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Example #1: Two success stories

  • A citizen spoke to a public meeting about zoning. She was concerned that if a certain zoning change went through, the land across from her house and her neighbors' houses would become a parking lot. She was definitely not a professional speaker. She said she was simply a working mother, who had grown up in the town, who was trying to raise her kids, and who had had some hard times of her own.

But she spoke in everyday, colorful language, with some self-deprecating humor. And she got across the point that she and her neighbors were just ordinary people trying to make ends meet. More than that, she proposed some alternative solutions, and was willing to compromise. What happened was that she charmed the entire audience. The zoning change did not go through, and the parking lot never got built.

  • At a neighborhood meeting, a town representative spoke about the costs of renovating the middle school. The renovations so far had gone over budget; the voters would have to approve more funds for work to continue. Nobody was happy about the situation. But the town representative spoke directly about the reasons why costs had risen. Soil conditions were different from those anticipated. One construction firm had simply quit.

The town rep laid out the facts. He didn't pull any punches. He said mistakes had been made, which would not be repeated. He took part of the blame. He seemed to answer questions honestly. But he also said the project had to go forward, and that the costs of stopping would be even greater. The voters listening believed him. Town-wide support was given for the renovations to continue.