December 18, 2012
Moultonborough, NH Charrette and Plan NH
Last night I attended a meeting in the Moultonborough, NH Public Library Meeting Room. The event was the unveiling of the report of the findings and suggestions regarding the long-range planning charrette that was conducted during the summer of 2012 by Plan NH, an organization that says they do "Visioning for Sustainable Communities". If you're a soccer fan, that should be the first yellow card you see.
Moultonborough was selected as one of four New Hampshire communities in their most recent round of charretting, if that's even a word.
The charrette started with "an intensive two-day, brainstorming session" that apparently had a pre-determined outcome already in mind. This is very confusing to me because on the Plan NH website they clearly state:
"Towns or groups completing and submitting and application are considered for an intensive, two-day brainstorming session, focusing on the issue or need of their choosing."
But on the Plan NH website, the Plan NH leaders had already decided what direction the charrette would head. What follows is a cut and paste of the actual page from their website which shows this was written BEFORE the charrette was conducted.
Did you see that? Those words? "Moultonborough will be PlanNH's 50th charrette." The word "will" denotes future tense if you happen to be up on the English language.
I'm not a soccer expert. Can you get an unlimited number of yellow cards before you're ejected from a game?
What you see above should be the second yellow card. The attendees of the Moultonborough charrette may have wanted to talk about becoming a world-class destination for quilters by building a massive quilting conference center just east of town by the airport.
After all, Keepsake Quilting is located just west of Moultonborough in Center Harbor. There's nothing like stoking small town rivalries in New England, so it makes sense that the Moultonborough crowd would like to steal some of Center Harbor's thunder, being as they get to display the proud M/S Mount Washington at their harbor year round.
However, the volunteer team of planning experts from Plan NH, with possible nudging from the planning leaders of Moultonborough, were bound and determined that was not going to happen.
By gosh they had already decided they were going to produce a plan with "intensive traffic calming" that creates "friction" to deal with all the "heavy" traffic on Route 25. The NH Plan team also talked about "affordable housing" and "pocket neighborhoods".
Heavy traffic on Route 25 - are we talking the Route 25 I drive on through Moultonborough that 70 percent of the time you could lay in the road and not be hit by a car for one or two minutes? If you want to see heavy traffic, get yourself down to the intersection of Route 25 and Route 3 in the heart of Meredith, NH.
Let's concentrate for a moment on those phrases that were thrown out at last night's meeting. In case you don't know, they're common Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) buzz words that are frequently used in presentations like this.
These are warm and fuzzy words and phrases that were created by both government and private sector individuals. These hip and stylish words and phrases are used on purpose so that you feel cool and part of a larger movement.
Call them slang if you want. You hear kids use slang all the time. If you use or say the slang words or phrases, you're considered trendy and part of the movers and shakers. Be aware this is the simple, yet powerful, psychological trigger of social proof.
Here's a partial list of these Jedi mind-trick phrases that you'll hear at meetings facilitated by Plan NH, NH Listens or any number of groups like them across the USA that are really just the boots on the ground for the SCI:
compact housing, collaborative, revitalized village district, street calming, road diets, livable walkable community, mixed use, consensus, stakeholders, green, etc.
When you hear one of these words used in a public meeting, you'll also hear Obi-Wan Kenobi whispering in your ear, "These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along."
Anyone that objects to the words or phrases, or the concepts they seem to represent, is often frowned upon and almost always singled out in the meetings as a radical.
It happened last night. A bright woman with lots of questions was called a flake and a Tea Party shill by Moultonborough selectman Reverend Edward Charest.
Way to go Reverend, that's really the Christian spirit, especially just days away from Christmas. Jeesh. I think we need to play that portion of the meeting video recording in front of your congregation. Nothing like tolerance is there? Of course you only practice tolerance when the other person agrees with you, correct Reverend? But I digress.
If you want to see the Reverend Ed Charest being disruptive, just look at the second video on this page - the one that's titled Part 2. You'll be able to see his face.
While we're on a roll using fancy words, let's throw in a relevant one pertaining to this event.
bias - noun - prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
Let's cut to the chase as the game clock is running out.
Plan NH is simply an organization that rips out pages from the Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) playbook. SCI is a massive Federal top-down interagency planning initiative between HUD, DOT, and the EPA.
Here's the first sentence at that website:
"Sustainable communities are places that have a variety of housing and transportation choices, with destinations close to home."
If you want the real messaging, you need to go to the more formal HUD Sustainable Housing and Communities website. There they say:
"By ensuring that housing is located near job centers and affordable, accessible transportation, we will nurture healthier, more inclusive communities which provide opportunities for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to live, work, and learn together."
That sounds just like what the citizens of Moultonborough, NH want. Do you live in Moultonborough? Is that what your vision of the community is?
I've not taken a survey of the citizens of Moultonborough, NH, but I think it should be done. Here's my proposed lead question in the survey:
Do you want poor people, rich people, black people, brown people, white people all living together tightly in a village center here in Moultonborough? Yes or No (Please answer honestly)
I feel that question absolutely captures the spirit and mission statement of SCI, don't you?
That's what the soft sell was last night in the Moultonborough Public Library. Just read the Moultonborough Village charrette report for yourself.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: That's not a typo. Go to the Moultonborough, NH official website. It's the Town of Moultonborough. But those clever Plan NH folks just couldn't resist using that buzz word - Village.
Here's what this is all about. Plan NH is simply one of the porch dogs for HUD. They clearly state this at the bottom of the Mission page at Plan NH. They sleep with the bigger Granite State Future dog that's up on the porch as well.
These two organizations are slowly trying to convince New Hampshire citizens that they have a clear vision of what the future of New Hampshire should be. It's a world view that's at the core of SCI. It's no secret, as it's clearly stated at the SCI websites - both the soft and hard ones.
If you don't, you're soon going to be ejected from the game - er, I mean your houses and the community you've really grown to love.
Red card photo image credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com