## Letter to New Hampshire dept of Travel & Tourism, September 2018
## sent to Victoria Cimino, director at the time, as an escalation
## http://www.visitnh.gov/industry-members/about-us/staff-directory/

I have an issue that Ms. Codispoti would normally handle, but I
am told she's on vacation this week so I assume that escalating
to you may bring a better response.  It also seems appropriate
to make you aware of the situation anyway.  I'm not sure if phone
or email is better for you, but here I can sort of state my case
in an organized way.

Your voicemail box was full, by the way, so between that and
Ryan's delayed notice of Jenn's absence it's been a little
frustrating trying to reach someone there who can speak to
my problem.  [He also suggested using email, by the way.]

I live near Boston but was up around Lincoln over last weekend,
and had a great time doing some climbing in that area.  I tackled
Mt.  Moosilauke, which I remembered from a trip over a decade
ago and it was nice to refresh my memory of that place.  On my
drive up I happened to swing into the Canterbury "welcome center",
and found something upsettingly UNwelcoming at that location.

Out front are at least TWO large, obnoxious signs that try to
dictate to visitors' attire and appearance, particularly with
regard to footwear.  I submit to you that this is nothing but
discrimination, and is totally out of line with the goals of
your department.  It is based entirely on old social myth,
which has never actually been true.

I avoid wearing shoes, for health reasons among others, and a
growing [albeit slowly] segment of the population adopts similar
practice.  It is a personal choice, same as anyone who avoids
smoking/drinking or certain foods or whatever, and there is
nothing wrong with it as it harms nothing and no one.  For an
example of enjoying the health benefits of being naturally
unshod, you have only to read my writeup of my Moosilauke trip:


So I hope you can see the complete illogic of being told to put
on footwear for a quick walk into a well-maintained building.
You probably are already aware that there are NO laws, regulations,
health codes, or whatever against being barefoot, and for such
signs to be so blatantly visible only reinforces the long-standing
but 100% wrong social meme that it's somehow bad.  Knowledge of
the actual truth is slowly spreading, however, and if you search
for phrases like "barefoot hiking" you can easily see for yourself.
You do yourselves and the motoring public a total disservice by
letting this sort of obstacle mar your otherwise welcoming facility.

It is exactly equivalent to your center staff telling random
visitors something like "you're too ugly, you can't come in here".
How would you feel being greeted in such a fashion?  Are they
going to turn away bikers with head-to-foot tattoos, for example?
Or overweight travelers?  While it wasn't the staff itself at
Canterbury trying to impede my entry and they were kind enough
to provide contact information for your department, they should
not be supporting this kind of misinformation.

These are state-run public accomodations, and as such it's not even
clear that they *can* discriminate in this arbitrary manner.  There
are people in this world who *have* to avoid wearing shoes for
explicit medical reasons, and five minutes on the internet can find
you ample proof.  Thus, trying to force anyone into footwear for
the sole purpose of entering a structure may very well be an ADA
violation.  Assuming you're in Concord with all the other government
offices, just walk down the hall and ask your very own health
departments and legal counsel about this.  Examine the many letters
from state health and agriculture offices hosted at barefooters.org
as another example.  There is no legal or rational basis for having
these signs up, and never has been.

What I discovered is not even consistent.  On my way home I also
stopped at the Sanbornton facility, all of what, six miles away from
Canterbury?  and not only were there no such signs posted, but I
had a great conversation with the desk person there who completely
understands the benefits of going barefoot and the illogic of
trying to dictate against it.

I found and reviewed some of your documents from 2015 or so when
you were inviting public comment on rest-area improvements and
changes.  One set of slides showed a picture of the Sutton area,
with another unwelcoming sign out front but worded in a different
way.  Wherever these have been coming from, it seems driven by some
arbitrary personal decisions, probably by someone(s) with some kind
of weird hangup about feet.  It is inappropriate for them to bring
that into their public workplace, worse yet misrepresented under
any guise of "authority".

Honestly, I thought New Hampshire was smarter than this.  "Live
free or die"?  But you must do it with shoes on even if they're
completely unnecessary and often harmful?  Nonsense.  Another
aspect the documents mentioned is that New Hampshire's economy
is heavily dependent on tourism, and I can't imagine why anyone
would want to jeopardize the smooth and effective implementation
of that.  Those signs should be permanently removed, across the
entire state, and the staff at the welcome centers educated in
cheerful acceptance of their visitors' healthy lifestyle choices.

Thank you for prompt attention to this, and please don't hesitate
to ask for more information if needed.