Readers write: Gardening tips, equine therapy, and more

Letters to the editor for the June 8, 2020 weekly magazine. Readers discuss the history of equine therapy, the year’s best gardening books, and more.

Staff

Homegrown joy

I loved the article “Too early to plant? Grab a gardening book” in the March 23 Monitor Weekly and would like to see more on that topic. We need to weed and seed and putter in the garden. My first friend and Christian Science teacher and practitioner once told me he did his best praying while weeding. I have found that to be true for me, over and over.

Actually, in my yard, the birds, squirrels, yellow jackets, black hornets, an opossum, wild turkey, and a pair of deer have all claimed territory. The deer and flock of wild turkeys were gently encouraged to move on. My fountain is the watering hole for many a neighbor’s cat. I live in Northern California, and during one of our wildfire evacuations, my lawyer friend lamented that the loss of the yard she had filled with citrus trees, artichokes, etc., would be the hardest to take. Thankfully, they were untouched when the evacuation was over! 

Every one of the books described in the gardening article made me smile with pleasure. There really is a world not consumed by technology!

Lucinda Vail
Santa Rosa, California

Equine therapy

I truly enjoy each issue of The Christian Science Monitor; the articles contain great information. As a librarian, I especially enjoy your book reviews and articles! 

I write in regard to Noah Robertson’s article “Therapy on horseback: Dream Catchers is more than just a pony ride” in the March 30 Monitor Weekly. I am a part-time volunteer interpreter for the St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Illinois. At the preserve – which is the former equestrian estate of the late businessman and philanthropist Brooks McCormick – there is a poem mounted on bronze on the former horse stable: “I Saw a Child” by John Anthony Davies, which begins, “I saw a child who couldn’t walk / sit on a horse, laugh and talk.”

Davies’ poem provides a poetic representation of the benefits of equine-assisted activities and therapeutic riding. And Davies, an expert on therapeutic riding, was also the founder of the St. James Farm School of Riding for the Handicapped and an author of foundational texts on equine-assisted therapy. I felt I just had to pass along this information. Thank you for the article.

Kevin Davis
Carol Stream, Illinois

Green transition

Regarding Timmy Broderick’s article “Can a town go fossil fuel-free? Takoma Park is about to see” in the April 2 Monitor Daily: I’m glad the coronavirus isn’t eclipsing all environmental news, because COVID-19 is merely the dress rehearsal for the ultimate challenge of climate change. Godspeed to Takoma Park and the hundreds of subnational jurisdictions that are setting similarly ambitious fossil-free goals.

I believe that rewarding good behavior brings better results than merely prohibiting bad. Humanity has – or is currently developing – technologies to do what must be done to go fossil-free. It’s politics and economic concerns that thwart implementation. However, while COVID-19 may crash the economy, a well-designed climate policy need not. I believe the best strategy would include a stiff carbon fee, most or all of which is returned to taxpayers to discourage use of fossil fuels and encourage rapid transition to green energy.

Carol Steinhart
Madison, Wisconsin

Donation faux pas

As a librarian, I really appreciated Ryan Lenora Brown’s article “The national archives built from a crumpled napkin” in the March 30 Monitor Weekly. So often we think our castoffs are fine to donate to others, when in fact it’s an insult to try to foist outdated or useless books and clothes on others. I work with a books-to-prisons project and am astounded by what people think prisoners would want to read about. (Botox, really?) 

Your article reminded me of my friend’s organization, Lubuto, which provides not only books but also educational services to street children in Zambia. This organization is similarly very particular about the selection of reading material, and in fact works hard at supporting African publishers. People like Jama Musse Jama from Ms. Brown’s article inspire us. Keep writing about them!

Christine Matthews
Washington

Hope for the internet

Ann Scott Tyson’s article “The web’s a threat to democracy? Think again, Taiwan says” in the April 27 & May 4 Monitor Weekly – about Audrey Tang’s role in Taiwan’s digitally enhanced democracy – is one of the most hopeful and utterly mind-blowing pieces I’ve read in a long time. Thank you to Ms. Tyson and the editors. After my second reading, I’m still reeling, trying to take in so much that’s promising, and useful, along with a lot I don’t understand – water boxes with data protected by blockchain? 

The whole thing sounds like a futuristic, exciting science fair brought to bear on a national government, thereby improving it and making it accountable to the population it serves. Taiwan is putting some great ideas into practice. We could be looking at them in the United States.

Also, thank you for informing me and others who knew very little about Taiwan. I was surprised and shocked to learn that martial law was in force until 1987, and their first presidential election was only in 1996. And the fact that passengers from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess were tracked is both creepy (because of the implied levels of surveillance) and exemplary (because of the containment of the coronavirus). Congratulations on a story that breaks new ground in many directions!

Bonnie Shaver
Denver

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.