Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Green River Vermont covered bridge
photo:  Porter Thayer 
circa 1910-20

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy
 of things that matter least.



August 5, 2014

Part Two — Rural Life and the Neighborhood

Thank you for the guideline notes, which are actually Rules ** [see below]. It will be helpful to read about the actual discussion at this Sunday meeting for those, like ourselves, not invited, and those unaware but holding simpatico feelings for this covered bridge and river valley. Organizational meetings are absolutely important for spirited inspired discussion, education, overview and to be socially connected at an event. This is one more "event" organized by this "community organizer" that lives in the vacuum of itself, with a coterie of people who have signed up to receive email notices at a loss of EVERYONE not being included. . .even if they don't wish to be: a bridge is out and this impacts their passage, in fact it infects their lifestyle and the rhythm of the entire river valley. If you're going to take on the charge of being a "community organizer" than you best organize, instead of waiting for one more Sunday to show up for one more meeting that tells the whole community nothing at all.

This same "community organizer" repeatedly works in this vacuum of perhaps good intentions with lousy social skills. After Hurricane Irene we caught this community organizer on our land, with a ragtag army selected from his coterie, cutting trees on our property, thinking this was assisting us and the world in some way. All it was doing was following his Rules. When we stopped his charge momentarily onto our land to ask what was happening, since it seemed more than obvious it was a man out of control with a small band of supporters, we were arrogantly rebuffed and finally dismissed (to this day), on our own property! as if what concern of all this should it be to us. This is arrogance of the worst kind, that hides and distributes Rules, that waits for certain Sundays to roll around, so a preferred and select bunch can be notified. Vacuum.

First-time events do require contact notice via ALL ways of communication especially with such short notice — particularly since there is only one source of email addresses distributed and managed by Steve Lembke., the community organizer. As these meetings plan to continue, then that is the time to utilize a "preferred" method of sharing information such as by email only.

As Dick Clark, selectman and representative decision-maker for the town was present at this Sunday meeting, there is more reason to have made a mandatory, inclusive, required notice for the Sunday gathering circulated to ALL especially those on the west side of the river impacted by the bridge closing. Mr. Clark is yet another who works in his own vacuum, caught on video tape from a Guilford Selectboard meeting, where he believes he can speak outlandish comments about us specifically, and with great ignorance, incorrectly, without ever once meeting with us or even knowing us so he can be correctly informed. He passes by our house, as he did last Sunday on his ride to one more Sunday meeting, with no ability to be neighborly. It's a vacuum.

And to be brief — let's not ignore the elephant in the room, well documented by us over the past three years since Hurricane Irene, housed on Bob's Birdhouse blog and in Guilford town records, as to the bad manners and insult of many in this river valley. This includes both Lembkes and many in their coterie, but understand me plainly, not ALL the people — there are still very fine, wholesome and perhaps quieter people that live in the cushion of these woodlands and river. However, we were victims of attacks on our own land by foul mouthed and assaulting neighbors, who operate much the same way this self-appointed community organizer does, at their own whim, with zero respect for the consequences that ensue. One assault after another onto us actually grew into an ugly movement of neighbors, one canvassing with a bogus petition against my wife, addressing a 100% fabrication as to her character, when actually the petition driver was hiding behind the petition with her own troubles and arrogance. NO ONE, but two neighbors of all the signers, questioned the authenticity of this petition or came to talk with us before they signed onto it. One neighbor told us after signing the petition that "Susan Arnold was suing this neighbor," which helped create a firestorm. Let me repeat — no one came to talk to us, or Susan, before signing, to insure a balanced story. The town was also involved with one town official, at least, spreading their own negative rumor mill about us. Thankfully two neighbors did take the time to speak up and inform us of what was happening, as well as other neighbors who either declined to sign or perhaps smelled a rat. Many of the people on this petition are in the community organizer's coterie — and he believes we should hold his second meeting at our house with many of these petition signing cowards? Will he please wake up.

Let me explain why these are cowards — these people are so abusive, so intolerant to good reasoning and communication, that we had to call in the Windham County Sheriff's Department to take care of business. Again, this is all on record and may be over viewed by anyone. Be our guest. The long and short of it all is that the neighbor who circulated the petition and created a bogus history for her own benefit, supported by all these signers, was brought before the Vermont District Court for criminal trespass on our property. The State was set to prosecute but it was agreed by the court for a dismissal with prejudice with the neighbor defendant to write an apology for her abusive behavior and to remain off our property for three years — and if failure to do so, the State would reinstate the criminal prosecution. Please understand, this is the caliber of character we often have to work with in this valley. None to this day have come to talk with us, apologize, or managed any degree of civility. All it would take is being a neighbor. And this they refuse to do. We're certain the defendant-neighbor has never enlightened any of the petition signers as to her outcome with the court, nor has any of the petition signers approached us for a clarification. Vacuum.

These two Guilford representatives — Lembke and Clark — enforce a new lifestyle of working in this vacuum now practiced by many neighbors. Like these two, they work at their own whim and Rules. They operate within their own specialized group, mandated by their own leadership. Why in the world we need one more meeting, instead of having a vigorous and heart-felt and all inclusive information pool established from one meeting, is beyond us.

The bridge is being worked on, fact. The town is in charge of this, fact. Zaluzny is working, Welch will soon move in, fact. If the covered bridge is meant to survive as a viable and working platform for years to come the community, haunted within these vacuums, may prevail, but I doubt it.

The precarious wonder of a covered bridge — at once a massive practical structure, now trapped in antiquity waiting to see if it has a community that can both appreciate and accept its gift, is the key here. There are great examples around Vermont that are a testimony to just where and how a covered bridge has survived, and hasn't. It all begins with the soul of the community. That's how a bridge is built.

Best wishes,
Bob & Susan Arnold


our sister bridge:

** "Rules" as sent by Steve Lembke, "community organizer" ~

To be clear:
The notification list used to announce the Sunday afternoon citizens meetings is the same list you use for your communication updates. There is no separate “notification list” for the citizens group nor do we intend to create one. As you know, the single list used for communication (and currently maintained by you), is comprised of emails sent to you by individuals who have responded to your messages and expressed a personal interest in being part of the communication process. To avoid confusion, individuals wishing to be added to the list have been directed to you for addition and the list has grown steadily and organically to 50+ people.

Regarding the Citizens Group:
As you and Dick Clark heard at yesterday’s very first citizens meeting:
a.       The meetings are for the sharing of information, ideas and concerns about current and future Green River projects
b.      They are intended to be one-hour (hopefully) positive energy, information, meetings
c.       While hopefully pleasant to attend, they are not intended to be social events or unproductive complaint sessions.
d.      They are voluntary and open to anyone who would like to attend
e.      Because the initial idea of having a citizens group meeting was mine, I was designated to be the initial group liaison to the Selectboard --- I.E. to formally collect and bring any full group ideas or concerns to the SB. That said, each person is encouraged to communicate directly with you or the Selectboard. Selectboard members have no official function at the meetings or any obligation to attend and I have no formal tie to the Selectboard other than as one of several group liaisons.
f.        The group decided that the meetings will be held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month at 4:30p at a site to be determined.
g.       While I facilitated and hosted the first meeting, it was made clear to everyone who attended that the facilitation and hosting of future meetings will be shared by the group
h.      It was also decided that very general minutes will be kept and distributed to the group so action steps can be recorded and those who can’t attend are kept up to date.
i.        A voluntary sign-up list will be circulated at each meeting to record who attended and collect any missing emails that might be forwarded to you for addition to the general communication list.
j.        The group decided that, for now, the single email list will be the only method of communication used and attendees were encouraged to tell others about the meetings and have them contact you with their email. If someone wants to start a phone tree they certainly can but it will be up to them to do so. There was no suggestion of that at the meeting.