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.



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:

  • 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.

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.


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.}


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.]


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)


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.


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: accessed November 22, 1017


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.




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


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 .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.]


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.


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



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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Photobucket free image

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.


September 23, 2002, issue of Ether Zone. 

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