Power Conversion

Hi Lee.
Thanks for the e-mail regarding the overgrown sidewalk. I will get with the property owner ASAP and alert them to this issue. [It is the property owner’s responsibility for vegetation control abutting their property…]  If they can’t or won’t respond I’ll make sure the issue gets taken care of and deal with the property owner later.
Vance Walker

—–Original Message—–
From: boomervoice@gmail.com [mailto:boomervoice@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 2:11 PM
To: Vance Walker
Subject: Street Hazard Report
Name: Lee Cuesta
Phone Number: n/a
Email Address: boomervoice@gmail.com
Description of Hazard:
The hazard is caused by the thick growth of underbrush, especially blackberry vines, that have already covered half the width of the sidewalk.  It is a safety hazard because it is pushing pedestrians closer to the busy road, especially with all the new shoots coming up.  In fact, when two pedestrians meet in this zone, one might need to step off the curb into the bike lane.
I use this sidewalk several times a week, along with many other pedestrians who walk that way to catch the TriMet bus along Hall Boulevard.  Thank you very much for addressing this hazard.

The above interchange represents a brief e-mail conversation this month between myself and the head of the Public Works Department.  The outcome of this interchange was not merely the response from Mr. Walker, but results.  Three days later – by Friday afternoon – the overgrown sidewalk had been cleared.

Admittedly, this seems like a very small, local issue.  But small achievements that produce results can be empowering.  And when my life is empowered in one area, that can be converted to power in another area, and magnified.  As a result of seeing the response to my report, I felt empowered to take the small steps to accomplish other things in my life (such as setting up interviews and sending queries for my current article projects, about which I’ll report in future posts).  We are not powerless; so I encourage you to give it a try.

This reminds me of one of my many Letters to the Editor that were published in the Colorado Springs Gazette.  This particular letter addressed the inequity of handicapped parking laws.  It, too, generated an immediate response.  If you want to read it, here is the link:


This letter generated such a controversy in the “Letters” section, that it ultimately gave rise to a short editorial.

Likewise, on the same day this month that I wrote to Vance Walker, I also sent a report to TriMet, which provides public transportation in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area.  This, too, received a response from TriMet the same day, and I will share this episode next month.  These accomplishments may be small, but empowering, which can convert to other areas of life.

If you do give it a try, then be sure to use the correct communication channel.  For example, my city has a special form on their website to report a street hazard.  Make your statement concise and precise; and never accusatory or vindictive.  Show your gratitude; send a thank you e-mail.  Here’s the one I sent:

Dear Mr. Walker,

Thank you very much for restoring a safe sidewalk along SW Bonita Road.  When I walked home on Friday afternoon, June 17, I saw that the work was done.  The finished job looks awesome.  And thank you, too, for addressing this hazard in such a timely manner.  Along with many other pedestrians who walk along that sidewalk, I am very grateful.

Lee Cuesta

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