Readers' Writes 2018

This is the introduction to our annual Readers' Writes edition, for which we take one of our weekly issues and print what our readers submit to us. Links to all the different submissions can be found beneath this semi-coherent introduction by managing editor Matt Butler. 

It’s a good prompt, thought of by Ithaca Times Production Designer Marshall Hopkins. I’m not sure I even have one actually brilliant solution, but I have to write something to introduce this 2019 Reader’s Writes Issue of the Ithaca Times. So, instead of writing about just one solution in particular, I might as well take this time to blast out some solutions that have been rolling around in my head for the last few months or years.

First, summers should not be as hot as they are. I know, I know, this is going to provoke talk about climate change, but I don’t want to explore that topic right now. It’s been a serious couple weeks, so I’m just kicking back, relaxing, and telling you: the summer should not be as hot as it is. Second, carpeting should be reserved for bedrooms only. I spill way too much crap in my apartment to have to worry about having white vinegar on hand every time I bump into a coffee-table in my living room. Completely bogus! Third, I’m ready for the next massive evolution in public transportation. I don’t know what it is, I’ll leave that to the brainiacs. My personal suggestion: big long bicycles, such as the ones with four or five or six seats and like eight wheels. Maybe they have a designated driver, maybe not, but they can go all over the area and drop people off as they go.

See how easy it is? Now, would any of those actually work? Hell, I don’t know. But that’s how easy it is. Literally anyone can come up with a solution to a problem, we do it every day. We try, we fail, we try again. Remember all that construction on roads over the last month couple months, where downtown wasn’t impassable, but really close to impassable? You had to come up with some brilliant solutions daily just to get home.

Ithacans and Tompkinsians (patent pending) show up in droves to government meetings when asked for their feedback or opinion, a fact that is mentioned frequently yet still seems totally anomalous compared to everywhere else that I’ve lived. No small percentage of those who come to those meetings have their own solutions, too. I think that’s at the core of what we wanted to accomplish with “My Brilliant Solution” this year: to take that inspiration from public forums and cast it out to a wider audience. Whether or not we succeeded, you can decide for yourself as you read on. But also remember: this is an evergreen theme. The whole point of Readers’ Writes is to hear from you all (and also so that we don’t completely burn out), but that doesn’t mean it’s limited to one issue per year. is my email address, and it’s always open.

This year’s submissions - sorry we couldn’t fit everyone in - are, in my opinion, excellent. They range from addressing climate change and a student’s difficulty in school to ensuring one’s cats don’t discover a scratching tower before Christmas by disguising it as a beloved sentient snowman. I think that range accurately describes our newspaper: we like doing serious stuff, and we like doing silly, absurd things just as much. Sometimes they happen at the same damn time, like calling an article about the merits and risks of raising hourly pay “Night of the Living Wage.”

This issue is meant to be a nice break from the grind, so we hope you enjoy. As screwed up as the journalism industry is now, I’ve got faith it’ll be okay in the long run. If that turns out to be true, it’ll be because of people like you. In effect, you are the brilliant solution to that. This is a tough job, what we do is largely thankless, all underpaid and ultimately time-consuming as all hell. But for whatever reason, we love it most of the time. And if you all weren’t reading, it likely wouldn’t exist at all, as many warts as there are. So, thanks for keeping us employed, thanks for picking us up on Wednesdays or visiting our website, and we’re going to keep trying to make it worth your while in 2019. Happy holidays.

Essays (click the titles to read)

An Ignorant and Shocked Migrant by Conrad Alan Istock

The Toy Police Car by Randy A. Ehrenberg

My Brilliant Solution: Tompkins County- Real Action on Affordable Housing by Daniel Keough

Is the Internet God? by Michael Jacobs

Vapor by Liam Whalen

Pipe Dad by Robert Rieger

My Brilliant Solution to help non-profits by Maude Rith

My Brilliant Solution for fighting climate change by Francis Vanek

The Perfect Trap by Frank Kelly

The Best Path Forward by Michael P. Mancuso

My Brilliant Solution: A School Challenge by Barbara D. Katz-Brown


Oh Happy Day by Dorothy Lonsky

When Your Daughter-in-Law Hates Magic by Katharyn Howd Machan 

The Evolution Solution by Ivan Smason

History is Prose Memory is Poetry by Michael Faber

Where to Stay by Katharyn Howd Machan


My Perfect Solution by Cynthia Foley


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