From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Summer 2017

Insensitive and Bizarre

I taught in the College of Design’s School of Architecture from 2005 to 2016. I left to take a teaching position in Canada and the decision to leave the U was very difficult, as my family and I had made Minneapolis home for 11 years. I will be forever grateful to a community of passionate, committed, and student-focused colleagues who worked every day to make the study and teaching of architecture as engaging and rigorous as possible.

I remember too the students who were part of our academic journeys. I am delighted to have had the great pleasure to teach Lane Rapson in a graduate studio and the remarkable opportunity to meet and show my drawings (nervously) to [his grandfather] Ralph Rapson. As teachers, we love to keep up with our students. So I was curious to know what our architecture alumni were doing with the New York City skyline [“A Dance in the Sky,” Spring 2017].

I was struck by the insensitivity of a single comment in an otherwise interesting article. As a teacher, designer, a member of the Islamic faith, and as someone who has had the wonderful fortune to visit Mecca for the annual Hajj Pilgrimage— as well as experiencing the wonderful, hectic urbanity of Manhattan and the Hudson Yards project—I was puzzled and, I must add, offended, at the statement that “like the great mosque that surround the Kaaba in Mecca, 55 Hudson yards encloses an existing six-story building owned by the MTA.”

I’m disappointed that this unfortunate comparison—which, as accidental or innocuous as it might have been—reduces the spiritual, historical, cultural, and personal meaning of Islam’s most sacred landscape to a bizarre metaphorical comparison with a massive urban development project in Manhattan. I am fairly certain the author’s intent was not to offend, but what an unfortunate outcome, for a moment, for this Gopher-at-a-distance.

Ozayr Saloojee

Carleton University Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism

Ottawa, Canada

Editor’s response: While Professor Saloojee is correct that the writer (or the editor, with whom responsibility ultimately rests) did not intend offense, we see and understand why offense was taken. We apologize for our insensitivity.

On Addiction

I read with interest the Spring issue, especially the stories concerning addiction.

As a longtime recovering addict/alcoholic, my first question is never “why the addiction?” My question is “why the pain?” Pamela Gonzalez [“It Has to Stop”] clearly gets it. Gonzalez says, “We need to start looking at this differently because it’s negatively impacting future adults by us not recognizing its roots, and understanding its origins is involved in prevention.” Yes!

I’m wondering whether Carol Falkowski [“Sobering New Realities”] gets it. She says, “[. . . ] recreational marijuana use has unique and sometimes lasting ramifications for adolescents. For starters, they’re more likely to develop an addiction.” I respect Carol for her years of working in the addiction field, but I think she has this wrong.

“The Power of Three Good Things” states “Alcoholics Anonymous recommends expressing “genuine gratitude for blessings received” in step 10. Step 10 says no such thing. The tenth step simply says, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” [Editor’s clarification: The recommendation for expressing “genuine gratitude for blessings received” appears in the chapter on step 10 in the A.A. Big Book.]

Jim Carter

Hastings, Minnesota

Carol Falkowski responds: My remarks were in reference to well-documented and longstanding fact, not opinion: The earlier the age of onset of use, the greater the risk of addiction.

Al-Anon is the organization that helped me when my son was drinking and using. I was single, working full time, with a limited income. I believed the alcoholism was somehow my fault. When I was led to Al-Anon, the sun began to shine again. I found others in similar circumstances. Hope returned. Al-Anon costs nothing but helps many people.

(I started college when I was 40 years old, one class at a time, and I finally graduated when I was 60.)

Virg Ledo (B.A. ’95)

Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

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