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Comments made by jrpeng

Adapting To The New Reality Of Increased Wildfire Danger

At last, an open, honest discussion of the REAL risks and causal factors behind the threat of wildland fires to human infrastructure. GREAT guest panel. I hadn't previously heard of Dr. Herzog, but he seemed pretty on the ball; Dr. Syphard's research I'm familiar with, and it was Rick Halsey's book on this very subject that got me interested in the issue some 5 years ago. I wish the interview had been longer - there is so much to discuss on this topic, so much that the public is ignorant of and needs to be informed on. The emphasis on preparing one's property from the inside out is key, and I'm so glad it was addressed. Something like 95% of all homes lost in Southern California wildfires are because of embers getting into eaves and attic vents; and while, yes, defensible space is important, it's not the single solution everyone seems to be told it is, especially when it's implemented improperly. There are many measures that need to be taken that, working together, can create a firesafe home/property. It takes all 5 fingers to make a fist, not just the thumb.

This topic deserves a full series of coverage, and an open call-in Q&A. KPBS, could you make a point of bringing more public attention to this issue? It's so absolutely vital to anyone living in Southern California. And maybe promote Halsey's book (if it's not a conflict of interest), because it's just such a wonderful primer on the topic of living with wildfires.

Thank you, so very much, for presenting this interview on this topic. I hope it is the first of many.

May 13, 2013 at 8:58 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

I hope this helps to clarify some of the issues that many of you are concerned about. As I said, I'm not actively following this discussion; but if I do find time to come back, and anyone has posted any responses to my comments, I'll try to respond.

Peace be upon you.

July 15, 2012 at 6:07 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

Regarding potential overtime hours - this can be a trick point, but it's not impossible to mitigate. Yes, if a lifeguard or swim instructor has been on the clock for a certain amount of time, and accepting the after-hours class would put them over 8 hours for the day, they have to log the extra hours as overtime. That's the law. However, department directors and coordinators are responsible for managing their staff's hours, and are highly encouraged by their superiors to not allow anyone to work more than 8 hours in a day. It is the responsibility of the department director or coordinator to make sure that none of their staff works overtime, unless it is absolutely necessary. Thus, he/she should not and would not be assigning the hours for the all-women's swim class to anyone who would end up with overtime as a result. Since Copley is running the class, I would assume that the staff hours are sufficiently managed to avoid overtime. If, at some point, it becomes impossible to avoid overtime, and either the aquatics department or senior management is unwilling to grant overtime, then it is the responsibility of the aquatics director or coordinator to close the class (make it unavailable) until it can be assigned without accruing overtime.

July 15, 2012 at 6:04 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

Many of you are concerned about the discriminatory impact on employees of the Y, the impingement on members' access to the facility; and the issue of public money funding some of the Y's programs (and thereby potentially funding this class). Let me address those issues; hopefully, it can help allay some fears and frustrations.

It's already been recognized and discussed that the class is being offered once a week, after hours. This was stated in the article. So the seclusion of the pool for this class isn't denying other members access. This, I would think, is a non-issue, or a false issue.

It's also been acknowledged that the women participating in the class are paying not only for the class (which includes the cost of the instructor/s), but for the lifeguard(s) as well.

It is not uncommon for individuals or groups to rent use of the pool for events such as birthday parties, graduation parties, organized activities, etc. Providing facility management approves it, these rentals can take place after hours. If they so desired, the Boy Scouts of America could rent the pool for an hour as a den or troop activity; the BSA doesn't allow girls (although they could allow girls to swim with them, IF they wanted to). Parents could rent the pool for an hour for their little girl's birthday party; it's entirely possible that the little girl has invited only girl friends. A group of college graduates could rent the pool for an hour to celebrate graduation; they might be all male, or all female, or co-ed. In each of these scenarios, the persons in question are paying with their own money for use of the pool, for the presence of the lifeguard, and for any additional staff they might request. This is what the women of the all-women's swim class are doing. They're paying with their own money for use of the pool, presence of the lifeguard, and the time of the instructor(s).

Additionally, many children are gender-sensitive - meaning that they respond better to one gender over the other. Many, many parents request instructors of a specific gender for this very reason. As well, adult swimmers who are gender-sensitive also request instructors of a specific gender. The motivation isn't intended as discrimination, it's meant to make the swimmer more comfortable, and thereby better facilitate their learning experience. I see no difference between this and the request for only female lifeguards and instructors for the all-women's swim class.

This point also addresses the issue of denying potential hours to male employees. For swim lessons where a male instructor is requested, a female instructor cannot fill that position, even if a male instructor is unavailable at the requested time slot - unless the swimmer decides that they're willing to compromise. Likewise, for lessons where a female instructor is requested, a male instructor cannot fill that positon, for the same reasons.

July 15, 2012 at 6:03 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

So, my position is that Copley Y is doing a wonderful thing by offering the all-women's swim class. It is reaching out to a population that otherwise seems to be excluded from active participation; and it is helping these women learn to swim. As a swim instructor, I don't care what background you come from. You need to learn to swim. You never know when you'll need that skill, even if it's only to keep yourself afloat. And as a person who embraces the philosophy of loving, honoring and respecting all people, I am more than happy to honor the customs and practices that are so extremely important to these women.

July 15, 2012 at 5:27 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

Given this, I was very excited to see that Copley has created just such an opportunity for these women. Now they will have the chance to learn to swim, which is absolutely among the most important skills a person can develop. I also greatly appreciate Copley's attempt to reach out and embrace those who are culturally different from what we're accustomed to. One key tenent in our training to become swim instructors is to look for ways to try and include everyone. This includes accommodations for those with disabilities of all natures, and those with cultural differences. (I couldn't even begin to describe just how many different cultures I've seen represented in my swim classes.)

This brings me to a point of clarification that I wanted to offer you, that you may or may not be aware of. In the last few years, there has been a campaign within the YMCA to revamp how the organization presents and sells itself to the public. Yes, the Y started off as the Young Men's Christian Association; but it has grown and developed and blossomed into so much more than the name would suggest. The Y, in changing its appearance, wanted to appeal to a larger, more inclusive population, to let the public know that it's not just for certain groups of people, but for everyone. (Indeed, that's one of the Y's slogans: "It's for everyone!") As part of this makeover, the YMCA logo was changed from black/white/red to more multi-colored; and the name of the organization, was changed from the YMCA to just the "Y" (although the letters "YMCA" do appear alongside that big "Y"). The Y still operates on the same founding principles it always has, "To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all." The mission statement of the YMCA of San Diego County reads "The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through development of the spirit, mind and body." You can see here very explicit language that seems to indicate that it is a Christian organization; but it's not intended to be. Part of it's listed philosophy is that "All people are welcome to participate regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, religion, or ability to pay."

I bring this up to emphasize the Y's interest in seeking to include, rather than exclude, individuals or groups of people.

July 15, 2012 at 5:18 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

I worked at La Jolla Y for 9 years in the Aquatics Department as a lifeguard, swim teacher, and lifeguard/professional rescuer instructor. There are subtle differences between how each AQ department is run from one facility to another (La Jolla vs. Copley, for example), but as the YMCA is a national (and fairly standardized) organization, I can speak with a fair amount of authority on some of the things going on here. (I will offer the disclaimer that I've been away from the YMCA for about 2 years now, and I'm sure there are a few things that have changed and/or developed since I left.)

I can remember a specific instance while on duty at the pool, probably within my last year of working there, where I was approached by a young woman in what looked to me like some sort of Middle-Eastern garb (my memory is a little fuzzy on just what she was wearing, but it was certainly intended to cover her up). She asked me if there was any set time when the pool was perhaps set aside to allow women to swim without men present. I apologetically told her, "No, I'm afraid there's not." She commented (very politely) that some women would like the opportunity to swim or learn to swim, but cannot do so in the presence of men, because of their customs and beliefs. I smiled and said that I understood, but that we simply didn't have the means to facilitate something like that. She seemed disappointed, but was gracious when she thanked me and left.

My initial thought in response to her inquiry was, "Gosh, how can someone expect us to seclude the pool for just one group of people?" I understood where she was coming from, and I felt bad, but it just didn't seem logistically practical.

My second thought - the one that has remained with me since that encounter - was along the lines of, "Man, that's actually really quite a shame. We could really reach out to a whole population that isn't being served right now." And I don't mean that from a business standpoint - I'm not talking about raking in revenues. I mean a population that isn't benefiting from access to the types of services we provide for the community.


July 15, 2012 at 4:38 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

(And I ask you to bear with me if I seem to be taking a long time to present my argument - I'm multitasking between several tasks on my computer, in addition to house chores.)

July 15, 2012 at 4:19 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Extra Swim Class At City Heights YMCA Becomes Gender, Immigrant Issue

Brand-spanking new to the KPBS website, although I've been listing to KPBS for quite some time. I must say, I was startlingly taken aback by the tenor of the conversation here. Clearly, this is an issue that has touched several nerves. I've waded through much of the comments (although I tend to dismiss those that say things such as "It's people like you that..." or "You're obviously not well-educated..." or "I find your willful ignorance to be quite telling..." once attacks start, the speaker loses all credibility with me), and I have to agree that there is quite a predominantly negative atmosphere in here.

That being said, I do recognize that many folks have reacted strongly to Copley YMCA's decision to offer the all-women's swim class, and that a lot of the perceived hostility is actually meant more as the expression (or venting) of legitimate feelings on the matter.

I wanted to offer my 2 cents on this topic. I'll apologize in advance if I'm anyone replies to my commentary and I don't respond to them. I'm not necessarily actively following this discussion thread, I just wanted to offer another perspective.

July 15, 2012 at 4:13 p.m. ( | suggest removal )