Small Town Politics

Once, I left a comment somewhere on the internet that said, more or less, that social and psychological things are more real to me than the physical world. The most intractable things in the world are people and their personal bugaboos, not the physical world.

I think the example I gave was that if you hire a landscape architect and have enough money, you can turn a piece of land into something radically different from what it once was and do so in short order. Real world example:

Butchart Gardens was started in 1909 by Jennie Butchart in an exhausted limestone quarry left behind by the decades her husband spent manufacturing portland cement starting in 1888.
The gardens receive over a million visitors each year. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
If you are doing community development work, old buildings, landscape issues and so forth are relatively easy to fix, assuming you can get everyone on the same page. It will be getting everyone on the same page that is the big headache.

People problems can be very intractable at times and people problems can ruin any plans you make, no matter how much research you do or how obectively good they are, sometimes for really "stupid" reasons -- like someone secretly has a crush on you and is married, so would NEVER admit it.

One way people problems can sometimes suddenly get a lot better: Sometimes people happen to die. It is often older people who "get involved" on local planning boards of various sorts, so you may find that sometimes difficult people suddenly stop being a thorn in your side because no one lives forever.

BUT I encourage you to not invest too much in HOPING they conveniently drop dead. Deal with reality and reality is they are currently alive and may outlive you, even if they are quite old and you are not.
Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.
I've been at public meetings where someone's proposal got politely blown off and it eventually became clear to me no one liked this idea, no one knew how to effectively argue against it and everyone was more or less using delaying tactics and HOPING the old geezer dropped dead before they had to actually give them a firm answer.

I don't personally think this is a best practice. If you count on delaying tactics, you may run out of excuses at some point and the old geezer may still be alive.

If you need to delay to buy time and do research, it's probably better to go with something like "Well, I don't have an answer. Let me research that and get back to you."

If you really need to tell them "no," then at some point you need to be prepared to do that. Taking time to figure out how to effectively argue your case and diplomatically deal with it can have value, but it's generally unwise to COUNT on being able to just avoid it if you delay long enough and hoping the problem "goes away" without you really addressing it.

MAYBE you will get lucky and it will go that way. But often in life, that approach just ends up being a case of digging your grave deeper.

In a small town, people problems can prove to be "inescapable." When I got fed up with how locals were treating me in public meetings and then meetings got cancelled anyway due to the pandemic, I took over a dead sub on Reddit for the town in question in order to try to pursue my interests in the built environment without being hassled.

That sub has been all kinds of drama and none of my multiple other Reddits have gone that way.
  1. The facts suggest it's not drama due to how I run it, and never mind how often people behaving badly try to act like that's the case.
  2. Odds are VERY high that people who mistreated me in person at public meetings on the ground were involved in anonymously making sure that trouble followed me to Reddit.
More than three years later, I continue to be harassed by people who try to insist that the size of the sub I grew from scratch -- currently 316 members, 9 when I took over the DEAD sub -- has NOTHING to do with me, my labor, my skill or my knowledge and I am SOMEHOW in the wrong for more or less everything I do there.

There are TWO other subs for the same town, one started shortly before I took over this sub. It has 93 members currently. Another started by someone I banned from my sub and the first post there attacked me. It currently has 16 members, no mods and is up for grabs on Reddit Request.

Plausibly, my sub has that many members in part due to locals promoting it off-line by word of mouth. If so, they most likely promoted it because it was mine.

I get a lot of open hostility from locals for running the sub. If "word of mouth" promotion by locals is the ONLY reason or the PRIMARY reason the sub is as large as it is and my presence there is 100 percent downside, then it should be EXTREMELY easy to simply grow membership to a LARGER count on one of the other two subs and stop bothering ME.

Reddit is a third-party platform. You cannot count on them knowing the whole story and plenty of bad people try to play the victim card as a dirty tactic for gaining sympathy and support with outsiders who don't have all the facts or with people who do have all the facts but are easily swayed for some reason (personal biases, personal connection, whatever).

If you are dealing with something like this, yes, it's crazy-making (enough so that my first draft of this piece was titled: WORKING TITLE: Sodom and Gomorrah). But you need to not lose your cool because playing by the rules and keeping your head about you are your only hope of eventually getting the upperhand in the face of something like this.

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