Friday, February 6, 2015

Creator not a destroyer

The debate today is which topic would be most meaningful to write about:
A) Boundaries and how I must keep them as I open my studio tonight to what could be some negative energy. Would be a good follow up to the last post on vulnerability.
B) How in certain, odd moments, Quakerism resonated so deeply within me that I think I was always Quaker.
C) The injustices and misinformation I witnessed attending a public hearing on the building I occupy with my studio.
D) All of the above.

Think I am settling on D because I can't seem to unbundle any of these threads. 

Of course the place they connect is within me and my experiences this week. And they also focus on the fate of a place very near and dear to me: Milford Main School, where Artsy Fartsy was birthed and flourishes. I have been following the fate of this building for years, but most especially since I moved in the spring of 2012. It was always my understanding that is would not be a permanent home as the district was attempting to, somehow, disassociate from it.

For months, I have attempted to gauge the interest and energy level of the community in rescuing the building, but no one seemed interested. A group for preservation formed, but petered out. There's been a lot of talk and fond memories of Main, but no one has put their money where their mouth is until recently. A developer was the sole offer to the school district for the building. Many others passed it over. His plan is intense: 92 apartments aimed at seniors, wiping out so much of the space the public has come to rely on as theirs.

His plan has passed frighteningly fast through city re-zoning channels. Frighteningly. And it all came to a head Tuesday evening in a six-plus hour public hearing. I had thought this building remaining was a dead issue, until Tuesday. Something like 40:3 spoke in opposition to the plan, which dismantles the school. Maybe there is hope, I sang all the way home.

Which is why I agreed to host a meeting tonight in my safe space to see where the energy is flowing. However, some are only bent on stopping the current project, nothing more. And stopping it at almost any means. My view is that if the city could see a new vision, they may not feel so compelled and desperate to say yes to what's on the table. I am a creator, not a destroyer.

Unfortunately we have arrived in this space because of years of non-action and no one stepping up for the community. The district has not wanted the building in ages and the city, it turns out we learned Tuesday night, actually declined the district's free offer of it. Why was it quiet and no public discourse? Who made that decision for us?

We also learned that the district is tearing down two other schools, not historical like Main, giving the property on which one sits to the neighboring township for $1 and taxpayers will foot 73% of those tear-down costs. What if we'd rather those funds go to preserve Main? No one asked the public.

The public hearing was run more like a trial and unlike any I have ever experienced, which is pretty many with my long tenure as a local-government reporter. The city attorney facilitated the meeting insisting that everything be clear for "The Record" should this go to trial. Anyone who wished to speak had to be sworn in.

Did I just hear that, sworn in? I asked myself. Good thing I had written two letters and had not planned on speaking, because I would not have taken the oath. Quakers believe your word should always be impeccable, so there is no need to swear. I have asked the city attorney about that, but not yet received a reply. I also stood alone not saying the pledge of allegiance in that gathering. I have always thought it intolerable to pledge allegiance to a thing. Yes, the things represents our government, but that is not what rules my life. Of course I am law-abiding and respect and value our democratic process, which was in full form Tuesday evening. It wasn't until I became Quaker that I had a reason for that gut feeling. Quakers don't pledge to anything or one but God, otherwise it puts that person or thing above God in their view. Mine, too.

The developer and his expensive entourage had first crack at the public hearing and they all played to the council seated ahead of them on a platform above the audience. [Our Quaker Meeting disassembled its low-rise platform years ago so as not to place anyone at a higher level than another.] It was an hour and 45 minutes into the meeting before the public got its turn. The self-appointed time keeper, the attorney, said they had only taken 38 minutes. Besides not believing his accuracy, I heard almost a warning in those words, as if residents should shush themselves. They were limited to 2 minutes each, but that was never enforced.

After three-and-a-half hours, I left hearing nothing new in the last hour. I applaud the council members and residents that stayed until the bitter end, 1:15 a.m. I have never witnessed a public hearing lasting that long. Residents had a lot to say, perhaps more than one hearing can accommodate.

The fancy money spoke fancy and cited pedigrees. The middle-class residents spoke from the heart, some more eloquently than others, some very emotional and others twisting bits of truth. I grew somewhat uncomfortable with where I was sitting as a group hysteria formed: people cheering others on and jeering at comments with which they disagreed. At times, it felt more like a sporting event.

I merely listened.

So, what to DO with all of this? Extend the invitation, ask respect for the safety of the space, pray all day in the space and let Spirit do the rest.

• How do I keep healthy boundaries?
• How can I get sucked into others energy?
• Are there spiritual practices to keep me on track?
• How do I live with integrity?
• How do I let Spirit in on all aspects of my life?

a quiet

by obnoxious

the windows

into my
brain and
my heart

like a
lethal vine

that preceded

as if it
were a

it wasn't

I wandered
to the
most silent

at the

by no

I discovered
the forgotten
in parched,
cracked soil

sending up
green shoots

there is life
in this
old building

Listen to this post:

No comments:

Post a Comment