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A few years before I was born, scientists successfully split the atom and ushered in what was called the Atomic Age – a time – they said that would lead to unlimited human achievement and progress.
In the late 1960s a small group of men flew to the moon, landed on its surface and then returned safely to earth. At the same time man-made satellites were revolutionizing world-wide communication. The last half of the last century was a time when there seemed to be no limit to what we as humans could achieve.
So what happened? Where did we go wrong? The only things we seem to split these days are infinitives and there don’t seem to be plans to fly to the moon or any other neighbor in our solar system anytime soon.
Some say the problem is we stopped producing giants - people who had big dreams, big ideas and the determination to realize those dreams. Some say we stopped seeing the big picture and now focus on the small, the miniscule, the petty.
I was reminded of these things the other day when I read an article in the paper about one legislator’s plan to protect your right to use a close line. This, apparently, is what it has come to in the first part of the 21st century.
State Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, has introduced “An Act to Protect the Right to Use Solar Energy” – a close line – and would prohibit municipalities, landlords and condominium associations from restricting the rights of residents to hang clothes on outdoor lines.
Some say the bill is: “One small step for wet clothes; one giant leap for clothes pins.”
Hinck, who represents Portland’s fashionable West End, said he heard from a constituent in 2007 who suggested the law but he was unable to propose the bill that year. I think the Legislature was busy at the time considering a bill to protect your right to have geranium planters made from old engine blocks on your front lawn.
But I digress.
Rep. Hinck said this fall he was contacted by local representative of the national “Right to Dry” movement, asking him to consider the legislation this year.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, Project Laundry List is a Concord, N.H.-based nonprofit organization that provides solar clothes drying advocacy and education. Our economy may be tanking but at least there’s a place to go for clothes line ADVOCACY and EDUCATION! (emphasis added)
No wonder where not dreaming big dreams and making large plans anymore. We’re too busy doing clothes line advocacy and education.
All seriousness aside, Alexander Lee, executive director for the organization, said the “Right to Dry” movement is one that is picking up momentum across the country and in Canada. Clothes lines, he said, can be pretty controversial.
At least he didn’t say something like, “We’re hanging in there.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the earth, the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill last year to protect laundry lines. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by the governor.
Elsewhere, he said, similar legislation failed in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut.
Does the group have any big dreams? As a matter of fact they do. An initiative called “Right to Dry,” is collecting signatures to encourage President Barack Obama to put a clothes line on the White House lawn for at least one day to fight the stereotype that clothes lines are for poor people.
If our soldiers could have clothes lines at Valley Forge and Yorktown – which I’m sure they did – what can your condo association have against them? Huh?
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly
throughout New England. John’s e-mail address is
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