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What a Difference a Day Makes!

 

              Flowers in my yard December 6 and December 7 

Those of us who live in the DFW area live in Hardiness Zone 8a, which means that we can expect temperatures here to plunge to 10 to 15 degrees at least once each winter.  Thus, by the end of the first week in December we have had our first killing frost and most of the plants in our gardens are looking sad.

Still like other aspects of our lives, we are left with the memories of what once was and the dreams and hopes of what is to come in the new year. For the gardener this means remembering what grew well last year and dreaming about where you will grow those plants the coming year in your garden.  Of course, it is also in December when all the beautiful seed catalogs begin to arrive to cheer us up.

Citizen Science Report from North Garland High School's Experimental Garden Plot

In 2017 Jane Stroud, President of Loving Garland Green, did a fabulous job of keeping records of our harvest from the Garland Community Garden—especially records of our joint Citizen Science project with students from North Garland High School Environmental Club.  The student’s experimental bed was a space of approximately 100 square feet—about the size of a family garden in the back or front yard of the average Garland home.  The students tended the bed from April to the end of May and Loving Garland Green (mostly Jane) took over from June through September.  The experiment for 2017 officially ended the last Saturday in October with the harvesting of sweet potatoes. [Even though vegetables such as turnips, kale, and broccoli are still producing in the plot.]  We wanted to see how much produce it was possible to grow in one average-sized Garland vegetable garden.  The vegetables grown included, several varieties of peppers, okra, turnips, squash, pole beans, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, two varieties of eggplant, radishes, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, kale and collard greens.

According to Jane’s careful records, the student’s bed produced 143 pounds of produce at a total estimated savings after expenses of  $276.26.  Loving Garland Green donated 95 pounds of the produce from this bed to the Garland Good Samaritans.  In the rest of our garden at large, we estimate that we raised over 600 pounds of produce at an estimated dollar value of approximately $2,000 or more. Over 50% of this produce was also donated to charity.  All of the food grown at the garden is organically grown which increases market value 2 to 4 times. 

Food is expensive. We weighed 70 pounds of blackberries from the garden this year.  However additional poundage was picked and eaten by visitors.  We have 32 blackberry plants in our garden. The four in my yard, which I do keep close records on, produce 80 pounds a year. At an annual average of $3 for six ounces of organic blackberries, the value for just the 70 pounds from this one crop alone at the Garland Community Garden for 2017 is $558.00.  Next year I promise to keep closer and more accurate records of our blackberry harvest.  I estimate that harvest to be close to 200 pounds.

Based on four years experience:  here are my choices for what grows well in Garland

FOR EDIBLES

1. Pole beans – Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can easily grow pole beans in a large pot with a trellis.  Pole beans are prolific producers—from mid June to the first frost.  The organic varieties we chose included Kentucky Wonder and Italian flat green beans.

2. Blackberries – We prefer the thornless variety, as they are not as invasive as those with thorns.  You can pull up and pot replant those errant plants, or you can also sell them.  Nurseries charge $7 to $10 for a 12-inch bare root stick.  Average yearly price for blackberries is $3 for six ounces and they freeze well.  I especially like blackberries because they are drought tolerant perennials that produce year after year.  I have four vines in my yard that faithfully produce 80 pounds of blackberries each year.  This amounts to an average annual value of $639. Blackberries (if you like them) are the best garden investment for those living in the DFW area.

3. Kale, once established (if you can keep the tender seedlings away from the squirrels) will produce and produce.

4. Sweet Potatoes—particularly if you harvest and eat the leaves throughout the summer are a good investment.  Because of our heavy clay soil, I recommend you grow them in large pots filled with amended loose soil.  In addition to being an edible, they will look pretty on a patio or deck from June to the end of October when they are harvested.  Unlike the white or red potatoes, sweet potatoes do not belong to the nightshade family. Thus their leaves are edible and delicious in salads and stir-fries.

FOR POLLINATORS

1. Lantana is great.  It is a hardy drought tolerant perennial that blooms from June  to December.  Stick it in the ground and it grows.

2. Zinnias are my favorite flower for a pollinator garden. They start blooming in late June and bloom up through the first frost.  They come in all sizes.  I prefer the giant ones.  Zinnias are heat and drought tolerant.

3. Wild Senna- This herb is not often mentioned for pollinator gardens but it is great.  The large yellow blooms begin in late July and last through the middle of October.  In fact, I like this plant so much I harvested seed from the one we have growing at the Garland Community Garden that I plan to give to friends as a Christmas present.

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GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS

Among my stocking stuffers this year will be seed packets from plants that I’ve successfully grown in Garland.  Nothing says dependability quite like locally sourced seeds.  I’m making my own seed packets.  Below is one for Wild Senna—a great plant for pollinator gardens!

 

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The holiday season officially began for me on Wednesday December 6 as I attended the Garland Noon Exchange Club’s annual Christmas Party for children.  It was an honor and pleasure to be a small part of helping 166 kids create some happy Christmas memories along with the Southern Belles, South Garland Football players, Naaman Forest Performance Choir and many Garland volunteers from various service organizations in our community.  December 6 was an especially appropriate day for this event since December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas who was the fourth-century bishop of a Greek province.  His reputation for piety inspired the tradition of leaving gifts for children on St. Nicholas Day.

The good heartedness of “giving back to others” permeated this event at all levels:  the adults from the Noon Exchange Club of Garland who organized, hosted and raised the funds for this event; the adults from many service organizations and individuals who assisted them; the youth from various high schools in our community who entertained and also assisted the younger students for whom the party was hosted. Then even the young guests themselves got into the act of giving back to others.  They colored and decorated cards and wrote messages of appreciation that will be sent to our troops overseas.

Volunteers from the Noon Exchange of Garland and other community service organizations at the Children’s Christmas Party hosted by the Noon Exchange Club of Garland – December 6, 2017

 

Some of the many student volunteers who entertained the children and assisted with making the event memorable for all

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December is also the month for saying good-bye to the flowers in our yards—except, of course, for the pansies.

Tonight (Thursday December 7, 2017) we are looking forward to our first hard freeze here in Garland as the temperature is expected to drop to 23 degrees.  That means, of course, that most of the flowers in my yard will be droopy and on the way to the compost pile in a few days.  I ran around this morning taking photos of them.

 

 

Here in Garland there is no such thing as “the last rose of summer”.  Our roses usually last into December.  The photos above I took this morning (December 7, 2017).

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GARLAND COMMUNITY HOLIDAY LIGHTING FESTIVAL

Next year, if you can’t make it to Rockefeller Center for that tree lighting ceremony, I recommend you stop by the Garland Texas square for our tree lighting ceremony.  I’ve been to both and I’m equally impressed.  But even if you missed all the fun and pageantry of the 2017 tree lighting in Garland tonight, you can still stop by any night from now through January 1 to view our beautiful animated light show on our downtown square.

 

Fireworks and Christmas Lights—the holidays could not be more exciting than they are here in Garland, Texas.

 

Experience the magic and beauty of the season:  Visit the Garland downtown square any evening between now through January 1, 2017.

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Speaking of lights, Charlie and I decorated my plum tree and a wire deer that a friend found curbside a few years ago and gave to me. That’s Santa Clause hanging on to the deer’s tail. December 7,2017

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Note:  Salting and smoking a herring will turn it red.  Red herring when put on a trail will confuse and distract bloodhounds from tracking a scent.  Thus it was that the term “red herring” came to be known as a propaganda technique to distract people from the trail of truth.

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If you find yourself frequently saying things like “Huh?  I don’t get it?” or perhaps in Texas vernacular:  “Du whut?”

1. It could be an indicator that you are dumber than a rock

or

2. You could be a person of perfectly normal intelligence who is caught in the cross fire of a game of red herring badminton as such games can be quite confusing. 

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Name Calling—a Propaganda Technique and also the Lowest Type of Argument in a Disagreement

At the October 3 meeting of the Garland City Council I stood up and spoke the whole and simple truth:  The Parks and Recreation Board had never seen the Dog and Skate Park Plan for Central Park prior to the presentation of this plan by the Parks and Recreation Department to the City Council. 

[Note: This is a breach of our standard protocol and a breach in the checks and balances in place for our local government.  Prior to presentation to the City Council of any park design or enhancements to existing parks these plans are to be first reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Board and then passed on to the City Council.  That is the main function of the Garland Parks and Recreation board--to be part of the checks and balances system for our local government when decisions are being made regarding Garland parks.]

Mr. Aubin, a member of the City Council promptly, like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, declared me a “disgrace to the Park board”.  The only addition to his ridiculous proclamation would have been if he had declared:  “Off with her head.” 

Prior to his declaration, I had thought Mr. Aubin was only a lawyer.  I didn’t realize he was judge and jury as well.  Calling me a “disgrace” is also a propaganda technique known as name-calling, which is the lowest type of argument in a disagreement. 

NOTE:  By the way, in case you didn’t notice, I just deployed a propaganda technique myself by comparing Mr. Aubin’s behavior to that of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. *    My propaganda technique, Ad Hominem, however, is a step up on the ladder depicted in the diagram below from Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.

*Actually, in my opinion, the character of the Mad Hatter better characterizes Mr. Aubin’s behavior.—there I deployed ad hominem again.  Congratulations if you recognized it--A+ if you recognized it both times.

 

SOURCE:  A triangular graphic representing a "hierarchy of disagreement" from clear refutation to mere vituperation, based on the essay "How to Disagree" by Paul Graham.  WIKI Commons

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What does red herring badminton look like?

A recent game of red herring badminton was also played at this October 3 Garland City Council meeting.

After establishing me as a disgrace to the Park Board, Mr. Aubin, later in the meeting engaged two Garland City employees in a game of red herring badminton.  Here is a description of that game:

RED HERRING BADMINTON

1.  The invitation is made to serve a red herring. 

The invitation is usually extended to someone who is recognized as an “authority.” Sometimes, due to the phrasing of the question, the "authority" may unwittingly engage in the game not even realizing that he is participating in a deception.  However, more often than not, both players know what they are doing and in some cases have even rehearsed their dog and pony show.

Mr. Aubin asked Assistant City Manager Mr. Rick Vasquez if he thought the proper procedure had been followed.

2.  The invitation is accepted and a red herring is served.

Mr. Vasquez skillfully served his red herring over the net at that point said yes the parks and recreation board never reviewed contracts.   The relevant issue being discussed was about the Park Board’s duty to review park designs prior to presentation to the City Council—not review of contracts. Of course it’s true and that's the value of a red herring.  Although unrelated to the topic at hand, they are most often true.  Park Board members don’t review contracts.

The desire to review contracts is not the reason that three Garland Park Board Members to date have resigned from this board.  The issue of contracts was the red herring—a complete irrelevancy to the topic at hand introduced by Mr. Rick Vasquez who even produced a visual to substantiate his irrelevant testimony by returning from his seat with a fistful of papers to wrap his red herring in. Nothing impresses some of the "truth" more than a fistful of documentation. Of course the documentation only substantiated Mr. Vasquez's red herring about contracts--not the real topic which concerned the fact that six City Council members and Mr. Vasquez totally disregarded the process of having the Parks Board review design plans (not contracts) prior to presentation to the City Council.

A SECOND GAME OF RED HERRING BADMINTON IS INITIATED WITH A NEW PLAYER

From there Mr. Aubin proceeded to initiate the next game of red herring badminton—this time the invitation was extended to Mr. Jermel Stevenson, Garland Parks Director. Mr. Aubin asked Mr. Stevenson if the Parks and Recreation board were duly notified.  To which Mr. Stevenson served his red herring over the net and replied that we were given a briefing the very next day at our monthly September meeting regarding park criteria. 

Again, this red herring led away from the trail of truth as it did not address the central grievance that the Parks and Recreation Board had not seen the plans for the Dog and Skate Park prior to presentation to the City Council which is a breach in our process and the systems of local checks and balances for our local government.  The duly notification Mr. Stevenson referenced was about a five minute briefing of the criteria that the City Council had given Parks staff.  It was not the plan which at that point had not even been written.

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So where does all this end?

Our community no longer has a $700,000 (tax value) building that over 200 citizens petitioned for adaptive reuse. Those who are supposed to represent us ignored the people and rushed ahead to demolish this building.  Some are saying they did it for money.  I don’t think this is  true.  Based on some of their rude behavior toward Mayor Athas, my guess would be they did it to spite him because among other things, the Mayor is a member of the Garland Makerspace Discovery Group and he advocated for adaptive reuse of the Armory building, a permaculture approach to life.  Again that is just my guess as I have no knowledge or understanding of their destructive motivation.

At the council meeting last night I heard more than one person uttering the phrase “Let’s move on.”

I agree.  However sad, we should move on; however, at the same time we will remember what has happened here and understand how wrong this decision made by six members of the City Council was for the majority of the residents in our community.  We will move on but we will also remember what has happened here.

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Anita Goebel Is not a Martyr 

Last night at the Garland City Council meeting, three people stood up and suggested that Anita Goebel was a martyr in all this since she is a woman and  noted there are five other members of the Council who voted with her to demolish the Armory building.

Anita was chosen for this recall effort because District Two is her district and this is where Central Park and the armory are located and

2.  It was Ms. Goebel herself who made the motion to vote and thus ignore citizens in her own district and move forward with the demolition of the armory.

We could not recall all six of them at once.  But no, Anita Goebel is not a “sacrificial lamb” as one of the speakers on her behalf suggested.  Thanks to our recall effort in the Second District, we have a list of over 1,000 people—most of whom are as angry about the role the other five council members played in this as they are about Anita.  We are not forgetting them.  

May 2018

I would be very surprised to see any of these six City Council members re-elected or elected for any office as a result of their behavior on this.  Yes, we will move forward but we will not forget.  Even if we only engage half of these 1,026 petition signers to participate in the democratic process, that’s still 500 and a considerable local base ready for real change in our local government.

I anticipate a record turnout this May for our local election and that will indeed be a refreshing change in Garland’s local government—people waking up to the fact that those who sit on our City Council wield enormous power that directly impacts the quality of our lives.

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Cornish hens, hasselback potatoes and apple pie--Charlie did make the pie.  I knew he couldn't stay out of the kitchen!
Thanksgiving 2017

If Thanksgiving is any kind of reliable harbinger, the Holiday Season 2017 is indeed promising.  Thanksgiving 2017 will be marked in my diary as the Thanksgiving I discovered Kabocha squash and even made the entire Thanksgiving meal for Charlie and me--an unusual occurrence as I'm more or less the dishwasher and not the cook.  When I do cook, it has to be special and an adventure bordering on scientific experiment and so it was this Thanksgiving.     

Jane gave me a Kabocha squash Halloween week, just before she and Bob went off to Michigan for a holiday.  She told me that Kabocha squash is delicious.  I really didn't listen as I don't hold a lot of fondness for squash.  I find it bland and with a texture that leaves much to be desired as it is either mushy or stringy or both.  That squash, a little larger than an acorn squash, set on the kitchen counter for just about a month.

Then on Thanksgiving morning I impulsively decided to cook the squash instead of throwing it away.  Part of the skin looked as if it might be developing some mold, but it was still firm so I moved forward.  It's not the best of timing but tonight I read my October issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine and discovered that she had devoted two pages to Kabocha!  Martha says:  "Don't be intimidated by the thick green skins (somewhat similar to the challenges presented by cutting an acorn squash)--a heavy chefs knife will to the trick."  She is right.  The most difficult thing about preparing Kabocha is cutting it and removing the seeds--which I saved.  I don't know if the squash I had was a hybrid or not, still I'll try a few of the seeds and order more for next spring from a reliable heirloom seed company.

I cut the Kabocha up, scraped the seeds off, and peeled the skin with a potato peeler.  It was not fun.  Then I put it in a steamer and cooked until it was done.  When I put it in the serving dish I put a little butter over it and that was it--not salt and no pepper.  The squash was a wonderful delicious surprise--Its texture is velvety smooth with a rich flavor that is a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato.  It was so good that I've giving it as a present to friends for Christmas.

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As for the cornish hens, I have always associated them with pretentious wealthy British people. Don't ask me why--perhaps the name "Cornish".  Perhaps it's because I was raised in West Texas and don't know any better.  Although I grew up eating quail now and again as a kid in the late 1950's and early 1960's, I never thought of that as being fancy because my mom prepared them.  I never cooked a Cornish hen, but seeing them on display at the grocery store a few days before Thanksgiving I decided to purchase two of them.  They are reasonably priced at $2.99 each and we found that one was enough for two meals.  I followed instructions found online for cooking them: Chop up fresh rosemary, coarse pepper and salt.  Melt butter.  Squeeze a lemon over the hens.  Put a slice of lemon in  each cavity.  Pour the melted rosemary seasoned butter over the hens.  Put in oven at 450 for 20 minutes to brown along with Hasselback potatoes.  Then turn heat down to 350 and cook for 40 minutes.  Check with thermometer to ensure 165 degrees at the end. 

We had fresh cranberry sauce, gravy and green beans with pumpkin and apple pie for dessert.  A wonderful meal.  I've had all kinds of Thanksgivings in my life, but this was one of the best.  By the way Cornish hens are great!  Better than chicken and better than turkey.  But perhaps not better than quail.  

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SO WHAT'S NEXT?

This year I think I'll wrap my plum tree in Christmas lights--something else I've never done--had outside Christmas decorations.

SPEAKING OF LIGHTS IN GARLAND

This Thursday is a special night in Garland.  It's the night we turn on our holiday lights around the downtown square. If you didn't see them last year, you absolutely must this year.  Downton Garland has the BEST the very BEST Christmas light display in all of the DFW area.  Come and see for yourself!  I know you will agree.

 

Christmas on the Square—Dec. 7

5:30 p.m., Downtown Square, Sixth and Main streets. Enjoy snow hills, photos with Santa, holiday foods, children’s crafts, pet adoptions and much more. As always, the attractions are free! Santa Claus will assist with the tree lighting at 7 p.m. and then spend the evening visiting with children about their holiday wishes. Garland ISD choirs will entertain the crowd with holiday classics beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Members of the Garland Fire Department will be stationed at the corner of Sixth and Main streets to collect new, unwrapped toys to be given to local children. After donating your gift, be sure to pick up some festival food and check out live ice carvings by James Pappas.

Parking for the event is free and will be available at the following locations: Central Library, Senior Center, First Baptist Church on Glenbrook and DART on Walnut St. For full event details including parking map, stage schedule and event map visit ChristmasOnTheSquare.com

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Upper left: David Gibbons, Anita Goebel, BJ Williams
Lower left: Rich Aubin, Robert Vera, Scott LeMay 

It looks like Garland will be stuck with all of them, even Anita, until May 2018

Although Garland’s City Charter does allow for citizens to recall errant City Council members, it would appear that state law restricts communities from holding special elections to replace them.  In the case of Council member Goebel, her term limit is reached in May and she could not run for re-election anyway.

Considering her penchant for ignoring voters and more or less following the “Anita Knows Best” strategy, I sincerely doubt that Ms. Goebel will be swayed by the fact that more than four times the number of citizens in her district who elected her voted to recall her (and many of these were people who had voted for her in the first place). She and five other members of the Garland City Council obviously don’t listen to the voters of Garland.

On the other hand, if citizens in Rich Aubin’s district decide to recall him and if they are successful in gathering the required 800 votes for recall, Mr. Aubin’s political ambitions would end in May of 2018.  He would not be able {could still] to run for office [but his chances of winning would be slim to none].  The same could be said for Mr. David Gibbons. Note: copy in brackets was added subsequent to the publication date of this post to replace crossed-out copy.

 

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Here are a Few Verifiable Facts to Leave You With From this Garland Story--the end of which will be written by the voters in May of 2018

 

1.  These six City Council members (Anita Goebel, Rich Aubin, David Gibbons, BJ Williams, Scott LeMay and Robert Vera) did NOT save taxpayers money as their current spin would have it:

  • They have spent $47,000 dollars of taxpayer money so far in demolition expenses of the Armory and this expense is not over.  This demolition expense only covered the cost of the walls of the building—not the foundation.  It is estimated that the removal of the foundation will bring the cost up to [at least cost another] $120,000 dollars [which is the amount of one quote for demolishing the building along with the foundation.  However, many folks believe the cost for finishing the job and removing the foundation will exceed $120,000 due to its sturdy build.  In addition, in their rash haste to demolish the building, the heavy equipment, along with the falling debris likely disturbed the ground  where it is reported there is at least one underground tank storing spent petroleum products from the days when the property was used as an armory.]  Note: copy in brackets was added subsequent to the publication date of this post.

    This is particularly egregious considering the building was suitable for adaptive reuse and had a roof as I understand that was still under warranty.   A nonprofit wanted to take this building at no expense to taxpayers, bring it up to code, and use it for a Garland Makerspace.  This group, the Garland Makerspace Discovery Group, had already engaged a group of certified inspectors who determined that for $500,000 we could have the building up to code and transform in to a usable space for our community.

  • In addition, the decision to locate the dog and skate park at this location required the removal of a Little League baseball field.  How much will that cost taxpayers to build another one?

    These six City Council members sure have a funny way of "saving" taxpayer money. We can only hope that we don't experience too many more of their "cost-cutting" measures prior to May 2018.

2.  These six City Council members (Anita Goebel, Rich Aubin, David Gibbons, BJ Williams, Scott LeMay and Robert Vera) do not pay one bit of attention to the voices of the people they are supposed to represent.

  • Prior to voting to demolish the armory, comments and signatures of over 200 Garland citizens were placed on each of their desks.  They knew at that point that over 200 citizens were against demolishing the armory. Source: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/city-council-stop-study-plans-for-central-park

  • Yet this information did not even slow them down in their rush to do what they wanted to do.  They didn’t stop for a moment.  In their purposeful obfuscation they seem stuck on saying that they didn't hurry because it's been 14 years since the dog park bond was passed.  That timeline has little to nothing to do with their recent actions to jam through legislation in less than two months to install a dog and skate park in Central Park against the the wishes of literally hundreds of Garland citizens.

  • Now we will likely see another example of this disdain for voters in the behavior of Anita Goebel.  Even though our City Charter does recommend the council member resign in the face of a recall vote by the majority in a district, don’t hold your breath for Ms. Goebel to step down.  It's obviously not in her character to yield to the wishes of the majority.

3.  These six City Council members (Anita Goebel, Rich Aubin, David Gibbons, BJ Williams, Scott LeMay and Robert Vera) apparently feel perfectly comfortable with making recommendations they are not qualified to make.

  • At a September 5 City Council Work Session they presented criteria to the Parks and Recreation department for a Dog and Skate Park at Central Park—despite the fact that not a single one of them hold a degree in park planning and despite the fact that the Parks and Recreation Board had rejected Central Park as a location for a dog and skate park less than a year prior.  These City Council members chose Central Park as the site because they knew better?  How is that?

4.  These six City Council members (Anita Goebel, Rich Aubin, David Gibbons, BJ Williams, Scott LeMay and Robert Vera) apparently feel perfectly comfortable disregarding the protocol that has been established to maintain the checks and balances of our local government.

  • These plans for the dog and skate park drawn up by members of the Parks and Recreation Department were not presented to and reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Board prior to their presentation to the City Council.    All members of the City Council as well as the Parks and Recreation staff as well as the Assistant City Manager Rick Vasquez are well aware of this process—yet they all ignored it.  In fact, Mr. Rich Aubin called me a disgrace to the park board when I had the nerve to point out to the council in a City Council meeting that they had totally disregarded the checks and balances for our local government. 

    Two members of the Parks and Recreation Board resigned because of the behavior of these City Council members.
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Another of hundreds of lovely and creative yards in Garland Texas.  You won't find a lawn in this front yard, but you will find many interesting plants--many of which are growing in containers.  One citizen of Garland told me:  "If we wanted our community to look like Plano or Frisco, we would live there and pay their taxes."  This sentiment is shared by many of the Garland Citizens I talked with during the Month of November.  November 25, 2017 Garland Texas  Second District

Last night Friends of Central Park, a group of local Garland citizens passed 1000 signatures on a petition to recall City Council member, Anita Goebel.

Only 800 signatures of registered voters in the district are needed to recall any City Council member.  The next step in this process is to have the signatures validated by the Garland City Secretary.  If the signatures are validated, according to the City Charter, the council member should step down.  However, if they refuse to step down, members of the City Council will vote on removal.

It will be interesting to see what transpires in this process.

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Traffic Roundabout in Vancouver - Courtesy Spacing Magazine, roundabout Vancouver 5050 – flicker creative commons [One argument on behalf of roundabouts is that they provide eye candy for an otherwise boring stretch of road.  Many communities do very creative things with the center of the circle.  In France, for example, one community put a miniature windmill and watermill in the middle of their roundabout.}

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In the early 1900s French town planner and architect, Eugène Hénard, invented the carrefour giratoire (gyratory crossroad). New York built the first, Columbus Circle, in 1905. Two years later, Hénard installed one in Paris to circumnavigate the Arc de Triomphe from the avenues that lead to it.  Both France and England whole-heartedly embraced this solution to regulate traffic flow.  France has the most roundabouts in the world but the English have the most in terms of percentage of road miles.  However that is changing in the UK.  Roundabouts are great for  moving car traffic, but not a safe space for people who cycle or who are crossing on foot. 


Approach to Traffic Roundabout in Garland Texas on Brand Road. – November 22, 2017

Why Traffic Roundabouts?

To those of us not familiar with roundabouts, they seem confusing and odd.  We are seeing an increasing number of traffic roundabouts in Garland. Roundabouts, as well as road conditions, have been among the topics of discussion brought to me from residents of Garland. 

In fact, road conditions are the #2 topic among the over 500 Garland residents I’ve chatted with during the month of November—second only to the most discussed topic of the mindless decision by some city council members to demolish a building with a $700,000 tax value with a roof still under warranty to make way for a dog and skate park.  It’s no wonder if you drive down some streets like Linda in Garland.  One is indeed prompted to ask questions regarding assignment of priorities when it comes to road construction, if nothing else.

Knowing almost nothing about roundabouts and traffic circles, I found that just about the time roundabouts are catching on in the USA, they are falling out of favor in Europe.  England, for example, who have more roundabouts per roads are quietly removing their roundabouts.  [France has the most roundabouts per country.]

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What’s to Like about a Traffic Roundabout?

1.  Increase Traffic Safety

The Minnesota DOT concluded in a December 2014 study that roundabouts reduced all crashes by over 30 percent, with a decline in injury crashes by over 65 percent and resulted in a decline in the most severe injury crashes (including fatal crashes) by over 82 percent. All other research I’ve read supports this study.

Roundabouts also are found to reduce the likelihood of rear-end crashes because drivers don't speed up to make a yellow or green light or abruptly stop at a red light. Furthermore, the crashes that do happen at roundabouts are generally are not severe because vehicles move more slowly when circumventing the circle.

2. Offer Environmental Benefits

Roundabouts reduce vehicle stops, which means less fuel consumption and fewer air emissions.  Roundabouts often provide an oasis in the tarmac in that the core circle is often planted with flowers and vegetation that can ben enjoyed by pollinators and people alike. 

3. Decrease Traffic Delays

Compared to traffic signals or a four-way stop sign design, roundabouts have an overall lower delay time in traffic flow.

4. Cheaper to Install and Maintain than Traffic Signals

 It costs an estimated $330,000 to build a two-lane roundabout. A typical intersection with traffic signals costs roughly $450,000.  (From Washington State Department of Transportation)

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What’s not to like about a Traffic Roundabout?

Pedestrians and cyclists are the two primary arguments against roundabouts although single-lane roundabouts can work well for most cyclists and pedestrians if properly designed according to most sources.  Three main arguments I found against traffic roundabouts include the following:

 

1.  Dangerous for those with vision impairments

Those with low vision or who are blind will have difficulty determining when/if traffic is yielding for them.

2.  Dangerous for cyclists

Even though traffic moves steady but much slower through a roundabout, and results in fewer and less severe auto accidents, when a car strikes a cyclist, it is often fatal.  In fact, the increased number of people who use bicycles for transportation in the UK and the severe injuries and deaths of bicyclists in roundabout is the reason why many of them are being removed in the UK.

3.  No Emergency Vehicle Priority

Drivers are not able to get out of the way when driving in a roundabout.  In addition it is sometimes difficult to emergency vehicles to manage the tight turns of a roundabout circle.

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So there you have it—a few basic facts about roundabouts.  Do your own research and draw your own conclusions as it seems even the experts can’t agree among themselves.  From what I’ve learned, the intersection needs to be carefully studied prior to installing a traffic round about.

I do have a question regarding the traffic roundabout in my own neighborhood at Brand, Three Oaks Drive and Bellaire Drive.  One of the criteria to determine whether the intersection will benefit from a roundabout is that the traffic flow should be balanced between the approaches to the circle.  Those who live in this area know for sure that the traffic flow is much heavier on Brand that either Three Oaks Drive and Bellaire Drive.  “If 90 percent of the traffic is north south and usually never stops for an east-west automobile, then drivers learn to never stop for that rare east-west car.”  Source:  http://www.mikeontraffic.com/roundabouts-not-silver-bullet accessed November 22, 1017

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You don’t have to accept conditions as they are--whether it's road conditions or city council members.  You can stand up and ask questions and make suggestions for a better way.  It takes the participation of the village in order for government to be representative of the whole.  Get out there and start acting like we have a representative government--if you don't, then we won't.

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Sign on the front porch of a home in the 2nd District of Garland, Texas sums up some of the main ingredients of our community profile:  God, Family, Country, Dallas Cowboys, Maker Creativity, Legal Immigrants and Spunky people – November 19, 2017

Thankful For My Community

I know there are folks out there who say that Garland has an “image” problem.  I disagree.  And I do hope that efforts to gentrify our community don’t run too deep and turn Garland into a cookie cutter Highland park lookalike—although that depth of transformation would likely need the hand of God.  I spent a third of my life in Minnesota and in many ways Garland reminds me of Garrison Keillor’s fictional town of Lake Woebegon. 

The biggest news in Garland for the month of November—even bigger than Thanksgiving in my opinion is the effort being undertaken to recall Councilwoman Anita Goebel so I'll write about that first.  All this activity is particularly astounding against the backdrop of our voting history as a community which to date has been rather dismal.  Still hope possibly prevails as already more registered voters have signed the petition for her recall than voted to elect her in the last election.

Although I no longer believe in the tooth fairy, I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, God, and that our government is not so broken that it cannot be fixed—provided that people participate in the democratic process.  Thus I am one of the people who are walking around the Second District in Garland, Texas collecting signatures on a petition to recall Anita Goebel and urging people to participate in their local government. 

 

Yes we still have the right across the USA to recall elected officials that we believe are not acting in our behalf.  I’m proud of my community for reminding our nation of this right. – November 19, 2017

AS IS SEE IT, THESE ARE THE THREE MAIN ISSUES AND REASONS FOR THE RECALL

In the opinion of many that I have talked with (and I’ve talked with over 500 Garland citizens over the past month) six council members should be recalled, not just Anita. 

The behavior of these six council members is indeed puzzling.  They are acting like six people in a boat who fill their pockets with rocks, bind themselves in chains, and then leap into Lake Woebegon shouting "Let's swim for the shore."  In other words, their behavior is seemingly so self-defeating that just doesn't make any sense at all.

1.  We currently have six Garland City Council members who think they don’t have to listen to the people who elected them. [They ignored signatures and comments from over 200 citizens asking them to put a hold on the bulldozing of the Armory building and rushed ahead to demolish the Armory building. (You can still view these signatures and comments at https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/city-council-stop-study-plans-for-central-park .The signatures and comments of these citizens were placed on City Council member’s desk prior to their voting to demolish the Armory. Yet these six knew “best”.  They voted as a group to demolish this building with a tax value of $700,000 that several groups wanted to repurpose for community use.  It isn’t like we didn’t have over 2,800 acres of parkland that had no buildings to demolish.  Perhaps this bunch has a wrecking ball syndrome.  Anita and David Gibbons also referred to the Tensley/Lyles home (possibly the oldest residential home in Garland) as a money pit that should be demolished. ]

2. We currently have six Garland City Council members who think they know more than experts.  [At a council meeting in October, Councilman Rich Aubin asked a man who had years of experience with skate parks if he thought the foundation of the armory could be reused in the design and build of a skate park.  The man told him that the foundation would actually be a hindrance and would likely increase the cost of the build. The council ignored this expert’s advice and voted to demolish the building any way.]

3. We currently have six Garland City Council members who think they don’t have to pay any attention to the checks and balances that we have in place for our local government.  [In making their decisions to locate a dog and skate park at Central Park, first of all they provided criteria to the Parks and Recreation Department for the location of a dog and skate park—in spite of the fact that not a single one of these council members are park experts.  Second of all, these council members ignored an important part of the checks and balances of our local government for making these kinds of decisions:  They totally bypassed the Parks and Recreation board—even though all of them, including the Assistant City Manager, Rick Vasquez, knew the proper protocol.]

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On the Joys of Gathering Signatures to Recall Anita and learning more about my community

 

East Linda needs to be repaired now.

Priorities May Need Adjusting

One of the benefits of walking around this area of Garland is that I can gain a better understanding of my community and people’s needs and opinions.  For example, I live in the 8th District and until now I didn’t fully appreciate people’s complaints about the roads in Garland.  Now I do.  If you live over in Firewheel, or perhaps in the 8th District as I do, amble on over to the 2nd District and take a drive down East Linda and you’ll understand.  Until someone proves otherwise, I dub that road the roughest road not only in Anita’s district but in Garland, Texas.  Now some, even those on my team may cringe when I ask this but I am known for presenting uncomfortable truths—in fact, sometimes I even get called a “disgrace” for doing so. 

What the HECK is wrong with our prioritization skills when we are spending thousands of dollars to improve alleys in the 8th District and we have citizens in the 2nd District who must drive down E. Linda every day of their lives?  Yes, I know there are perhaps other roads that get more traffic and we need to repair our alleys because our City trucks drive down them and repairing them can cost tax payers money.  But tell those tales to the hundreds of citizens who live on Linda.  Would you like the street running in front of your house to be in this condition?

Although I understand we are talking apples to oranges here in terms of money already allocated for certain purposes, plenty of people don’t see it that way.  A lot of folks on streets that resemble Linda in the 2nd district are asking:  “Why are we spending several million dollars for a dog and skate park when we have roads like this?”  They do have a good point.

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Garland is home to Some of the most creative gardens in the state, if not the planet.

 

Gardens in Garland are among the most creative that you’ll find anywhere in the DFW area – A Yard in Garland Features a Manikin Head – November 19, 2017  Now, where else could you find a garden like this?

Apparently Creative Yards Can Survive Garland Code Compliance Efforts

In spite of all the energetic efforts of the Garland Code Compliance department of which I understand from residents in the 2nd district that Anita is an avid supporter to the extent that she even calls code compliance on her neighbors*:  Creative landscape design continues to thrive in the 2nd District.  *Needless to say, several of whom signed the petition to recall her.

 

 

Instead of feeding pounds of chemicals to a lawn each year so their front yard looks like everyone else, these Garland residents have opted to grow plants they can eat in their front yard. – Garland Texas Nov 2017

 

 

Another example of Maker Creativity and Garden Artistry in Garland Texas – November 19, 2017

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Jane Stroud, President Loving Garland Green, in the Garden- November 18, 2017

 Garland Community Garden

As usual, with me, the conversation returns to the Garland Community Garden.  I love this garden for so many reasons—how it came to be; how the children of our community love it; how it represents the possibilities that arise from diversity; how we can all learn from it; how peaceful it feels to be in it; and many more reasons.  Like Garland itself, our Community Garden is not some sterile row upon row of raised beds in wooden rectangular boxes.  Instead, it is an organic arrangement of many various types of garden beds—from containers to hugekultur mounds.

On Saturday, Jane, Burgi and I went to the garden to prepare a bed for planting tulips in early January.  Members of Loving Garland Green are the stewards of our Garland Community Garden and we sponsor several citizen science projects throughout the year.  Included among them is the project to rescue and tag Monarchs returning to Mexico.  To date this year we have tagged 92 Monarch butterflies.  The tulip bulbs we will be planting in January are part of an international Citizen Science project to measure Climate change across the world.

 

 

Burgi Bartlett, Loving Garland Green Board Member shows off a bundle of greens she harvested from the garden – Garland Community Garden November 18, 2017

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What’s more fun for Cub Scouts than an Easter egg hunt?  Unearthing sweet potatoes in the Garland Community Garden November 2, 2017

Cub Scouts in the Garden November 2

Sweet Potato Lessons

Children are the biggest fans of gardens.  Perhaps children love growing things so much because they too are growing. Few things rival the enthusiasm of a child in the garden.  We closed out October with our Children’s Harvest Festival and we began the month of November with more children in the Garland Community Garden.

On Thursday, November 2, we entertained a local pack of Cub Scouts after school in the garden.  These young boys had the opportunity to harvest sweet potatoes and they were very enthusiastic about the process.  They assisted in overturning two large containers of sweet potatoes and dug through them finding the potatoes in soil.  In addition to harvesting the potatoes, the cubs were taught how to care for their potatoes after bringing them home.

 

A dad gets into the act showing the Cub Scouts how to grind teosinte by hand.  The Cubs learn that thousands of years ago, it was not that easy to prepare food. November 1 – Garland Community Garden

Teosinte Lessons

Following the sweet potato harvest, the scouts learned all about teosinte, the ancient mother of corn. We have a patch of it growing in the garden.  The history of modern-day corn began with teosinte at the dawn of human agriculture, about 10,000 years ago.

Teosinte doesn't look much like modern day corn, especially when you compare its kernels to those of corn.  The teosinte “cobs” are tiny with only six to 12 kernels. The cob itself is only about three inches long. However, at the DNA level, the two are surprisingly alike. They have the same number of chromosomes and a remarkably similar arrangement of genes.  The cub scouts enjoyed the opportunity to grind some teosinte kernels—in the same way that the ancients did and experienced first-hand all the work the ancients had to do in order to prepare their food.

The scouts were served organic popcorn and organic blue corn chips along with bottled water.  Our local Garland Noon Exchange Club provided the refreshments as well as the sacks and handout materials.  We are so grateful for their support of the children of Garland.

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Brothers in the Garden November 2

After the Cub Scouts left and dusk was approaching, a father and his two sons stopped by the garden.  I was still loading up the truck with the materials I had used for the Cub Scout event.  These two brothers (ages 6 and 4), as often is the case with children, had hounded their father to stop at the garden they drove by.

As it would happen, we had a lot of green beans that needed to be harvested.  I gave each of the boys a sack and showed them how to pick beans. Each bean they found elicited additional squeals of delight from them.  Between the two of them they picked enough for dinner for their family of four.  It was their first experience at bean picking/grocery shopping at the garden.

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Hayden in the Garden in November 7

It was already dark when Charlie and I drove past the Garden—6:30 or 7:00 pm.  We noticed a truck with its bright lights turned on the garden.  In the light we could see a man and a little girl down there so we stopped to see what was happening.  The man told me that he was driving past with the daughter who wanted to stop.  Hayden ( about 8 or 9 years of age) has been down at the garden many times.  Her dad said it was dark and no.  Then Hayden began to tear up.  Dads are usually suckers for their daughter’s tears so they stopped, even though it was dark.  The father explained to me why they were there and then introduced himself as Randan.  Turns out that Randan is a singer and guitarist that I had written about in one of my blogs about MarketPlace here in Garland.  I showed Randan and Hayden about the garden with the assistance of my phone flashlight and found some sun gold tomatoes for her to pick. 

Special moments in the garden like these are priceless, but they are all a part of why I too love the garden so much—it’s a great place for great experiences.

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Photo from November 2016 Leaf Awareness Campaign – Last year We collected 713 bags at an estimated total of 21,290 pounds.  This may sound like a lot, but unfortunately 713 bags of leaves is tiny when measured against the bags of leaves that are likely taken each year from the homes of Garland residents to the Hinton landfill.  Given our approximate 80,000 households and estimating low at five leaf bags per household, we send close to a half million bags of leaves to the landfill each year.  Essentially what we are doing is removing potential soil from our community and sequestering it in a landfill where it cannot be used for many lifetimes—if ever.  It’s not a smart thing to be doing.

NOVEMBER IS LEAF AWARENESS MONTH – Our Second Year

A lot of people in Garland still mistakenly think the bags of leaves they put curbside are picked up by Garland Environmental Services and mulched.  We know because we’ve asked a lot of people.  Bags of leaves left curbside in Garland are taken to the Hinton landfill where they are added to the landfill mass.  This is not the best choice.

The tree limbs and shrub trimmings left unwrapped on the curb in Garland are picked up and mulched and made available to the citizens.  Perhaps this is where the confusion comes in.  People just assume because the City picks up the tree branches and mulches them that they do the same with the bags of leaves.  They do not.

We love Garland.  We also believe that people need to know the truth in order to make the best decisions—for themselves and for their community.  In regard to leaves, the most environmentally responsible decision is to recycle the leaves where they fall—either by simply leaving them alone, or by composting them and then using the compost to enrich the soil in the yard by replacing the nutrients and minerals that were used to make the leaves.  We are losing soil in our urban areas at an alarming rate. 

It is a serious ecological mistake for our city to carry an estimated 12,000 tons of leaves to the Hinton landfill each year.  Ideally leaves should remain very close to the place where they fall.  Decaying leaves are nature’s way of building new soil and replacing nutrients taken from the existing soil to grow those leaves.

This can be achieved simply through a public awareness campaign to:

1) Educate people that the leaves they put curbside go to the landfill. (Many of our residents mistakenly believe these leaves are recycled by Environmental Waste Services.)

2) Educate people regarding the better choices they have available to them.

When you have your leaves hauled off—whether it is to a landfill or to a recycle center such as they have in Plano Texas with their Texas Pure Products—you will still at some point in time need to replace nutrients and soil by purchasing it.  You will also deepen your ecological footprint by driving to the recycling center to pick up the soil (thus burning fuel for the trip and adding strain to the infrastructure and pollution to the air).

We are literally shipping the future soil out of our yards and to a landfill where no one can use it.

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Although we recommend you mulch the leaves and use them in your own yard, we prefer that you don’t leave them curbside for the landfill.   You can bring them to the garden and leave them beside the green fenced compost area.

We will pick up a few leaves as we have time and drive by homes but Loving Garland Green does not offer a leaf pickup service—although this would be a great idea for someone who had the acreage and wanted to go into the garden soil and compost business.

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First of all, leave that lipstick tube at home so you won’t even be tempted.

Rand Corporation developed the Delphi Technique for the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1950’s.  This process ensures the conclusions reached during a meeting are in accord with the plan already decided upon by those who called the meeting. It could be called “The technique for getting the public to put lipstick on your pig and think it was their great idea.”  The Delphi Technique is deployed daily in the USA to manipulate citizens.  Rarely is there a person over the age of 30 who had not been manipulated this way.

Today we are often invited to “participate” in various meetings, councils or boards to “help determine” public policy in one field or another.  We are supposedly included to get “input” from the public to help officials make final decisions on taxes, education, community growth or whatever the particular subject matter might be.  Unfortunately, surface appearances are often deceiving.

Second of all, learn the overview of their game.

The person leading the meeting, the facilitator is most often an attractive, likable person.  However this person is actually more like a Judas Goat than the affable person they present themselves to be.  Their mission is to conduct this meeting in such a way that the facts and conclusions drawn by the audience at the end of the meeting are in alignment, if not identical to those held by the folks who planned the meeting.

At the end of the meeting the audience must believe that this program or idea is theirs.  They took part in its development.  Their input was recognized.  If people believe the program is theirs, they will accept it.  And now, those who organized the meeting in the first place are able to tell the participants and the rest of the community that the conclusions reached at the meeting are the result of public participation.

Be aware of how the facilitator sets the stage.

It is the job of the facilitator to find a way to cause a split in the audience.—to establish one or a few of the people as “bad guys” while the facilitator is perceived as the “good guy.”

Facilitators are trained to recognize potential opponents and how to make such people appear aggressive, foolish, extremist, etc. Once this is done, the facilitator establishes himself or herself as the “friend” of the rest of the audience.

The stage is now set for the rest of the agenda to take place.

At this point, the audience is generally broken up into “discussion—or ‘breakout’—groups” of seven or eight people each. Each of these groups is to be led by a subordinate facilitator.

Within each group, discussion takes place of issues, already decided upon by the leadership of the meeting. Here, too, the facilitator manipulates the discussion in the desired direction, isolating and demeaning opposing viewpoints.

Generally, participants are asked to write down their ideas and disagreements with the papers to be turned in and “compiled” for general discussion after the general meeting is reconvened.

This is the weak link in the chain, which you are not supposed to recognize. Who compiles the various notes into the final agenda for discussion?  Well, it is those who are running the meeting.

How do you know that the ideas on your notes were included in the final result? You Don’t! You may realize that your idea was not included and come to the conclusion that you were probably in the minority. Recognize that every other citizen member of this meeting has written his or her likes or dislikes on a similar sheet of paper and they, too, have no idea whether their ideas were “compiled” into the final result! You don’t even know if anyone’s ideas are part of the final “conclusions” presented to the reassembled group as the “consensus” of public opinion.

Rarely does anyone challenge the process, since each concludes that he or she was in the minority and different from all the others.

So, now, those who organized the meeting in the first place are able to tell the participants and the rest of the community that the conclusions, reached at the meeting, are the result of public participation.

Learn how to disrupt these dishonest manipulations.

First a few basic rules to always follow:

1. Never lose your temper. Smile and be courteous even if it feels like your face will crack from the effort.

2.  Stay focused!  Write your question or statement down in advance to help you remember the exact manner in which your question or statement was made.  These facilitators are trained to make anyone not acceding to their agenda look silly or aggressive.  If they distort what you said, remind those in the group that what the facilitator is saying is not what you asked and repeat the question.

3.  Be persistent.  Wait through any harangues and then repeat the original question.

4.  Don’t go it alone.  Get as many friends as possible to go with you.  Have each person armed with questions that support your viewpoint.  Scatter yourselves throughout the group.

5. When the facilitator avoids answering your question and insists he must move on so all can have a chance to speak, your own agents can ask the same questions, differently worded.  The more the facilitator avoids your question the more your friends call that to the attention of the group.

 

SOURCE MATERIAL:
September 23, 2002, issue of Ether Zone.

http://www.vlrc.org/authors/75.html 

Copyright © 1997-2002 Ether Zone. Republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.

 Addendum:  The link was outdated and I updated it 9:56 AM November 3, 2017 - E Berry