By Joe King
As much as supporters and opponents of the Sevier County visioning process known as Our Smokies, Our Future disagree on the local connect to Agenda 21, one of few conclusions both sides tend to agree upon is Chattanooga’s Vision 2000 process was used as a model.
The current Mayor of Chattanooga and Executive Director of Vision 2000 Ron Littlefield said the process in Chattanooga was in no way related to Agenda 21.
“Most of Vision 2000 happened in 1984,” he said. “Agenda 21 harkens back to something that happened in Rio de Janerio in 1992. If we are part of Agenda 21, then we inspired Agenda 21 and the Rio Summit.”
And while Sevier County residents who see OSOF as a local arm of a dastardly plot to globally subjugate the human race, Littlefield praised the function of the visioning process in Chattanooga.
“To me the vision process is democracy at its best,” he said.
However, Littlefield did say Vision 2000, as well as latter processes, were met with some strong opposition.
“They are usually people who are fearful of change,” he said. “It is that sort of fear mongering that is unfortunate.”
Littlefield explained people in opposition were still allowed to attend, but the forums did have to be handled in a certain manner.
“If an individual wanted to dominate the discussion, the facilitator was to hand them the pen and ask them to wright it down,” he said. “It is amazing how brief people will get and how much they will self-edit when they have to write it down.”
Additionally, Littlefield said it was important each idea was created by those involved.
“If people develop their own marching orders and if it’s done in a creditable fashion with everyone having an opportunity to participate, then the likelihood of actually accomplishing that is increased dramatically.”
And while hosting multiple meetings, splitting participants into groups, and Gianni Longo working as a facilitator for Vision 2000 are all aspects the process shares with OSOF, the media blackout and lack of transparency in the Sevier County process is a primary difference.
Not only has Stefanie Johnson, the coordinator for OSOF not returned phone calls or emails since June, but only two members of Visioning Process have taken their involvement seriously enough to provide information.
“We encouraged the media to cover us,” Littlefield said. “I don’t know what’s going on up there, but we readily talked to the media. I think that’s an important part of the process. If there are suspicions that things are hidden, I think the only way you can overcome that is to invite the media in and make sure everybody sees what is going on”
Ed. note: In the next installment the results of the Vision 2000 process will be examined.