active. There are so many unprofessional, awkward, innuendo-laden moments experienced as a woman that are not readily defined as sexual harassment in the workplace that will be exacerbated in this scenario.

One right within our country’s laws (freedom of religion) should not force those changeable standards on others. Christians cannot dictate chastity to the rest of the unmarried world, or even within the walls of a church containing humans with free will. There are so many layers of judgment, our rights as Americans, rights of others who do not subscribe to Christianity, and many discussions this week are triggering notions of authoritarian dominance that have nothing to do with God’s love and should have nothing to do with laws in America.

So, yes, my heart for justice is breaking, and I’m tired of *only* men establishing rules that only impact *only* women.

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