Politics is dirty - even locally

Today is election day. Supposedly a big one for our country. Will it turn blue or remain red? It doesn’t matter, either way the dialogue will likely continue to spoil and the coverage will largely feed more hostility and hatred for “them” (on either extremes).

It is a sight to behold, our country tearing itself a part. Everyone knows that politics is dirty. It seems, however, the level of dirty is escalating. It certainly is permeating into society as an angry contagion.

Politics and politicians are an unfortunate, but necessary part of what we got here. Sadly, the disgusting parts of politics, the blaming, the shaming, the name calling and humiliating of your opponents is showing up on the smallest scale - the local government. The fact that there is this sense of “opponents” locally is a real indicator of something gone wrong.

Locally, this is not politics as usual, but politics of America 2018.

This is partly why I resigned from my duties as council president yesterday. I ran for council with the hopes of “making a difference” and instead felt most of my time and energy was being spent on defending myself and others from slander. I just couldn’t do it anymore. And as unfortunate a decision it was, and probably a disappointment, the burden had grown to great.

And it is unfortunate, that the dirty actions of my “opponent” (its in quotes because I didn’t feel that way, but they did) are the very reason why good, decent, educated and reasonable people don’t want to involve themselves in local politics. But it is those good, decent, educated and reasonable people that we need. “Someones got to do it” - and I thought that someone could be me… and it was for a moment.

The proximity and constant dealings with the dirtiness of politics and bad players was beginning to turn me into someone I am not. It was beginning to turn me into an angry person. It started to taint my feelings towards my community. It also gave me this awful constant pain in my upper back. All for what? I actually believe that council has very little to do with making a stronger, better community.

It saddens me that local politics - or local council people would be so dirty (most of the council people I worked with are wonderful, but it only takes one to spoil.)

So on this election day:

Dear Council and Residents,

I write to you to inform you that I will be resigning from Borough council. It has weighed heavy on my heart for months now and although I feel this may come as a huge disappointment to some, it is clear to me that I must step down.

1.       Although I have learned a lot in the past 10 months, my experience on council has been very different than what I thought I was signing up for.

2.       The work of council president has negatively affected my performance at my job.

3.       Joining council has been a detriment to my physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

4.       I believe my abilities and talents can be used to benefit the community elsewhere.

5.       I did not prepare myself nor have the personality type to deal well with some of the abhorrent tactics and behaviors used by one of Greenville’s council members.  

I am also resigning from my seat on the Mercer County Regional Planning Commission and will not be returning to the Greenville Planning Commission once my term is over on December 31st, 2018.

I want to express my sincere gratitude and thanksgiving to the fantastic administrative staff. Jasson, Dave, Rosalynn, and Lyle doing incredible work for the borough are under appreciated, underpaid. Council would do well to ensure their success, because Greenville succeeds when they succeed.

Here are some things I will continue to do:

1.       I will continue to be a positive advocate for the Greenville Community.

2.       I will continue to meet with members of the Community Vision Task Force regardless of its official recognition from council as a committee because I believe there is value in the work that is being done by this group.

3.       I will continue to offer my free help to the borough with maintaining their website.

Please take this letter as notice of my formal resignation effective immediately: November 5th, 2018.

The only one in the fight

There was an interesting “His View” in the Argus today. Our local paper is becoming more and more like a Facebook news feed. Anything and everything will be written and shared regardless of any ties to facts or reality. Just fill the white space at any cost.

I wanted to voice a few concerns over the “opinions” this council member, Paul Hamill, voiced in the article. He has been very vocal lately, taking to the paper, social media, and his website to tell you…

… he plans to share more of his “research and ideas over the coming weeks and months.”

The over-arching theme of this narrative over the past few years has been that of the lone-wolf. However, he is the only one in the fight. A common phrase that is used and is indeed found in today’s article is “We just need to work together for the good of the entire town…” Council is working together, council is publicly having important discussions. Yet, this council person cries foul and says no one will work with him. From my experience this year, it is not that council works against Paul Hamill, it is that Paul Hamill works against council.

Here are some things I want to point out from the article.

1.      I have major concern over Paul’s relentless attack of our Act 47 coordinator. He claims in article that some voters are calling for change of the coordinator. He recently sent an email to all council members asking us to review the current coordinators resume (the 2012 version was only 21 pages long).

• First of all, our Act 47 coordinator is eminently qualified.

• He refuses to use her title, Dr., which I find to be very disrespectful.

• He went, without any councilpersons knowledge, to Harrisburg to disgrace her character.

2.      He recently admitted at a council meeting to having just read the most recent plan that was submitted by the coordinator (one that he has had access to and should have read at the beginning of his term of office.) It therefore comes as no surprise that false statements would be made about the plan such as: “and waiting until 2018 to suggest home rule.” This is blatantly false. I found Home Rule suggested on the Plan submitted in 2011 on page 125.

3.      He mentions the coordinators opposition for an independent “forensic” audit. Why the opposition? The current independent audits are sufficient, and the suggested reason from Paul which is to convince surrounding municipalities that we are doing things correctly would be an inappropriate use of funds considering this type of audit would cost significantly more that the current independent audits being lawfully conducted.

4.      In the article he essentially blames businesses not coming to town and lack of multi-municipal coordination on the coordinator which is highly offensive and enormously unfounded.

5.      The police car company, approved through costars, which Hamill references is IBIS Tech, went under new ownership about a year and a half ago.

6.      Buckerhorn Engineering was not to blame for the issues of City of Hermitage, it was the council who bet on profits from the creation of the garbage incinerator.

7.      Paul insinuates an ulterior motive behind Home Rule and in the process is doing a great disservice to the very commission he was elected to serve on.

• His suggestions that the only purpose of Home Rule is to have no limits to taxing is highly uninformed… but of course it would be, he has attended few meetings and refuses to bring up these concerns of his in the actual discussion.

• In regards to his title and conclusion: “Get your house in order first”. That Home Rule is a process in which the borough can use to “order our house.”

• I hope everyone see through the thin vale of false promises that his absence from the commission will ultimately benefit the commission because of his attendance at these PSAB conferences. The Certified Borough Official training is not a qualifier. And there has been no measurable positive outcome to-date from all of his time at these conferences (which he has repeatedly asked the borough to pay for.)
• He asked “When do we get to the phase where we discuss the broad spectrum of opportunities and concerns that home rule presents?” Maybe if he would go to a meeting he would understand the timeline and expectations that have been accepted by the commission members.

8.      Paul is right about Greenville’s need for economic development. However, there are many limitations on the local government and specifically what a borough in Pennsylvania is able to do in that realm. What bits of legislation is he proposing that we adopt to benefit economic development? Crickets…

• Borough council and the Act 47 coordinator work within a framework. The borough council has a legislative role. Again, what bit of legislation does Paul think we need to adopt?

Since we are talking about opinions, let me share mine.

I am afraid that Paul has a very poor understanding of local government, which is a shame considering all the time and money spent at conferences. Paul has been in office for some time now, and is gearing up for re-election and he is using these tactics to convince residents that there is a problem. What has he done to fix the problems, or call or answers and accountability to this point? Its all conjecture and hyperbole. A whole lot of talk and very little action. Not one resolution has been drafted. The most recent appointed council person to fill a vacancy drafted and successfully adopted a resolution within his first two months.

This article also speaks about tax hikes. This article was prepared, probably by his ghostwriter, and sent to the Record-Argus before our discussion played out. He was preemptive. And if you where at the previous council meeting you would notice that he acted interested in entertaining the discussion. I’ll add a conspiracy because we all like those. Paul pretended to be interested in tax hikes, or at least discussing it, hoping for the majority to possibly be in favor of what was proposed by a citizen, only to swoop in, as he did in the article, as the only one who is fighting for the people and boo taxes. Problem is… council discussed after his opinion was sent to the paper, and no one on council is looking for a tax hike. He is fighting apparitions.

The tactics that are used here are that of a dirty politician. He refuses to say what he really thinks for discussion to play out in the arena that it is supposed to, and instead, takes to the internet in spreading conspiracy theories, defame his fellow councilpersons, and incite hatred with falsities. Paul has been detrimental to our local government.

I have been made aware from reputable sources that Paul does not plan to stop his attacks until I step down and some of our administrative staff resigns. Unfortunately, his focus is not on serving and helping the Greenville community, rather on personal pursuits of power and control.

Outrageous Outrage

I’ve been reading * trigger warning * * controversial * Glenn Beck’s book: Addicted to Outrage. I have to say it is spot on and scary. Our society has become addicted to outrage and it is destroying us. The carefully woven fabric is not fraying on the edges, it is being ripped a part in one angry tear.

I have been off of Facebook for maybe a month now. I don’t remember the exact date I took the plunge, but I am so happy I did it. However, even removing myself from the dumpster fire that is Facebook, I have not escaped the shock waves of outrage.

Outrage itself is not a problem.

How outrage has dominated our dialogue landscape is a huge problem.

Today’s outrage fuels hostility, anger, malice, resentment, disgust, etc. The outrage is often misplaced or in the very least negatively impacts passerby’s because of shotgun style outrage.. It has shown the worst of ourselves against our fellow man and neighbor. The outrage today has become outrageous.

Outrage as virtue signaling is misguided and arrogant.

Outrage as a shield from moral judgement is cowardice.

Outrage as a weapon is disgraceful.

When outrage becomes your identity… God help you.
(Read chapter 3 of the book)

The things I have seen people become outraged over in my own community often have me speechless or in the very least perplexed. It was making me angry… a poison that quietly seeps in convincing you the appropriate response is more outrage and vitriol.

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.” - Matthew 15:18

I read about a man who was outraged over the volunteer work that a local non-profit organization did to help clean up our rivers - he “called them out” online, blaming them for the trespassers on his property, in a demeaning and spiteful manner. Read that again.

I was recently accosted by a woman who was outraged that I did not clap my hands in response to something that happened during a meeting. Read that again.

Okay. Let me break that last one down for you. Firstly, as a public official, I am well aware people observing me more than others, but never to this degree. Secondly, this woman assumed that me not clapping my hands meant something very specific she conjured up in her head. Thirdly, that woman was sitting behind me and was in a bad spot to view the actual golf clap I gave. Fourthly… really? This person was audibly and visibly angry. This person probably hates me. This person has been online defaming me… and her outrage is outrageous. Leaves me perplexed.

I have been learning how to encounter this outrage in a much more healthy way. However, it breaks my spirit to see how hateful and angry we are… and over what. Something truly virtuous? Ninety-nine percent… no. Most outrage today is founded in very little truth.

So we stop talking to each other.

We stop trusting each other.

Society fully breaks down.

This give me pause for some needed self reflection.

I will be meditating on these versus for my own sake the rest of 2018:

“1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” - Matthew 7:1-5

Critic

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

At a higher cognitive level, negative stimuli are hypothesized to carry greater informational value than positive stimuli, and to thus require greater attention and cognitive processing (see Peeters & Czapinski, 1990). Accordingly, adults spend more time looking at negative than at positive stimuli, perceive negative stimuli to be more complex than positive ones, and form more complex cognitive representations of negative than of positive stimuli (e.g., Ducette & Soucar, 1974Fiske, 1980H. Miller & Bieri, 1965).

SUIDEPRECANDI DELIRIUM

SUIDEPRECANDI DELIRIUM
[ SOO-UH-DEP-RI-KAN-DEE   DƏˈLIRĒƏM/]
N. A COMMUNICABLE NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER CHARACTERIZED BY OBSESSIVE NEGATIVE AND SELF-DEPRECATING THOUGHT AND SPEECH SPECIFICALLY REGARDING THE INFLICTED PERSONS' LOCALE AND GEOGRAPHIC COMMUNITY. 

Below is an excerpt from the Journal for Community Based Communicable Disorders on causation of accelerated manifestations, clinical evidence of cranial damage over time, communicability of the disorder, and proven treatments and therapies for recovery from Suideprecandi Delirium.

"Scientists have witnessed Suideprecandi Delirium act almost like a cognitive virus, resulting in the patient to actively engage in damaging social behavior.  The social nature of its manifestation gives the condition exponential communicable success in susceptible persons in real or virtual proximity. The behavioral manifestations, namely negative or self-deprecating speech about the persons own community and those who reside there, become accelerated by the use of social media because it connects other disordered persons, in turn, building the cognitive dissonance with little interference from rationale.  The work of many psychologists in studying Negativity Bias has built a solid foundation which supports the efficacy of this delirium disorder. Studies have also found that increased susceptibility has a direct correlation with persons who are found to have illusory superiority, a cognitive bias otherwise known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Once symptoms have been correctly determined to be caused by the disorder we typically see the patient's social behavior spiral out of control with compounding symptoms such as incoherent babbling, loathing, apathy or rejection of communal improvements, and an increased delight in conspiracy theories. When left untreated the culmination of behavioral changes have a devastating lasting effect on the individual's overall cognitive functions and brain health. Researchers used MRI scans of patients suffering from Suideprecandi Delirium to develop an understanding of its effects on the brain over time. What was discovered is astonishing and worrying. They found that over time, due to hyper-acceleration of neuronal processing associated with negative thought and speech pathways, their interconnectedness to learning and memory become noticeably damaged.

Clinical studies have confirmed that the best treatment remains to be a combination of social media detoxification or cleanse and meditative therapies exercising the left prefrontal cortex for positive thought making and the hypothalamus for grateful and thankful thought making."

- Dr. Mae Kup, Greenville Borough Clinic of Suideprecandi Disorders 

drbeck.Still001.jpg

- Dr. Mae Kup, Greenville Borough Clinic of Suideprecandi Disorders

Things I'm Watching

INTERESTING DISCUSSION ON THE DECLINE OF AMERICAN COMMUNITIES.

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No immediate consequences

Sometimes things that are not right or not good don't seem to carry the weight of being something that is bad.

A little lie... often even a big lie.

Gossip.

Pride.

Today, sometimes evening cheating.

We can easily justify any bad thing we do. Either because it is a benefit to us and therefore we are justified: "If it is good for me then it must be good, right?" Or it is justified because we see no consequence from the action: "I didn't get in trouble, I feel no remorse, so what's the deal?"

This spills over into just about anything we do. Eating unhealthy isn't good but until we suffer the consequences we will justify it with every bite or brush it off every meal.  

I did it for 13 years with smoking. I knew that it wasn't good, however, I enjoyed it and I suffered no immediate and tangible consequences. Therefore smoking couldn't be that bad, right?

What other things do we do... so easily... because there lies no immediate consequence?

This is dangerous thinking, is often very selfish, and unobservedly self-destructive.

It is a daily challenge to consider the things the I consume, the things that I say, and the things that I do... not in relation to consequence but in relation to...

What is right?

What is true?

What is useful?

What is helpful?

I am thankful for my faith in Christ as my Savior and Friend who helps me as I work out answering these questions.

Subtle and incremental

WOULD YOU LOOK AT IT...

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... THAT'S TRANSFORMATION.

Alright, how did this happen? There is no way Greenville was able to pull this off. 

Guess what, it did, and it has been doing so steadily. It is possible that you didn't even notice.   

Incrementally transformation is happening in our community through personal will and determination. The local government can't force community action. Transformation only happens when the community desires it. 

There are two types of people in the community right now. Those who build and those who destroy. Although it is important to recognize our weaknesses and areas for growth, if your overwhelming narrative is that of tearing down... you might be the problem.

It is time to build up. The community must continue to take personal action. 

Thank you to the property owners who have invested.  Although it may be lost on some, you have not gone unnoticed. 

Grandpa said...

"You can choose to get bitter, or better" said Charles Eugene Beck to his son, Phillip, who had just experienced the crippling effects of betrayal and disappointment. 

Both my grandfather and father have passed, but their words live on in my conscious and now on this blog as I reflect on all that life has to offer.

I choose to get better. After speaking with my roommate and sage, Chris, about the overwhelming frustration and hurt that continues to come from Facebook posts and newspaper articles since becoming a council person, it was clear I needed to start focusing on something else entirely. Even the negative posts about the Greenville community, in general, were weighing heavily on my heart. Chris made one simple statement that gave me a way to get better and not bitter, "You should be thankful for all of the people in the community that cheer you on and support you." (He maybe didn't say it exactly like that, but you get the shift in perspective he was offering.) There are always outliers, but that is just it... I choose to not focus on the outliers because the overwhelming reality does not lie in the outlier.

I am thankful to God that I have such an amazing community. A community that is giving, supportive, loving, kind and genuine. I am thankful for a community of friends and adopted family. I am thankful for a community where everyone has the incredible opportunity to be a part of something good. I am thankful for a community where I have been able to find gainful employment and a boss who loves Greenville. I am thankful for the countless people who continually offer up encouraging words, thoughts, and prayers.

As an act of getting better and not bitter - I am offering thanks.

A multi-purpose downtown

Our community has great challenges before us. The solutions are going to take some creative thinking and planning. This is exciting, however, because we have the opportunity to do new things that have never been tried before, or at least tried here before. Experimental territory. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

I recently read an article in the Business Journal about the retail apocalypse. This time, I heard a much different perspective, one that wasn't all doom and gloom. Mr. Anthony Cafaro Jr., of Cafaro Co. which owns notable properties such as the Eastwood and Millcreek Malls, explained that what we are experiencing now with retail is less of an apocalypse and more of a correction. He's right. We are experiencing a paradigm shift. (I'll cover more on this in another post).

What does this have to do with Greenville? There was a particular part in the article that caught my imagination.

"Additionally, opening day at Eastwood Field this year marks the 20th season for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The team recently committed for another 15 years. If every developer had an opportunity to have a minor league baseball stadium, or some type of sport facility as part of their mall complex, they would sign up tomorrow,” he says."

Read the article here.

Again, what does this have to do with Greenville? Although we do not have a mall that might be experiencing some major shifts in retail culture and we do not have a minor league sports team, we can use Carafo's concept of multi-purpose use to our advantage. 

I read the article with downtown Greenville already in mind and as I was mulling over what it would mean for us to have a multi-purpose downtown the pool soon surfaced. Imagine a pool/recreation facility in or near our downtown spaces. It could potentially transform the way we interact with our shops and restaurants. It could be the unique addition to attract more visitors, and better yet, new residents. Having this addition of recreation/entertainment could be leveraged by downtown businesses to increase foot-traffic and even boost sales. 

Click on the highlighted areas on the map below to see the potential of each spot.

Let me know your thoughts! Comment below 

I can't see very far without my glasses

I have had to wear glasses or contacts since the age of 7. I have horrible eyesight. My contacts are never in stock and have to be special ordered. I also pay extra every time I get new glasses so that the lenses aren't Mr. Magoo style. I can't see anything clearly unless it is right in front of my face. Thank goodness for corrective lenses, or I would be a wandering and stumbling idiot. A lot of people suffer from nearsightedness, but not in literal terms. Maybe it's stubbornness, or a refusal to reflect, think through, and analyze, or the inability to see and interpret the big, far picture. Whatever it is, it is not the mark of a good candidate for a Study Commission.

Sounds pretty harsh and judgmental, but after dissecting the following statement from a potential commission member, I hope you can see my perspective and cause of concern.

“Personally, I reject the Home Rule, and think the new council that has just been elected, be given a chance to make needed changes in our government.”

— A candidate for Greenville, PA's Government Study Commission

Let's evaluate this statement. 

1.      Is it possible to stand firmly on such a strong opinion of Home Rule without having gone through a thorough investigation and study, especially when contrasting the options available in this new structure to our current form of government? To reject without investigation is ignorance. 

2.      The new council that was elected voted unanimously to have the Government Study Commission question placed on the ballot. Is it, then, possible that this current council believes that it this might be the change that is needed for our local government, and that it at least should be studied to determine it's viability? The new council that has been elected has the chance to make needed changes in government, and with that chance, it decided Home Rule was worth studying because of the changes that it could bring. I hope you see the irony.

It is important that we all step back, and assess whether or not we should put on our glasses in order to see just beyond what is right in front of us. We will continue to flounder if we don't. Why even write a response? Because it can really hurt Greenville 

Concerning Trends

Change is difficult, change is sometimes painful and scary, but change is sometimes absolutely necessary. I have been thrust into heading the "change" discussion on the local level. Why now? Why is it important to change now? Here are some reasons to consider:

Population Trends:  It should be no surprise that we have been experiencing a steady population decline over the years. On the county level, Mercer County is experiencing a 3% drop in every ten years, according to U.S. Census data, a downward trend that has not changed over the past four decades. Greenville's exodus is even more dramatic. Greenville has seen a consistent loss of population over the past seven decades, at an average of  6% - 7% decrease every ten years. When you pair this with articles about urbanization trends with headlines projecting two billion more people will live in cities by 2035, it leaves me questioning how our small communities can possibly survive? U.S Census QuickFacts: Greenville & Mercer County 

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”

— Georg C. Lichtenberg

Economic Trends: Although Mercer County is actively competing for job creation and growth, it still is lagging behind when looking at national numbers of job growth, poverty levels, industry earnings, unemployment rates, and median household incomes. There are issues at the State level, making Pennsylvania a poor national competitor. Places like Greenville and Farrell have carried heavier burdens of the losses seen on the county level. With the economy stagnant in Greenville, compared to higher successes in larger cities, continued population decline is a given. Greenville's low cost of living is not enough to appeal to returning industry or other larger economic investments and ventures. 

Can we make Greenville strong through small business? I believe it is possible today, through leveraging technology that is available, to market Greenville to the e-commerce savvy, small manufacturing entrepreneurs.  It is important to be optimistic about future growth but recognizing the real current picture and trends motivates me to talk about change. 

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

— John F. Kennedy

Social Trends: I will say this over and over again. The sense of community is THE THING that makes Greenville special and worth being a part of. The current trend of community is concerning. The interplay of Technology and Politics has created a great rift. Not only does the next generation have difficulty communicating outside virtual reality, they are plagued with apathy because of the vitriol and hate that is constantly covered in the media cycle. This infection has spread to our little community. Maybe it has actually always been there, we just haven't let it get the best of us until now. 

In order to be viable we have to adapt to a much different future than many of us were expecting. We have to change now in order for us to become more adaptable. We have to change now in order to be competitive again. We have to change now because it becomes much harder to veer from the current trajectory the further we go.

We have to change now because there will be a time soon when it will be too late.

Oh deer me...

1st Quarter of 2018, done. It has been wild. I have never been so stressed out in my life. I have never been so anxious in my life. It is anxiety that comes from the pressure of high expectations. Expectations that that one guy, whose name you can't remember, has for you to perform.

Truthfully, there is no reason to be anxious (Philippians 4:6-7). I am learning to breathe. These last few months, however, have prepared me to experience difficulties unphased. I hit a deer this week and just kept driving. Didn't swerve, didn't blink. I just thought, "well that just happened" and moved on.

What is community?

A quick Google search for the definition of community will leave you pretty empty. 

“A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.”

— Google Dictionary

How inspiring. A group of people living in the same place. A community is even more than having a particular characteristic in common and we all know that. When we act as a community, you will see unlikely relationships form. Strange bedfellows. Selflessness. Sacrifice. Brotherhood. Neighbors shoveling neighbors sidewalks. Neighbors mowing neighbors grass, without being asked, because they are invested enough to know that they could use the help.

“Communities are not built of friends, or of groups with similar styles and tastes, or even of people who like and understand each other. They are built of people who feel they are part of something that is bigger than themselves: a shared goal or enterprise, like righting a wrong, or building a road, or raising children, or living honorably, or worshipping a god. To build community requires only the ability to see value in others, to look at them and see a potential partner in one’s enterprise.”

— Suzanne Goldsmith

So when the question during last years debate was asked (3:55): "... we own a rental property in Greenville. I would like to know something you have that is [inaudible due to a sneeze] idea, um, the distressed areas in this town are getting more distressed as property owners, anybody who owns a rental property, you know we're just being, its like more and more is dumped on us all the time, we keep our property really nice, there's a lot of people who own properties that don't keep them anywhere near as nice as we do and yet the neighborhood is going to pot. Give me some ideas of something, something that can be done, not something pie in the sky, what can be done to salvage this town?"

The landlord went on to give examples such as empty houses or houses with junk on the porch. What were the suggestions from the candidates? Code enforcement, code enforcement, code enforcement. Call code enforcement on your neighbors! I wasn't having any of it. I chime in at 11:35.

Community was Greenville's strength, its crown jewel. But it is something that needs to be exercised. We are losing community a little bit every day. We can blame technology, we can blame drugs and t.v.

However, it will take a personal commitment to being a valuable and active part of the community if we are ever going to reverse the trend. You can't expect it from anyone but yourself. Learn how to engage here.

What will set Greenville apart? If it's not community, what is it?

Confusion, Communication, Resultion

There was a glaring mistake in The Record Argus this morning. One that I hope does not create too much confusion. This is the second time in the past two weeks information has been inaccurate. I understand mistakes, I have made plenty of them. This isn't just about getting a number wrong. It is also about the perspective. I am not expecting the paper to write from what I consider a favorable perspective every time, but I am going to take this opportunity to share mine. 

Today's headline:

BOROUGH MEETS TAXPAYER RESISTANCE ON SANITARY AUTHORITY PLAN.

The glaring (for me) mistake is this:

BOROUGH MEETS TAXPAYER RESISTANCE ON SANITARY AUTHORITY PLAN.

The meeting was actually not about the sanitary authority at all. NOT AT ALL. The public hearing on the creation of a stormwater authority meeting was about a STORMWATER AUTHORITY. 

So the headline should have read:

BOROUGH MEETS TAXPAYER RESISTANCE ON STORMWATER AUTHORITY PLAN.

Why does this matter? It matters because there were only 20 residents/property owners present at the meeting. The public at large is depending on a clear recap of the evening. This mistake, unfortunately, doesn't clarify, it confuses.  

Last week when the paper reported on the public concerns over road paving, it mistakenly reported that the capital needed for the road improvements amounts to $3 million. That was in black in white. That is not what was said at the meeting, that is not the true amount. The actual cost of improving the roads, as it stands, is closer to the $11 million mark. Why does this mistake matter? It matters because $3 million is far more attainable and therefore does not correctly paint the picture of our current situation. 

Now, how about perspective. The headline read:

BOROUGH MEETS TAXPAYER RESISTANCE ON SANITARY [SIC] AUTHORITY PLAN.

It reads that way because it sells more papers. An alternate headline as such would garner less interest, even though I feel it better describes the evening.

BOROUGH LISTENS TO TAXPAYER CONCERNS ABOUT STORMWATER AUTHORITY CREATION.

Headlines are strategic. I just wish it at least said stormwater authority and not sanitary. I actually quite enjoyed the article and felt it fairly represented the evening. I just hope that people read it in its entirety. 

Why are these mistakes harmful. It's salt in the wound of a larger problem that our culture is suffering from. Communication. We don't know how to talk to each other anymore.

The public hearing on the creation of the stormwater authority was rife with misinformation. How do you correct misinformation? Through better communication. Through letting people speak. Listening. Digesting. Then if clarification is needed, you clarify. Maybe questions were asked that you don't have the answer to. Now you have homework. If an apology is needed, then apologize. If forgiveness is needed, then forgive. If further discussion is needed, then discuss. 

Not everyone agrees with me, but I thought last night was good. Helpful? Maybe not entirely. But last night was a chance for communication. People want to be heard. Council, for the most part, listened. Isn't that what we want from government?

Ever since my time as an exchange student in Germany in 2004-05 I have understood the importance of communication. I struggled to truly communicate for most of the year. That left a long-lasting impression.

If I could sum up the cause of any major problem, whether it be at work, in life or whatever, it always comes down to poor communication (or maybe no communication).

You cannot come to a favorable resolution without communication. You also can't fix a problem that you don't know is there because it has never been communicated to you.

LET'S KEEP TALKING TO EACH OTHER!

Get through the discomfort, put aside the anger, don't take it personally. Speak. Then listen. Then speak. Then listen.

I covered a lot here, but I hope it makes sense. Hey! I want to hear from you. Comment below↓

*The title of this post has been changed. Parts of the original post have also been changed by removing some uses of the word misinformation.

Problem Solving: Trinity Site

A community can operate with good intentions and good solutions. However, a community thrives and grows when it problem solves for the bestsolution. Greenville struggles with settling for okay. Okay is easy. Okay is quick. But it is short-sighted and temporary.

I want to challenge Greenville's leaders to start fighting for the best. Let there be critique and constructive dissection of every idea in order to arrive at the best.  Brainstorm okay away. Bring a variety of thinkers to the table. This variety will provide us with the multi-dimensional perspective that is necessary for leaving no consideration un-considered.

Here is a real-life example:

PROBLEM:

Greenville's Downtown Task Force met with an entrepreneur looking to set up shop in Greenville. This man is in the Green Energy business and is interested in setting up solar panels in the area. The vacant Trinity plot was of particular interest as a possible site for generating this solar energy. Sounds good right? Green Energy is a popular right now... why not?

DELIBERATION:

Let's dissect this just a little bit to see if this just a good solution, or the best

Location Location Location: Now, I am not sure if this entrepreneur is a resident or a local, but my immediate concern how much energy can be created from solar panels in a geographic anomaly that only receives 65 days of maximum sunlight in a year. Now, I would hope that this entrepreneur has factored this into his business plan. Will he be able to create competitively priced energy if the panels are not the most effective because of our gloomy and cloud situation? Should be cover the Trinity site with under-used solar panels

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Maximum Jobs Impact: Everyone agrees that Greenville needs jobs. Our economic footing has a huge impact on our overall disposition and a robust and healthy local job market has a huge impact on our economic footing. I can't imagine there being very many sustainable jobs created, especially for the limited space the Trinity site would allow. Yes, there are many jobs involved in the whole process. From the engineering to the manufacturing, a solar panel will employ a great deal. However, the long-lasting plant operations will provide very few. Although 3 jobs are better than 0, consider the last critique.

Space: Greenville is limited when it comes to development. There is only so much that falls within the boroughs defined territory. The Trinity site occupies a considerable portion of underdeveloped or unused space. When maximizing the economics, Greenville and it's residents benefit greatly when maximizing the number of jobs per square foot, yard, mile. 

It doesn't seem like the best use of the space when considering three basic factors: The Photovoltaic Solar Resource of our geographic location, the number of jobs created, the number of possible jobs created for the space occupied. 

ONE POSSIBLE SOLUTION:

The new hyphenated word is Mixed-Use and it is here to stay. When you have limited resources, including land, a multi-purposing approach can maximize impact.

Imagine the space configured to fit 20-25 micro-manufacturing hubs, each with the capability of employing 5 skilled laborers each. Not to mention a facilities crew that would be employed for site maintenance. 

Now imagine topping each of these hubs with solar panels. Will you be able to fill out the same square footage with solar panels? No. Can you still utilize the space to produce Green Energy? Sure. (Although the photovoltaic resource factors more greatly in answering this questions than the quantity of solar panels.)

Is this the solution? I don't know... but we are on our way to better and then, the best

I read this article to help me with this post:
https://www.bls.gov/green/solar_power/