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Urban Awareness: a Global, not US, Concept

One passage in the article "'Back to the City' Takes Off" caused my "Readers Write" pen to quiver: The author's implication that the global trend of urban revitalization started in the US and "is quickly spreading abroad" seems to miss his own observations - that urbanism has been alive and well there for a long time. Many Eastern European cities are being revitalized, but hardly by following the American movement. Western Europe abounds with excellent examples, which are eagerly applied to preserve neglected former Iron-Curtain cities.

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It seems ironic that citizens in the four US cities mentioned in the context of a new urban awareness have about the furthest to go (literally) to their centers. Why is it that most US cities have to experience the frustrating limits of commuting time and urban sprawl themselves before responding to this crisis? Planners have been preaching for years the value of cities and densities, but few listened. We could learn from other cities and countries and actually plan to protect these hubs of civilization.

The clustering of houses in Europe often leaves the illusion of much more open space than in the US despite higher population densities.

Jurgen Pape

Granville, Ohio

Socially responsible investments

Re: "Conscience Guides More Investors" (Aug. 3): If we are approached directly for a loan to be used for something patently illegal, it's easy to be clear about our priorities. But investing in the stock market "sanitizes" the investment as the investor goes through a broker or uses the phone and mail to make a deal. It's difficult to see that these transactions deal with real products and services and affect people, often marginalized people, worldwide.

It's encouraging to realize that many will voice their consciences when investing and, in some cases, be willing to do with a little less return.

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So if investing a portion of one's portfolio in socially responsible investments "does not hurt people," does investing the rest in those products or services that may do some harm mean we are willing to let our money harm people?

Thanks you for covering so many positive topics in a socially responsible way!

Betty Neville Michelozzi

Watsonville, Calif.

Growing up in Giessen

I read with great interest the Home Forum article "What a Brave GI Taught, and Learned" (July 23). The article was fascinating to me because Giessen, Germany, is my hometown, and I was barely out of high school around the time the author conducted his language instruction classes.

It was a wonderful example of reaching out during a rather desperate time for me. Most citizens in Giessen were glad for the American presence.

Certainly, Giessen had been a "bomb-blasted town." The city had about 45,000 inhabitants at that time, and bombing had destroyed 70 percent of the buildings, including our house and major residential areas. For several years I walked through rubble on my way to elementary and high school, which, along with the railroad station, were among the buildings not destroyed.

Like the author, I have several etchings, prints, and books about historic old Giessen. I certainly enjoyed the article.

Ingrid Cumberland

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Planet magnets

Thank you for the planet cut-out magnet craft in the Kidspace "Turn Planets Into Magnets" (Aug. 4). I made them, and my kids love them.

Whoever's idea this was, it's a winner!

Cynthia Todd

Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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