Innovate. Emerging. Trends. New Solutions. Hope.
Safety plans. Lethality assessments. Family Justice Centers. High Risk Teams. Prosecution of offenders with or without victim participation. Coordinated Community Responses (CCR).
When I see the titles and descriptions of conferences, trainings, or webinars to address domestic violence, these are the words I have most often seen in recent years. What you will see is a long list of “innovative” strategies to improve a community’s response to domestic violence or sexual assault. What you rarely hear a speaker start by saying is, “This is what we learned from the victims in our community and this is how we partnered with them to develop this strategy that helped to solve a problem they identified.”
I see this troubling trend developing in the effort to address domestic violence or sexual for three reasons:
When a community seeks to address domestic violence the first source of what should be done to address it in a community should be women who have been battered in that community. Instead, local leaders look for the “solution” outside of their community. There is not a shortage of consultants or trainers who will “sell” a community a solution to ending domestic violence.
I have worked as an advocate, director and trainer to address domestic violence since 1997. In recent years I have seen the voices of too many men and a number of women use domestic violence and sexual assault work to promote themselves, their own business and books, and/or financial reward get louder and the voices and experiences of women who are battered and sexually assaulted minimized. In the United States, women came together as part of a collective social movement to address the inequality they were experiencing and the lack of accountability for men who were beating and killing women with impunity. Women came together to unite their voices in solidarity about their lived experience of violence in their homes, workplace and communities.
Here are a few questions for us to consider and reflect on:
Photo of my mom Joanne Petrangelo in her childhood home on First Avenue in Hibbing, MN estimated as close to the time period when she moved out in the late 1960's.
I remember a class project in elementary school when we put items and memorabilia related to our school in Chisholm in a time capsule box for others to discover and dig up in 50 years. Many movies and televisions shows have story lines where someone created a time capsule and hid it or someone found one. Hollywood movies in particular have portrayed time capsules as floating glass bottles in the ocean, with a cork and a note inside that was written many years ago with an important message from the past.
The idea of storing, hiding or locking away memories is not a new one. However, for those who have experienced traumatic childhoods, they have created a different type of time capsule, one filled with traumatic experiences. Their time capsules of traumatic experiences cannot be thrown into the ocean in a glass bottle or put in a wood box buried under dirt. Theirs has been stored within their body. Many people have tried to “lock the door and throw away the key” in an effort to forget or disassociate with their traumatic experiences of their past. The signs and signals that someone has experienced trauma is not always visible. When a memory has been suppressed or locked away in the mind, powerful images, feelings, and sensations do not just go away once the signs of danger have passed. When I recently indicated that I was writing a book inspired by my mom's life, including the childhood abuse she faced, many were surprised to hear this. Previously, only her family members and a few close friends knew. Traumatic memories are more deeply imprinted than normal everyday memories. For many people, the trauma manifests into behaviors and feelings of anger, rage, sadness, mistrust, fear, or shame. For my mom, she never transferred her trauma in that way. That is why people were surprised to hear this about her because she always was kind to others, had an infectious smile and was so giving.
It is important to me that I begin this blog by stating that my mother, Joanne Petrangelo, received high-quality, personal, and compassionate medical care from Dr. Mitch Cardwell, Dr. Mary Boylan, Dr. Paul Lindholm, Dr. Basem Goueli, Dr. Harmony Tyner, Dr. Dornfeld, Dr. Burns, and registered nurse Melissa Kriske. I watched them care for her in gentle, compassionate, and extraordinary ways in the last year. My mom often praised and thanked them for their care. This blog is not about them.
The purpose of this blog, and my forthcoming book, is to highlight the solid scientific link between childhood trauma and serious physical illnesses in adults. The book will be inspired by the life story of my mom, Joanne Petrangelo. My motivation for writing this book is to share her story to help encourage others who have unhealed childhood trauma to begin the process to address it in an effort to prevent them from developing serious health conditions as adults. I am also motivated to write this book as a story of inspiration for those who have had similar experiences and to exemplify that childhood trauma is not always transferred to the next generation. So many people adored my mother. As a longtime business owner downtown Hibbing she got to meet and interact with many community members. My mom’s smile, sense of style and warmth attracted people to want to be her friend and spend time with her. When I found out about my mom’s childhood abuse less than 10 years ago, I was shocked when she told me because she never transferred her pain onto me, my brother, my dad, or herself. My mom gave no outward or obvious indicators that she had experienced such awful experiences as a child. Instead of transferring her childhood trauma onto us, she internalized and essentially “locked” her traumatic memories away until a triggering event occurred when her brother Garry Edmonds died less than 10 years ago. Her brother Garry also died at a young age from cancer. He was 49 years old. Garry and my mom were very close growing up and often provided emotional support to each other.
When I look back in my family history and interactions with my mom’s side of the family there were definitely a number of times when I would overhear family members and friends describe events and situations from her childhood that did not “add up.” My intuition often wondered what my mom’s childhood was really like and why certain things occurred. The first indicator of this was when I found out that my mom moved out of her childhood home at the age of 14 to move in with her best friend. I also had a lot of questions about why my mom got married at 16 years old to my dad who was 21 years old at the time. My mom’s childhood experiences growing up on First Avenue in Hibbing, MN are filled with traumatic, crazy, and sometimes wildly humorous events. By breaking the silence on her childhood abuse, I seek to let others know they are not alone, that there are therapeutic treatment options available, and lessen the chances of trauma’s ability to grow into serious physical health problems for others.
Many people experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. For many children, like my mom, their childhood is riddled with traumatic experiences. Too many children grow up in a world where their parents, caregivers, older siblings, other family members and family friends were themselves traumatized and then transferred their trauma onto other children when they were adults. In general, a life experience is often described as traumatic if it:
There is an extensive body of research that shows that trauma, long term emotional pain and mental health does affect our physical body. Trauma that is unhealed makes you more susceptible to physical illness and it creates an enormous amount of stress, depression and anxiety. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is a well-known study that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente. The ACE study is highly regarded in the social sciences and human services fields of study and work. It is less known in the medical field.
In the ACE Study, over 17,000 patients were interviewed to determine whether they had experienced any of ten traumatizing events in childhood:
The study found that amongst these patients, traumatizing childhood experiences were not only prevalent, but commonplace. Two-thirds reported at least one traumatizing childhood event, 40% of the patients reported two or more traumatizing childhood experiences, and over 12% reported four or more. The researchers then correlated the physical health of the interviewed patients and discovered that trauma in childhood was linked to adult disease in ALL categories — cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, bone fractures, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, depression, smoking, and suicide. The average age of patients in this study was 57 years old, which means that childhood trauma can have a delayed effect on the body, making it entirely possible that something that happened 50 years ago may be predisposing someone to illness in the here and now. The study also found that the more Adverse Childhood Events an individual reported, the sicker and more resistant to treatment they were.
It used to be believe that treatment for this level of trauma was unavailable and unsuccessful. However, recently discovered methodologies for treating trauma have been successful. Trauma treatment such as Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT) are being utilized with great success in many cases. About 8 years ago, my mother Joanne Petrangelo, underwent treatment for the trauma she experienced in her childhood. With the help of a skilled and specially trained therapist in Duluth, my mother successfully completed EMDR. I was there with my mom on a number of those days when she underwent her treatment. Part of her treatment plan was to make sure that after her EMDR session that she not return to work but instead go somewhere that she could rest and recoup. I remember one of those days in particular. I had undergone a neck surgery and was home on medical leave from work. I did not go to Duluth with her that day but she came to my house after her session. She literally looked like she had been “hit by a truck.” Her hair was disheveled, her eyes were puffy and she looked very weak. I remember exactly where I was standing on the lower level of my house, where she was standing and how she looked and talked. I asked her, “What happened in therapy and EMDR today?” She replied, “Today I got ‘stuck’ on a series of incidents in particular that occurred during my childhood. I simply could not finish talking about those events during the session today. The impact on me physically was simply too draining. What I learned from this though was that these incidents were particularly traumatic for me and my body.” In these particular incidents she was referring to she sustained an injury, thus the reference to her body. She needed someone to be with and talk to that day. Her emotional and physical pain was palpable and present. I will never forget that day. I remember thinking, “The pain of what happened to her is going to affect her physical health.” I remember thinking this because of the state of her appearance after this session of EMDR. In the next few years my mom began losing a significant amount of weight even though she was eating mostly the same food and amounts. She attributed it to the stress of her traumatic events being “unlocked” from their hiding place in her body, the grueling sessions of EMDR, the death of her brother, and her stressful and lack of relationship with her mother. Moving ahead to last year in 2016, at one of my mom’s early doctor appointments with Dr. Basem Goueli the Oncologist, he told her that the size of her tumor that was removed in her lung was significant in size. He believed that it had been growing for a number of years. The tumor in her lung was over 8 cm in length and located in the middle of her lung and not attached to the outer lining. Dr. Basem Goueli said that because of that, it was allowed to grow for a number of years before being detected.
To my knowledge, my mother experienced at least 4 of the Adverse Childhood Events listed above. She “locked away” those ACE events for approximately 40 years in her body until the triggering event occurred in 2007 when she was 52 years old and was approaching her 53rd birthday. She started EMDR in approximately 2009. She was then diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer in 2016 with her Oncologist theorizing that the lung tumor had been there for a “number of years” before it was detected.
Many people are resistant to considering treatment of trauma. As one family member recently said to me, “The pain of my childhood is so deep that I think that I might actually die if I have to talk about it or deal with it. I think my body would actually shut down.”
As strenuous and stressful as it may be, treating the unhealed trauma can lead to a healthier physical body in adulthood. Some questions to consider:
A stigma is still attached to trauma in our culture. We are often told to “get over it” and “move on.” For many, the stigma is that trauma is attached to shame, embarrassment and some sort of perceived weakness to have experienced a traumatizing event. The concern is that shame can cause someone to bury their trauma in a “trauma capsule” in their body that they never touch, and then that trauma can turn into a major physical illness such as cancer. Each of us can be part of cultivating a culture that is resistant to shame related to trauma for ourselves and in our support for others that they can be brave and vulnerable enough to enter the trauma capsule locked in their bodies. When that happens, miraculous effects will affect masses of people. There is absolutely no rational reason to be ashamed if you were sexually abused, abandoned, beaten or neglected. The young minds of children often translate the trauma that they experienced into self-talk that they deserved what happened to them, were weak, unlovable, or not good enough.
When children are traumatized their innocence is kidnapped. The innocent spirit of a child that has been traumatized needs our collective compassion and nurturing. Those who brave the daunting task of unlocking their trauma capsule cannot do it alone. They need the help of loving and supporting family members and friends. How will you work towards unlocking the trauma capsule within you or your family member to begin healing and stopping the growth of physical illness it is creating?
Bleulogy - Joanne Ellen Petrangelo – Words of Remembrance
December 22, 1954 - July 17, 2017
The core of this blog is what I said during my mother Joanne Petrangelo’s eulogy (words of remembrance) at her funeral on July 22, 2017. I called this a “bleulogy” because I incorporated my eulogy into this blog. I share these words for those who could not attend the funeral and to share the joys, sorrows, and lessons of her life. Parts of the eulogy have been adapted and added to for this format.
My mom had two motto’s:
Hug Two People a Day
Consider hugging two people a day. There is research to back up my mom’s motto. A 2015 study from Carnegie Mellon University showed that hugs can have health benefits. The study’s lead author Professor of Psychology Sheldon Cohen stated, “Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds that are often associated with stress. Hugging is a marker of intimacy and helps generate the feeling that others are there to help in the face of adversity.”
Therefore, on the wise recommendations of my mother, for your own health, and to reduce the chances of getting a cold, consider to hug at least two people per day: 1) someone close to you and; 2) someone else in your life you need to grow closer to. My mom loved hugs. I will be the first to admit, I have not been the best with hugs in the past, so I will be working on that as well.
Live and Love – 2 parts of “Live, Laugh, Love”
When you spend time honoring the dreams of Joanne Petrangelo, you are standing up for the things she believed in. When you do the things she loved to do, you are saying, “Joanne’s life continues to touch my life.”
I believe that my mom has left her body but she has not left us. The day before the funeral, Todd got a call from a very respected member of our community. One of the things that he said to Todd was, “I want you to know that your mother-in-law was one the top 5 kind-hearted people who ever lived in this community.” Many people have made similar comments to my dad, my brother and me.
Ask yourself, “Are you part of the 5 most kind-hearted people in your community?” “What would it take for you to be a part of that top 5?” “What are the characteristics of a human to be considered part of the top 5 most kind-hearted people?” “Could you imagine if we all became part of the 5?”
Use your memory of your time together with her as a motivation to keep growing and becoming a better person yourself. Your actions towards growing as a better human yourself offers Joanne continued love. For today and after, be devoted to being a living reflection of the dreams and love you shared with Joanne who has passed on.
One thing that my mom could NOT stand was having an issue with someone and not talking about it. She could NEVER fake a relationship and act like nothing was there, if something was. She ALWAYS dealt with her “elephants in the room.” I always joked, “Good thing you never lived in the southern part of the US. You would be expected to just be a good southern woman and just smile and act like everything was ok.”
Therefore, to be real to who she was, I will not “fake it” and will "real” about her and her life. Many people don’t know how painful her childhood was. She did not just get married at 16 because she found her prince and love in my father John Petrangelo. She left home at such an early age because she had to. She was so fortunate to find a loving man in my father, who she was married to for 46 years.
Knowing that she had so much pain and hurt in her childhood is important. Think about it. Here you have a woman who had an incredibly painful childhood and NEVER transferred that pain onto other people in her life. She only gave love. So, for those of you who have also had painful childhoods or traumatic experiences in your past, know that you don’t have to live out that pain by hurting others.
You should know, therapy helps. It really did make a big difference for my mom. She even said to me one time “Therapy saved me.” She utilized a therapeutic technique called EMDR.
My mom hated when there was conflict between people that she loved. She could not stand it. Therefore, I know that there is conflict between a number of people in our community and our family. Live her legacy by being the one who comes forth and works to repair that relationship. This is the most significant way in which you could keep her legacy alive.
When I was thinking of what I was going to say at her funeral and what to write in this blog, I knew I wanted to tell you to make up with people you have conflict with in her honor. That same day I found myself getting two texts from two separate people giving their sympathies about my mom. My first thought after getting those texts was, “I am NOT responding”. And then, there it was! See how easy it is to stay in conflict. It may have taken me a few days, but I did respond to both of them in a genuine and kind way the night before my mom’s funeral.
My mom also loved to laugh! Laughing was a huge part of her life! Have you ever read a Caring Bridge like hers before? We always had SO much fun writing those – often at the expense of my dad!
My childhood and the childhood of my brother was so far from my mom’s. In fact, she only recently shared with me the details of the violence and abuse that took place in her childhood home. When she first told me about it, I was so shocked. My shock was based in the fact that she was such a remarkable woman and NEVER transferred her childhood pain onto me, my brother, my father, or anyone else.
A lot of my friends work in the domestic violence field. I remember one particular time when we were all together and we were talking about our childhoods. I told the following story and life experience to my co-workers:
“My mom was just the best. She did everything for me. In fact, up until my last day of high school when I was 18 years old my mom was my alarm clock. Every morning at 7 a.m., she would come into my room, gently rub me on the shoulder and say, ‘Melissa, it is time for you to get up.’ She was so gentle in her actions when waking me. I would wake up and go to the kitchen. On the kitchen table was a plate with Eggo waffles on it. The Eggo waffles were toasted, buttered, cut into perfect squares, and had syrup on them. Mom’s are just the best!”
I will never forget the look on my co-workers face after I told this story. One of them said, “Are you kidding me? You were 18 years old, a senior in high school, and your mom still cut up your food for you? Um, no! Not everyone had a mom like yours. Your official new nickname at work is the ‘Waffle Princess!’”
I remember this moment in my life very clearly and realizing for the first time that not everyone had a mom like I did.
There are a number of fun and simple ways you can carry on my mom's legacy. For example:
To my dad……..you are right. Your wife and my mom truly was an angel. I have heard my dad tell many people in the last week, “God wanted an angel that day, so he took my wife and their mother!”
So today and hereafter, devote your life as a demonstration of how deeply you have been touched and loved by Joanne. Because I know that she truly loved every single one of you.
Writing all of those Caring Bridge posts with my mom has inspired me to write my first book with my mom’s life story as the core content. It will be called, “Non-Transferable on Da Range: A Memoir.” It is a metaphor for how my mom never transferred her childhood experience onto others while living on “da Range.” The tone of the book will have a mixture of humorous tales, my mother’s childhood experience, and life lessons she lived and taught our family. I have no idea how long this will take me. Stay tuned!
This photo below came from thinkgrowprosper on Instagram. This image and art represents our innate and authentic self that wants to resolve conflict.
Originally written and posted on May 27, 2016
FEEDBACK ON MY 1ST BLOG from May 2016
I grew up in an Italian family, ate alot of Italian food and went to Italy for the first time in graduate school. With this life experience I have acquired a love for Italian cheeses. I also have lived with and around Italians much of my life. I knew that after writing my first blog in May 2016 there was a high statistical chance that I would receive some feedback from a few Italians in my life. Three Iron Range Italian men and one Iron Range Italian woman provided particularly poignant feedback. There will be no names. No way. Have you ever been around an overly emotional Italian before? It isn't always pretty.
Instead of using their names I have replaced their names with a name of an Italian cheese. Know that they all really do exist, that they are all Italian Iron Rangers, and that I really did get feedback from them. If you stay light-hearted, it is pretty funny. If not, you may become aged and crumbly yourself. If you want the actual descriptions of the cheese I used as a guide, go to: "The Terrific World of Italian Cheeses." I replaced the word "cheese" in their descriptions with the appropriate gendered words of him/her, he/she, etc. I stayed as true to the actual descriptions of the cheese as possible.
Four Italian Iron Range Cheese Critics:
He is a tough Italian man with a particular shape – round, pear-shaped. His inner curd is heated – it is heated up till it starts to melt and ends up being stringy (filet). He can be dipped in salt water and then hung up on a cord to ripen - which can take up to a year. His rind is covered in wax to secure it from drying. He can be buttery and moderate at times or picante. His lighter variations makes an excellent end to a dish. A smoked variation is available as well. He is a fantastic Italian man to go along with a sandwich. He is fragile in taste without over powering you.
He is an older Italian man with blue-veins. Sometimes he packs his parts in colourfully printed foil wrappers, which should bear his brand name on it, if it is authentic. He has a strong, piquant flavour – with a tip of bitterness, and is a real overall Italian man. He makes a great partner to consume with polenta, tastes great – with egg and with nuts, and can be made use of for sauces and creams. He is scrumptious with a durable merlot. He is also excellent to have with when eating steak. He is an exceptionally functional Italian man and is appealing to many.
She is most likely the most popular Italian woman. This does not imply that she is anyhow inferior. She is monitored by a consortium and coalition and bears her brand name authentically. The milk from which she is made originates from 2 successive milkings. She is permitted to stand and be partly skimmed to produce other Italian women with simply 30 percent fat in dry matter. She is developed for about 1-2 years. She has a granular structure and can end up being dry and crumbly. She forms a thick, smooth rind. She is a unifier in flavor, not too salted and not too moderate with a nutty quality and a small piquancy. She is often grated over pasta or green salads.
He is a square Italian man who is soft. His rind is brownish and has the tendency to form a mold. Straight underneath his rind, he is soft and soft textured, however in the centre, he is whitish and crumbly. The very first reference of his family history dates from around 1200. He is made from cow’s milk. His curd takes 18 hours to form, and he should grow for a minimum of one month prior to preparing to consume. He is light with a small sourness, ending up being fairly piquant as he ages. Due to the fact that he ruins quickly, he must not be kept for long durations. A piece of him will be plenty. He likewise complements hot polenta, and tastes scrumptious consumed with ripe pears. He is a preferred Italian man.
Four Cups of Italian Cheese Feedback:
Try and match each of the Italian Iron Range Cheese Critics above with one of the four statements below. They are not listed in the order of the cheeses above:
First cup of Italian cheese feedback:
I didn't get the point of it. I don't know what to say. I was confused by it. Were you trying to be funny? I suggest you start studying how the gas tax contributes to roads in St. Louis county instead.
Second cup of Italian cheese feedback:
Very good writing, witty and smart and still sharing some of your views and a few personal facts. I would be careful on length. Liked how you tied things together - that was very creative! Overall an interesting read and loved the photo of your grandma. My dad and grandparents grew up in Brooklyn too. They were all born in Italy and immigrated to the US (Hibbing!). Didn't realize you were Italian too - I knew there was something I liked about you!
Third cup of Italian cheese feedback:
You better learn more about the real Brooklyn. Everyone knows that the St. Louis County Courthouse is in the Courthouse addition neighborhood and not Brooklyn. You better change that before my buddies in Brooklyn see it. I thought it was good. Good job. A little long, but good. Pretty funny too.
Fourth cup of Italian cheese feedback:
You are a good blogger. However, Rangers know what loggers are, not bloggers. And many of those loggers are Finns. They use few words and rarely a "feeling" word. Get concise and to the point with fewer "feeling words" if you want to use the blog for your political campaign.
I want you to know that I will always want feedback. I also think my first blog was way too long. I seek to it improve myself.
Please be kind. Don't post any actual names of persons on-line from my family, friends or colleagues to make guesses about the above blog. This blog is meant for you to get to know me, my experience, my interpersonal style, and my history as a political candidate. My family and friends are not interested in running for political office. Be peaceful. Is that possible? Or, am I asking for the impossible?
I lost my first political election on November 8, 2016. I ran as a candidate for 7th Distict St. Louis County Commissioner. It was a hard and close race. Mike Jugovich won by 692 votes. When I was a candidate I made my own website and wrote my first ever blog. I took down that website and am reposting a few of those blogs here.
My first ever blog entitled "I Call Shot Gun" from May 26, 2016 is below:
When I became a community member deciding to run for political office I knew that I would get the question of, “How would you vote on………?” Recently I ran into a youth community member who approached me about my views regarding the ATV ordinance voted on by the St. Louis County board yesterday. Even before I could answer his question he quickly interjected and said “You wouldn’t believe how much trouble it causes in our family without having that ordinance in place. It is a big hassle for sure. It interrupts the fun of ATV riding and makes it a lot of extra work. But that is NOT my main reason for wanting it passed. I want that ordinance passed because of the ‘shot gun’ problem it causes. You have no idea the dread I feel inside each time we are about to get to the end of the trail and up to the county road. As soon as we get there everyone is shouting ‘I call shot gun!’ It is so stressful. My family’s truck seats four people and carries two ATVs on the trailer. There is always stress, mayhem and confusion because it is hard to figure out who said it first or who had the ‘shot gun’ seat last. We tried to solve this family problem by going to the local convenience store and buying bobble heads that looked like each of us. We bought four bobble heads, labeled them with sharpies and put the bobble head figure of my brother, who was supposed to be next, on the dash of the pick-up. If this ordinance passes our ‘shot gun’ arguments (and need to buy replacement bobble heads) will be greatly diminished. Oh, and then sometimes there are people who like to hike in the woods or ride bikes that are nearby and they hear all of this yelling about shot guns and bobble heads and pure panic ensues!”
Ok, maybe that didn’t happen.
However, I often hear my own children say “I call shot gun”. Yesterday (May 25, 2016) in Hibbing there were two key public meetings where this phrase seemed to apply. “How so?” you might ask. Earlier in the day, ATV drivers and riders were present to support the ATV ordinance before the St. Louis County board. ATV riders and drivers sought the change so that they would not have to transport their ATVs between trails.
Last night (May 25, 2016) I attended the other relevant “I Call Shot Gun” meeting. I was present at the Hibbing “Safe Routes to School” meeting at the Lincoln Elementary School. A group of representatives from St. Louis County, Hibbing Public Schools and Assumption Catholic School sought input to improve school walking and biking conditions. This project involves planning and analysis of the conditions that affect walking and biking around schools in Hibbing. The public input and discussion was regarding traffic flow, intersections, and the circulation of pick-up and drop-off areas. This means potentially less kids fighting and yelling, “I call shot gun!” because they are not travelling to school in the morning in a car because they are riding their bikes and walking to school.
The St. Louis County board passed an ordinance allowing for the use of ATVs on all county roads outside of city limits. It is now also legal for ATVs to operate on the right or extreme right-hand side of county roads as long as the driver follows all state statutes related to speed and safety. Our county has vast lands, trails, a growing network of ATV trails, and 3,000 miles of roads in St. Louis County. We have a beautiful county. ATV riders should not have to get off of their ATV and load it up each time they come to a county roadway.
County staff and commissioners have worked tirelessly since last fall gathering input from hundreds of citizens throughout the county regarding the ATV ordinance.
The ATV ordinance and discussions regarding creating “safety” for children on their way to school highlight the bigger question of, “What is the role of government in balancing the rights of individuals and public safety?”
These two local and public meetings yesterday in the 7th District of St. Louis County bring to focus underlying and similar questions and beliefs. I have worked most of my career for a non-profit addressing issues related to public safety and human services. Anytime an ordinance, law, or intervention is proposed by government and seeks to enhance the safety of all we should consider asking ourselves:
We don’t actually achieve “safety” if justice, liberties or freedoms we value are inherently compromised when we pass oppressive policies and then we justify them in the name of “public safety”. This is an overall belief I have and is not in anyway even close to stating that I think the two local meetings, ordinances, or policy discussions regarding ATVs and School Safety Routes did this. There is no connection. So, don’t make one.
The true and unfortunate test and challenge will be “if and when” a community member’s life is tragically ended by an accident that occurs on a county road while on an ATV or someone (particularly a child) becomes seriously injured riding his or her bike to school. I hope neither occur. Statistically, families in our community will experience one or both of these tragedies at some point. The policy question that will be brought up and the one that politicians will discuss then is “How could we have prevented this from happening?” My career has shown me that lawmakers and politicians often attach to tragic personal stories as a mechanism to create change. The experience of knowing about or living a personal tragedy has often been the catalyst to creating many policies. The reality is that government cannot take away “all risks” posed in our lives. There are risks with ATVs. There are risks associated with children riding their bikes or walking to school. Experiencing a tragedy however can force us to rethink some basic premises about what our County considers “acceptable harm” and “acceptable risks” to take when creating policy.
In conclusion, the answer is “YES.” That is the short answer some of you are looking for. The above paragraphs are the long answer. For those of you who only wanted the short answer, you learned to skip to the last paragraph to find the key words “in conclusion” and likely read nothing above. No problem. I get it. I seek to provide short and long answers. You know the meaning of the short answer “YES” if you read the question in the first paragraph. If you didn’t read the question, my grandmother is the one who taught me to look for “key words.” You should look for the key word “vote” in a paragraph early on.
My grandmother is Mrs. Viola Petrangelo. She is well-known for her hairstyle, keeping clogs in fashion for years, and being a first grade teacher to many in Chisholm for years. For those of you who are thinking right now, “I can’t believe she is poking fun at her grandma!” you were just looking for a reason to criticize me. I love my grandma. She has a unique and beautiful hairstyle and fashion sense. Her hair and shoe choice created a lot of memories and connections for me. I loved going with her now and then when she went to her weekly wash and style appointment with Matt Barrato to get her hair done. When I see people from Chisholm I have not seen in years they often ask about her and inevitably someone will ask, “Does she still have the same hairdo?” The answer to that question is also “YES.”
My Grandma Viola Petrangelo also created a family tradition of “clog shopping.” Each of her grand daughters got to go on a special trip to downtown Virginia to shop for their first pair of clogs with Grandma Vi. I remember being so excited for it. I remember how special the trip to Virginia was. And I remember loving my first pair of shoes with no backs on them. I actually felt more independent with no back on my shoes. It was my first “freeing” experience the day my heels felt that fresh air. My family apparently decided that no young girl of theirs would have their first “freeing of the heels experience” before the second grade.
I am now for the first time finding myself pondering what seems to be another important question related to my family history, “What type of ‘freeing of the heels experience” did my brother Bill and cousin Brian Petrangelo experience as boys in our family? Did it even involve their heels?” Hmmm…….
Come back for the next blog post to see if I have “healed” from the answer to this critical and historical Petrangelo family mystery.
In my blog I will seek to: