Thursday, July 18, 2013

Boundless Strides

I'm no stranger to trying to make a difference one baby step at a time, even if that difference is only trying stop people from crapping up the world even worse than it already is.

And so I know that it can be a less than thankless job.

That's why, when I heard about a video that showed some guy methodically extricating a large section of the recently mentioned Rainbow's End playground from the prickly grip of a colossal fallen tree - by hand and singlehanded - well, I knew I wanted to showcase his laudable achievement for anyone who might stumble upon it.

About the videomaker:

After nearly seven months of laying eyes on that monstrous wreck each time I visited the park, I realized that I nor anyone else had to see it as bad as it was. I did what I could to clean up the general area of the mess to best of my ability. The tree body was much too heavy to move and way too girthy to cut through.
Again, I will include a link where you can learn more about the donation efforts to restore ruined parts of the park down below. 

The lesson here is timeless, and well taken.

The impossible is achievable, the overwhelming attainable, the daunting doable, if broken down into achievable, attainable, doable steps.  And step by step, or, to quote our playground hero, "limb by limb, a difference comes about."

Rainbows Resurrection

Rainbow's End in Bridgewater, a short walk from my home, even with a two year old, was my first child's first playground.

Under the shady trees she, followed in time by her little brother, ran up and down the wooden paths and ramparts, swung themselves dizzy on the tire swing, crossed the catwalk, climbed the great tower and slid down the curly slide, well after it was time to go home.

But that was a long time ago.  My kids are teens now, with different towers to climb.

So I had no idea that Rainbow's End had, essentially, fallen apart.

Or rather, into disrepair.

Garbage, broken equipment, epic puddles and fallen trees have taken their toll.

And yet, on a recent visit I witnessed families still trying hard to enjoy this rugged child's sanctuary nestled in the woods.

I was delighted then, to learn that a couple of enterprising young mothers were trying hard to resurrect the playground, soliciting volunteers, donations and public input.

Kudos to them, and to everyone else getting involved in this worthwhile enterprise.

Here's the Facebook page devoted to the effort.

Bridgewater Strong

Dear Roche Bros. Supermarkets,

On the afternoon of April 15th 2013, I returned home from shopping at your Bridgewater, Mass. supermarket to find a message left on my answering machine. As my son brought in the groceries, I listened to the message, left by my sister, asking if I'd heard anything about the Marathon. Apparently, something had happened, and she knew my daughter and another one of our sisters had volunteered to work at the finish line this year.

I walked to the living room on autopilot. My fingers trembled on the remote as I turned on the TV.  There, the first image was a live shot of exactly the spot on Boylston Street where they should have been working at that very moment – which I knew well from having worked there myself. It was totally deserted. Newscasters were saying that bombs had been detonated at the finish line, people were killed, body parts were torn off and lying in the street.

I fell to the floor. The unthinkable was happening. My child had been at the scene of a terrorist attack. For the next hour and a half, without realizing that cell phone service had been suspended, my son and I had no idea if our family members were alive or dead or wounded in some horrible way. Could they be at a hospital? Why was there no answer? More news? We cried, couldn't breathe, fielded frantic calls from other family members, searched every second of news video for a familiar face, scoured the Internet, begged Facebook friends in Boston for any information, all while dialing, dialing, texting, texting, trying to reach my daughter's cell phone, fumbling over the keys with shaking hands. But no response. It was a singularly horrible, sickening experience.

But our story has a happy ending. When cell phone service was restored, my daughter called to tell us she and her aunt were both OK. The bombs did not go off where they were working, though incoming runners told them that, further up the street looked like 'a war zone.' Several hours later, they were home.

And that is just one infinitesimally small story of what it's like to have a loved one involved in a terrorist attack.

But other families did not share our happy ending. The unthinkable had happened to them. Their horrible, sickening experience never ends. And my thoughts were, and still are, with the victims, survivors, first responders, and their families of that awful day. We may not have all been from Boston, but we all became 'Boston Strong.'

That solidarity certainly helped our family through this staggering experience, and so I can only imagine what it has done for those directly impacted by this senseless tragedy.

Then, yesterday morning, I heard about a controversy regarding Rolling Stone Magazine. A quick internet search brought up the cover of the upcoming August issue, featuring a glorified image of Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, or as he is known in my house, 'coward number 2'.

And my heart just sank. It felt like a slap in the face. My family was only barely touched by this tragedy and still, it took months to recover from it emotionally.

“Where are the grownups?” I wondered. Who would be so insensitive to use Tsarnaev's image where one would expect playful photographs of Jay-Z or Steven Tyler or Katy Perry in Hershy's Kisses halter top? What clueless chain of command would give this sickening terrorist-turned glamor-boy magazine cover the all-clear?

While Rolling Stone Magazine has offered some exceptional journalism over the years, and Tsarnaev's story is clearly worth telling, his motives worth uncovering, the cover image, even in a world of controversial magazine cover images, was unambiguously inappropriate - precisely because of the Magazine's reputation for featuring celebrities and rock stars on it's cover.  A tradition immortalized even in song.

Even Rolling Stone's curt statement in defense of the cover sounded like a threadbare adolescent rationalization: 
“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers.”
Yeah? Well, so was Adam Lanza. And James Holmes and Seung-Hui Cho.  Likewise Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. But I suppose their faces weren't provocative or dreamy enough to entice the Edward Cullen Generation to want to read the
“serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day” 
between it's covers.

Which is why I am writing and thank you personally for pulling the August Rolling Stone off your store shelves. 

Roche Bros. has been my family's supermarket for 17 years, and your commitment to the New England communities you serve is greatly appreciated. Thank you for standing up, for and with, us.

“Where are the grownups?” I had wondered. 

 Well, apparently they're at Roche Bros.

Mary Tufts
Bridgewater, MA

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