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Letter from the editor

While we were putting out the most recent issue of The Citizen, the true extent of the destruction in Haiti was just becoming evident. Photos from far above were showing widespread damage – mile after mile of collapsed structures in a heavily populated area.

Throughout the past week, we all zoomed in quite quickly to street level and to more graphic and gut-wrenching images. The stories have been heart-breaking. And they are endless. We may never know how many perished in those awful first minutes and how many died suffering from their wounds in the hours and days later. We only know that humanity has received a very severe blow and that our instinct is to reach out and help.

Our community has always been a friend to the world at large. You get that way when you are a crossroads for so many nationalities. Our faith community has missions and efforts going in dozens of countries, with Haiti a main focus for many even before this catastrophe.

On campus, there are a half-dozen institutes, offices and centers with the word “global” in them. This is where all the rhetoric you hear about a state more engaged in the world is being made reality. Many researchers, particularly in the field of public health, have worked in Haiti and know of the steep challenges that were already there before the buildings came down.

In all this, work connections have been made, bonds have formed and when a day dawns on a calamity in a place with which you’re familiar, part of you is there.

Our response here has been solid, but we can do more and, as the scope of what is required becomes more obvious, more will be required. Over the weeks ahead, there will be plenty of events, shows, fundraisers and appeals asking you to play your part.

The university has set up a website to help keep track of the needs and the organizations supporting relief efforts at unc.edu/cps/disaster-haiti.php

Links to local relief efforts can also be found on The Citizen’s website and blogs.

And if your organization is sponsoring an event or holding a fundraiser for Haiti relief, please send information our way at calendar@carrborocitizen.com

Dialing in

From time to time, I’ll spend part of a walk through the downtowns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro conducting an informal survey of cell phone use by motorists. The result is almost always the same – about every other driver is on the phone. Quite a few of the pedestrians are, too. Bicyclists, not so much; but I’ve seen it.

I’ve become convinced that there is nothing this paper could do or say to change what is an almost universal act. But after the recent incident in Efland in which a motorist tried to cross train tracks through downed crossing arms while on her cell, I thought I’d try again. Sadly, 26-year-old Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins was killed that day along with her 5-year-old son. Her 4-month old son survived.

There may be places and times where it seems OK to make a call while driving. But they don’t include downtowns full of people, bikes and cars, or really anywhere where you ought to be paying attention.

And isn’t that just about everywhere? Hang up and drive. The odds aren’t with you.

Something to celebrate

Saturday is National Pie Day and whether you intend to enter our find-the-pie contest and win yourself one or you plan to bake a pie in celebration, let me remind you that the finest thing you can do with a pie is share it with someone you love and/or the hard-working staff of your local newspaper.

— Kirk Ross

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