Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · The marriage tree
. . . .

The marriage tree

Jolynn Paige - January 21st, 2008
After 20 years of marriage, Ian and Nancy Ashken are still deeply in love - with life, with each other, with their family… and with the Leelanau Peninsula. Ian and Nancy are also dedicated environmentalists, in love with the idea of planting trees, and with the idea of what is known as the Marriage Tree Project.
Ian, a gentle, quiet soul who’s quick to smile and speaks with a charming British accent (he grew up in Norkfolk, England), explains. “We decided that what we wanted to do to commemorate our 20th anniversary was to place two trees – one for each of us – on our property.”
The couple recently purchased a 46-acre Omena Cherry farm, which they will preserve, continue to farm, and use for future summer gatherings and get-aways.
Last August, on a perfect summer afternoon, Ian and Nancy, with their children and several other friends and family members looking on, restated their marriage vows.

Standing in a large circle in front of their farmhouse, the old red barn in the back ground, the sound of wind in the orchard branches around them, Nancy read a poem – e. e. cumming’s “i carry your heart with me.” She was tranquil, clear, and beautiful as she read.
Their twelve-year old son, Jonathon, read a passage from “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein. Emily, Ian and Nancy’s fourteen-year-old daughter, looked on, smiling, and hooking her arm around her mother’s arm. The entire family was radiating with the grace and peace of knowing that what they are doing is right and good.
David Milarch, president of Champion Tree Project International,
a non-profit group dedicated to pre-serving America’s tree heritage, spoke to the gathering about the importance of what Ian and Nancy are doing by planting trees.
“Trees give us hope for the future of a healthy environment because they are able to filter off all the garbage that is currently in our atmosphere. I commend you, Ian and Nancy, for helping the world grow stronger by planting these trees,” said Milarch.
Milarch is internationally recognized as a leader in the cloning and planting of champion trees. He’s been featured the past several years in a series of articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post.
After Milarch speaks, the family hops in their jeep, which has been decorated for the occasion, champagne flutes in hand, and heads for “the spot.”
Ian leads his bride to look on as the children and others start digging the hole where the two champion trees – Norway maples, cloned from a tree from Empire, Michigan - will grow for years to come. The honored couple then each pick up a shovel and start digging along with their children, joking, and happy as they do so.
Then, with the help of Milarch and his team, the trees are placed in their new homes. Ian holds up his glass and makes a toast.
“To Nancy,” he says.

Ashken’s words and actions mean a lot: He is the chief financial officer, director, and vice-chairman of the board at Jarden Corporation, based in Rye, New York - a Fortune 500 company. When he speaks, people have a tendency to listen. He could choose to dedicate himself to just about any cause – but one of his favorites is the marriage tree project.
“A friend of ours, Terry Stanton, has long-time ties to Leelanau County. He’s very involved with reforesting efforts in Leelanau, and he also knows that in the 19th century, many homesteaders in the area planted trees when they got married. Many of those trees are still standing today. We just thought this was an incredible concept,” Ian said.
Nancy added, “Trees are so symbolic of strength, love, stability, tenderness, and giving. Ian and I thought this gift to each other to be the most beautiful and meaningful way we could express our love for each other and our commitment to the environment.”
Whatever the future holds for re-instituting the old tradition of planting marriage trees, Ian and Nancy can be proud that they have help lead the way to make a difference.
“It is our hope that other couples – from newlyweds to those commemorating anniversaries – may realize that reforestation is critical to our long time future.”

For more information go to
The Champion Tree Project at

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