CENSORED

**[AUTHOR’S NOTE: although I’m angry, I sense an important underlying issue here: Are concerns of parks staff being addressed and met? Funding issues? Parks at risk? Unknown.]**

Shot myself in the foot. That will teach me.

images (2)

One of my previous posts, “Where am I?” is getting some negative feedback form the parks people because I talk about my dog being offleash and because I mention a person who might be camping unlawfully in the park (although I’m unsure if he actually was camping. He might have just been sitting in the trees for a rest off the path. I have no way of knowing since I didn’t speak with him).

I’ve been awake since 3 am dealing with some sort of illness, food poisoning or something, so I feel like hell, i have a headache and feel like vomiting. Perhaps I’m being oversensitive to the two emails I’ve received.

The first guy was extremely polite and I really appreciate the points he made. The second guy came across as purposely intimidating, bordering on a threatening tone. That’s how I interpret it but I could be wrong. Anyways, read their emails below.

Oh, and I think I am going to censor the parts they talked about, though at this point I’m unsure because I haven’t thought it through. But I’m angry and frustrated. However, I guess it’s my own fault since I sent the link to my post to the ‘[website name]’ website thinking they might want to use it to promote the park. Boy was I fucking way out to lunch. I definitely learned something today.

Enjoy reading their emails. I may or may not include their contact info at some point. Haven’t decided yet.

Here is the first I received. I’ve only taken out the names.

Here was my first email to ‘them’.

Name*:

Aspen Gainer

e-mail Address*:

aspengainer@gmail.com

Subject:

General Enquiry

Event*:

question about website

Day:

Date:

Time:

Staging Area:

Contact Name:

Aspen Gainer

Contact e-mail:

aspengainer@gmail.com

Event Website:

Other info:

Hello, this is not related to an event. I’m a writer and a wrote a post about [park name] that someone suggested [name of group] might like to read or use on your website. Are you interested? The post is on my blog: https://inthewildspaces.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/where-am-i/

Please contact me at [email address] if you are interested in using it on your site or even linking to my blog post.

Much appreciated,

Aspen Gainer

Professional Writer

[contact info]

RESPONSE
From: [name of person]
Sent: Thursday, February 28, 2013 3:30 PM
To: [name of group] ; [name of group] ; [name of person] ; [name of person] ; [name of person] ;[name of person] ; [name of person] ; [name of person]
Subject: Re: Fwd: [name of park] Events: General Enquiry
Hi Aspen,
I am writing to you in the capacity of the owner and webmaster of “[website name]”.
Thanks you for sending the article; you are obviously a very skilled writer. I will be forwarding this
e-mail and your article to both the [name of group] and the [name of group].
From my perspective I would rather not include the article on the website for the following reasons …
    (1)    The main thrust of the piece focuses on personal development rather than the [name of
            Recreation Area] itself, and to a slightly greater degree, the [name of event at rec area].
            The “[website name]” website was created to increase exposure to the Park and its various
            year round activities. The “Friends” and “Trail Conditions” pages are provided as a professional
            courtesy.
    (2)    I note there is a specific reference to another visitor in the Park …
 I imagine that he is setting up a tiny camp in order to stay the night in the park, hoping that no one passes by
               and notices him, hoping if they do, they aren’t people who would kick him out.”
            [name of park] is, in fact, a day use park only.
            Also, [name of park] has in the last two years suffered from inappropriate [name of organization] funding directed to trail
            maintenance and bylaw enforcement. Trails are not maintained properly in the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons
            as they should be as [name of organization] historically relied on volunteers to do some of the maintenance; those volunteers
            are no longer available and there appears to be reluctance to spend money on what many consider to be [name of organization]
            primary mandate (in any Park in [location]).
            To the best of my knowledge there is no budget available for any “search and rescue” activities in the event overnight
            visitors encounter wildlife and (potential) subsequent injuries, or any other mishaps from trail hazards.
            As well, horse riders frequently ignore the “No Riding” signs on the hiking trails as they know there is no enforcment
            to keep them on the trails (85 kms) specifically designated for horse riding.
            The last thing [name of park] needs is visitors taking license and backpacking in to stay the night. And I can assure you that
            there are people who, after reading your blog, will conclude that overnighting is allowed.
            I speak from experience when a number of years ago a local horse ranch indicated on their website that the whole 171 kms
            of trails were open to horses. Even after 3 individual requests from myself and the Park Rangers, the information was never
            edited for correctness. And for those of us who are regular hikers / users of the Park, horse riders on the hiking trails is still
            a gigantic pain in the ass.
            So I am quite confident in saying your article would open a door to personal interpretation.
All that being said, you may want to approach the [name of organization] people to ascertain if the blog is of interest to them; if it is
I would hope that an editorial note regarding “day use only” would be included or the reference to the (could be) overnighter is deleted.
If the [name of group] would like to link to the blog from their page, then the above comments would be applied.
As much as I do all I can to promote [name of park], experience has taught me that sometimes you have to pick your spots.
Thanks for thinking of [name of park] and keep up the good work.
Best regards,
[name of person]

This response didn’t bother me. In fact, the person made some excellent points I hadn’t thought of. This was my email in response:

Hi [name of person],

thanks for your reply.
I appreciate the point you make about the fellow camping. In fact, I will either take that out or make a note that camping is not actually allowed. I definitely do not want to encourage inappropriate use of any park facilities, since park rules exist for the reason to properly maintain parks. thanks for this reminder. I’m embarrassed by my oversight of this issue, in fact, since I am usually angered by park misuse. These are important resources that should be properly used so that they can be enjoyed by not only ourselves but also future generations.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again for your consideration. Would you be okay with me including your response in the blog post? I can do it with or without your name attached, but I really like the valid points that you make.
Aspen Gainer
So I didn’t hear back from this person. The email is included without the person’s agreement. However, a few hours later, I did receive this email from a different person (who hit the reply all button). I think the second email has a different and offensive tone, and I’m angered by the fact that the person told me to remove specific passages of my blog post.
[name] [emailaddress]
9:54 AM [March 1] (43 minutes ago)

to [name of group][name of group][name of person][name of person][name of person], [name of person], name of person]

Hi Aspen,

 

I enjoyed the article but please take the pictures off of your dog and about him chasing wildlife, running up to a park user in the bush & chewing on sticks on the ski trail. We don’t want give people & park users the wrong impressions of us being an off leash area….Thx. Dog are one of the biggest problems here in [name of recreation area] because they are suppose to be on a leash at all times, not allowed on the track set ski trails, brothering peoples peace, horse back riders, bikers, etc. There is one areas you can ski with your dog and it is the [name of area within rec area] / Sector….Thx.

 

Also please take out:

 

 It makes me happy to see him. I’ve been there. I imagine he is like me and wants to leave the cloud of busy life behind him for a little while. I imagine that he is setting up a tiny camp in order to stay the night in the park, hoping that no one passes by and notices him, hoping if they do, they aren’t people who would kick him out. I imagine his heart aches for the silence of the wild spaces, just like mine, and I give him a silent joyful hug as a salute to his free spirit. I feel a sense of kinship with him because I know how he feels and I’ve done the very same thing, years ago when I lived across the road from the park entrance. I slept out under the stars one summer with just my sleeping bag and a mattress pad. I did nothing but sit and enjoy the silence, the feeling of being completely alone with nothing between me and the air and the trees and Mother Nature. Maybe he is as I’ve imagined him. Maybe he is a wild spirit. If so, I hope he finds the peace he searches for. (Off Leash & On a Ski Trail) (No Camping Allowed) (Hours are 7am to 11pm)

I see Nikita sitting primly by the back end of the car. She looks worried and it makes me laugh and feel really bad all at once. She is obviously worried I was going to leave without her. I just thought she wouldn’t want to be cooped up while I was just sitting in the car, but her separation anxiety knows no bounds. I get out of the car and call her over and she greets me like she hasn’t seen me in weeks, then jumps into the car the second I open the door (Off Leash)

Some things have change over the years and we have a few more rules since you live out here next to us many years ago.

Thank you & Appreciated

[name of person]

 

[name of person],

Parks Officer,

 

[location] Justice & Solicitor General,

Tourism, Parks & Recreation, 

Parks Division,

 

[location], [location] District,

 

[contact information]

Anyways, that’s what all my ire is about. Maybe I’m over-reacting. But I thought that censorship wasn’t allowed in this country? Also, just a point of accuracy…I have no freaking clue if the guy was actually camping there. Since this is creative writing, you will note that I use the phrase ‘I imagine he is…’ because I don’t know the actual fact. Writers do this. They imagine. I never even talked to the guy and only saw a very short glimpse of him for less than a second as I skiied by.

I feel stupid for being so naive and not looking at this post from my audience’s point of view. This is a learning experience for me.

Anyways, key points:

1) Only use parks as the signs tell you to use them.

2) If you use them improperly, you are subject to consequences.

3) Don’t send your blog post to people if you aren’t prepared for negative backlash.

****update as of Mar 1, 2013, 11:39 am***

New email received.

[name of group] <[email address]>
11:13 AM (25 minutes ago)

to me, [person name], [person name], [person name], [person name], person name], [person name]

Hi Aspen,

I strongly echo [person name]’s advice and requests for you to take down or significantly edit the ‘blog’ describing your recent experience at [location], entering from the [location] Area.

First, I want to express my serious concern that you would allow your dog off-leash and not in your control in any area with other users and animals, domestic or wild. Allowing a dog  to chase a moose is very inappropriate and dangerous for the dog; a moose can very easily kill a dog that scares or bothers it (there are countless incidents including moose killing or maiming all or most of the dogs in dog teams in the north). You clearly ignored the signage at the trailhead in [location] that said No Dogs.

Also, please note that ski skating is not allowed on the track-set trails in [location] out of [location]. Your pictures show track set trails, so in the future, if you ski on these trails, please stick to classic skiing

[ASPEN’S NOTE: THERE ARE NO SIGNS SAYING WHAT TYPE SKIING IS ALLOWED WHERE]

only so you don’t ruin the track for the classic skiers; the trail is simply not wide enough to accommodate both styles of skiing without your skis cutting onto the track set on one side or the other or both and negatively affecting the experience of skiers trying to use the tracks.

So, while we want to see lots of people, including you, using the ski trails at [LOCATION], if you want to take your dog and/or you want to ski skate, please restrict your visits to the [LOCATION] area access point.

I appreciate that you went to the Park for a positive experience and that you want to share that with others to encourage them to get out there. Unfortunately, by describing your adventure and including numerous rule and regulation violations, you may do much more harm than good and inadvertently cause conflicts among users. Please remove or significantly edit your piece so it only reflects appropriate activities in the Park.

[ASPEN’S NOTE: THIS CONSTITUTES CENSORSHIP REQUESTS IN MY OPINION]

Regards,

[PERSON’S NAME],

[PERSON’S NAME]

General Manager

GROUP NAME

Ph. **

Fax **

[ADDRESS]

Email [EMAIL ADDRESS]

[GROUP WEBSITE]

———

Latest email.

[name] <email address>
11:38 AM (18 minutes ago)

to [name], me,  [name],  [name],  [name],  [name],  [name]
Thank you  [name] it is good to get the support of our users to educate others about the rules in the park Aspen please continue to come and enjoy the park you will find all about the park by reading one of our brochures they are in the keas or in the office
 [name]
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4 Responses to CENSORED

  1. Aspen Gainer says:

    Thanks to those of you that have emailed supportive comments! I really appreciate your support! I’m not a mean person, nor am I a trouble maker. I don’t like confrontation so these emails made me uncomfortable. However, I also feel they address important parks/environmental issues, especially ones that aren’t stated. I personally interpret this as lack of resources for parks staff, but that is MY interpretation only.

  2. Luke Gabriel says:

    It’s sometimes amusing to see people get bent out of shape over the littlest things eh?
    There’s some good points there, but I think they’re missing the point. Parks are meant to be enjoyed by as many as possible, and I think there’s definitely room in the parks for dogs too. I realize that not all dogs are well behaved enough to be off leash, but the onus should be on individual owners. If you know your dog is a serial bunny killer, and you can’t call the dog off it’s chase, by all means, the dog should be leashed. For the rest of us with well behaved dogs who are out getting some exercise? Back off!

  3. Hi Aspen,

    First, your article was great. I also have the autopilot problem, and am constantly jerked into the present by some glorious aspect of nature which simultaneously shames me for being a silly human and puts me in awe of simply being human.

    Second, in my opinion, the concerns with your park usage were handled poorly. Valid points were made, but there seemed to be some discrepancies in communication between yourself and what seems like multiple parks’ staff. The problem with emailing is that tone is up to individual perception.

    Personally, I see an opportunity in this scenario: You are obviously a talented writer and a park enthusiast. Parks’ staff are correct in their concerns for real and latent ”abuse” of the park. Why not come together and create a fun way of disseminating information about the park/recreation area through your blog or a community newsletter, a collaboration project with yourself and the park? I believe this was your initial intention by sharing your blog with parks, but perhaps after this conflict, parks could have encouraged you to take on a specific role of promoting proper park usage.

    Thank you for sharing, and thank you especially for getting out to the park, whichever it may have been. These places need first to be appreciated before a real sense of respect and stewardship can be garnered.

    Happy Trails!

    • Aspen Gainer says:

      Hey Bree, thanks for your comments. I also thought the concerns could have been handled differently. Your suggestions are good ones! Maybe I will pass along those ideas!

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