About 200 people showed up at the Edmond Sustainability Forum Monday evening. Judging from the available seating I suspect that was at least twice as many as expected.
The meeting didn’t last long owing to an overwhelming number of residents bent on having their questions answered before being split up into discussion groups and shuffled off.
Shannon Entz, Edmond’s Community Development Block Grant coordinator opened the meeting and in short order (less than 2 minutes after the start of the meeting) asked the attendees to break up into groups for discussion which was met with resistance from a variety of participants who thought more time should be spent talking about “sustainable development” what it means and its origins.
The first question asked of her was straightforward enough.
“Since this is the first Sustainability meeting can we talk in this group about sustainability first?”
Another asked Ms. Entz
“Can you please define sustainability for us?”
Ms Entz had this handy reply ready for just such sticky moments;
“I tell you what. Would someone in the audience like to volunteer to answer that question?”
When one gentleman spoke up about Agenda 21 explaining that it was a United Nations program, Entz replied;
“We don’t know even know what you are talking about.. . . “We are not a part of that….Our agenda has nothing to do with Agenda 21”
A point was then raised about ICLEI.
Once again, Ms. Entz asked the audience to provide an answer. She was obliged by an informed attendee;
“I can answer that. Basically, you guys are signed on with ICLEI which is the International organization, a non-governmental organization that promotes the Agenda 21”
Former Mayor Dan O’Neal who was seated in front of me became indignant.
“And How did we do that, when did we do that? I’m sorry! We have not signed on with any national…international organization!”
Quite a few attendees and Ms. Entz corrected him. Edmond is an ICLEI member city.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. O’Neal after the meeting and he was genuinely bewildered by the suggestion that Edmond was implementing any plan that had anything to do with the UN. I had given him my last copy of Sustainable Development Global to Local Plans and told him it was true that ICLEI is implementing the UN’s Earth Charter on the local level just as they plainly state in their materials.
“Over 10,000 communities worldwide have engaged in Local Agenda 21, a participatory planning process developed by ICLEI for Agenda 21, the global action plan for sustainable development “
Our programs, and projects promote participatory, long-term, strategic planning process that address local sustainability while protecting global common goods. This approach links local action to internationally agreed-upon goals and targets such as:
- Agenda 21,
- the Rio Conventions:
- the Habitat Agenda,
- the Millennium Development Goals,
- the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
Mr. O’Neal indicated that he thought the whole thing very implausible and that if the UN tried to implement anything in Edmond they would be thrashed.
“Well, then you are on the same page as just about everyone else in that meeting only maybe they know something you don’t “ I offered.
I hope he does read the book, one of the authors, Michael Shaw and many others have been battling ICLEI for years.
I gave Mr. O’Neal my number and asked him to call me after he looked into it. I am very interested to see what he thinks.
Ultimately the meeting was cancelled and even the police made a pointed appearance, no one came to blows or mayhem.
I audio recorded the event and here are a few remarks I was able to make out well enough to transcribe and found to be interesting ;
A supporter of the plan says,
“We have a right to have this meeting and to go into groups and to discuss these things and to offer our suggestions. This is something that has been going on in the Community of Edmond with the approval of the leaders of our (unintelligible) and it doesn’t require citizens to come here and ….
“So, you’re saying it’s a done deal!”
One gentleman who appears to be at the meeting because he is simply concerned about the environment is frustrated. He states;
“We have got 2 issues—-We’ve got this ICLEI issue and we have got the conservation issue. They’re pushing us towards discussing it and the conservation issue before we know the real deal and that is the ICLEI issue.”
This statement is widely applauded.
Oklahomans aren’t the only ones getting vocal in their opposition to their city’s partnering with ICLEI to implement Local Agenda 21.
You can get a good overview from about the forum held on Monday evening from this article by the Edmond Sun.
EDMOND — A City Council Workshop to share ideas about sustainability was abandoned midstream Monday night amid protests about the City of Edmond’s involvement in sustainable conservation efforts.
. . .“It’s about saving money, saving energy, reducing waste, which the City of Edmond and many of you have been doing for many, many years,” Entz said.
“We’re telling you we don’t want to do that. We want to talk about sustainability — its history — where it comes from,” Edmond resident Robert Semands said amid widespread applause.
Dr. David Newsome asked if a preliminary discussion about sustainability with the entire audience could occur before the groups were formed.
“I’m a little confused about it, and what I do know, I’m a little worried about it,” Newsome said. “And if the unknowing are going to be leading the groups, we’re not going to get anywhere fast.”