To the editor:The number one movie at the box office last weekend was Eight Below, a film about a group of dogs abandoned on chains to starve or freeze to death, whichever comes first. Unfortunately, you don’t have to go to the cineplex to see this; dogs are abandoned on chains all the time, and many have already died this winter. More than a dozen “outside dogs” around the country died of hypothermia and/or neglect during the first two weeks of December alone.Paul Walker’s character in the movie moved heaven and Earth to get back to save his dogs, but many people simply move away and leave them, as was the case with two dogs in Ohio who were saved in the nick of time last week when concerned neighbors intervened. Other people just stick dogs out in the backyard and forget about them.It’s easy to forget that a dog needs shelter, food, water, exercise and veterinary care when he’s out of sight, his desperate barks for help muffled by storm windows and a blazing furnace.Instead of spending two hours in a movie theater this weekend, why not spend some quality time with a forgotten dog? Use the money you save on movie tickets to buy a neglected dog a chew toy and some treats. Take your own or a neighbor’s dog for a walk— it will be the bright spot of her day. If you ever see a dog going without basic necessities like food, water, shelter, or veterinary care, call authorities right away. Your call could save a life.For more information about helping neglected dogs, please visit HelpingAnimals.com.Alisa MullinsPeople for the Ethical Treatment of AnimalsFalse assumptionsTo the editor: Thank you for your entertaining editorial regarding the consent calendar. In it you lamented the foolishness of a Cultural Master Plan for the City. You concluded “making a community ‘cultural plan’ and establishing “priorities” is not simply pointless, it’s counter-productive, as it slams the door on possibility and surprise. The best we can do, indeed all we can do, if we are serious, is to cherish the artists, and trust them.” Your dismay revealed a basic misunderstanding about the value and purpose of cultural planning.Compare ’cultural planning’ for a minute to ’urban planning.’ We know the purpose of the latter is to foster happier, healthier communities and that there are different approaches about how to best lay out retail, housing, manufacturing, transportation, and recreational functions that make up a city. So in this analogy, would you say to all our developers who want to build the next corner mall, housing or office complex – “the best we can do…is to cherish and trust them”– of course not! Not because developers are bad but because if the community does not have a vision and a plan then it gets urban sprawl, traffic jams, and coal yards next to schoolyards because no one thought about the future. Cultural Planning is no different – it’s a tool where we look into the future and envision the kind of cultural life we want in our community – and put it in writing so that everyone is encouraged to help create that vision. You falsely assume that all the arts organizations, theaters, galleries, and artists are perfectly content, flourishing, and have no need for a common vision in the community where they reside. You assume that having artists priced out in this real estate market is of no consequence to Santa Monica’s future. This could not be further from the truth. While you may see that there are many nightly cultural choices available for your entertainment, you apparently are not aware of the support system underpinning these offerings, and its presently fragile condition. California which once was the model in the nation for other states to follow is now ranked the lowest among states for state funding of the arts – cut from 30 cents to just 3 cents per person! (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies) Very few people enjoy planning, but it is the only proven way to create and preserve the kind of culturally rich community we, and I suspect you, want.Jan WilliamsonCo-Executive Director18th Street Arts CenterSanta MonicaEd. Note. We made no false assumptions. In fact, we said “…art and culture can not be ordered or imposed. The most that we as a community can do is to provide a congenial arena in which artists, and therefore the arts, can flourish. That means ensuring that artists can afford to live and work here, that galleries, theaters, bookstores and the other places where art is shown and performed can not only operate but flourish here, and that the City provides or supports the requisite facilities for making and showing art.” Furthermore, we have regularly deplored the pittance that this nation, this state and Santa Monica earmark for the arts. And the writer’s comparison of cultural planning and urban planning is unfortunate at best as we all suffer the effects of bad urban planning (including traffic jams and urban sprawl) in Santa Monica every day. Peggy Clifford
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