Mom and Apple Pie Threatened: Thought Police Hold Ross Hostage

disloyalty1.jpgI’ve heard a scurrilous rumor around town, and I’m very distressed about it – if it turns out to be true.

As many of you know, my colleague here at Locally Grown, Ross Currier, is also the Executive Director of the non-profit Northfield Downtown Development Corporation. Apparently, some individuals and organizations in town are having a hard time understanding the difference between Ross speaking his opinion as a private citizen on Locally Grown, and Ross speaking as Executive Director of the NDDC on the NDDC website/blog.

“Uh, gee, well, Ross Currier said something on the internet. I didn’t like it. Maybe we shouldn’t fund the NDDC.” With all due respect (which admittedly isn’t much): HOW DUMB AND SHORTSIGHTED ARE THESE PEOPLE?!

During my six-year term on the EDA, I was always favorably impressed with the reports of what the NDDC was able to accomplish with very limited means, and I know that Ross’s commitment, connections, know-how, and shoe leather (“human capital”) had a lot to do with the NDDC’s success in meeting and exceeding their goals. If the NDDC doesn’t get at least the same funding this year as last, when their list of accomplishments keeps growing, we’ll know that the main difference is that this year, Ross voiced some opinions of his own while not wearing the NDDC hat. I’d hate to see a valuable organization like the NDDC punished because an employee of a non-profit entity had the temerity to have a life. I don’t care how small this town can be, Ross should be able to freely express his opinions without having to worry about direct fiscal or professional repercussions.

Is anyone but me incensed by this?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: Locally Grown is just three citizens with a blog. It doesn’t have any legal status; it only exists as a domain name on the internet and the title of an audio show. We’re three individuals, with individual opinions, doing this for free in our spare time. We created this venue because we wanted to have a virtual place to discuss issues of local importance; I think we’ve accomplished that. We’d like it to be a vehicle that both informs and entertains; I think we’ve accomplished that too. We want to have fun; unfortunately we’re not doing nearly enough of that, because we’re finding that as soon as you stick your neck out, someone runs at you with a scimitar.


  1. John Thomas said:

    “Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.”

    — Soren Kierkegaard
    (Danish Philosopher and Theologian, generally recognized as the first existentialist philosopher. 1813-1855)

    November 14, 2007
  2. Holly Cairns said:

    Can you explain yourself more, John? Who’s in the minority or what did you identify as the minority?

    I agree that some majorities have fallen prey to propaganda of sorts, but mostly Kierkegaard has been proven wrong on this issue, don’t you think? Besides, the little I read of Kierkegaard left me knowing why he was so lonely.

    More– Minorities or majorities without purpose or plan or cohesivenes or education are ultimately lacking.

    Unified groups, especially majorities, often have power. Education helps in this situation.

    Opinions without factual basis or formed without logicial thought can be dangerous.

    November 15, 2007
  3. Ray Cox said:

    Tracy, this is an ongoing issue that anyone connected to a business or job, but also works in a public service position, has had to deal with. I don’t think this is anything new, or in fact has any true negative impact against the NDDC…other than fundraising as you noted.

    I served on the school board for 15 years. During that time there were specific instances of people avoiding my construction company because of my school board work. I also served as a State Representative and again have had direct instances of former clients—good clients—-electing to stop hiring my company and use another firm.

    However, I also believe the converse must be taking place, although I have no absolute proof that it is. I continue on in my business life, serve on two commity boards and stay active in politics.

    I agree with you that it would be nice if people would always separate job functions and look at the actions and comments coming from the activity or organization the individual is representing at a given time. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

    November 15, 2007
  4. Tracy Davis said:

    Ray, you’re probably right; I have to confess that I have a streak of naive idealism and I’m always surprised when the world doesn’t work the way I think it’s supposed to.

    Even though it’s unfair, I can understand why someone who didn’t like your position on school board or state issues would avoid using your construction company; it’s not as much of a stretch to connect an entrepreneur’s political opinions with his/her business. It strikes me as even more unfair when certain persons and organizations are willing to penalize a non-profit community organization because of the opinions of its employees.

    November 15, 2007
  5. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: Could you explain further? I don’t see any connection between Ray’s political opinions and his ability to construct a home. But, Ross’s personal opinions can be quite easily confused with his position as executive director of the NDDC.

    Further, Ray personally suffers the economic consequence; whereas it is Ross’s employer that suffers when Ross says something unpleasant.

    This problem is huge for the Chamber. People don’t want to get involved because business might suffer if they take a position. Consequently, I think that Northfield tends to get over representation from people who have nothing to lose. That is what happened at the planning session at the Armory.

    November 15, 2007
  6. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Tracy, I’m glad to see someone besides me likes those demotivational images…and despite that cynical visual cue, I’m also glad you are (still) idealistic after serving on the EDA and now Planning Commission, because we need that forward looking, big picture kind of thinking in public life.

    But about the substance of your post–Ray’s right. I also think you’re being not only idealistic, but naive if you think that Locally Grown is “just three citizens with a blog.” The triumvirate has intentionally created a space to discuss public policy, community issues and other political topics, not merely blog about your personal experiences. You (collectively) invite discussion from the public and from public officials, post breaking news quickly. link to the NDDC, Northfield News, and more.

    I know (and believe most others do, too) that you are not “officially”
    journalists (although aren’t we all, now that citizen journalism is one of the reasons to blog) or a subsidiary of the NDDC, Planning Commission or other city department. However, you are one of the very small number of sources Northfield citizens turn to for information about city politics, policy and news – especially now when city hall is in such turmoil. The fact that Ross is Planning Commission chair and NDDC director and you are a current PC and former EDA member lend credibility to your blog (Griff will have to supply his own justification, I guess) which it might not have if you were “just” citizens.

    Having fun is, well, fun and I enjoy your light-hearted posts, but I believe you need to take ownership and responsibility for the role Locally Grown has come to play and the impact your words may have and not be too surprised when citizens don’t understand that your words are only related to one of your roles.

    November 15, 2007
  7. kiffi summa said:

    Betsy defined the issues of separation very well; the world needs more “critical thinkers”, and that IS part of what LG is doing even though you may like to think it’s ONLY “three citizens with a blog”… actually, I don’t think even you three think that. (OOps, now I’m sounding like someone who claims to know others’ “heart and mind”, sorry).
    There’s no need to apologize or excuse what you are doing; the community will not be hurt by debate, political or otherwise… it will not even be hurt by “faux” news, which often makes a point through irony. (Look how many were fooled by the mediator “faux” news).
    Encourage all the analysis and critical thinking you can, because we all know “The Emporer has no clothes”, and believing it is the role of the”ruled” to question, is the basis of freedom.

    November 15, 2007
  8. Ross Currier said:

    Gee Tracy, do you know something I don’t know?

    I mean, I’ve been warned about being hit by a certain white van while crossing Division Street, warned about being in an accident while hunting in southern Rice County, and warned about being beat up while discussing website moderating at the Contented Cow but EDA funding?

    Heck, I’ve had several excellent interactions with the Economic Development Manager at the City Northfield and the President of the Northfield EDA in the past few days. I don’t sense any problem with them, although I do feel like they both know me well enough to say “it’s just Ross being Ross” when I’m expressing my personal opinions (my apologies to Manny Ramirez).

    I do realize that I’m not from Minnesota. I’m from New England, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut (with assorted visits to Vermont and Maine), and out there, people speak their minds without filter, caution or obfuscation. Perhaps it has something to do with starting the War of Independence against the British King, or maybe it has something to do with being raised on baked beans instead of lutefisk, but I think that we New Englanders believe that when asked for our opinion, we are supposed to tell people what we really, truly, actually think.

    I don’t understand why Northfield Construction should be tied to Ray Cox’s personal views, I don’t understand why the Chamber of Commerce should be linked with David Ludescher’s personal views, and I don’t understand why the NDDC should be linked with Ross Currier’s personal views. Tracy, as you know, when we get the “official opinion” of the Chamber of Commerce, it comes on Chamber letterhead. When David Ludescher quotes Adam Smith, it’s just David being David. However, I, personally, am absolutely delighted ever time David quotes Adam, even when I disagree with him, because I think that it greatly enhances the discussion and, in my opinion, adds much to the quality of the decision-making process.

    As we said on yesterday’s radio show, if you take the EDA’s ROI analysis, Tracy Davis’ ROI analysis, David Ludescher’s ROI analysis and Christine Stanton’s ROI analysis, you are much more likely to make better decisions, with greater likelihood of being rewarded with short and long term returns.

    In an earlier comment, I think regarding Mayor Lansing, David Ludescher raised the concern that business people might be afraid to participate in the political process because of the possible threat to their company or organization. I, personally, think that it should be of great concern to Northfield if we are going to try to shut down Ray Cox, David Ludescher or Ross Currier from expressing their opinions on issues of the day. Again, personally, I think that if our political process or on-line debate over issues systematically works to exclude business people or tree-huggers, evangelicals or pagans, SUV drivers or bike riders, Cardinal fans or Cub fans, republicans or democrats, straights or gays, or talls or shorts, we will ALL lose out. I would argue, personally and not on behalf of the Planning Commission, the NDDC or Blue Moon String Band, that the discussion will be less likely to consider all the challenges and all the opportunities and that the resulting decision will be less likely to produce the full potential of returns on the investment.

    However Tracy, I really do appreciate being mentioned in the same breath as Mom and Apple Pie. It’s probably the nicest thing anybody’s said about me in…gosh…maybe two weeks.

    November 15, 2007
  9. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Ross, I don’t think it’s fair or desirable that Ross/NDDC, David Ludescher/Chamber or Ray Cox/Northfield Construction are considered entirely coextensive.

    Yet the internet especially tends to mush things together. When you speak at Planning Commission meetings, I assume you are being PC chair. When you speak at an NDDC meeting, I presume you are speaking in your role as its director. When you chat on the street, I figure it’s just you. Even so, I may sometimes conclude that you’re trading on information from one of your other roles.

    When I see “Ross Currier” as the author on the screen, however, and you’re talking about issues which could appear in any of those contexts and I can click from Ross Currier/LG to Ross Currier/NDDC to a quote from Ross Currier/PC in the Northfield News in an instant, the distinctions tend to blur and it is easier (though not fair or desirable) to see you as a unitary consciousness, if you will, rather than a collection of distinct roles and voices.

    So, who are you really?

    November 15, 2007
  10. David Schlosser said:

    This reeks of the exact same situation as Judy Dirks speaking at the Open Mic portion of a City Council meeting (prayer group meeting in Roder’s office) as a private citizen…and then afterward being admonished for speaking her piece as the Chair of the Human Rights Commission. Judy was speaking as a private citizen, yet her opinions were immediately tied to her role as the Chair of the HRC.
    But, admittedly, it’s sometimes hard to separate personal opinion from someone’s role as a head of an organization. You really do have to consciously try and separate the two. It’s much easier to lump the two together, and assume that if you disagree vehemently with someone’s personal opinion or politics, then you won’t support their organization either.
    Unfortunately, that quick leap to merge the two opinions and roles together happens much too often…more often than separating the two.

    November 15, 2007
  11. Christine Stanton said:

    Make sure you click on the link in Griff’s post #9. The background is necessary.

    Griff, next time count to three before you make a post like that. If three doesn’t do it try counting to three-hundred. It might have been better to say, “To quote Dan Aykroyd,….” Then again, unlike Tracy and Ross, maybe you have nothing to loose. What’s the name of you business again?

    B.T.W. Griff, I would not print out all 90 pages–only the budget ones.

    Ross, Golly gee. I do not feel worthy to be mentioned with Tracy and David. I am just a “normal, inactive” citizen who usually does not “get it.” (I am still trying to figure out what “ROI” means.) For me, LG is a place I can go to help me better understand Northfield issues by hearing different points of view.

    November 15, 2007
  12. Jane Moline said:

    Sheese. I am all for speaking truth (especially to power) and I don’t think that is a characteristic of only the northeast, Ross. But we are who we are, in whatever role–public official, family member, or on the street.

    If the opinion we express in public is contrary to someone else’s belief, we may suffer from their reaction to that opinion.

    We have public officials in Washington who do polls to see what they can get by with and are unwilling to stand on principal–they just want to get along, and get elected by offending as few people as possible.

    It takes courage to state your opinion–it can affect your job or your business. SO–should you remain silent, or will you speak truth to power?

    (Adam Smith might have something to say on that.) I say go for it–all three of you deserve a raise (Griff, Tracy (even if you are an ignorant slut) and Ross.)

    It is vital to a democracy that we are an informed electorate–and we need locallygrown to be informed (and sometimes entertained.)

    November 15, 2007
  13. Tracy Davis said:

    Dave, you’ve completely lost me. How is it that you can’t see someone’s not patronizing Ray’s business because they don’t like his political opinions, but you can see why Ross’s personal opinions are confused with the official positions of the NDDC? Further, Ross himself absolutely could suffer economic consequence due to his opinions, if he loses his job because he’s perceived as a liability to his employer. Ray may lose a contract (one of many); Ross may lose a salary. Same diff.

    I also don’t understand how you think it’s fair to characterize the THOUSANDS of Northfielders who aren’t business owners as having “nothing to lose” when they get involved in issues here. What’s your evidence for concluding that Northfield has “over-representation” from these people?

    Betsey, thank you for your comments, but I have to take issue with some of the implications. I am absolutely willing to take ownership and responsibility for my words; I’m sure Griff and Ross are, too. But I’m not willing to conclude, or concede, that Locally Grown is anything other than what we say it is. If we’ve done what we intended, e.g. create a space for information and discussion, that’s terrific. Sometimes it feels more like we’re hosting a dinner party and the guests started a food fight, or that the guests are complaining because the service isn’t better. I would say that the guests aren’t necessarily jerks (although some may be), but simply that they’re using the wrong mental model in thinking about Locally Grown.

    But back to the topic – Griff, Ross, and I own our words individually; no one should hold anyone at City Hall responsible for what I say when I’m sounding off, or think that Ross speaks for the NDDC when he’s pontificating here, or that Ross and I think Griff’s faux news pieces are funny. I can understand a little confusion from time to time, but that’s not what generated this post.

    November 15, 2007
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Christine, be sure to listen to yesterday’s podcast. I think your name was used in vain 5 times.

    Others: be sure to distinguish amonng the ‘daves’ by using a letter of their name, as we have two here now, and maybe more.

    November 15, 2007
  15. kiffi summa said:

    O.K. this is how tech-y I am NOT … I thought Griff was emphasizing his characterization (post # 9) ; I had no idea it was a click-link, til I got to Christine’s comment!
    Cue the laughter!

    November 15, 2007
  16. Betsey Buckheit said:

    Tracy, if you want Locally Grown to simply be a public space for discussion, as if we all happened to meet somewhere and start chatting, that’s fine. Maybe you should keep reminding us all, that you’re just providing the venue and your opinions are not privileged.

    However, I still think that you folks with your pictures on the banner are the hosts of this dinner party. And to continue the dinner party model, since it’s your house and your party, you get to invite special guests, pick the theme and the decorations, moderate the discussion and provide the intellectual nibbles. As your guests, we read the invitation and decide whether we want to come to your event. Once we’re here, we look to you for the protocol and the party games.

    Because I think the Locally Grown Triumvirate has more responsibility/authority than the rest of us as hosts, if readers confuse your roles, I’d say that this means you need to accept that this is possible and rather than wonder how we can fail to distinguish your various opinions, you should explain.

    I’m not too concerned about the confusion of roles/voices or the true purpose of Locally Grown – caveat lector to all blog readers and consumers of information – in the end it’s our responsibility to read critically and determine whether we think your posts have any validity.

    November 15, 2007
  17. Tracy Davis said:

    Betsey, some people haven’t been at the party since the outset and are coming into the conversation midway through, and in that case it’s not surprising that they might not immediately get the distinction between our respective and various roles. Point taken.

    But those aren’t really the people I’m talking about, and I’m stubbornly sticking to my original thesis– that if a downtown business owner, for example, remains willfully confused about whether Ross’s comments on Locally Grown should be attributed to his role at the NDDC after hearing from Ross, the NDDC, and others (on multiple occasions) that they are, in fact, not connected, there’s something else wrong here. I have to cast my vote for either stupidity or malice, and I can’t quite make up my mind. I’m hoping to find a kinder, gentler explanation.

    November 15, 2007
  18. Julie Bixby said:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all felt free to express our opinions w/o fear of fall-out for ourselves or others? (Many may say “I feel free to express myself w/o fear…” come on, on some level we all wonder what people think!) Anyway, the reality is that sometimes we are criticized for our opinions-sad, but true. I must add that no matter who we are there are times -albeit unconsciously- that we are affected by what another person’s view is and we form opinions about them, which can dictate actions…
    Speaking of Ross. I hope that people know how much he has and is doing for Northfield. Perhaps, when reading his comments and opinions, whether one agrees or not, one should/must look at the fact that his passion in all he says is directly related to his actions and the successes he has achieved FOR Northfield.
    (Ross, when can I pick up my $10?)
    We learn by listening to others.
    We may never get what we (I) want-true equality without bias-we could, at least, cut each other more slack. See the good in each other because, I guarantee, there is some! (Except, maybe Griff…)

    November 15, 2007
  19. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: Let me give you an easy example. If Ray Cox were to say something I didn’t like I can take my business elsewhere; if David Bly, who has Ray’s old job, says something I don’t like, there is no way to “punish” him. It’s not fair to Ray or business owners in general; but, that is the way the world works.

    Ross is somewhere in the middle. If he says something I don’t like I can withhold money from his organization, but I can’t punish him directly.

    This reality is one reason why people join the Chamber. The Chamber can advocate positions that would cost them business if they came out publicly. Unfortunately, if too many of them remain silent, then they are under-represented.

    November 15, 2007
  20. John Thomas said:

    In my post number one, I ran accross the quote, and it seemed to releate more to the “round and round and round and round” nature of some of the issues raised on locallygrown.

    I am not saying its a bad thing, its just that something gets posted, then it gets picked at, gets really big and out of hand… Then it spreads and becomes the opinion of nearly everyone, in its wierd adapting, convoluted way… “formed by the gangs who have no opinion” but suddenly rally to the cause. (There is also a gang of those who have a STRONG opinion as well)

    Then, the group of 3 form a new opinion (while the truth again reverts to a new minority) moves on to on something else, and the cycle continues…. over and over again.

    To speak to Holly, I have not taken the time to study Kierkegaard to the depth you have. I have more of a technology focus, and have not focused on that area.

    It was a quick posting of a quote, read twice, that I thought struck me as relevant. I did not go into an analysis at that late hour of the evening.

    To Speak to Tracy’s issue though, I think that it is very difficult for many to understand who wears which hat without a playbook. I feel that one must be careful and aware of thier actions, regardless if they post the standard disclaimers or not before hand.

    A persons actions will have an impact to the organizations they participate in, just as the actions of the organizations will have an impact on the persons that work for them.

    In my daily life, I try to be very cognizant of my actions, and how they might impact my employer, my church, organizations I assist, and the non-profits I support. I don’t try to draw lines to deliniate between them.

    People judge me as a whole, not as a portion or a slice, with the disclaimers that I post all over. No one takes the time to read the fine print in this world, so you have to try to set your own standard.

    I am not here to judge Ross. That is not my place. I would also agree that it is shortsighted to have someone impact the NDDC because of Ross’s independent thoughts.

    I just go with the advice of an old wise Command Sergeant Major I once served under. “Do Not Make Thyself a Target”. For the most part, it has worked…

    However, as I stand up here in this virtual foxhole, I will now don my Kevlar and protective vest, and prepare for incoming.

    Just my $0.02.


    November 15, 2007
  21. kiffi summa said:

    Something in #20 really bothered me..”The chamber can advocate positions that would cost them business if they came out publicly “.

    That’s exactly the gist of the discussion in Tracy’s post. Taken at face value, that quoted statement means: that the more behind-closed-doors discussions happen, between those who all speak the same language, the more we can exclude any (whatever is wished to be excluded), and then we may get our way.

    Sounds really really bad, sounds really really “goodoldboy”, sounds really really intolerant of new ideas, people, sounds really really like NOT supporting the DT, etc.,etc.,etc…

    Sounds really really like what happened when an ice cream parlor came to the Chamber, looking for a place on Bridge Square or Division St. and was told they (ice cream parlor) weren’t wanted in the downtown; they should go to the highway. There WERE empty spaces on Division St. The ice cream people wanted to be in NF’s Downtown; they say they were so disturbed by the reception they got in NF, at the Chamber, that they went to Lakeville.

    Re the quote: The Chamber advocated a position that cost SOMEBODY business!

    November 15, 2007
  22. John Thomas said:

    After re-reading Betsey’s posts, It is confirmed that she is a fine wordsmith.

    She has expressed quite elegantly what I was feeling in the blur between Ross’s various roles and posts.

    I have only been in town since 2001. I do not know everyone, and the various hats they wear. I only know some from the “public” persona they put forth in words, actions, and posts. I have no idea where Ross’s lines between each organization lie, unless he explictly defines them each time. I only see Ross as Ross. Not Ross LG or Ross NDDC as stated above.

    I only see Tracy as Tracy, Ross as Ross, and well… Griff is the one and only Griff. I see Locally grown as something that they all do, but I do not always see all that they do for the community and thier various organizations. (unless of course it is linked)

    If I struggle with it, others must as well.

    I guess if one wants to draw lines, then it is important to draw them WIDE and DARK, and always keep checking that they are not being erased.

    November 15, 2007
  23. Tracy,

    I believe we have to look at the relevance of Ross’s words. Frequently, the subjects of conversations here greatly overlap with comments Ross makes on the NDDC’s blog. There are just too many issues that, given the subject matter of many posts here and Ross’s role with the NDDC, co-exist.

    I’m sure that one of the reasons Griff wanted you and Ross to be part of this blog is because of your leadership positions and your passion for Northfield issues. This isn’t to say there is no forum for you to speak your minds, rather that this forum, unlike a conversation in the street, is recorded, and if someone is looking for Ross’s view on a downtown issue, it’s pretty easy to find here.

    In fact, posts are occasionally linked between this blog and the NDDC’s.

    I’m not saying any of this is wrong. I’m glad you comment and post and link, and I’m glad Ross does too. Not knowing the specifics of what exactly lead to your post, I can’t comment on that person’s or those people’s issue. I can, however, understand why it would be very easy for someone to mix “comments here” with “comments there.”

    Like others here, I’m grateful for the work you and Ross do for Northfield. But, to make David L’s example a little more concrete: if Ray Cox doesn’t like the new transportation bill, it means nothing to his ability to recommend the right type of insulation for my attic. If Ross doesn’t like the way Northfield handles liquor licenses, and says we allocate too many; someone looking for a liquor license may draw the conclusion that the NDDC is hostile a new restaurant wanting one downtown.

    Maybe that’s a weak example, but I hope it illustrates the point. Ross-as-NDDC-director is awfully close to Ross-as-citizen-commenting-on-downtown-issues on another blog.

    Regardless, I see your point about people not understanding distinctions. It’s frustrating, and sometimes people do it just to try to control the debate in a disingenuous manner, as this post’s title indicates.

    It frustrates me, too, when people read my lists or plays and assume that I’m some sort of horrible monster. I’m not.

    I’m a jerk. I think I’ve made that pretty clear.

    Full Disclosure: My attic is already insulated / I don’t need a liquor license / I am also a horrible monster, just not THAT sort of horrible monster.

    November 15, 2007
  24. Holly Cairns said:

    Okay, now I get it re: John’s post. PS, thanks, not a Kierkegaard scholar, either, just read some.

    Interesting to read everyone’s comments. I bet most people post away and don’t worry so much about backlash (although there are some nasty posts on here). I find it hard to keep up with the running conversations. Once you miss a day or two, you’re way behind in the conversation.

    Which brings me to ask: What had Ross said that makes the downtowners mad…. While we’re at it, let’s put a one liner in there about what the NDDC is. (Is that money spent to ensure there is lobbying on the behalf of downtown interests? Or what the heck is it?)

    November 15, 2007
  25. Tracy Davis said:

    Hmmm…. In reading all the comments here I’m wondering if I really am missing something. The reality is that we all play multiple roles in our everyday lives: friend, parent, lover, colleague, boss, employee. In addition to multiple roles, some people have multiple positions – mayor/business owner, lobbyist/journalist, City Councilperson/entrepreneur, attorney/Chamber president, Planning Commissioner/[fill in the blank].

    It seems to me that a lot of confusion in this town is the result of not being able to distinguish the person from the position. Based on the comments above, this must be harder than I thought, even when disclaimers abound, but I’m still not sure why.

    November 15, 2007
  26. John Thomas said:


    Might I suggest an expansion of the about page on your website?

    You could expand the 2 line “profiles” for each of the three of you, so that others might get a better understanding of where you’re coming from, what you do, what your background is, and what you stand for.

    Also, maybe a small glossary of some of the terms and abbreviations that are tossed around may be helpful.

    For example the definition of NDDC may provide a link, as well as its mission, etc.

    This may be helpful to a lot of newcomers who don’t know exactly what’s going on, who is who, what is what, etc.

    Just a thought.

    November 15, 2007
  27. I know what you mean, Tracy… despite being an accomplished male-underwear model and cannibal, people are forever confusing what I do with who I am and cook.

    Unfortunately, this happens to one of the LG crew as well.

    See, hi-jacking your readership; told you I was horrible monster.

    November 15, 2007
  28. Lance Heisler said:

    Great discussion. Say something – anything – or say nothing. Do something. Do nothing. We are all judged. All the time. Every day. For the most part, we do not control the judgments of others. It generally makes matters worse when we try. There are some, and probably many, who will dislike us no matter what we do. No matter what we say. Think of those we admire most: The man or woman who is not afraid to speak or to act when something important is at stake. The person who contributes, who cares, and who acts on conviction. The unselfish among us. The people like this I have known have by and large led hugely rewarding lives. The occasional and inevitable personal or financial losses along the way simply have not made much difference in the long run.

    So Griff and Ross and Tracy, and the rest of you who contribute so much by what you do as well as what you say, speak loudly and often, and to hell with the small dogs nipping at your heels.

    November 15, 2007
  29. Holly Cairns said:

    Everybody has to stay so darn on track around here.

    Nice post, Lance.

    November 15, 2007
  30. Jane Moline said:

    Three cheers for Lance–and everyone who says what they mean. We are all complex and have many roles. Speak out. It is interesting to read others opinions, and disagreement helps us learn. Constant judging and condemnation stifles public discourse. Lets cut everybody some slack and keep talking (or blogging.)

    November 15, 2007
  31. John Thomas said:

    I think we need to get Tracy a shirt:

    “If I told you I run a nice blog, would you hold it against me?”

    😎 Have a great night.

    November 15, 2007
  32. Charlene Coulombe- Fiore said:

    As Ross mentioned, is there something someone knows that we do not?
    Are rumours worth repeating when there is no substance to the truth?
    To me that is the question, not the first amendment.

    This reminds me of an old saying my mom told me all the time,
    ” if you stir up crap long enough sooner or later it is going to “smell”.

    I am all for freedom of speech, (within reason) and perhaps I have a different perspective on what should be said in this type of forum.

    I would hope as a community leader of any type we would all focus on the positive, move forward with the things we can change, and that no matter what hat we wear our words are parts of who we are and what we believe in.

    As an employee, as the EDA Manager, as a mother and a wife, my opinion regarding my work and right and wrong is all the same. My heart is in doing what is right for the community and the City of Northfield. That will not change on the weekends or otherwise.

    That being said I think Ross made his points clear. I like him, speak from my heart and do not think this blog bears much truth. Anyone concerned about the economic impact of the community will support the Downtown and the NDDC.

    I am sure this so called “rumour” was just a way someone wanted to deliver a message to all simply wanting to get the message out to not “bite the hand that feeds you” with no one person or organization in mind. That would be my best guess….but then again I am a newbie as well and still trying to understand the community in which I serve.

    Happy Friday!

    November 16, 2007
  33. Holly Cairns said:

    Someone asked me if my last post was sarcastic. Sarcasm is ugly and I wasn’t being sarcastic.

    what I meant to say was:

    Nice post, Lance!

    I agree. Speak up! I admire that in people.

    And, as others were saying? because people speak up, locallygrownnorthfield educates– Especially if one is good at picking out truth or is will to wait for more detail. This results in a lot of people (minority, or majority?) who are “in the know” and those people can cause change or provide due support.

    Ultimately the majority wins, but the people who cause a lot of uproar are often first heard (that’s what you were thinking, John?)

    Those same, educated bloggers can also muck things up if they get stuck on small details and aren’t really wanting what’s in the best interest of the larger group ( there is some other reason for them to participate in blogging or they are selfish and nearsighted?). However, after all is said and done, most of the blogging/communication done here seems to be entirely beneficial.

    I find it annoying to wait wait wait for the conversation to run it’s course, once the comments begin (but that’s true of me even in live conversations. I get impatient and I should listen more). If we sat in a room, our convos would take five minutes to cover days of “comments”. So wait wait wait and then read read read… this thread already has a zillion posts, for example.

    Where’s Anne? I still think salons aren’t the going thing… just heading you off at the pass…

    Anyway, I take the risk and I “post”. I wish more people did, instead of being satisfied to “lurk.”

    November 16, 2007
  34. Anne Bretts said:

    Hey, Holly,
    Perfect timing. I’m working on a holiday salon/party right now, probably Nov. 30 or Dec. 1. I still have photos of Griff in the hat with the Christmas ornaments hanging from it from an earlier party, last year, I believe. As I started dragging out the holiday decorations, I was thinking it’s time for a little face to face conversation — and some laughter.
    We did do a serious salon on atheism earlier this year and it was fascinating. Perhaps this could be an early start on New Year’s resolutions, things we can pledge to do personally and professionally to make 2008 a more civilized and productive year in this little town.
    As for the topic, it is tough to separate people from their roles. For example, if I were a Republican candidate and hired a campaign manager, it would be hard to see him sporting a Democratic candidate’s t-shirt on the weekends, even if it were in a different race. It’s the reason Catholic universities struggle with hiring atheists or pro-choice faculty. I know it’s the reason newspapers don’t even allow reporters to sport bumper stickers or attend rock concerts benefiting political parties.
    Locally, the political newbies on the nonmotorized transportation task force caused confusion when members spoke as individuals at the meetings on Woodley Street improvements.
    It’s a very tough and thorny issue, and the conversation here has been quite thoughtful…how nice.

    November 16, 2007
  35. Christine Stanton said:

    Holly and Anne, Are you referring to French “salons?” Because we have a high population of academics in our community, I could see salons being enthusiastically received. Surely, salons are not for everybody, and some might see them as a waste of time. That does not mean that those who are not interested are not as “intellegent” as those who are. It simply means that a salon is not their thing. Everyone has a differnet place in society. I do not mean that in the higherarchial sense but that we are all a piece of the puzzle.

    Hey, Tracy, Ross, and Griff. Have you ever thought of having (a) “guest blogger(s)” for a blog topic? Chris’ post might be somewhat like that; however, the “guest” would provide continuous input over a period of time. I could be a couple of days or a week. You could even send out invitations to the guest(s) with RSVP “cards” like a real “party.” Unlike the conversation that was proposed with the Trib reporter, everyone could attend without RSVPing. Only the “guest blogger(s)” would get the “formal” invitations and RSVP “cards.”

    I know that this is totally off the topic of this blog entry. Though I am trying to think of a way to tie it in with the header “Mom and Apple Pie Threatened: Thought Police Hold Ross Hostage,” I am coming up empty. If I thought hard enough, I could probably come up with something, but it’s Friday.

    November 16, 2007
  36. kiffi summa said:

    Hey Christine : through what I think was a typo of the word different, you coined a great word, “DIFFERNET” …. Title for your blog?

    November 16, 2007
  37. Anne Bretts said:

    The goal, starting way back when there was an Issues List on, was to do more formal salons on serious topics, although as I recall we couldn’t find enough people who spoke French so we were going to keep them in English. 🙂
    We’ve had a couple of events, but they have tended to be more social than Socratic. As I said, the one on atheism was quite moving and challenging, and I’d love to host more. As always, anyone who is interested is welcome. (You can come if you’re not interested, of course, but why would you?)
    I do think this next one could be a mix of fun and some real discussion of goals for 2008 — personal, recreational, political, economic, humanitarian — all the ways we will make a difference. Share a book or an experience that has changed your thinking, changed your heart, changed your life.
    No fair making resolutions for others, although community goals are allowed. We can make predictions and put them in a can and meet next year to toast the one who proves most clairvoyant.
    Disclaimer: This doesn’t represent any club, client, organization, church or job in my life. It’s just a party by me, as an individual host (with moral support but no help from hubby and the cat) and it’s open to all who’d like to meet, celebrate, think and drink. Spontaneous card games, Scrabble, and dancing will be allowed; charades will get you booted out the door.
    We have room for 40-50 people, with space for small groups to talk quietly. There is a pond out back, so skating is possible.
    Almost anything is possible.
    If you want to know more, e-mail me at so we can go back to the discussion of the thread

    November 16, 2007
  38. Anne Bretts said:

    Great minds think alike…Mary beat me to the punch — and the cake — by nailing down Nov. 30 for her wonderful party. That means the simmering salon will have to remain on the back burner until I can gather ideas for another date. Any ideas?

    November 16, 2007

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