Wednesday, September 06, 2006

But "I Already Have a Park To Take My Dog To"

Want to change "The Channels?" Don't even think about it.

I've just returned from the grand unveiling of Tulsa's latest visionary solution to what ails us. I've come away with so many thoughts and observations, it's obvious I'm going to have to share them in multiple installments. However, one suspicion was overwhelmingly confirmed.

Your're going to hear a lot about the community "having a dialogue," but via the speaker Tom Cooper's slip of the tongue, it's obvious this train has left Dialogville and is heading full of steam, toward Rhetoric City.

What was his slip? Cooper, who is one of the six principles in Tulsa Stakeholders LLC, who has spared no expense to provide us with this great vision, while speaking about the multiple "dialogues" the group wants to have with various civic groups around the city, said they hope to visit with as many of us as possible to "educate" and "pursuade." defines "dialogue" as follows:

1. conversation between two or more persons.
2. the conversation between characters in a novel, drama, etc.
3. an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, esp. a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.
4. a literary work in the form of a conversation: a dialogue of Plato. –verb (used without object)
5. to carry on a dialogue; converse.

6. to discuss areas of disagreement frankly in order to resolve them. –verb (used with object)

It was obvious to me that Mr. Cooper was far more interested in merely Definition 1, than he was in Definitions 3 or 6.

Those of you expecting a process by which to offer alternatives, or to suggest meaningful changes to the project will be politely pushed aside for "one-on-one" discussions "later." As Mr. Cooper said to one questioner from the audience, "I'm not going to get into a debate with you in front of everyone here."

Sure would be a shame to ruin a good pep rally with honest debate or real dialogue.

Before ending this entry and returning to the Doubletree to retrieve my digital camera I left under my chair, let me make a couple of more observations about the Question and Answer period that ended the presentation.

1. There were more negative questions than positive; two-to-one by my reckoning.

2. There were over thirty rows of chairs in the hall, but no positive questions were offered from any rows, except the front four, where the insiders sat.

3. The Q&A went SO poorly, in fact, that frantic supporters tried to get in "just one more question," so that Bill Warren, John-Kelly Warren's father, could stand up and give an impassioned speech about why this had to happen [More on this later I hope].

Finally, my favorite question out of all of them came from a young women who identified herself as Claire. She was twenty-something and shared that she was a lifelong Tulsan. Before asking a fairly fair question about why we weren't building on the assets we already have as a city, Claire retorted Mr. Cooper's argument that animal lovers should support the half-billion dollars of public investment in their "pet" project. Animal lovers? Why is that? Because animal lovers would have a great "pet park" to take their dogs to, Cooper explained. Claire opened her remarks by saying:

"I already have a park to take my dog to...Woodward Park."

Thanks Claire!

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