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It is quite remarkable, but sad, to observe how easily people of all ages, occupations, intellect and description fall into line when they take part in facilitated discussions. They respond to the attention they are receiving with perfect trust. They truly believe their opinions are valued. They truly believe they are contributing a service to their church, school, or community. They truly believe they are participating in self government the way the nation's founders intended. They truly believe the outcome is influenced by the opinions they express.
When a professor or Ph.D. is the main facilitator, trust is multiplied, especially if he is from out of town. If the meeting is subsidized by a foundation or government grant, participants are certain the motives of the organizers must be good. After all, no one would grant them a subsidy unless the motive were good, would they?
When a gathering is divided into smaller groups to discuss social issues, all statements--no matter how trivial, ridiculous, untrue, immoral, or obvious--are carefully recorded on large sheets to be posted on the wall for everyone to see and discuss. Warm feelings of satisfaction and importance replace whatever critical thinking might have been present. When the organizers ask for consensus, the "stakeholders" cheerfully oblige.
I have observed many facilitated meetings, but I have never observed one in which the intent was to learn from the participants. The purposes were always to gain sanction for decisions that had previously been made by the organizing group, and to obtain uncritical cooperation from submissive participants.
The Martin County HOMETOWN NEWS November 14, 2003, reported the formation by 22 citizens of a group called "Friends of Martin County." Its purpose was said to be to discuss county growth and land acquisition. After the organization meeting they invited others to join them, so I joined, observed and participated in the process. It was a diverse group of citizens discussing social issues to reach consensus in a facilitated environment. The whole name is "Friends of Martin County Multi-Stakeholder Consensus Committee." Some of the facilitators were from the University of Florida.
After six meetings, most of them attended by 50 to 70 people, there was no consensus. I must admit they came close in January, but the record stated there was one dissenting vote on the ground that the term "sustainable" was a United Nations global government term. At the February meeting there was more free discussion than at previous meetings, and more questions were asked. In March the Stakeholders set the agendas for the five monthly informational meetings to follow.
After the March meeting I thought it was time for the County Commission to pay closer attention, so I sent the following message to each of the five commissioners:
As you know, the next meeting of Friends of Martin County is scheduled for this Thursday, April 1. I am contacting you because I believe it is important for Martin County Commissioners to attend and observe this meeting. I have been present at the past four meetings. The main accomplishment so far has been to get most of the participants to agree that they want a nice community. However, the next meeting will include speakers from the Nature Conservancy and the SFWMD. I believe you should hear what they have to say.
The important feature of the earlier meetings was not the issues presented, but the change being brought about in our county government. When you, who are elected by the voters, face problems for the county you study the issues, consult with informed individuals, listen to information and opinions of interested citizens, and make decisions which you believe are for the benefit of Martin County, and hopefully are able to justify your decisions to the voting public. This is what you have been elected to do. We understand this and know that you are willing to be held responsible for the decisions made.
Friends of Martin County is turning this process upside down. It assembles a diverse group of uninformed citizens, engages them in discussions under the direction of specially-trained facilitators, and attempts to gain consensus on issues and problems as presented by the organizers. In simplest terms this is an attempt to form a citizen pressure group to promote goals that have previously been determined, but are not necessarily revealed to citizen participants. After group decisions are made the organizers expect to present their "solutions" or "actions toward solutions" to the county commissioners as the voice of the people.
However, certain things are not revealed. Few of the participants realize that their separation into groups, and subsequent discussions, directed by facilitators, are behavior controlling mechanisms of the Delphi Technique. With uninformed participants it always results in "consensus".
Nor are the participants told that the University of Florida, which has been supplying facilitators, is committed to international control of the local environment. This commitment was made when the President or Vice Chancellor of the University signed the Talloires Declaration. The Talloires was activated between October 4-7, 1990 at the Tufts University campus in Talloires, France. Its purpose is to secure worldwide acceptance of international environmental management and sustainable development.
The conference, consisting of twenty-two presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities from all over the world, was organized and hosted by Tufts University President and "World Citizen," Jean Mayer. It was sponsored by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The keynote address was by Maurice Strong, secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development which was held in June 1992. There were twenty original signers. Document creators and promoters claim that signing the Talloires Declaration constitutes a commitment to which the institution can be held accountable over time.
If this is the case, what happens to the commitment of the University of Florida to the State of Florida, and to Florida citizens? It appears to me that we are being betrayed. We do not need an additional betrayal by our County Commissioners. It is important that you be informed, understand what is happening, and assume your responsibility to the citizens of Martin County, and not to the internationalists who are reaching for power.
I included the Talloires Declaration web address.
One of the commissioners put in a brief appearance at the April 1 meeting. Another sent her assistant who stayed for the entire meeting. The meeting was informative and interesting. More of those attending seemed to be thinking rather than conforming. They asked questions and made comments that indicated their minds were working. Although smaller groups were formed after the speeches there was no real attempt to reach consensus. I believe this was because organizers knew that at that time consensus was impossible.
Meanwhile, another committee! State Senator Ken Pruitt is reported to have persuaded Governor Bush to issue an executive order forming the Committee for a Sustainable Treasure Coast. That committee covers Martin, St. Lucy, and Indian River counties. At first it was to have 25 members including one elected official from each government entity on the Treasure Coast. The number has grown to 37 members including Mary Dawson, the organizer of Friends of Martin County. This could be consolation in the event her committee becomes irrelevant.
Other members include Thomas E. Weber, Jr., Publisher, of the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. The newspapers have published many articles and opinions in favor of sustainable development, but I never have seen an article explaining the Earth Charter on which sustainable development is based, or informing readers of its purpose and goals. The Earth Charter is a document developed under the guidance of Canadian Industrialist, Maurice Strong and Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union.
It is an agenda for the 21st century calculated to unite all the nations of the world under a system of international environmental, social, economic, political and spiritual rules. It states: "We urgently need a shared vision of basic values to provide an ethical foundation for the emerging world community. Therefore, together in hope we affirm the following interdependent principles for a sustainable way of life as a common statement by which the conduct of all individuals, organizations, businesses, governments and transnational institutions is to be guided and assessed."
A massive effort to train citizens will be necessary to accomplish the United Nations goals. This is why the Talloires Declaration becomes significant. Twenty of the original twenty-two Talloires participants signed on the spot. Those from the United States were Jean Mayer of Tufts University, Constantine W. Curris, President of the University of Northern Iowa, Wesley Posvar, President of the University of Pittsburgh, and David Ward, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin. Since 1990 more than 300 universities worldwide, including 85 in the United States, have been committed to sustainable development by signing the Talloires Declaration. They have assumed an obligation to educate their students for sustainable development. In addition to the University of Florida, Rollins College, and Saint Thomas University in Florida were among them. The International Association of Universities, which was formed by the United Nations in 1950, has already prepared educational materials for teaching sustainable development.
The Treasure Coast Committee includes two college presidents, and superintendents of the three school districts. When the United Nations starts the big promotion for the worldwide Decade of Education for Sustainable Development which begins January 1, 2005, the educators will be expected to cooperate. It becomes obvious why they were included.
Sustainable development is said to be necessary to protect "Global Common Goods." Global common goods include air, climate, water, soil, biodiversity, health and food. Did you know all these things in Florida were global common goods?
Other organizations supporting sustainable development are the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which is a coalition of CEOs from about 150 international businesses. It was formed in 1991 through the efforts of Maurice Strong. These two organizations have gotten together to form another organization which is called Business Action for Sustainable Development.
Local businessmen and environmentalists and a technical advisory committee are also connected with the Committee for a Sustainable Treasure Coast. So, you see, the members are not casually chosen. James F. Murley, Director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions is the Facilitator. This truly is a diverse group of citizens and public officials carefully selected to discuss social issues and reach consensus in a facilitated environment. And of course they need money. There is a $300,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the same foundation that made a grant to help support the meeting which resulted in the Talloires Declaration.
In the near future the international promoters will be moving into Action 21, which is the international effort to implement all aspects of the Agenda for the Twenty-first Century. Judging by the composition of the Committee for a Sustainable Treasure Coast it looks like the internationalists hope this will be a Local Action 21 Committee. (Check International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives(ICLEI).
I know all this is very complicated. It is supposed to be. If it were not, you and I and the elected officials might be able to figure out what is going on.
© 2004 Erica Carle - All Rights Reserved
Erica Carle is an independent researcher and writer. She has a B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin. She has been involved in radio and television writing and production, and has also taught math and composition at the private school her children attended in Brookfield, Wisconsin. For ten years she wrote a weekly column, "Truth In Education" for WISCONSIN REPORT, and served as Education Editor for that publication.
Her books are GIVE US THE YOUNG--$5 Plus $2.00 P&H WHY THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE--$16 PLUS $4.00 P&H BOTH BOOKS -- $25 Total. A loose leaf collection of quotes titled, SIX GENERATIONS TO SERFDOM is also available--$15 Plus $2.00 P&H. Mailing address: Erica Carle; PO Box 261; Elm Grove, WI 53122.
"Sustainable development is said to be necessary to protect "Global Common Goods." Global common goods include air, climate, water, soil, biodiversity, health and food."