to the editor from this week's Chronicle:
I have wanted to sit down and write you for many years, but only now
does it seem relevant. My name is Janae Lavendusky, my maiden name
was Janae Hanson. Daughter of Mike and Pam Hanson when we moved to Cottonwood
2013 proved to be a big change for our family, forcing much needed
reflection. My father died at a young age.
So why a letter to the editor? Well, I have not been back to Cottonwood
in over twenty years. I did not want to go back, and until lately I could
not even face the issues I had with the community, but now after my wounds
have healed, I need to express opinions that hopefully will inspire change.
When we moved to town our family was shown some acceptance, but mostly
ridicule. I was tormented in high school, but my siblings got the worse
part of the teasing. We were different, we did not have money, and had
many unconventional ideals that also were triggers for several townspeople
to basically shun our family. My father, although not perfect, was a free
spirit and a product of Vietnam. Does a person’s religious preference,
or drug of choice dictate whether or not someone can be “accepted” in a
community. We were not Catholic, and at the time my father did not drink.
Cottonwood had its own set of rules and standards on its viewpoints on
newcomers, or so it did in the 80’s.
I hope this has changed, and I challenge you to change this mindset.
I am proud to teach my daughter to “be her own person”, and to “not care
what others think about you”. I remember I did care, and it nearly cost
me my life, my brothers and sisters also cared about what Cottonwood thought
for many years, but in adulthood now see it for what it was or is. Cottonwood
was a critical, close-minded, intolerant, and an unaccepting town, but
with God’s hand and protection all the Hanson Children made it through
their scars and are strong, competent, loving and compassionate people.
It was really a blessing in disguise, because you see there was not anything
in other geographic areas that could have knocked us down to what we endured.
I challenge you when you see a new person come to town, think beyond your
normal behavior. Maybe that person can show you a new perspective you have
never thought of! A new friend.
Janae Hanson Lavendusky
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