We wish Ms. Penterman all the best and look forward to more Nashville Opera premieres such as Elmer Gantry, which we loved (!), from Hoomes in the future.
"I've struggled with whether I should write this article, whether it would fuel that dangerous ego of mine." Prescient words. Telling "the story" over and over and being rewarded over and over with attention does rather seem incompatible with humility. Not everyone in 12-step has the opportunity or the inclination to step up to so public a "podium." Sounds like you know your "other" Achilles' tendon well.
I agree with "alltheearthagarden"! We should focus on making the land beautiful and free for everyone, not just a few. This is an opportunity for healing in the community. Or it could be.
It is unfortunate, but Earth Matters may have screwed up things for the rest of the community since this fiasco. TDOT may not want to allow ANYONE to have access to the land after E.M.'s poor stewardship of the land they were allowed free use of. How can TDOT trust that E.M. will straighten up when E.M. won't even admit they did anything wrong? At all. And how can TDOT be assured that the next group that expresses interest in using the place, or even neighbors for that matter, will take care of the place? I'm afraid Earth Matters have messed it up for whole community. And all they can do is blame TDOT or blame the neighbors.
Perhaps it's best if the land is just turned to green space. Maybe it would be better if no one fought over the "ownership" of the land.
All of this is a shame. I've been here since the 80s and I hate that this has happened. I hate that neighbors are turning against neighbors because E.M. principles (who are mostly not from the 'hood, many are not even from Davidson County) won't stand up and say, "I let this get out of hand...the buck stops here." The fact that they won't take responsibility for what they allowed to happen speaks volumes to me. And I don't see an attempt to mend fences. They just circle the wagons, continue to fan incendiary flames of ill-will, and deflect blame by pointing fingers. Perhaps this helps them gain support, but that kind will take them just so far. That kind of support is slow-acting poison.
People can't seem to get these TWO KEY POINTS:
#1: The "garden" is still there, untouched. FYI: the bulldozers were used to take down the fence (not to bulldoze the whole place as is falsely claimed). So now the land is open to the whole community and not just to Earth Matters who felt it belonged just to them and had it locked up for their own private use. Besides, without the weeds growing up in the chain link, more sunlight and fresh air is let in. That should please the Ancestors--they're not big on chain link and padlock. And if you think about it, squatters can't really be choosers about the amenities of the land they are being allowed free use of.
#2: The "clean-up" actually cleaned the place up! If you look at the "before" pictures you can tell! The place actually looks inviting. Many people are probably not aware that the junk that was hauled off filled a semi and 2 dump trucks--lamps, figurines, refrigerators--stuff that had nothing to do composting or gardening or permaculture or helping people! It was apparent the place was being used by someone who was a hoarder. Like on those TV shows. Sadly, the help that was needed in that regard was not the kind neighborhood garden volunteers are equipped to give. To point a finger of blame for how things turned out at strangers because they didn't come over to the garden and clean out the greenhouses and sheds and yards that were filled with hoarded stuff is not only disingenuous, it shows a real lack of caring for a friend. It's too bad his close friends and co-workers didn't come to his aid before the situation got so out of hand. Perhaps he needed an intervention of some kind.
One more thing. I notice someone who writes as "Landlord" makes some very boastful claims to a level of personal enlightenment that they believe eludes the rest of us, YET he/she makes some of the most toxic, hateful comments here. That is mighty incompatible with a message of peace and love and unity. Not very cool. Please try and attempt to elevate this conversation to a place where we can all have an honest dialogue. Otherwise you're just hating.
I can assure JasononClayton that there have been NO racial epithets from neighbors directed towards the Earth Matters people! It is unfortunate that they are claiming this. But it does not surprise me as that was a defensive mechanism that was used pretty early on by some E.M. defenders...several years ago, in fact, to quell any complaints about their operation. It intimidated many neighbors from saying anything for awhile. But discrimination is wrong, even reverse discrimination.
I have no doubt the good people at Earth Matters had the best intentions...when they began. I'd like to go on record as saying none of the neighbors have any problem with composting. I have a backyard composter myself, I recycle. We just believe a large-scale composting operation that serves multiple counties (we saw the license plates of the U-Haul trucks & pick-ups that pulled up from neighboring counties) is better done in a proper facility. And not a space being touted as a "community garden." And not one in a residential neighborhood. The composting operation had grown too big for the dwindling Carver volunteers to handle 1 or 2 days a week. The leaves just weren't being processed in a timely fashion; they were being left for weeks on end in their plastic bags, for whatever reason. Trash was everywhere. Yard-sale items were being hoarded. The place had multiple Codes violations. This was not "how a farm looks" as someone has defended it. And it just got worse and worse over the years. We just wanted Earth Matters to clean the place up. We don't know why its director refused to acknowledge that it needed tidying up. He was given multiple chances over a much longer period of time than is portrayed by the media, but repeatedly side-stepped them. All the neighbors did was complain. And we were within our right to do so. And the complaining started YEARS ago. (Also not reported in the media.) We didn't call in the bulldozers. A little perspective, please. People, THERE IS A REASON WHY BUSINESSES & RESIDENCES ARE "ZONED" SEPARATELY. Their perspective of Gale Lane is different from ours. This was a clash between thinking of the land as a business and thinking of it as a neighborhood. They, as squatters, were running a business on public land they didn't own. Though it's evident they came to have sentimental feelings about it, it wasn't their home 24/7. And sorry, there's no comparison to how they feel about Gale Lane and the personal feelings the people who actually LIVE on Gale Lane have towards it (but our tears weren't showcased for the TV cameras). They don't have to worry about the value of the property or its condition or even its appearance (and it's obvious they don't). They don't care whether or not they can sell it if they need money for retirement or hospital bills. The land holds an entirely different value to them. We understand that. But because we care about it in a different way, a way that includes how it affects the value of our property, that does not make us petty or elitist or any other "ist" that has been used to discount us as people. We would not come to the homes of Earth Matters people and say that their attachment to and feelings about the place they live are meaningless. Just because we don't want a leaf factory across the street from our houses do not mean we're against leaf composting per se or that we are against certain groups of people. (I wish we could get past this ad hominem BS!) Can we not locate beneficial leaf dumps in places where people's lives and livelihoods are not hurt? The concept is not one that is foreign--we do that with garbage dumps! People fight to locate them as far away from their homes as possible. You've heard of the medical credo DO NO HARM? Somewhere along the line, Earth Matters became tone deaf to the people who actually live on Gale Lane. We and our houses and our neighborhood? Collateral damage in the battle to save the planet. A sacrifice THEY'RE willing to make to serve the greater good. For all your sakes, I hope they don't set up Earth Matters 2--The Leaf Brigade--in your neighborhood!
Spreading goodwill through the use of ad hominum attacks is an unusual angle RevMadre, but I'd like to go on record as saying none of the neighbors have any problem with composting and believe it or not we are able to look at a big picture where composting is an important component. I have a backyard composter myself! Sorry if that doesn't fit your stereotype of us evil ones. We just believe a large-scale composting operation that serves multiple counties (we saw the license plates of the U-Haul trucks & pick-ups that pulled up from neighboring counties) is better done in a proper facility. And not a space being touted as a "community garden." And not one in a residential neighborhood. The composting operation had grown too big for Carver volunteers to handle 1 or 2 days a week, and even every week, for whatever reason. The leaves just weren't being processed in a timely fashion; they were being left for weeks on end in their plastic bags. Parties with loud music had no permits. The traffic blocked driveways. Trash was everywhere. Junk was being hoarded. The place had multiple Codes violations. It was an eyesore. Those are just facts. Nobody said you were evil. But plenty of people have called us evil. Can we just stop demonizing each other? The neighbors did not bring in the bulldozers. We just wanted you to clean the place up. We don't know why your director refused to see that it needed tidying up. He told everyone repeatedly he saw no problem with how things were being run or how they looked. That's pretty tone deaf, if nothing else. All we did was complain and we were within our right to do so. A little perspective, please. What we have here is a matter of differing viewpoints. THERE IS A REASON WHY BUSINESSES & RESIDENCES ARE "ZONED" SEPARATELY. Think of your own neighborhood. If you had a neighbor who was deliberately trashing the place up, you might hesitate to talk to them, but you'd certainly think you were well within your right to speak to them about it. Your perspective of Gale Lane is different from ours: You, as squatters, were running a business on public land. You didn't own the property you were using. Though it's evident you came to have sentimental feelings about it, it wasn't your home 24/7, and sorry, there's no comparison to how you feel about Gale Lane and how the people who actually LIVE on Gale Lane feel about it. Our claim to it is much more personal. But our tears weren't showcased for the TV cameras. You don't have to worry about the value of the property or its condition. You didn't have to worry about its appearance, whether it was cleaned up after a weekend's worth of work or not. Or or whether or not you could sell it when you needed money for retirement or hospital bills. How it looked and the monetary value of the land mean nothing to you. Nor should it, I guess. The land means something else entirely to you. We understand that. But because we do not share your perspective about that particular plot of land does not make us petty or elitist or any other "ist" that has been used to discount us as people. We would not come to your home and say that your attachment to and feelings about the place you live are meaningless. I don't want a leaf factory across the street from my house because I have a different perspective about that particular plot of land than you do. But just because I object to a leaf factory being located across the street from my house does not mean I'm against leaf composting per se. Can we not locate beneficial leaf dumps in places where people's lives and livelihoods are not being hurt? The concept is not one that is foreign--we do that with garbage dumps. People fight to locate them as far away from their homes as possible. You've heard of the medical credo DO NO HARM? This is akin to that. If, while serving the greater good and spreading goodwill and doing good works for the planet, you find that you have become desensitized to the feelings of the people immediately surrounding you, then you need to stop and check your mission. If you have begun to think of Gale Lane neighbors as no better than collateral damage, then perhaps you would be of better use in Special Ops.
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