Friday, August 05, 2011

A Deletion, an Apology and a Compact

Until now I have never killed off a Red Electric post. Today I deleted one I put up a couple of days ago.

It had to do with Chase Bank’s efforts to put a branch in Hillsdale. The surprise (some would say “shock”) of Chase’s intentions has brought out the worst in a lot of us in this small community.

In my anger I compared the appearance of the proposed bank to an image of a concentration camp photo. Now I understand why some sites simply don’t accept comments with Nazi references. For many, the pain and emotion aroused simply overwhelm their comprehension of whatever point the writer is trying to make.

For some dear friends, that happened with my post, and I apologize for the pain I caused.

I also made a mistake that I have criticized others for. I got trapped in an inappropriate metaphor. In this case, I relied on “David and Goliath.”

Lazily, I portrayed multi-national Chase as Goliath and, of course, our little Hillsdale community as David.

Worse than being predictable, the metaphor leads inevitably to confrontation and death.

That’s obviously not where I want this to go.

What’s needed here in Hillsdale is quite the opposite. Chase and this community need to sit down together and come up with a mutually acceptable plan for the bank’s new branch.

If that happens, I actually believe good can come from this seeming crisis. But for that collaboration to happen, major change is needed. In the case of Chase, it may even be institutional change.

Change, as they say, also needs to begin with me. I hope this post reflects that. And I dare say it needs to begin with my Hillsdale friends and neighbors who are upset with Chase and me and a number of others. How quickly we manufacture adversaries!

So I have proposed since I posted my “David and Goliath” essay that community leaders and Chase officials forge something called the “Chase/Hillsdale Community Compact.” The compact would lay out mutually-arrived-at objectives and describe an action plan for achieving them.

Unless there is a mutual willingness to come to an agreement, we will all lose. Chase will lose business by simply localizing its tarnished national reputation. Hillsdale will lose the opportunity to advance improvements and values identified in the numerous plans and studies conducted here in the past two decades.

I’ve concluded that the way to bring pressure on Chase and the community is to tell the story of what happens here. Will it be a story of “triumph” or “tragedy”?

I plan to tell that story as best I can — both here and in The Hillsdale News.

My great regret is that I got off to such a divisive and emotion-laden start.

As always, we proceed from here and now.

P.S. The Hillsdale Neighborhood Association has called an "emergency" meeting for Tuesday, August 9, at 6 p.m. to discuss the Chase matter. The meeting is at the Watershed Building at Bertha Court and Capitol Highway. The public is welcome.

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