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May-21-2010 17:00printcomments

Salem's Next Mayor Must Forge Intergenerational Links

Misunderstanding makes for misinterpretation, and can inevitably lead to mischief.

Generation gap

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Mayoral Sweepstakes are over and our new mayor-elect is longtime community activist Anna Peterson. While she is a novice to elective office, she certainly has made a career of community outreach. There's a definite need that exists, and we all hope she can exert her magic.

To my way of thinking, the Generation Gap is a prime issue. Not only are young people considered our future leaders but how their values develop is everybody's business. Misunderstanding makes for misinterpretation, and can inevitably lead to mischief. Accordingly, as a civic catalyst myself, I'd love to offer several vital recommendations.

  1. High School Advisory Council: Set up monthly meetings with student council presidents from all six local high schools, and use this forum to hear out concerns from our young people.
  2. Encourage Art Murals: Engage our youth in the design of public mural to help enhance and beautify our downtown area.
  3. Start Senior/Mentor Center: Use Center 50+ as a pilot project to have retirees volunteer to help latch-key kids after school to get guidance in homework and play interesting table games.
  4. Initiate Junior Storytellers: Solicit the Library staff's advice to have high schoolers with exciting speaking styles to obtain training in storytelling, and possibly intern at the library.
  5. Create Puppet Theatre: Let's launch a Marionettes of Marion Theatre to convey cool ways to decrease bullying tactics and other forms of child abuse, including the perils of drug use. Sometimes using "fantasy" can market a better message.

All those in favor of any of these suggestions, raise your hands. Even better, send an email to the city manager, Linda Norris, at She can make dreams into realities.

=========================================== Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:

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