My father, John H. Weakland, a pioneer in modern psychology and development of family therapy and brief therapy, is surely roiling in his grave with the news that his lifelong workplace, the MRI, plans to sell its building to fund a grant-giving foundation and will cease to exist as a center of psychology research, teaching, and practice.
I'm sure that his longtime colleagues, Paul Watzlawick and Dick Fisch, Dad's co-founders of the Brief Therapy Center, are doing the same. Their legacy was an institute with an international reach and reputation that brought visiting therapists from around the world.
It greatly concerns me that your article ("Therapists to lose home at landmark Mental Research Institute," Feb. 9, Palo Alto Online) reviews the large decline in MRI revenues over the past several years — a timeframe that parallels the tenure of the current executive director. Ms. Suberville was hired in January 2016 and developed a plan to utterly change the MRI: sell its sole financial asset and become director of a new granting foundation.
She describes herself on LinkedIn as a "social entrepreneur." Her background prior to the MRI was executive director of the French-American Cultural Society. Can she be knowledgeable enough about the field of psychology to make such significant changes or to lead a foundation that honors MRI's historic past?
To so utterly change the MRI, and reduce it to a business entity, truly appalls me.
Brief Therapy Center Director Karin Schlanger, a student and friend of both my father and Dick Fisch, has dedicated her life to the Center. They will be displaced from the sale of the Institute's building. As one of the fundamental legacies of the MRI and its core therapists, the continuation of the Brief Therapy Center should be a primary concern, and should be very well cared for by this "new MRI."
If not, Ms. Suberville's vision is truly faulty.
Rail at grade is best
We have many priorities to meet in the Palo Alto rail upgrade: Safety is paramount for the local community and rail riders. We also need a cost-effective solution that minimizes noise, improves traffic flow and provides rapid train service. The best option for rail service in Palo Alto is rail at grade, with underpasses for cars and pedestrian bridges over the tracks.
Palo Alto is already using the auto-under-rail approach successfully at Oregon Expressway and Embarcadero Road. It would be enhanced by building welcoming bike/pedestrian bridges. This solution can be implemented at Palo Alto Avenue, Meadow Drive and Charleston Road at reasonable cost if non-critical turns are eliminated. Traffic flow can be improved because some traffic lights can be removed.
The solution to the complexity of turns at Meadow and Charleston at Alma Street is to treat those intersections as a unit. The priority for Charleston should be to feed traffic to and from 101 into south Palo Alto with straight underground lanes. Minimal turns are needed there. For example, a car that wants to turn left from Charleston onto Alma can be diverted to a left-turn lane built as a tunnel or flyover at Meadow, skipping the need for that turn at Charleston. All the needed turns can be mapped out in a way that saves a lot of space and generally circumvents the need to take private property.
The citywide tunnel will simply be unaffordable for the city of Palo Alto. It is also incompatible with the existing valuable infrastructure at Oregon and Embarcadero and will disrupt several creeks. A viaduct option will also be very expensive, noisy and unsightly.
Rail at grade with auto underpasses and pedestrian overpasses will be the most cost-effective solution with reasonable noise and excellent safety. It is the most realistic approach.
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