Cooper: Column karma

I hadn’t thought too much — really not at all — about column karma until a “No Trespassing” sign was posted in our neighborhood. Those of you who read and remember my columns will know why I might think of the laws of karma when the sign appeared.

I hadn’t thought too much — really not at all — about column karma until a “No Trespassing” sign was posted in our neighborhood. Those of you who read and remember my columns will know why I might think of the laws of karma when the sign appeared.

The rest of you, probably most if not all of you, which by the way I don’t mind — I am honored that anyone reads my column and thrilled when someone comments, whether they liked it or not. Pathetic, isn’t it.

Anyway, back to the point of the laws of karma explained in Hinduism and Buddhism as “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence (that decides) their fate in future existences.” In other words, we can’t really get away with anything. If we do in one life, we will surely pay for it in another.

Taking it one hopeful step further, we can redeem negative karma by a positive act in this or a future life that demonstrates we can be rehabilitated. In doing so we will relieve the karmic obligation.

Apparently column karma was on fast forward when the “No Trespassing” sign was posted little more than two months after my column “Signs of our time” appeared in the Gazette allowing very little time for rehabilitation.

More on the reason for the sign in a bit.

Karma rehabilitation

In the column, I more or less — maybe more — complained about the growing presence of signs forbidding entry on private roads and beach lots including tidelands along Jamestown Road.

Trespassers were threatened with at best a bad photo and at worst prosecution. I contrasted my neighborhood as a friendly neighborhood that welcomed people with dogs on leashes and dedicated walkers like me.

The column brought one sympathetic response among several not so much. One reader took the time to contact the Gazette editor with a request to talk with me; his comment was I was a bit “harsh.” I gladly returned his call to get another perspective.

The reader told me he thought I was “hard” on the neighborhood. He acknowledged being of the age to remember having free rein in vacant lots just like I nostalgically recalled in my childhood. But, he went on saying times have changed. He doesn’t live in the Jamestown neighborhood but does live in a neighborhood beach front area west of Sequim that had to resort to signs prohibiting entry.

The reader described activities that spilled from public lands onto private land that begin to turn the beach front neighborhood into the place to be for midnight parties and drug dealing. There weren’t enough police to surveil and keep the peace and the property owners were advised to post signs and cameras.

I understood the sad necessity and sensed the kind patience of the reader. I had hoped to meet him and view his signs and neighborhood with him as part of my rehabilitation. Commitments had not yet allowed me that pleasure when the “No Trespassing” sign appeared in my walker-friendly neighborhood.

Turns out that the sign was in response to a neighborhood dispute over a different kind of invasion.

150-foot ‘mono-pine’ monolith

The sign appeared on an alley-like road that led to the road that wound down to Jamestown Road. I and a walker friend routinely took the road to avoid walking on Sequim-Dungeness Way.

Long ago I asked permission to trespass which was approved with expressions of welcome to anyone who chose the path.

At first I was confused about what must have been a mistake and then I became worried since it seemed out of character for this neighbor. One day I saw the homeowner in her yard and asked her about the sign and using the path.

The owner tearfully relayed the story of being “harassed” by nearby neighbors because she was leasing part of her property for the placement of a radio tower. I knew about the radio tower and that it had been approved last summer.

Then in what seemed a very short few weeks, cell phone companies were requesting to use the radio tower for cell phone reception. If approved, the 100-foot radio tower would become a 150-foot “mono-pine,” the term used to describe the disguise intended to integrate the tower in the scenery.

The immediate neighborhood began to mobilize in opposition to placing such a tower in a residential area. They cited numerous concerns, among them a decline in property values and potential health problems from longterm exposure.

(Anyone interested in the comments can go the DCD website under hearings, Jan. 27, Mono-Pine.)

The owner explained she wanted the income to preserve the forested area of her property and adjacent land for homes for her family. I imagined a kind of small family compound. She said the sign went up when one or two neighbors attempted to dissuade her in what she felt were unfair and hurtful allegations about her intent.

I am not taking a position on the cell tower in this column except my sad conclusion that there will be more longterm effects from the division than we will ever experience from the cell tower.

My walker-friendly, happy, congenial neighborhood is damaged, perhaps to the extent that it may take generations to recover regardless of the outcome of the “mono-pine” hearing.

Monoliths of technology surround people in urban cities all over the world. Rural areas are being populated with growing numbers of people who rely on other electronic emitters such as cell phones, computers and microwave ovens.

What do we do? Give it all up? Make it someone else’s problem, someone with less power to protest? Insist that technology advance research of methods that don’t threaten longterm health?

Maybe we will learn the answers in a future life or many future lives since some of us are slow learners. I fully expect to return as a bird with electric blue wings nesting in a mono-pine.

Meanwhile, there is hope for my happy neighborhood, ribbons of blue and pink have appeared on the “No Trespassing” that seems to soften the message, a bit like a tentative friendly wave.


Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at