Opinion | Walking as a Cure for What Ails Us

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To the Editor:

Re “Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved by Walking,” by Andrew McCarthy (Opinion guest essay, March 26):

I can’t quibble with Mr. McCarthy’s observations that walking is a kind of cure for what ails us. He is preaching to the choir in my case, since I walk a lot.

But I wonder if he’s published this essay in the wrong publication. He should consider one that caters to municipal officials and town planners who may be able to counter the effects of more than half a century of suburbanization, which, in America at least, has reduced the number of places where walking is pleasurable or even possible.

As Rebecca Solnit, whom he cites, sadly remarked in her seminal book, “Wanderlust: A History of Walking”: “The suburbs made walking ineffective transportation within their expanses, but the suburbanization of the American mind has made walking increasingly rare even when it is effective.”

Jeanne Bonner
West Hartford, Conn.

To the Editor:

Despite the adage “golf is a good walk spoiled,” my mother enjoyed the restorative qualities of sauntering the four miles for each 18-hole round. When some courses began to require players to use and pay for a cart, my mother still refused to ride. She hiked next to the others in the cart.

Strolling rather than riding allowed her for a few hours to forget her traumatic childhood, growing up in an orphanage because of poverty. Mom claimed, “Golf is my psychiatrist’s couch.” She won many tournaments, played into her 90s and clocked countless miles.

Candy Schulman
New York

To the Editor:

Until recently, I would have agreed 100 percent with Andrew McCarthy that walking cures a lot of ills. I moved into Center City, Philadelphia, so I could give up my car and walk to work, to food shopping, to restaurants and nearly everywhere else.

That changed about two months ago when I fractured my hip. Relegated to crutches and then a cane, I started seeing the world from a whole different perspective. I saw people in wheelchairs and others for whom the word “walk” is but a memory or a dream.

Mr. McCarthy wrote about discovering “the power of ambling” while on a trip to Spain. I’m now on my own trip to Spain, and while I can get around well enough, I’ve become more cognizant of obstacles to those who can’t walk. Little things like narrow or rough sidewalks, “quaint” cobblestones, and absent or insufficient ramps.

Mostly, I’ve found it fascinating how walkers treat those who can’t walk — or can’t walk as well as them. I’ve appreciated the occasional holding of a door or the person who just gives me a bit more room. But I’ve been puzzled by the pitying looks. I’m not less of a person because I can’t get around as well. Mostly I’ve been annoyed by how many people treat me as if I’m the obstacle.

So yes, walking can solve a lot of ills — but remember those who can’t get around as well as you.

David M. Scolnic
Seville, Spain

Helping Former Inmates Re-enter Society

To the Editor:

Re “Out of Prison, Searching for a Place to Live,” by John J. Lennon (Real Estate, March 26):

The housing issues for the formerly incarcerated returning to New York that Mr. Lennon raises are exactly what those coming back to another expensive region face — the San Francisco Bay Area. Mr. Lennon shares an uncomfortable truth: Thousands of people released from prison end up in shelters, exacerbating the homelessness crisis.

I was a lucky one. After a 15-year sentence, I attended a Bay Area transitional housing program — my safe place to land — but quickly realized how much the re-entry housing experience could be improved.

While housing vouchers are a good option, nothing is more effective than a strong re-entry program with holistic programming. Re-entry programs can provide people the skills needed to earn enough to pay for market-price housing, reduce the recidivism rate and put people on a path to becoming productive members of society.

California is at the forefront of the re-entry movement. The state recently awarded the organization I lead $28.5 million to fund a first-of-its-kind re-entry program helping individuals jump-start tech-focused careers. Our governor also recently announced that California will be turning San Quentin into a rehabilitation center focused on education, training and re-entry.

Other states, including New York, should follow California’s lead and focus on re-entry programs. Our communities will be stronger for it.

Terah Lawyer-Harper
Oakland, Calif.
The writer is executive director of Creating Restorative Opportunities and Programs (CROP).

To the Editor:

John J. Lennon’s powerful firsthand account reveals the common barriers individuals seeking housing face after release from prison. The piece rightly highlights a proposal that would help tremendously: the Housing Access Voucher Program.

This program would provide vouchers to people facing eviction or homelessness, and as the author points out, it would also be available to people being released from prison — who are typically excluded from many government assistance and affordable housing programs. This makes their uphill battle to rebuild their lives after incarceration even steeper.

Legislators must pair this new tool with greater funding for enforcement of source of income discrimination, which includes denying housing because one’s income comes not from a paycheck but from government assistance, child support or other sources. This is a persistent problem across New York State and one that challenges voucher-holders regardless of their history with the criminal justice system.

All New Yorkers deserve a safe and affordable home. We and a broad coalition of organizations, from real estate owners to tenant advocates, urge Gov. Kathy Hochul to fund the Housing Access Voucher Program in the upcoming state budget to ensure that the thousands of New Yorkers like Mr. Lennon can access a stable home after they’ve paid their debt to the public.

Baaba Halm
New York
The writer is vice president and New York market leader for Enterprise Community Partners.

A Disney Movie, Banned in a Florida School

To the Editor:

Re “A Ban on a Film Is a Ban on American History,” by Charles M. Blow (column, March 30):

The censorship occurring in Florida schools is a dangerous attack on education and free speech. How can children receive an adequate education if anything that a parent objects to is banned?

When I was in elementary school, we were taught about history, even if it meant acknowledging racism or hardships faced by minority groups, and we were better informed growing up because of it. To ban a Disney movie — something completely appropriate for children — because it refers to racism does nothing but harm the child.

Perhaps Florida parents should start objecting from the other side, as Mr. Blow suggests. If media depicting racism is banned, where is the ban on Thanksgiving, or on the white founding fathers, or on any slave-owning historical figure? Of course, none of this should reasonably be banned from discussion in the classroom, but Florida rule makers should be forced to consider the implications of their actions.

We have a moral obligation to stand up against what is being done in Florida.

Amanda Lavery

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