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Thread: Brave Patriots secure another victory over Agenda 21

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Brave Patriots secure another victory over Agenda 21

    La Plata Co (SW Colo, Durango) Planning Director quits one day after volunteer planning board abandons draft Comp Plan that took "$700,000, 150 community meetings and two years of work to produce", after it was derailed by loud, energized, vocal ideological minority. You know which minority.

    Sigh. I'm considering expanding my practice to travel to small towns to teach them how to deal with fringe conspiracy theorists and how to keep the planning process from being derailed.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Related article:

    Maryland county charts a path out of Agenda 21

    Is your fair city on the list ?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

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    Wake me up....

    ....when someone from our field successfully tells these Agenda 21 whack jobs to STFU.

    My agency is about to embark on one of these HUD regional planning grant activities, and we haven't even notified all of the consortium members that we've won the grant yet or had a meeting to discuss what to do with it, and the Tea Party has loudly picketed four county board meetings with fears of a UN-led conspiracy to take property rights and force people into one bedroom apartments.

    Has anyone, anywhere, had any success in pushing back against this movement? The one-page APA handout is woefully inadequate....

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Funding For Sanity (FFS) Project!

    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    New media quality from that Examiner...um...piece:
    The County also abolished their “Office of Sustainability” and the commissioners undertook the arduous task of expunging the many references to “Sustainable Development” that were embedded, like metastasized cancer cells, throughout the County master plan.

    This series of actions enraged local leftists, who used the left-sympathizing local newspaper as a platform to launch endless, dishonest, ad-hominem attacks so venomous that one letter to the editor complained “I’ve lived in Carroll County all my life and can’t recall when I have ever seen such nastiness directed toward an elected official!” Paraphrasing the McCarthy hearings he asked, “Have you no shame, you group of haters?” But the Left is fine with such tactics when directed at their enemies, so the attacks continue unabated
    .
    You know what party was recently elected here. Geniuses, surely.

    Quote Originally posted by HokiePlanner View post
    ....when someone from our field successfully tells these Agenda 21 whack jobs to STFU. ...Has anyone, anywhere, had any success in pushing back against this movement? The one-page APA handout is woefully inadequate....
    Telling them to STFU only gives them attention - they don't care what kind of attention they get, as long as someone pays attention to them to validate their existence. Ignoring them is a good first step. And second, and third.

    But seriously, if I could get travel costs covered, I'd develop a curriculum to teach seminars and give symposia to address their comedy act. Anyone know someone on George Soros' or Bill Gates' staff?
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Damn it.

    If it were up to me, I'd call them out as ignorant and stupid and then use physical force.

    But seriously, I feel like we have enough knowledge and experience to all come up with an effective way to deal with this, and that we are a popular enough website to be able to use whatever we come up with on a large scale. Just for the hell of it one day I read Agenda 21, and it's basically much ado about nothing, as we all know. Hell, I think it's short enough that whenever one of these morons brings it up, someone at the meeting can read it in its entirety to show that these people have no idea what they're talking about. To that extent, I actually think the best way to do this is to discuss it as much as possible, so that way the unimpressionable have some grasp as to what it's about and the crazies are therefore ignored.

    But then again, I feel like this sort of thing is inevitable. Whenever an international body makes a recommendation someone will always complain about it (e.g. [insert Middle Eastern country here] claiming that human rights legislation is actually "Western imperialism"). You just have to make the best of it and the haters will hate, as they say.
    "It's human nature, you can't do anything about that" - Alan Greenspan

    Check out my blog!

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I hate to say it but from where I'm sitting it sounds a lot like Germany in the 1930's - people making political, and ultimately life-altering legal, decisions based on ideology rather than using sound scientific research, logic and reasoned debate. This is a dangerous road that can only lead to bad things. I also hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I think one must look at the similarities between the use of propaganda in Germany in the 1930's and today to understand why it's happening.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    I hate to say it but from where I'm sitting it sounds a lot like Germany in the 1930's - people making political, and ultimately life-altering legal, decisions based on ideology rather than using sound scientific research, logic and reasoned debate. This is a dangerous road that can only lead to bad things. I also hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I think one must look at the similarities between the use of propaganda in Germany in the 1930's and today to understand why it's happening.
    That's true that fear serves as a very effective motivator and rallying cry, and thus it's easier to build a group opposed to something then it is to build a group in support of something. However, I feel that this will be primarily limited to smaller cities and towns. (i.e. how likely do you think it is that DC will abandon its plans for a streetcar system because of Agenda 21 people?), and that being said, I doubt it's the residents of said small cities or towns that are in opposition to this, rather it's the suburbanite taxpayers who don't have any personal stake in what's being proposed. The problem here goes back to the age old dilemma of making a statement versus solving a problem.
    "It's human nature, you can't do anything about that" - Alan Greenspan

    Check out my blog!

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    Cyburbian
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    I think the best we can do is continue to communicate about and educate reasonable people about planning in language that has broad appeal, with a cross-section of reasonable people supporting it. Talk about choice and market demand, predictability, efficiency and changing demographics, not about how planners "want" people to live. Get permission to present about your comp plan to local service groups, make sure the newspaper understands planning. We'll never win over the black helicopter crowd, just contain them. In one community I worked, the local black helicopter crowd cited bicycle racks in our downtown as evidence that the U.N. was conspiring to control us. They just made themselves into laughing stocks as people of all political stripes like to bicycle in our state (although you are still "liberal" if you bicycle to work). The moderate republicans on our council gave these people no credence (although I'm sure they were scared of electoral influence). I think the bigger picture is that the public is woefully uneducated about planning in general.

    In my experience, if conspiracy theory is the wavelength a community is on, its hard to change things. I worked in an ultra-liberal slow-growth community once, and they surprisingly had quite a few opinions totally in sync with the tea party crowd and out of sync with smart growth. There really wasn't much you could do with that particular crowd - talk about having sufficient multi-family housing to support employment and reduce commuting, and you were in league with the evil developers, large companies and university; talk about market demand for housing and you were an evil Republican for even mentioning the market or believing it existed; talk about changing demographics and you were trying to put old folks into "inhuman" multi-family housing. You just had to reach out to the reasonable people, get those "lefty" newspapers on your side, and hope that they could carry the day ...

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    I hate to say it but from where I'm sitting it sounds a lot like Germany in the 1930's - people making political, and ultimately life-altering legal, decisions based on ideology rather than using sound scientific research, logic and reasoned debate. This is a dangerous road that can only lead to bad things. I also hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I think one must look at the similarities between the use of propaganda in Germany in the 1930's and today to understand why it's happening.
    Please see my signature. That is a real quote from a Nazi war criminal.

    As far as Agenda 21 goes, don't be afraid to use those voices that have often disagreed with planning. Believe it or not, the Thoreau Institute (anti-planning movement) has even gone on the record (that's just one of many articles & blogs they've done related to this issue) to say that there is no conspiracy or link between international organizations/Agenda 21 and local government efforts to implement what I'll generally group together as "progressive planning policies." You can't silence the critics, but you can certainly marginalize their rhetoric by citing the analysis of groups that have historically opposed planning efforts (shows you do look at opposing perspectives) and give facts in response to their emotional rantings. By doing this, you give them enough rope that they will inevitably hang themselves.

    Also, I almost never use the words "sustainable," "smart growth," "new urbanism," etc. And instead focus on efficiency in providing utilities, get people talking about their nostalgia of walking to school and maybe to a local store, and giving people more living options so that as their lifestyles change they don't have to necessarily leave the city or even their neighborhood. I could go on, but you get the general idea.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  11. #11
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    I think the best we can do is continue to communicate about and educate reasonable people about planning in language that has broad appeal, with a cross-section of reasonable people supporting it. Talk about choice and market demand, predictability, efficiency and changing demographics, not about how planners "want" [ [/I]- or are "forcing" - CGI [I] ] people to live. Get permission to present about your comp plan to local service groups, make sure the newspaper understands planning. We'll never win over the black helicopter crowd, just contain them. In one community I worked, the local black helicopter crowd cited bicycle racks in our downtown as evidence that the U.N. was conspiring to control us. They just made themselves into laughing stocks as people of all political stripes like to bicycle in our state (although you are still "liberal" if you bicycle to work). The moderate republicans on our council gave these people no credence (although I'm sure they were scared of electoral influence). I think the bigger picture is that the public is woefully uneducated about planning in general.

    In my experience, if conspiracy theory is the wavelength a community is on, its hard to change things. I worked in an ultra-liberal slow-growth community once, and they surprisingly had quite a few opinions totally in sync with the tea party crowd and out of sync with smart growth. There really wasn't much you could do with that particular crowd - talk about having sufficient multi-family housing to support employment and reduce commuting, and you were in league with the evil developers, large companies and university; talk about market demand for housing and you were an evil Republican for even mentioning the market or believing it existed; talk about changing demographics and you were trying to put old folks into "inhuman" multi-family housing. You just had to reach out to the reasonable people, get those "lefty" newspapers on your side, and hope that they could carry the day ...

    Speaking of bookmarking passages for future questions (as I did today in a different thread), this should be bookmarked for new people appearing here asking if they should be a planner. If you can't do what is described in the above two paras, you should find a lucrative career. Very nice elevator phrases.

    And I'd also add the "just contain them" isn't getting traction, therefore the impetus for my post.

    .02
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  12. #12
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    Agreed, "just contain them" doesn't work in a diverse setting....

    I work in one of the more progressive areas of the country, but have a big geography that has a number of moderate and conservative GOP political leaders (probably over half). In almost every case, the Tea Party has shown up at their regular meetings and have raised so much hay that they're now scared of all planning. In just three weeks, we've had a county have to expunge all mentions of diversity and sustainability from their sustainability plan, another county cancel a re-do of their master plan and have their chief executive state for the record that "smart growth will never happen here," and have another county threaten to pull themselves out of their MPO because "regionalism is one step towards a one-world government."

    Where containing them fails is that these nutjobs have effectively convinced the local Tea Parties that this is for real, and there is a real, and not unfounded, fear that Republicans cannot get elected without support of the Tea Party (i.e. a number of moderate Republicans were booted out in the last election).

    Much of the Agenda 21 rhetoric is based upon a premise that this will permit the government to force suburbanites out of their homogenous neighborhoods, single-family detached homes, and cars and force them into apartments, cities, and transit with minorities. To my great horror, this resonates with a HELL of a lot more people in most metro areas than the ideas of transportation and housing choice that we promote.

    For my particular organization, this happened within the course of several weeks, when many of us were on vacation for the holidays. A month ago we were excited about the new year and the chance to make some lasting change through a truly regional plan for sustainable development, now, we're literally wondering if the GOP majority on our board is going to decimate our entire planning function.

    We're already going full bore with focusing on demographic changes and preferences, economic growth, efficiency and the like, but, at some point, someone needs to stand up for sustainability. This can't go the way of climate change.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    These Are Important Points and Should Be Discussed More, everywhere.

    Quote Originally posted by HokiePlanner View post
    o In almost every case, the Tea Party has shown up at their regular meetings and have raised so much hay that they're now scared of all planning.
    o In just three weeks, we've had a county have to expunge all mentions of diversity and sustainability from their sustainability plan, another county cancel a re-do of their master plan and have their chief executive state for the record that "smart growth will never happen here," and have another county threaten to pull themselves out of their MPO because "regionalism is one step towards a one-world government."

    Where containing them fails is that these nutjobs have effectively convinced the local Tea Parties that this is for real, and there is a real, and not unfounded, fear that Republicans cannot get elected without support of the Tea Party (i.e. a number of moderate Republicans were booted out in the last election).

    Much of the Agenda 21 rhetoric is based upon a premise that this will permit the government to force suburbanites out of their homogenous neighborhoods, single-family detached homes, and cars and force them into apartments, cities, and transit with minorities. To my great horror, this resonates with a HELL of a lot more people in most metro areas than the ideas of transportation and housing choice that we promote.

    For my particular organization, this happened within the course of several weeks, when many of us were on vacation for the holidays.

    We're already going full bore with focusing on demographic changes and preferences, economic growth, efficiency and the like, but, at some point, someone needs to stand up for sustainability. This can't go the way of climate change.
    Wow. These reversals of sane policy are dangerous.

    We must not let insane lunatic fringe fears drive policy. The only thing the nutters have is loud, angry rhetoric. They do not have facts on their side.

    Yet things like this happen.

    They must be stopped.

    What can we do as the voices of the sane to stop this small, loud, paranoid minority?
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    Cyburbian
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    How does one get more progressive, informed and level-headed people to come out to public meetings and council meetings to help balance out the crowd?

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    Cyburbian
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    OK, I see the issue is one of a vocal, well-organized and passionate minority, immune to fact, who show up at meetings but don't represent the community overall. In this sense, its not unlike a lot of problems that plague planning, perhaps? I'm thinking of the neighborhood group who scuttle plans for infill development, for example.

    I'm wondering if part of the answer lies in building (or having others build) a respectable coalition for a more mainstream point of view. For example, how successful will the black helicopter crowd be if business leaders and a chamber of commerce endorse a comp plan, saying it will guide infrastructure and development, provide predictability and help draw businesses? Just as it helps on the other end of the spectrum to have a branch of environmentalists who embrace smart growth, to counter the arguments of the NIMBY "environmentalists". What if the Comp Plan is the result of a compromise endorsed by a big tent of groups active in a community? Of course, this can be tough as I recall, for example, the Virginia Tea Party attacking not only "environmentalists" and "liberals", but "developers" and "corporations" ... pushing all the buttons, I guess.

    If the only vocal coalition for the Comp Plan is the government, then that could be a big weakness. If there is a coalition who can speak for the plan, then these spokespeople can make the case that the plan is NOT what the black helicopter crowd claims it is, but is one that appeals to values held in the community. For example, if the claim is that the plan will force people into apartments, outline how many acres are designated for single-family housing, what %/# of future development is expected to be single family, etc., while stating the plan also does x, y, or z that the community cares about. Make sure the papers understand this. Repetition may be key. A case in point, on the wrong side, may be the campaign against growth management in Colorado in 2000 - general gist, we all care about how we're growing, but the proposed ballot amendment is "too radical for Colorado" - repeated again and again on the radio until it was true.

    Now, I'm not sure how to build coalitions as most people simply don't care about planning enough ...

  16. #16
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    How does one get more progressive, informed and level-headed people to come out to public meetings and council meetings to help balance out the crowd?
    You don't unless there is something in it for them. Simply 'Come out to counter misinformed nutters' is insufficient reason.

    Aside but related and slightly exaggerated, my better half is on a parks advisory board, and the board is working on goals coincident with a plan update. The older crowd is still stuck on holding traditional meetings to get public input, and have little clue as to other ways to gather citizen input. My wife mentioning social media to get input from groups other than AARP was met with either dumbfounded looks, or avoiding eye contact to mask not having a clue how to go about actually taking the temperature of the wider public.

    That is: what Hokie described upthread is simply an indicator of a wider set of problems (not just the angry fringe dwellers being motivated). I suspepect if there was a quick way to ask the average Jane what she thought, she'd laugh at these people Hokie described and tell the Commissioners not to change.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Here the Agenda 21 people have inserted themselves on council and call in all their supporters when planning issues come up. Granted it's only 2 members but it's enough to derail most planning initiatives since the council generally is not warm to the idea of planning in the first place.

  18. #18
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    "...But seriously, if I could get travel costs covered, I'd develop a curriculum to teach seminars and give symposia to address their comedy act. Anyone know someone on George Soros' or Bill Gates' staff? ..."

    I would suggest applying for a McArthur grant, but when I checked on it for a friend who transformed a local illegal dump into a productive cut flower farm, it appeared that most of those kinds of grants were going overseas.

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