Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thought for Today

" If you lose an opportunity, don't close your eyes with tears. Keep your vision clear, so that you don't miss the second chance."
--- Author Unknown

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Which is more essential: develop beliefs or gain knowledge?

The campaign petitions and fundraising requests started last week in Niagara County.

Before anyone scrawls an endorsement or attends a money-request event, ask the candidate for a definitive statement about the Robert Moses Parkway.

Ask him these questions:

1. Does he know that removing the Robert Moses Parkway and restoring the native gorge landscape creates hundreds of thousands of jobs?

2. Does he know removal will cascade billions of dollars into Niagara Falls and the region?

3. Does he know cities around the world have corrected their transportation mistakes?

4. Does he know there are 3 other major roads that connect Niagara Falls to Lewiston, the I-190, Military Road (Rt. 265), and Lewiston Road?

Moses Parkway Retentionists Stamp Feet, Ignore the Million Tourists Surveyed

“Little knotheads” is a thesis my old-school, Sicilian father muttered when he observed willful ignorance, selfish motives and actions, and a failure to listen or acknowledge information.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Are You Trustworthy?

Cover of "The SPEED of Trust: The One Thi...Cover via Amazon

Yesterday as part of a Buffalo Niagara Leadership business event, I attended a day long conference on The Speed of Trust. Keynote speaker: Stephen M.R. Covey.

Covey's summaries about trust:

The 4 Cores of Credibility:
Integrity - Congruency in values, beliefs and behaviors, deep honesty, humility and courage.(make and keep commitments, stand for something, be open)

Intent - Seeking mutual benefit, Acting in others' best interests, genuine concern and caring for others (examine your motives, open your agenda, choose abundance)

Capabilities - the capacities we have that inspire confidence, our ability to produce and accomplish tasks: talents, attitudes, skills,knowledge and style (run with your strengths, keep yourself relevant, know where you're going)

Results- our track record pas and present, getting the right things done, accomplishing the desired objectives. (take responsibility, expect to win, finish strong)

The 13 Behaviors That Accomplish Trust:
First 5 are Character:

Talk Straight - be honest, let people know where you stand, call things the way they are, demonstrate integrity, don't "spin" the truth, don't leave false impressions

Demonstrate Respect - show you care, respect the dignity of every person and every role

Create Transparency - tell the truth, err on the side of disclosure, don't have hidden agendas, operate on "what you see is what you get", don't hide information

Right Wrongs - make things right when you're wrong, don't cover things up, don't let personal pride get in the way of doing the right thing

Show Loyalty -give credit to others, speak about people as if they were in the room, represent others who aren't there to speak for themselves

Next 5 are Competencies

Deliver Results - establish a track record of results, get the right things done, make things happen, accomplish what you're hired to do

Get Better- continuously improve, increase your capabilities, act upon the feedback you receive, don't consider yourself above feedback, don't assume your knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow's challenges

Confront Reality - take issues head on even the "undiscussables: Address the tough stuff directly. Lead out courageously in conversation, don't skirt the issues, don't bury your head in the sand, confront the reality of the situation.

Clarify Expectations - disclose and reveal expectations, discuss them, Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible, don't violate expectations

Practice Accountability - hold yourself accountable, hold others accountable,take responsibility for the results, don't avoid or shirk responsibility, don't blame or point fingers when things go wrong

The Last 3 Combine Character and Competencies

Listen first - Understand, Diagnose, Listen with your ears...your eyes and heart, find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you're working with, don't presume that you have all the answers - or all the questions

Keep Commitments - Say what you're going to do. Then do what you say you're going to do. Make commitments carefully and keep them at all costs, Make keeping commitments the symbol o f your honor, don't break confidences, don't attempt to "PR" your way out of a commitment you've broken.

Extend Trust - Demonstrate a propensity to trust, extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those earning your trust,

Trust Gaps
Self Trust - A Credibility gap
Relationship Trust - a Behavior gap
Organizational Trust- An alignment gap
Market Trust - A Reputation gap
Societal Trust - a Contribution gap

We are only one year into the process of funding the greenway and already the process exhibits trust gaps.

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Open letter about road removal between Lewiston and Niagara Falls

Here are my candid observations about your email urging peers to “consider both sides of the Robert Moses Parkway (RMP) issue before blindly signing” the Niagara Heritage Partnership (NHP) online petition for road removal between Niagara Falls and Lewiston.

In the last four years, you and the Parkway Preservation Committee have ignored the benefits of road removal.

Your unsubstantiated opinion is the RMP is “an artery” for Old Fort Niagara State Park. You ignored Main Street, Youngstown, the Fort’s mainline front door.

The NHP proposal repairs the aneurism Robert Moses caused when he built the RMP, bypassing every Niagara Falls’ business direct. Main Street, Little Italy's Pine Avenue, Third Street and Niagara Street.

Removal rehabilitates that urban-decay abscess. It creates a new life support system with documented economic stimulus numbers and new urbanism thinking.

1. Hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in tourism revenue. Data supplied by cities implementing road removal.

2. Seoul, Korea reclaimed a stream for open space. They removed 6-lanes. (Feb. 2009, Scientific American, pages 20-22)

3. USA Niagara proposed the 6-mile segment along the lower river gorge from Niagara Falls to Lewiston be removed." (A View From The Falls: The Demand and Opportunity For Hotel Development in Niagara Falls, page 51.)

4. The Curriculum Guide for Green Infrastructure Planning: "There are economic reasons for protecting "viewsheds" since they are important to attracting…Heritage Tourists...spend[ing] on average two-and-one-half times [more] than other tourists."

5. The New York Natural Heritage Program's Conservation Guide: roads and their associated run-offs are detrimental to calcareous cliff communities. page 2

6. The Smart Growth Network's "Getting to Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation" pages 43-44- Chapter 6- "there is a sense of urgency to saving critical environmental areas. Communities MUST work with other communities in their region and political leaders to expend the resources and develop the innovative techniques to make open space preservation a reality."

7. RMP removal between Niagara Falls and Lewiston is what the Niagara River Greenway aspires to. See the 11 guiding principals, chapter 3, Niagara River Greenway Plan.

8. Counter compromise merely means keeping the current two lanes open.

Emerson, lead, follow, or get out of the way.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Injured Paradise

"I want to tell what the forests

were like

I will have to speak

in a forgotten language"

--WS Merwin

Would you live different without fear?

If I had no fear, I’d parachute over Niagara Falls and milkweed drift the gorge with an egg timer cradled in my hand.

My grandmother kept a small glass and plastic egg timer on an upper kitchen shelf. If asked, she’d hand it down and I’d play with time. The trickling white grains held a moribund fascination, a faint consciousness about inevitability. I’d flip it; place it in the yellow holder, the pour rapid through the pinched-in middle, a small mound growing in the glass bottom reservoir. Over, and over, I spun time. Sometimes, I’d pretend to beat the clock and race the timer against the red second hand. Accuracy at the time didn’t matter. I wanted to catch a final motion, stop an instant, and prevent the last grain’s fall.

Over long afternoons, I’d slow time, tilt the little timer not quite horizontal, intent on length, slowing and holding moments. As I drowsily manipulated time at the kitchen table, parental conversation meandered to obituaries. I laid the timer on its side--the tiny river suspended-- and went outside.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What Matters More: What I Do or Why I Do It?

Actions reflect inner temperatures. They are truths displayed, buffed gold, even when socially or mentally tarnished.

I am what I do and what I do triumphs reason. My actions reflect my character. They reveal its content, honest emotion. They are inner mirrors exploited out.

What I do defines me without me speaking. What I do can be self-motivated, group related, or simply a reaction. Even my remaining silent and standing still, politically inert, is action. It’s truth smudged, encroached by darkness.

I did this because you did that. I did this because I wanted/needed/had to have that. Because I did, I am something defined: I give a kiss/money/support. I am kind. I take. I am redefined. I don’t respond. I am transformation.

What I do defines me since what I do is always done by choice, conscious or unconscious. It’s the why, the motivation, which requires close examination. My observed behavior may be explained, rationalized, but never denied. You may recognize the emotion as a sapphire glitter, gleam, glow, or glint.

You will surmise my movements, my decisions, as actions seen through a lens, the filters of your past. In your gaze, I am always upside down, a reflection.

I am a summary of actions. What I do matters more than why because with any action there is always an explainable reason: this is why I did it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Political Criteria

Suppose you’re on a committee to select a political candidate. On what will you base your decision?

Do you choose your candidate by party only? Do you select by popularity? Do you declare people deserve a choice and nominate an individual to break a political stranglehold? Should a private issue(s) be the reason(s) for your choice? Or, do you choose a person who will make an honest effort to be well informed and will make thoughtful decisions? Do you support a leader who benefits you personally or the region as a whole?

Now, suppose you worked on that candidate’s campaign, contributed substantial sums, organized a fundraiser and your candidate won. What if, months later, you realize that the one you supported lied by omission about everything. What would do you do then?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Winged Magellans

It's so clear to me. A six-mile section along the Niagara River Gorge rim where having it all is showcased by a gift of natural scenic wonder, a waterfall landscape so botanically unique that not protecting it is a living global nightmare.

It’s a restored old growth forest, an urban forest of ancients: oaks, hickories, and stunted gorge wall cedars, some 500 and 1,000 years of age. Unique calcareous cliff botanicals, rare blue asters included. It’s standing at the floor of time, the gorge walls a story, a geological slice of earth beginning. It’s glacial identity and diversity engraved by relenting, rushing water, a fall, cascading from four great lakes.

In this recognized globally significant migration zone, bald eagles soar on gorge thermals with migrant songbirds, winged Magellans, on the way back or to other-side-of-the-world locations.

It’s a six-mile walk, a careful, humbling Tubman trek, an experiential wild-eyed glimpse into fear and courage, prodded in the back by her rifle, a duel jeopardy reminder, mind-change flight versus the death of freedom.

It’s Native American sacred ground covered by Moses, his irreverent black pavement smear, the war of ongoing prejudice.

It’s so clear that non-motorized is a vision filled with unlimited possibility, the way Tesla first viewed Niagara’s raw water power turbulence. It’s the masses with head lifted, faces sprinkled by mist, tears, and rainbows.

Despite four years of research documenting hundreds of thousands of new jobs, tourist revenues in the billions, and an informal survey of millions supporting a vision, the remaining undeveloped landscape that makes Niagara Falls unique is almost extinct.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Art of Possiblity

Consider a possibility. Put it in this context:
“Have the Best_____Ever.”
Go ahead. Fill in the blank. Magnify the statement with whatever you desire. The instructions are deceptive, simple: Have it all. Be fulfilled. Create the experience. Make it extraordinary. Make it satisfy. Ignore any circumstances that surround it; all the fears, the opinions and the opposing positions that block your possibility. Only Rule 6 applies to this endeavor: Lighten up, use some humor.