Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Farewell Address

You didn't think an ego such as mine would go quietly without a final word did you?

I never really wanted to be on the Board. I wanted to contribute in some small way like a committee. I figured running for the board would get the attention of the community and after gracefully losing I'd be picked for some project to help on. Then I discovered that there was a group of people who really felt disenfranchised with what was going on. I found that many people felt they weren't being treated fairly. One of my many faults is that I see red when I think people are being unfairly treated. So I ran full out for the Board and was elected. I had some concrete goals that I ran on, but the over-arching goal was to make the process work for everyone.

The concrete goals (a code of ethics, improved communications, better scheduling policies for the facilities to accommodate all residents) were easy. The hard part was getting one segment of our community to understand that there were many people who wouldn't/couldn't/were afraid to speak up and let the Board and others know they felt they were being treated poorly. I thought all I need do is point this out and things would change (They obviously just didn't know, I thought, so it was benign ignorance, not intentional malice.) But it seemed that there was denial or a refusal to be informed (because knowing it means having to change the practices).

So I realized about half way through that what was needed was a bad cop or person willing to speak up and say publicly what was being said in private (oftentimes by the same people who others thought were the root of the problem.) I realized that if the air wasn't cleared and all of this didn't come out and be addressed and dealt with it, it would never go away. I recognized that many of those who might be in a position to speak up also had to live with those (so to speak) that they had to confront. So privately to supporters and to the Board I said I'd be the bad cop and speak up and force people to address the crap. I did it multiple ways and sometimes being flat out mean seemed to be the only way to get the attention of those who simply refused to want to admit there was a problem. And I don't mean Jan. She was actually wonderful. But she was the figurehead of the faction that needed to be grabbed by the shoulders and made to pay attention. So unfairly, she took the brunt.

It also became clear that the only way the mentality would change was to have a change in leadership. So I began hounding Jan (and Bob to some extent) to make clear that change was going to happen come hell or high water. And for that I will apologize to Jan and Bob publicly. Yeah, there were times I was unfair because I wanted people to understand what others were going through and telling me. And I determined at that midway point that I was not going to run again because in the ideal world Jan and I would not run for office again and the healing of the community could begin. We both have valid viewpoints and lots to contribute. So I took on the role of the"Take your medicine. See how you like being treated the way others feel they are being treated. It's not all about you" bad guy. And I knew I couldn't run for the Board again if I did so.

And a funny thing happened. It worked. I started hearing the concerns of one side being espoused by the others. Both sides began to understand each other and there were times when the opposing sides of the equestrian clash came together (like when I made my fuss about the EC budget not really balancing.) Open Space die-hards began to understand the concerns of those who want to put simple projects in open space that WON'T destroy the wonderful feel of Nellie Gail. The same concerns I raised were being raised by other Board members. I can not and do not take all or maybe any of the credit for that. I'm just glad it happened.

I know I took a risk. And I paid a very heavy price for it. Amongst my friends and other organizations I work with I am actually considered a nice guy. (No, really) The peacemaker. I'm the first person my feuding family decided got along with everyone well enough to be the executor of my Dad's estate. That nice, funny guy everyone enjoys being with is hardly the reputation I have in this community at this time. So I paid a price. But I knew it when I started this. (This ain't a pity party. I deserve everything I got.) So all I ask is that the community take advantage of this air-clearing period to work together. Take into account there may be different viewpoints. That disagreeing doesn't mean the other person is wrong. I come from a background in politics where punches are thrown daily and you get up when done and go have a drink together because it was never personal (even when it sounded that way). I figured from how the campaign was ran last year that this was that kind of community. I was taken aback at first, but since I knew the game I came out swinging as well. I over-calculated the extent that was true so I'll definitely apologize for that.

But I really do feel good about what was accomplished in the end. I think our community is better for all our efforts this year. We have a new start. We understand each other better. I hope we learn to be a little more honest with each other even if we think the other person isn't going to like what we have to say. They can't change what they do if they don't know how the other person feels. And power can be fleeting. and if ignored long enough minor annoyances fester into blazing battles with negative consequences far beyond the initial minor issue.

So this may or may not be my last blog posting. I'm invested in my community too much now to ever say never. But others will need to step up and do these meeting recaps. And things are going so well and everyone getting along for the most part that there's no need for my past brand of political vigilante postings. (Many noted that the tone of the blog has changed for the better. Trace that back to the day we knew the election results were going to change the tone of the board and a new era was dawning in Nellie Gail. Jan and James have retired to the sides, let the healing begin. For the record, I'm sorry Cindy didn't run again. I gained a great deal of respect for her and she is an under-appreciated asset. Jan took the brickbats, but she got the praise as well perhaps because of it.) I hope that these detailed postings continue because I was told it helped many people get a real feel for what was happening (even when sometimes they didn't like knowing.) Communication. Communication. Communication. Without it, none of this is worth it because the good stuff will go unreported and the bad stuff will be blown out of proportion.

I thank you all for all that you have done. The words of support when I needed them. And the kicks in the butt when I especially needed those. I hope my year was worth it to the community. I know it was for me. And I'll treasure that (and EVERYONE I met and interacted with) always. I'll see you around the ranch.


Rebecca said...

Thank you James for all your service. I appreciate the openess and candor you have brought to our community.

Thank you to Jan and Cindy for their long years of service. They have brought the community foward as well.

We are a better place now due to the last couple of years, and I just hope it continues to grow and prosper.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I think you are terrific.I was shocked and thrilled at the "Dolphin"connection!We wish you all good things and just want to know when we can throw a get together "Thank You" in your honor.You have opened hearts and minds in this community.You truely took the pie in the face for all us chickens!