Thursday, March 22, 2018

chaotic neutral

is a term I dimly recall from my brief and long-ago exposure to D&D, which I think roughly describes the neighborhood meeting I attended this evening.

It was regarding a proposal to convert one of the duplexes across the street from our complex into a preschool. The school's current facility, elsewhere in the city, is necessarily small despite a large demand, and one of their client parents, a Silicon Valley millionaire who can afford such largess, owns this duplex and offered it to them, which could be a larger school, 24 instead of 14 kids.

Judging from some comments cropping up on the neighborhood association mailing list, and some signs cropping up on lawns, some of the neighbors are up in arms over this idea, and so it proved. A round of mutual introductions was civil enough, but barely had the preschool owner begun to speak when some guy, who proved to be a jerk of the "Don't interrupt me while I'm interrupting you" school of discourse, interrupted him to lay out a litany of abusive objections, and after him everybody else came piling in, and the preschool owner kept squeaking that he never got 30 seconds free to say anything.

I had a lot of concerns of my own, but I wanted to hear what the owner had to say first. It helped when the millionaire client, who was a much better public speaker, came up and basically took over. One of my big questions, about dropoffs and pickups congesting the potentially dangerous and cloggable intersection here, got answered before I asked it in a way that enabled me to rephrase it in a way that further advanced the discussion.

That's what I had been hoping would happen in the first place, but the neighbors had derailed it. By 30 minutes into the 90-minute meeting, I was wishing on them every neighborhood preschool nightmare imaginable. As the meeting broke up, the one objector who sounded civilized and sensible, who'd written a post on the NA list with the same characteristics, asked me if I wanted to join her mailing list. Recalling the reference to it in her post, I said I'd be happy to join so long as I wasn't taken as unalterably opposed to the preschool, because I think it's possible that my concerns, at least, could be addressed. But she then withdrew her offer, so I guess either you're against it or you're for it.

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