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Letters to the editor, June 20, 2013 

These are the letters and comments from the print edition

A note on Dana
This is Dana, or so the American Apparel ad tells us. It goes on to enlighten us thusly: She likes riding on the backs of motorcycles, hot guys with bi...g muscles, and is obsessed with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. She graduated from Silverthorne High School with a 50 percent average, and all she can remember is cutting classes and smoking weed.

This compelling preamble concludes with the big scoop: "Fortunately" (for us apparently) "Dana recently quit her job as a waitress at The Brass Rail in Toronto and hopes to become a model for American Apparel."

Oh blessed day. Can it come too soon?

Obviously this ad offends me. I find it almost equally offensive that I discovered it in full-page glory as the back cover of The Coast, a publication whose choices I generally find thoughtful, if sometimes contentious.

I have no issue with slutty fashion advertising---probably because the amplitude of slutty has so increased over the past couple of decades that I find myself almost completely de-sensitized. What I DO find disturbing is the idea that now it would appear Stupid is the new Sexy. When did we start celebrating uber-bimboism as something aspirational for young women?! Her favorite colour is "mint" for chrissakes.

American Apparel has long been known for this approach. Some of their ads are banned in the UK for doing their photographic best to portray models as ambiguously legal, age-wise. The standard AA model also comes equipped with a permanently affixed grimace of bewilderment--- a sort of vacuous pre-orgasmic stupor induced by easy money and a morbid illusion of glamour.

This is not likely a cause worthy of more than a passing commentary, such as this. AA will without doubt soon be the author of its own demise. I'm certain there aren't enough aspiring sluts out there to float this ad campaign too much further than it has unfortunately already travelled.

Dana, I hope you can get your job back. —Scott Lekas, director, Seven Sparks Healing Path, Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre, Halifax

Outdated plan
The Regional Municipal Planning Strategy+5 firmly establishes Halifax as a region and city of the last century. It takes us back rather than moving us forward.

The growth strategy is costly, lacks direction and ambition and does not even address the failures of the current 2006 plan to meet similar targets. It is at odds with the HRM By Design-Downtown Plan and the intention of the Centre Plans. The strategy seems to be, if you're not achieving what you set out to do, just do less. In the end, this attitude underestimates our capacity and diminishes Halifax.

The idea of "greenbelting" is vague and confused. As conceived, it is ineffective in establishing firm growth boundaries and protecting green corridors.

The transportation chapter pays only lip service to active transportation and public transit. At its root, the strategy is firmly grounded in the "more roads for more cars" culture. That attitude is inconsistent with clear, well-developed values and ideas shared by a broad cross-section of this community. Nor, is it in line with what is happening around the world.

Community engagement as broadly prescribed (in Chapter 9) and practiced in the preparation of the RP+5 is not good enough. To open small windows for controlled public and selected "stakeholder" reaction fuels community apathy and excludes us from the real debates. It discounts our ideas, our imagination and our passion for the city. Instead of moving us forward together, the backroom plan keeps us firmly planted in yesterday.It is a lost opportunity. The draft strategy is more like RP-15.

This community and HRM council deserve to see an option that would move us forward. We need to be given a choice to build a future that is more ambitious and inspiring, healthy, sustainable, vibrant and economic.

The broad outline for such an option already exists. We might proceed over the next month with a series of open RP+5 design/development sessions focused on growth, greenbelting, transportation and community engagement. Together we can invent our own future and go where we want. —Frank Palermo, FCIP, FRAIC, Professor of Architecture Planning, Dalhousie University Chair of the Halifax Planning and Design Centre


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