To the editor:
Every city with long term employees suffers from a delicate balance of piling too much on a position and the laziness/complacency of tenured job security. Berlin is not immune. They have also tripped over their fifth appendage on many occasions with disastrous results.
Have they contributed to the demise of the WREN market because of a lack of innovative thought? Possibly. According to the latest casualty in the executive director's seat, the city would not negotiate for space for the market, therefore creating an impasse.
It was explained to me that the $50,000 Harvard Pilgrim grant paid for commercial-grade equipment and a wealth of "outreach" spent in spades over the course of a short market season. However, I pointed out that I have been to their galleries in Bethlehem and Mt. Washington and replied, "What retail business can afford those kind of digs without going deeply into debt?" Very few.
They must really work some magic to sweet talk and solicit for donations to outfit themselves with the very best quality, with little out of pocket expense of their own. And all tax free. But that is their modus operandi and it works for them ... for now. My prediction is that in my lifetime the NFP's and religious organizations who have amassed a multitude of real estate holdings will receive property tax bills. There is a concept to chew on.
As the garden minion for the city's food program hosted in conjunction with the USDA program, I was offered $8/hour to facilitate the same grant as WREN (take their wages times two) and informed several days before the grant deadline that I could apply for the grant myself, with little experience doing so, in between schlepping buckets of water out of the river to keep my plants alive.
I worked with residents at Brookside Park and Friendship Park, as well as the terrific kids who worked the USDA food program at Brown Elementary. The wages may have been low, the energy expended high, but the kids were the unequivocal bonus! But no more. This is the city's collective loss due to that complacency and reliance on outside organizations to make Berlin great again, when they have the power to do it in their own.
Apathy is a terrible disease. Innovation and commitment are the cure. So, thank you to the Berlinites who pour their time and energy into their city assisting the elderly and supporting the youth. You are fantastic human beings and your efforts are greatly appreciated.