July 17, 2013

Letters to the editor: Toshi Seeger was legend in her own right

Re: "Singer Seeger's wife dies at 91" (July 12): "Singer Seeger's wife" was a successful person in her own right and has a name, Toshi (nee Toshi-Aline Ohta) Seeger. Your headline was a slight to Toshi, who was a most magnificent woman. Pete Seeger's success was her success.

click image to enlarge

Folk singer Pete Seeger, center, and his wife, Toshi Seeger, sit in on a recording session with Mississippi John Hurt. The headline on Toshi Seeger’s obituary overlooked her role as organizer and producer of thousands of events, a reader says.

Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post

I am privileged to know Pete and Toshi from volunteering on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater (Maine-built by Harvey Gamage) and at the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival.

She was no "ornament" -- she was the organizer and producer of thousands of events, concerts and films, including the Emmy-winning PBS documentary "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song."

The Great Hudson River Revival is rated one of the best festivals in the United States and is just one piece of Toshi's legacy. Toshi was always friendly and involved with the volunteers.

I learned about plans for the first festival from Toshi. She made whatever project she was involved in work.

Most recently, at this year's Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival, Pete Seeger sang verses Toshi wrote to "Turn, Turn, Turn," which the audience loved.

Toshi Seeger will be missed by many people. Please honor her with her name.

Carolyn Vetro


Retreat could help Congress regain moral, civil footing

I offer a modest proposal for a guided congressional retreat to put our leaders back on a civil, moral and spiritual footing. Retreats, after all, are common throughout our culture. The focus: the good society and the good life.

My proposal is prompted by Harvard political philosopher Michael J. Sandel, one of the most popular college professors of his generation (author: "What Money Can't Buy -- The Moral Limits of the Market").

Sandel, whose Jewish upbringing evidently immersed him in the Hebrew prophets, believes it is possible to have a conversation on "the good society and the good life," and to have such conversation without leaving moral and spiritual convictions at the door.

The retreat is for members of the U.S. House and Senate to share with each other personal experiences that shaped their vision of the good society and the good life. While opinions divide, experiences unite.

But some norms, I believe, must be observed to avoid the danger of what the Harvard professor of government calls "sectarian strife." The following norms must be included:

There is to be no expectation that the retreat will produce closure on the good life and the good society.

The media are not invited.

The process of sharing formative personal experiences in confidence is the purpose of the retreat.

Unacceptable shall be any move to convert, judge or invalidate the experiences that fellow members share. Bipartisan facilitators will ensure norms are respected.

The retreat is not to be a win-lose contest. It is an exercise in respectful listening to others' experiences. Period.

Is the promise of a new paradigm and a more civil, less rancorous political culture worth a history-making "time-out" for a congressional retreat?

I invite our Washington legislators to seek bipartisan planning for it.

The Rev. Alfred M. Niese


Manmade warming theory not supported by science

Real scientists form a hypothesis, design experiments to test it, collect the data and, if the tests prove positive, form models that can predict happenings that can be shown to occur.

The models of physics predict we can land a rover on Mars, and we have. The models work. Models that don't work are changed or thrown out.

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