Columbus, OH USA
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by Greg Knepp
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The article by Greg Knepp [Pedal Pusher column December 2007] was interesting, but he left out any number of bike shops. One of the best is Once Ridden Bikes on Indianola Avenue - just south of Hudson. Although it is not in the Short North, it is easily accessible.
The authors of the articles are very good. One of them, Christine Hayes, aka Ramona Moon, appears only every other month. 'Tis a shame.
I’m surprised I’m writing this. I’ve never written a letter to a newspaper before about anything. However, we’re talking about my neighborhood, and I feel compelled to respond.
I’m not a PC person. I was raised with ribbing and wisecracks being an expression of familiarity. I don’t take offense easily, preferring instead to try to find the person’s underlying message and not get fixated on silliness or ignorance. I was grinning reading the first two sentences of Greg Knepp’s reply to David Royer. [Letters, October 2007] He could have left it at that, or better said “no harm intended.” Instead, he went on to attack people he doesn’t really know, and then spoke for the neighbors, suggesting we are fearful and don’t rest easy living near the House of Hope. I don’t know if Greg is a neighbor or not, but he doesn’t speak for all of us.
I’m a neighbor. I live on Price. I sleep well.
I walk directly between those two buildings a minimum of several times a week: walking a load of recycling to the park, getting a few things at Giant Eagle, or just out for a stroll with my dog, Harley. As is my habit, I make eye contact and smile at people. There are usually at least a few guys out at the House of Hope talking or having a smoke. If they are looking in my direction, someone generally smiles back, waves, or says “Hi” – not construction site style, but just friendly. Pretty much the same interaction I have with others on that walk: the guy carving wood, the family with little kids playing in the front yard, the twenty-somethings grilling and having a beer on their stoop, the other folks on the sidewalk walking their dogs. I don’t know these people but feel a sense of geniality. They’re all simply part of my neighborhood, and I feel grateful to live in such a diverse and welcoming community.
I’m not Pollyanna. I’m not saying there isn’t crime in the area. However, being prejudiced against a whole group of people wastes energy and diverts attention away from addressing specific actual crime concerns.
I hope you’ll publish this letter. This is a great place to live.
Dear Greg Knepp,
I didn’t read your original article that referenced the House of Hope [Pedal Pusher, September 2007], however I did see the article referenced in the Letters to the Editor section of the latest edition of the Short North Gazette and thought I should let you in on a little secret. I have lived across the street (northeast corner of Hubbard and Dennison) for three years and one month and have never had a problem with any of the individuals that are in the House of Hope’s treatment program. I (5’3" and 130 lbs – not huge and intimidating) walk my dog past the House of Hope every morning before sunrise and every evening after work and never feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The residents are always outside doing yard work or smoking cigarettes when I walk by and they are always polite and completely non-threatening. Additionally, I sleep great at night because having those individuals as my neighbors has never concerned me one bit. The program has a great reputation in the neighborhood, and I have never heard, nor voiced, any complaints.
I don’t know what the success rate of the program is, nor do I care, all I know is I live across the street and have nothing negative to say about the House of Hope.
I am writing in response to a comment mentioned in the article Pedal Pusher by Greg Knepp featured in the Short North Gazette, September 2007 edition. In the article Knepp references “…a real house of horrors – a residential treatment center for dope fiends and drunkards housed in two innocuous buildings…” when referring to The House of Hope, an ADAMH-funded agency.
These types of comments made about treatment centers further perpetuate the stigma associated with substance abuse and mental illness. These myths can cause people to misunderstand substance abuse and mental illness leading to the misuse and misrepresentation of these common, but treatable diseases. For this reason, ADAMH, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, has launched an Anti-Stigma Campaign, which focuses on reducing the stigma and informing our community of the facts associated with substance abuse and mental illness.
The treatment center Mr. Knepp is referring to is the House of Hope for Alcoholics. The House of Hope for Alcoholics provides long-term residential treatment for adult male alcoholics including individual, group and family counseling, educational information, work therapy, referral services, and aftercare.
The House of Hope is one of the oldest and most capable agencies in Columbus and throughout Ohio. It is led by Tom Ramseyer, a person who is respected throughout Ohio as a citizen of immense compassion.
I would suggest Mr. Knepp take the time to get off his bike and visit the House of Hope and learn what a difference they are making in our community.
David A. Royer, CEO ADAMH Board of Franklin County
Dear Mr. Royer,
Dracula does not, in fact, reside at the corner of Dennison and Buttles, nor is there anything like an organized Downtown Donut Tour (though the route described in the article is real, and one that I have ridden on several occasions).
A certain amount of literary bombast is part and parcel to my columns. Still, the relapse rate of individuals who have completed rehabilitation regimes at facilities such as The House of Hope remains shockingly high. I wonder if the problem lies not in the institutions’ treatment methods, but rather their admissions policies. If the House of Hope were to require that each and every applicant be fully resolved with respect to his intanglements with the criminal justice system prior to being admitted for treatment, there would be no question as to said applicant’s reason for seeking treatment. The long-term recovery rate of House of Hope graduates would likely skyrocket as the institution would be working with a more highly motivated and therefore more receptive client base. Also, the neighbors would sleep better at night.
I take issue with what you have defined as a “cyclist” and a “lifestyle cyclist.” [Pedal Pusher, June 2007] Simply because you ride a bicycle does not make you a cyclist. You don’t have the heart to make cycling your life, therefore you have no right to make judgments about what makes a “cyclist.” You say “cycling is a superb form of transportation, not a lifestyle.” This is grossly inaccurate, cycling is a lifestyle, not a form of transportation for self-important yuppies, or “great fun and terrific exercise.” I am one of those “lifestyle cyclists” as you say, and cycling is my life. Not simply any of those other things that you say it is. Yes, I cycle to get places, yes I cycle for fun and exercise, but more than anything I do it out of love, something you obviously don’t, can’t, or won’t understand. I cycle in the rain, snow, and intense heat, something I’m certain you don’t do.
I can hear you now, “Oh, I don’t feel like riding today, I’m too tired, it’s raining outside, it’s too hot” – pick any of the the above. I ride because I love it more than anything else, I ride because I have to, I ride out of obsession, passion, and because it is the most intense addiction I have felt in my entire life. At the end of a 100-mile race, with sweat dripping and legs ready to give out, what keeps me going? “Oh gosh, this is fun,” or “I really need to get some Goody Boy I can’t wait to get there, I hope the race route goes by there”? No. What keeps me going is desire, heart, and most of all love. All things that people that simply ride bikes won’t understand. That is the difference between you and me, sir. You just ride a bike; I am a cyclist. I suggest you amend your article accordingly.
- Militant Cyclist
Dear Militant Cyclist,
Thank you for your rousing email. You’re obviously an enthusiast and nothing I could pen would disuade you from cycling – quite the contrary. I guess my article is aimed more at those who would like to cycle more but are intimidated by the so-called “cycling culture,” which, let’s face it, tends to be a little jargony and technoconscious (and damned expensive to boot) and therefore somewhat exclusivist. Obviously, an article that instructs folks to wear helmets and to ride with, rather than against, traffic, is fairly elementary and isn’t going to do much for a cyclist of your experience. The fact is, we simply need to get more people to travel on two wheels (you know the reasons as well as I) and if poking a little fun at the cycling culture with its pompous thousand dollar bicycles, bird seed diets and stretchy pants helps, then what’s the harm I ask you! Keep up the good work, my friend! PS: I think you’ll find my more recent article “Old Schwinns for an Old Neighborhood” much more to your liking.
- Greg Knepp
Dear Greg Knepp,
I really enjoyed your article about all the old Schwinn bicycles. I recently purchased a Varsity ten-speed at a garage sale for $5. I put some air in the tires and determined everything is still working! I then went to my local bike shop and purchased two new tires and have been riding for the last week on a bicycle that is only 8 years younger than myself. I have always wanted a Varsity but never got one as a child. Now as an adult, I am having a blast riding around town on my Varsity. You are right about the imports; they are just rusting away somewhere while the Schwinn keeps rolling. My Varsity may show its age but it rides like new.
Thanks for a great article!
- Peter Gerritsen
Greg Knepp is a cyclist residing in the Short North neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio
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