Friday, April 10, 2009

Letter To the Editor that the Daily Hampshire Gazette refused to run

We wanted our friends and fans to know that Carolyn Creedon sent a letter to the editor to the Daily Hampshire Gazette in support of our efforts to raise awareness in the Northampton community about Smith College's tactics in trying to hurt the Green Street Cafe. The newspaper refused to run the letter so we are providing it for your information. Please support the Green Street Cafe, a true community-oriented and socially conscious business serving our customers in the Pioneer Valley for more than 20 years.

March 13, 2009

To the Editor:

I lived in Northampton for three years while pursuing a degree at Smith, which as I recall was, at least three years ago, a liberal arts college with strong ties to the community and to its thriving cultural scene. I amassed quite a bit of student debt, but I wouldn't trade my time in Northampton or at Smith for anything. Smith's faculty and staff are deeply committed to reaching out to students and to the community, and I count many of them as influential friends to this day.

I wish I could say the same about the Smith College administration and its trampling of Green Street Cafe. My husband, Paul Andrews, worked there full time while we lived in Northampton and so it was Green Street that made it possible for me to afford to go to Smith, loans or not. I recently read Laurie Fenlason's response in your paper to Green Street's struggle to survive under the ironic heading "Smith College has tried to help cafe" (the capital letters duking it out with the non-caps didn't escape my notice). Fenlason writes, of the claim that Smith has ceased doing business with the Cafe (capital letters, thank you): "[this] will come as a surprise to many of the college's employees and departments who eat there regularly." This has a whiff of the paternalistic. Loyal customers notwithstanding, Smith has affixed its giant corporate financial spigot to run in favor of restaurants who are not blocking their behemothian engineering building-- it is that simple. The pettiness of the liquor suspensions and code violations (coincidence? no) bode well for Smith's new building, as these too seem engineered to drive Green Street Cafe into the ground, literally. These would be the same "violations" Fenlason takes pains to cite.

Jim Dozmati and John Sielski opened their hearts to me and my husband, indeed to hundreds of friends, customers, and employees in their little fine dining restaurant, which is a family endeavor in the best sense. I have seen them feed people who had no money. I have been to their garden. I was there when they said their vows. I was around when Jim and John put on a full spread of food and drink and celebration in hosting-- gratis -- a painting exhibition for one of their waiters. I have witnessed their unfailing support for culture in Northampton in so many ways. They have been doing these things since they opened the Cafe in 1990.

I can't bemoan any more the school of engineering that slouches toward Green Street to be born. That's done and done. What I need to do is beseech President Christ, whom I know to be passionate about supporting culture and the arts, to extend her hand to the Cafe in arbitration. Green Street Cafe is an institution and a family. Can't Smith College do better than all this nastiness and Goliath game-playing in service to to its good and loyal neighbor? We are talking about livelihoods here, and dreams built, and growing things, and breaking bread, and living, breathing art in all its forms.

Carolyn Creedon

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