Nashville Ready Mix Proposes concrete Batch Plant - NorthEast Nashville's Katie Hill Community is Not Happy.
* notice of correction. I incorrectly quoted who is representing Nashville Ready Mix as Jessica Lucyshyn. Those statements were corrected below and now show the correct attorney representing Nashville Ready Mix as Erica Garrison with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP.
I debated to write about this on my blog, but hang with me through this. I then realized I am a community organizer and this is what I do. Plus I have a Pit Bull and an English Bulldog. The saying goes true " An owner makes a conscience choice when deciding a particular dog breed that reflects their own personality" :-) .I chose appropriately.
On December 22, 2014, I received a notice from the planning commission titled " Notice of Development Application Filing". ( see image) . The request states the applicant is requesting to amend the community plan and rezone properties to Specific Plan district to permit a new concrete batch plant. As I am sitting down for a hot cup of tea to read the mail, I suddenly stop in silence to process what i just read. What? A concrete batch plant?
This blog entry addresses the following -
The Confused Councilman?
I immediately decided to email My district 2 councilman, Frank Harrison. His response was " How did you find out about this?" and asked me to give him a call. RED FLAG.
After Christmas and all of my Toy Drive, I was able to sit down, and read through the additional notice I received stating there will be a community meeting on January 5, 2015 at the Nashville Ready Mix location at 605 Cowan. I then gave Frank a call to discuss what all of this really meant, obviously before I jump to any conclusions. But the notice was pretty Clear: Amend the community plan and rezone properties to Specific Plan district to permit a new concrete batch plant.
Below is the conversation Frank and I had on 12/28/2014 ( you can either read or listen - i am posting the recording in a separate blog - click here ). Either one of two things occurred, either Frank was lying to me, or really just has NO idea what is going on in District 2. Either way, what a shame. I had not intended on recording this ,but I was so busy that week, and quite honestly did it so I could listen back. I'm ADD and I miss things. If you would like to read the transcript, here ya go. I have highlighted a few important statement and my thoughs during this conversation are in green after i listened to the conversation over and and over again. ( or BS statements really )
Me- I am finally able to sit down for a minute and look at things. So I wanted to call you and see what you know about this concrete batch plant and re-zoning request that I received a notice on.
So there you have it. I felt disgusted after that conversation. This the first time I have ever first hand experienced the downside of politics. When I asked Frank Harrison his thoughts, he could not answer my question. Frank Harrison really just wanted me to go away. Well, sir, that is not going to happen. His reaction at the community meeting was quite opposite. He knew a lot about the plans to sound so uneducated about them when i was on the phone with him. I have since then spent days and hours doing research with some of my neighbors and found quite a bit of disturbing information about Nashville Ready Mix. I first went to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to see how well This company has complied with environmental standards, unlike what NRM stated in the Tennessean article just written last week. Please take a look at the following violations.
Next up - Nashville Ready Mix - Obviously not Environmentally Ready Mix.
This is a complaint Just recently in October and photos sent in from the individual who filed the complaint - TDEC Stated in the investigation " The failure to maintain appropriate sampling and monitoring records and the failure to have a site specific SWPPP meeting the RMCP permit requirements at the site are violations of the RMCO General NPDES permit, and the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act."
Below are more violations by Nashville Ready mix over the years. I can see why they have never really fixed any of their environmental problems. What is the consequences or fines for dumping concrete in the river, or not having a proper storm water pollution prevention plan? Nothing really.
If you do not wish to read through all of the violations above, let me give you the cliff notes version:
1. Multiple violations in regards to no Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans on Site throughout the years.
2. Complain in 2005 from a citizen that states cement solids were being dumped into the Cumberland River by a front end loader. The results of the investigation concluded that The General Manager of the plant did not even know if a SWPPP for the facility even existed. They also discovered materials had spilled over the walls of the storage bins.
3. in 2012, a complain was made by the city regarding large amounts of materials being tracked out onto Cowan Court. TDEC recommended a sweeper attachment to keep the street clean, yet Jeff Bryant, GM of NRM, decided that they would just "put measures in place to prevent the tracking of materials onto the street". Well, Mr. Bryant, your system hasn't worked very effectively. (See photos ).
4. May 2008 - A NOV/SWO was issues to James, Mark, and Steve Meadows, for grading/Filing without a permit and in a floodplain, inadequate EPSC, and illicit discharge. The penalty was $500. Are you kidding me? $500? This was actually at 1326 Baptist World Center Drive, where Meadows Excavating is located. But interestingly enough, I have NEVER seen a Meadows Excavating truck there, they all say Nashville Ready Mix. It is a huge lot filled with Nashville Ready Mix Trucks. I wonder if this is still going on today since Frank said they are just wanting to "part their trucks legally".
6. May 2011 - A file review indicated that Discharge Monitoring Reports for the following facilities were not submitted to the division since October 2007.
and the list goes on.
All of the violations above are all pretty much awful for our environment and negligent on the part of Nashville Ready Mix. It's obvious they have zero concern for the environment and could give a crap about the community or neighborhood. This is a photo of what it looks like in front of their property just a couple of weeks ago before the community meeting. Hmmm. Looks really nice and clean. I'm sure their attorney or PR person had someone clean it up since I looked yesterday and it wasn't as bad.
And last .. So Fast Foward ... Nashville Next... What?
On Monday January 5, 2014, my self, around 20 other Katie Hill Neighbors, Stephanie McCullough with Metro Planning, Erica Garrison with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP Jessica Lucyshyn, the Attorney for Nashville Ready Mix ( Gresham, Smith & Partners), Frank Harrison - District 2 Councilman, Scott Davis - District 7 Councilman, Walter Hunt - District 5 Councilman, and the GM for Nashville Ready Mix, all gathered in a little tiny room at the Nashville Ready Mix location on Cowan Street. Throughout the entire meeting I was completely confused. Does Stephanie McCullough work for NRM? Does Erica Garrison work for Metro? It was as if we were walking into a situation in which there was no reason to have a meeting. If you would like to hear the entire meeting, click here. This is what Frank Harrison stated half way though the meeting:
"Correct me if i am wrong Councilman Hunt ( who is on the planning commission) , there is no guarantee right now, so when this goes to the planning commission for rezoning and the SP, there may be some questions about the dust, concern about the contamination, or concerns about the proximity to the river and storm water, but all of the engineers at the planning commission are the ones who will be looking at all of this and they are the ones to decide if this is a done deal and if this gets done. So we could sit around here all day and discuss or talk about the pros and cons and what you think would be better or what you think would best, but still the bottom line is that the planning commission and engineers are the one who will determine and give the final ok if this SP and if the rezoning occurs."
Ummm.... So why are we here? Why did you tell me to come to this meeting and express my concerns to Mr. Meadows ( who wasn't even there). The entire room sat in confusion and verbally stated, "Why are we here again?"
The attorney for Mr. Meadows, Erica Garrison, had some very encouraging words as well (Sarcasm) -
This is an SP ( Special Project) so in a very real essence of the community , anything can be put on that site without any community input in the current IWD zoning. In terms as to what can happen on that IWD zoning, anything can happen on that property, there is absolutely no incentive to get community input or requirements to clean up the property, and I’m not saying as a threat, but I am saying that is just the current status of what it is, but under the new SP, if you want additional landscaping that is a conversation that we can have. A Batch plant is not something that everyone absolutely is going to love, but it is a necessary for Nashville and our economy and it is one of those things that we must have and if done in a sensitive way, for areas in which industrial is already there, it can be done very good in our opinion.
News Flash Ms. Garrison, we completely understand what is there now, and understand that Nashville Ready Mix doesn't give a sh*t about cleaning it up obviously. There is trash everywhere and they dump concrete in the Cumberland river. WE get that. And that gives us even more conviction in fighting this. What makes you, as an educated woman, come to the conclusion that Nashville Ready Mix is going to all of the suddenly follow the rules and regulations when it comes to protecting our environment and natural resources? You wouldn't like a concrete batch plant in your back yard spreading contamination, noise, and creating a safety hazard when your children are playing or walking home from school. Get a heart woman, and save your political correct answer for someone else besides me. It's sad to me that people will fight for something so blatantly wrong for a community AND the environment, to get a paycheck or push some hidden agenda. I understand what it is zoned as now, and have NEVER complained. I moved here looking at that dump. I didn't move here and work this hard for my community, to have my councilman, his back door political "good ole boys" system, or the planning commission to change the entire community plan to build a concrete batch plant in my back yard. And lastly Ms. Lucyshyn, no, not just anything can be put in the IWD zoning. Such as a concrete batch plant. If that were the case, the batch plant would already be there, but IWD does not permit Heavy Industrial for a purpose. And yes, its obvious that they don't have to clean it up or do anything with it, its a legal junk yard flowing into the Cumberland River contaminating our water and killing our wildlife. So your creative way to make the SP sound brilliant, doesn't work so well. Your SP would puts heavy manufacturing in an area. It's pretty obvious Ms.Garrison assumed she was talking to a group of Kindergartners.
Ironically, not all businesses or residents got notification of this meeting. Although there was one lady at the meeting in favor of moving the Nashville Ready Mix plant to Vashti. She works for Sound Check and name dropped all of the famous artist who store their equipment in her building and stated they would NOT store their equipment there if dust was a problem or even noise. This lady tried to compare Vince Gill storing his guitar in the building to the fruit distributors that would be storing the fruits and vegetables that feed the army and all of Nashville. Considering the doors being open in the 4 produce buildings surrounding the proposed concrete batch plant, contamination and pollution of food is a HUGE concern and could put these companies out of business and even worse, an epidemic of food contamination across the city of Nashville and beyond. Quite horrific to thing about right? I also researched more into Sound Stage, and ironically, Mr. Steve Meadows, the owner of Nashville Ready Mix, owns the property at 740 Cowan St. , in which Sound Check stores all of its famous and fancy equipment of the almighty country music empire. I wonder why she was even there? It is proposed to move AWAY from her, not in her back yard. She should be screaming praises instead of even opening her mouth. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Mr. Meadows also purchased 411 Cowan Street for $1.25 million in September under the name of :
CI Partners, LLC
6E Monroe Street Suite 300
Chicago, ill. 60603
which is affiliated with:
Monroe Investment Partners
30W Monroe, Suite 1000
Chicago, Ill 60603
All in all, sorry lady, you are not a property owner, you are a renter. And even more, you are irrelevant in the conversation. Bye Felicia.... and bye Vince Gill or Amy Grant. I don't care ???
In conclusion regarding the meeting, it was basically to tell us what to expect and we could pick out what type of trees we wanted as the buffer, how in the hell do you buffer an 85 ft silo in the air? Following the meeting, I nearly cried for 2 hours. I felt so disappointed and saddened that my councilman felt as if this is something good for the community. After all of the hard work I have put into building my community, all of the Nashville Next meetings I have attended and given feedback on how we envision Katie Hill (with Frank Harrison sitting right beside me), and all of the community service work to build my neighbors up.
In the process of everything, I was told Frank Harrison is interested in running for the metro council at large position in the August elections. His seat is up for re-election for district 2 come August. Frank Harrison has stated to a couple of my colleagues " I would like to run for council at large if I don't get any bad press." I have also had 2 people inform me that the right amount to get this stop would be around $30-40k, as that is what would be needed to run a good city wide campaign to be an effective candidate for the council at large position. I have not been able to pin point the money part quite yet, but I will find it if it exist. I have already spent hours in the election commission looking at the contributions made to past 2 campaigns which include mainly of developers and real estate agents. There is nothing wrong with that in my opinion if they truly support him, and I cannot state factually if those individuals do or not. I also uncovered that Mr. Meadows was the former Potentate of the Shriners here on Brick Church Pike. Apparently the Shiners are pretty influential people, and ironically where we hold our Nashville North By Northeast meetings every month. No wonder my NNxNE colleagues won't back me up here and just want to sit back and watch.
Let me also say this, I have NEVER taken credit for starting Nashville North By Northeast United, but I will let you all decide who you think is responsible for it, and doing any of the work. I will also let you decide who is in this to build a community or who is in this for money. Wow, have I learned a lot. For example, Not one business owner showed up to the Talbot Family Cemetery Clean up ( which is NOT on Katie Hill, but part of Nashville Northeast) to actually work. One came for a photo op and then left. That was my test in showing who really cared, and no one cares, unless money is involved. It really was just something to talk about in the monthly meeting, and I am tired of being the only one who shares good news, or any news at all. I'm learning so much these days.
I have realized.... those of my colleagues I normally would depend on backing Katie Hill up, have stood silent. Either stood silent, or are completely in favor of the concrete plant. THIS MAKES ABSOLUTELY no sense, based on all of the past Nashville Next community meetings with UT and Georgia Tech students, as well as the community surveys. Why the hell do we even do these surveys? Is this just a ploy to make people think as if Nashville really even cares about what the neighbors want and money is the true factor in all of this?
Read these blogs also - I am apparently not the only ones questioning this and now I feel like I am experiencing this power crunch first hand.
"My considered suspicion of Nashville Next is often met with disbelief, defensiveness and frustration by those who enthusiastically participated in its process or those who believe it changes nothing about past community planning.
But Nashville Next has been the next stunt to lead neighbors into believing that they have influence over their community's character, when in reality they little. Planners shift paradigms and communities are thrown off balance. Market-driven developers, power-hoarding politicians and esoteric new urbanists have the strongest hold of the reigns of planning of anyone." - Mike Byrd, The Enclave
I realize that concrete is necessary to keep up with the growth in the Nashville community, but why move the plant a half a mile up the road into a FLOOD plain when we already know this company HAS ZERO respect for the environment or taking pride in the community or their property? Metro Planning has taken "all of the information we provided them at the community meeting and "all of the research from their engineers" and come to the recommendation to have the planning commission (board) approve the community plan amendment and the zoning change to SP to build a concrete batch plant. Sadly, we knew this was coming because it is a political decision, not a planning commission decision.
So in conclusion, I am getting to the bottom of this and i have started an online causes petition in which you can find here and sign. I am also going to be posting photos, recorded conversations and will link through to those as soon as I get them posted along with the latest photos I have taken of the current site.
The public hearing is set for Thursday January 22, at 4:00pm at the Sonny West Conference Center ( First Floor), 700 2nd Avenue S. I will be there and I am encourage all of those who are interested in making a statement about what we as citizens can do to get back our communities, please attend also. Everyone has told me I am crazy and i can't make an impact or change this outcome, but at least I will go down fighting for Katie Hill, and fighting for my city and whats right.
Please share and hashtag
Click Here for More photos
Click Here for Audio of conversation with Frank Harrison
Click here to Show support and sign the petition
Nashville is growing faster than any of city in the US. By 2035, we are estimated to have a population of 2.6 million in our 10 county region. Among the many accolades our city has been given, one of the highlights includes being ranked #10 for best places for tech jobs and starting a business.
At a Glance (source Forbes )
With all of the great accolades and growth occurring in Nashville, the question among government officials, community leaders, citizens, business owners, and developers pretty much lies the same. Where are all of these 2.6 million going to live by the year 2035? The Metro Nashville Planning commission has created the Nashville Next initiative to gather 1,000s of ideas from community members on how we would envision our city within the next 25 years. I have been so fortunate to be apart of this by participating in small groups as well as open forums discussing how we should plan for such growth in our city, and more specifically Nashville North By North East (Talbot's Corner, Katie Hill, Dickerson Road Historic District, Brick Church Pike Business Park, and Lock One Park/ Heaton's Station)
Since I began this journey as a community organizer almost 2 years ago, I have become more enlightened, educated, and grateful for each and every individual I have met along the way. Each individual has played a role in the now extensive network I have in Nashville community, and I only look forward to meeting new faces everyday. They range from my neighbors, other community leaders, city council members, government officials, small business owners, church leaders, philanthropists, corporations, Realtors, professors, commercial developers and residential developers/builders. As I have made relationships with each and every person, I have become more defined and passionate regarding my personal beliefs on inclusion and revitalization vs. gentrification. And if you can't tell already, I'm a little bit passionate about it. Better yet, I am passionate about people. About community.
Look, this is not an easy subject to touch on, and it is quite sensitive to many individuals, including me. I get a angry look on my face when someone says, " Oh that's great, Lindsey, what you are doing with the children in the community. So many other communities in Nashville are already gentrified, and you are on your way." Nothing could make me more sick to my stomach. The term 'gentrification' and helping children have absolutely nothing to do with each other in my opinion. In many ways, there aren't many individuals in my position right now. To be quite honest, it is so hard to be "stuck in the middle", yet I see this as an opportunity to bridge the gap between equitable development and community inclusion/preservation. Let me explain why:
1. I am not a Realtor , but if I were , I've been known to sell ice to Eskimos, but only when I am passionate about my product and have created an emotional connection with that product, place, or ability to help the other individual or group of individuals. If I don't feel that way, then I won't be involved in the transaction.
2. I am not a developer, but I help develop. I have helped on the back end of many transactions, and I connect property with good people based on the needs of the community. I will not consider my own, or anyone's financial interest over the needs of the community and it's people.
3. I am in love with diversity and inclusion. I am in love with not just the children on Katie Hill, but the single mom who struggles to feed and cloth her babies, or the mom who has the 20 year old son in prison and struggling to ensure he is taken care of in a prison system that has minimal compassion regarding how they treat individuals as human beings.
4. I'm the odd WOman out. I'm white, yep you didn't know? I'm single. I live here. I love here. I create art here. This is not my community, but it is Katie Hill's Community.
So with all this being said, I am stuck right in the middle, and to get to the point, Nashville, we have GOT to change the way we are developing OUR communities and the ways in which approach the growth occurring in our own back yards. There has to be a balance among equitable development and the over-all well being of a community and its people; old and new. For developers and Realtors who do not know me or heard my story, I think I will start saying #sorryimnotsorry in advance before I educate you all real quick on how we do things a bit differently here on Katie Hill. My conversations with Realtors or builders ignite with excitement when speaking on all the great investment opportunities on The Hill. In most conversations, I can pick up in about 5 minutes if the developer or builder would be a good fit for Katie Hill. If he/she speak negatively about the eye sores and the amount of money to be made vs. focusing on the positives attributes, inclusion, and diversification, I usually shut them down real fast. Look, I get it. I have to make a living and take care of my business. And don't get me wrong, I love the idea of having new neighbors and the value of my home increasing, duh. I'm a business woman. But at what point in the business life cycle do people realize that there are ways to build communities with a conscious, or are we so far gone that we can't consider the human beings who have occupied a property or a neighborhood for sometimes 30 to 50 years?
I am so blessed to be working with the best of the best on Katie Hill. We know each other so well, and are at a pivotal moment in our growth cycle in which we can protect those around us, and grow at the same time. Why? BECAUSE WE LIVE HERE. When you actually live in a community, you will do anything you can to lower crime statistics and create a safe environment by building relationships and trust with local law enforcement/ govt. agencies. In our minds, if we don't do it, it might not be done consciously, and again WE LIVE HERE. We want to experience fellowship with our neighbors, and create opportunities for those who may have never had the same ones we've had. You see a child, and you know they deserve the same education and opportunities of those children living in nicer communities, because we know that education is vital to a child's success as he/she goes out into the real world.
With all of this being said, I want to challenge everyone in Nashville to think a little differently, specifically those in the real estate and development industries. This is not a difficult concept, and Lord knows we won't do everything perfectly and will make mistakes along the way. As a neighbor and a community organizer, I will ask you to do a few thing going forward that you may not have thought of in the past. Consider the community in which you intend on revitalizing before you consider the money going into your pocket. Consider the families, the children, and the homes in which people occupy, regardless of their race or income level. There is plenty of money to be made in this growing economy, but I also feel as if we can do a better job paying mind to the neighborhoods that have been around for years and years, generation after generation. Do some homes need vast improvements? Sure. But what ways can we help residents improve their quality of life or effectively incorporate affordable housing ( which raises the question of... what is affordable these days ?) with the booming real estate market? In my opinion, the ones who really step into the community to play a bigger role than just ' developer', 'realtor' or even 'new homeowner' , will preserve while improving the future landscape of our city. This is why Nashville Next is so vital to our city. The people must stand up for what they would like to see in their neighborhoods. We live here, we have a to speak up for those who may not have voice or impact.
Everyone has the opportunity to be a giver and community activist in their everyday lives by considering the basic needs and necessities of all individuals. I would also ask you to speak differently when referring to the diverse dynamics of certain neighborhoods. Stop dwelling on the negatives. Stop dwelling on the fact there is crime, and do something about it. I promise you, when I had my old condo for sale in Hillsboro Village, no one asked me about the gun that was pulled on me right outside my front door, because based on perception, that is something that would never happen in such an affluent community.... right? I also would ask you to take ownership in the neighborhoods your work in. Pick up trash if you see it on the side of the road, get to know the people who live on the streets, and treat them like you would want to be treated. As Realtors, you are not just selling a home, you are selling a lifestyle. If you are showing/selling property in a diverse community, encourage your buyers to get involved and get to know their new neighbors.
And Last, integrate social responsibility into your business plans and work with other Realtors, developers, neighborhood associations, and local business owners in the communities your serve. Developers/Builders, , consider hiring work with in the neighborhoods you are building in. If you see young men walking the streets without work, offer to teach them. Incent your contractors to hire these young men (and women). This is grassroots folks. This is not donating money or plopping your logo next to a charity ( which is all good if that's your thing) , this is getting your feet dirty and putting true effort into improving the quality of life for everyone, old and new. In life, many individuals will disappoint us, but I promise, if you can develop relationships with those around you in need, you may change 10 lives or maybe just 1, but you have at least provided an opportunity to the communities in which you serve, and that's what it takes. One individual can make an incredible impact. You may call yourself just a Realtor, builder, or developer. But in my opinion, you are so much more; the next 20 years in Nashville sits on your shoulders, and I'm a bit nervous about it. You can either continue building and encouraging gentrification,or you can take a socially responsive approach to this growth and differentiate yourself from the rest by putting people and the needs of the community first. I promise, you will be financially rewarded. It's just the way this universe works.
Myself, along with many others are passionate about our inner city communities, especially our children. We want to see Nashville unlike any other US city regarding diversity and economic growth.
If you have not considered what your company or organization is doing to become more socially responsible, I would recommend an action plan, otherwise, the ones who care about this issue will speak even louder.
I have done several interviews with different media outlets and this topic seems to be covered more and more everyday. This is not a threatening message by any means, it's simply a message of encouragement in hopes you might think a little differently when you walk the streets of Nashville showing property , or knock on the door of an 85 year-old widowed African-American woman to inquire on purchasing her home as an investment. The government may control many aspects of growth through regulations and zoning, but they will never be able to regulate our conscious or character. Nashville's future relies on each and every one of us.
Be sensitive. Be bold. Be passionate. Be Different .Make A Difference.
Kind Regard and LOVE for NASHVILLE -
Lindsey C Langley
Last week, Mayor Karl Dean announced a series of community meetings to solicit ideas from the public for an online encyclopedia of Nashville history and culture, which is scheduled to launch next year. John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center and former editor and publisher of The Tennessean, is serving as executive editor of the online project, called Encyclopedia of Nashville and Davidson County. Carole Bucy, who is the Davidson County historian, will help lead the project and serve as editor-in-chief. Upcoming community meetings include the following: ·Monday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. at South Police Precinct ·Tuesday, June 24, 6:30 p.m. at Bordeaux Library ·Monday, June 30 at 6 p.m. at Green Hills Library · Thursday, July 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Goodlettsville Library ·Monday, July 14 at 6 p.m. at Hermitage Library ·Tuesday, July 17, 6:30 p.m. at Edmondson Library ·Monday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Madison Library · Thursday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Casa Azafran · Thursday, July 31 at 6 p.m. at Bellevue YMCA (Fifty Forward area) I was happy I got to attend the Bordeaux meeting this past Tuesday. Nothing excites me more then being able to share the history of our Nashville communities, especially Katie Hill. If you've read any of my previous blogs you know I have been researching our Nashville North By Northeast communities for a while. And it has been challenging and fascinating at the same time. I'm so excited to connect with other people in the community who share the same love and passion for the history that has created the city of Nashville and what it is today. I plan on submitting an article for the encyclopedia about Katie Hill, Heaton's station/ Lock One Park. Exciting stuff and this is why I'm so thankful for a our great Mayor, Karl Dean, and Nasjville is the best place to live in the USA! Please check out one of the meetings if you have time , it's very interesting!
In life you always hear people say, " It's not what you know, its who you know". Well first of all, don't get it twisted. I'd say that knowledge is power, and most people can pick up when you are just blowing smoke up their a$$. So it's advisable to continue the learning process as you move through life. When it comes to the concept of "it's who you know", well that could be questionable in my opinion. I've met many individuals in life who are bright as the sky, have the network of Oprah, but quite honestly, I'd rather have a conversation with a straight man about the new Christian Louboutin Fall line. It's just plain boring. With that being said, I find it extremely important not only to build your network, but also genuinely engage with the people with in your professional and personal communities in order to reach your personal goals and what you define as success.
I know that not everyone is a natural "engager" or "includer" ( Check out StrengthsFinders2.0 ) ,but I am learning more and more that genuine relationships open doors to new adventures and opportunties. The simple introduction and network just isn't enough these days. This goes for both the digital network and the face to face network. People are drawn to passionate individuals with whom they connect with on a much more intimate level than the surface. This connection is not simply made by telling your own story, but it's just as important to listen and learn from those around you. Imagine going through your day and not hearing, reading, or seeing a "feel good" story. These stories are what connect us all as humans. They are what make us feel happy, sad, encouraged and motivated. Stories build relationships and relationships are the key to a fulfilling life in my opinion. As fast of a paced world we live in, we can never neglect or underestimate the importance of human engagement and organic authenticity.
Just recently, a good friend of mine referred me to one of his colleagues who is in the music management business. So we met for dinner and discussed one of his artists who he is struggling to promote on social media and ultimately increase his record sales. Let's name this artist "Ricky Johnson " (that sounds like a country artist right?). Ricky is no Blake Shelton or George Straight, but this guy has legitimately written with A list country singers and has a few unique selling points to his brand. As any one who consults in the digital media/content management arena, my questions revolved around getting to know Ricky's target market/brand, followed by, " So how well does Ricky interact with his fan base and is he genuinely engaged?". His response was, " Oh he hates it and he just won't do it. He's too busy and I'm paying someone to do it for us. But I have also bought about 75,000 twitter followers and Facebook friends and I'm pretty excited about the fan base being built up." I then went to ask him about the first week of record sales since his album had just released. Ricky had sold 20 digital downloads the first week. My mouth almost fell the floor and I again reminded myself of why this concept wasn't working for Ricky....or anyone in the world. I kindly explained to the gentleman that I am a firm believer that quality is much more valuable than quantity and it would be more effective to have 500 Facebook that are genuinely interested vs. spam and non engaged individuals. When your network is inspired and encouraged by your story, don't worry. They will share it, your network (relationships) grows naturally, and your over all value increases.
I unfortunately had to tell the gentleman I couldn't help him or his artist. Especially since the artist is dead set on not interacting with his current and potential fans. Ricky has the talent to succeed, a network of very successful music industry heavy hitters, but unfortunately has zero desire to genuinely communicate with his current fan base and potential fan base. Fan base = loyalty, job security, and income. Sorry Ricky Redneck. I wish you the best of luck.
So as your think about different ways to reach your goals and success as you define it, think about Ricky Johnson. Consider that it is always a plus to have the knowledge/skill/talent because learning and honing your craft throughout life only makes you better. Also consider the network around you could potentially lay the foundation and build a few doors, but how you communicate with others and cultivate meaningful relationships with that network is what ultimately opens those doors to new adventures and opportunities . The beautiful thing about life is that we are given the opportunity to define what the meaning of success is as individuals. We get the opportunity to share experiences and create stories with the people we meet along the way, and if that's all I accomplish in life, well I'd consider myself one extremely successful kick-a$$ woman.
First of all, let me say a couple of things. I do not consider myself a “feminist” if it were defined by Webster’s. Everyday I wake up and work 150% regardless of my gender. It just doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t believe in being victimized or feeling sorry for myself. It’s not in my DNA. I love being a woman and all things that encompass being a woman. I love playing dress up, getting my hair done, nice shoes, makeup, and taking all precautions to ensure I age gracefully. I am about to talk about something I rarely do. I am a woman who appreciates the beauty of a woman on the outside, but more importantly on the inside. A woman who desires it all including a career, family and respect from my male counterparts. I may struggle at times like most, but I will never play the victim and I want to be remembered not just as the woman I am, but more importantly as the person am. Carryon…
I went to see Miss Representation last night at the Belcourt Theatre. Here is the synopsis.
Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (87 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective
I have been living in a cave for 32 years apparently, or maybe I have just been immune to the impact of media on women and how we are portrayed and what it is doing to our society. I guess I have just strived to be the best I can be regardless of my gender and never really thought about how the mainstream media has portrayed us as women. Here are a few statistics I just couldn’t believe.
Women make up 51% of the US population... however women comprise only 20% of congress
35 women have served as US governors compared to 2,319 men.
The U.S is the only major industrialized nation without paid family leave.
In 2011, only 11% of protagonists in films were female.
Between 1937 and 2005 there were only 13 female protagonists in animated films...All of them except one had the aspiration of finding romance.
Women hold only 5% of clout positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing, and advertising.
It never occurred to me we really haven not progressed as a minority in the United States. If anything, we are digressing. Apparently as women, we are told our success is defined by our physical attributes. Our success is defined by how attractive we are according to male standards and by what the media tells us everyday. I guess I never realized this because I hold myself responsible for my own accomplishments vs. blaming others expectations on my failures, or my gender for that matter. After the show last night, one of the panelist asked everyone to raise their hand if you have ever ran for a position of a club, organization etc. in high school. About 1/3 of the room raised their hand. Then she went on to ask the same question about running for a position in college, and then in local public govt. Shockingly, that number narrowed down to around 10 who ran for a position in college and then 5 women in the entire room who ran for public office. See, when we are little girls, we could imagine ourselves running for president of the United States equally as the little boys in our classroom. But as we age, we are conditioned to think that a man should be the president of the United States. We as a society have also become conditioned to think we must fit into compartments. In my opinion, organized religion has played a big part in compartmentalizing gender roles but also lifestyles. Organized religions have determined what is acceptable vs. what is not acceptable, therefore cause people to turn their head at the entire idea of religion, or jump all in. Love and compassion for all just doesn't seem to exist, or maybe it never has in the past, I don’t know.
In high school, like most people, I was bullied. I was bullied for being over weight and I struggled through eating disorders and an over all image disorder. As I aged, I became more comfortable with in my own skin and the woman I am on the inside most importantly but also on the outside. Being a woman is fun. I am usually the only women in many cases. In my career and in my community work especially. I’m not going to lie and say its not frustrating sometimes. But frustrations come along in life no matter what you do.
Believe it or not, Opportunities are not given, they are created. Technically we all as Americans have the same given rights as man or woman. Those technical rights have not always existed, and thankfully they do today. With that being said, why have not progressed as females in leadership? Why are we misrepresented in board rooms and political offices? Let me tell you why ( in my opinion) we are not there yet. Because we as women have yet to take personal responsibility to create our own opportunities. We focus on dwelling about what’s holding us back and what we can’t do vs. what we can do. We focus on the one man who treated us differently because of the way we looked or told us we didn't “fit” the part when we were the most qualified. We have to “woman up”, learn from it, and move on. In all honesty, any man that treats a woman ( or man) this way, is really just dealing with his own insecurity problems. Any confident man or woman will always hire the most qualified individual. We also lack good mentors. We are taught to idolize TV stars, models, and now reality TV stars vs women like Marissa Mayer, Condoleezza Rice, and the female small business owners that contribute to society. I have modeled in my life and you could find some bikini pics out there if you go looking. Do I regret that or feel as if it demoralizes me? No. I was bit of a chubster in my day, and I’m ok with no make-up and a bun, just as much as I am with a bikini and Louboutins. I’m not hurting anyone and I personally feel a woman can have a brain and still feel beautiful and classy at the same time. But when I speak to someone, I expect their full attention not by telling them “ I am woman, hear me roar”, but by speaking with conviction and conveying the confidence when speaking. There is nothing more attractive than a woman who is confident at what she does and how she speaks.
The media, especially reality tv, has done a fantastic job glorifying women who get in “cat fights” on tv with other women over men, clothing and the things that really don’t matter in life. These women who participate in these shows then make millions of dollars and feel as if they are successful. The problem is our little girls and young women watch this and desire that sort of “success” or the idea of marrying a man with money and living happily ever after. This could be the case. Maybe the crazy women pulling hair on national TV are the happiest women in the world, but it certainly doesn’t make our society and culture any more progressive and truly lacks a sense of love and compassion for the ones around them.
This brings about the entire concept of “ If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” We are a visually stimulated society. Think about Rosa Parks. Do you think someone gave her the opportunity to sit where she did on the bus? No ma’am. She just did it. She didn’t ask for permission, she took a stand for what she believed in. She wasn’t screaming or shouting at everyone outside the bus, she walked on the bus, and sat down. Simple. We can talk all day long, yell at men for the way they may have treated us, but we have to act. We have to ultimately carry ourselves differently if we want the respect that we deserve.
When you think about childhood and how that influences our future decisions in life, you never really think about how that affects both women and men as they mature. It all starts at home. A good foundation of love and acceptance sets the groundwork for how children will treat others as they age. They always say you can judge a man by the way he treats his momma. If he treats her with respect, then it’s a good chance he will treat other women with respect. If he watched his father treat his mother as an equal and as a partner, he is more likely to treat women with that same level as respect. This is not always the case, but if you are a parent, you have more influence on the gender gaps in our society more than you know or think you do. There is no question in my mind that we cannot change the fact that men see women as sexual objects. Men are natural born hunters and biologically build different than women. The problem is when a woman allows a man to make her feel less of a person based on her physical appearance. If a woman is smart, she knows how to capitalize on this utilizing the femininity that she holds and the way she presents herself. Yep, I said it (and the “real” feminist gag) We all have to be trained somewhat on how to treat one another and the worst way to teach a man is to tell him. It's to teach and guide him by example, and this starts at a young age. It starts at home with the foundation set by the parents. The worst thing women do is put ALL men in the same category and that's just not the case. We have to teach girls and young women that it is ok to be a woman and feel beautiful and express that, but you can't lean back when someone gives you hell and who says you can't go out and play ball with the boys and get your hands dirty? You lean in with class and conviction. A strong woman is not the women you see "cat fighting" on reality tv and tearing each other down. A real woman is a woman who build up other women, doesn't compare herself to others and she measures her success but what goals she sets as an individual and her own accomplishments. She is herself and not defined by her gender, but who she is and what she accomplishes.
I think about ways that I can become a better leader and woman everyday. I am outspoken, and I am constantly progressing forward. I am open and you usually know where you stand with me from day one. Sometimes my heart is too big for those around me, but I wrote in previous blog about loyalty being vintage. It’s ok. I will continue pressing forward and only surround myself with the women and men who make me a better person and I can do the same for them.
In conclusion, I wanted to leave you with a few tid bits on how I would describe feminism and what we should be teaching our young women and men. I think it is extremely important to celebrate our feminism, but not segregate. We have to learn to love, live and respect each other, and that is the bottom line. IN ORDER TO PROGRESS, WE MUST LOVE OURSELVES AND THE ONES AROUND US .
SHE IS A WOMAN.
We have all heard this term before. The snippy little guy or girl that walks around thinking he/she knows everything. I have to admit, I am just over 5'3 and I have the Little Woman Syndrome. But in a different way.
In life and in business, we are always taught that it is "who we know" that matters, and not "what we know". We are taught that we must continuously be networking and associating ourselves with people who are in a position higher than us, and can help "take us to the next level". To all of you out there that still have this sad mentality, let me break it down for you, because times have changed. Now don't get me wrong here, building relationships in life and in business is one of the key factors of success. But REAL true relationships are what matters.
Old-timers, let me introduce you to the new generation of entrepreneurs, activists, and leaders. The little men and women who have big ideas and dreams of making a difference. We don't know the right people, we don't have the notebook of people who can hand us opportunities, and we tend to focus on networking with like minded individuals. Let me give you a couple examples of how digital media has changed the game.
1. Youtube. Justin Bieber. Period. ( I am not going to discuss him any further, but you get my point)
2. Twitter. The Single Woman , Mandy Hale . Blogger turned hit author Mandy Hale is affectionately known around the world as “The Single Woman.” Invited by Oprah to cover her “Lifeclass: the Tour” events in St. Louis and New York City as part of OWN’s “VIP Press Corps” in 2012, and featured at the Women of Faith conference in Hartford, Connecticut, Mandy has also been named a “Twitter Powerhouse” by the Huffington Post, a “Woman of Influence” by the Nashville Business Journal, and a “Single in the City” by Nashville Lifestyles magazine. She has also been a featured in Forbes magazine, the Huffington Post, and on Glamour.com. With followers from all over the world, Mandy has made a name for herself as the voice of empowerment and sassiness for single women across the globe.
Both the Biebs and Mandy Hale were the little man and little woman. But they built a following. A true grass roots following based on their authenticity and TRUE talents. Biebs had never met with a huge record execs when Usher discovered him. He sang a song, put it on Youtube, and people listened. Mandy is a true inspiration. Because all she did was begin speaking from her heart about what she experiences day to day as a single woman. Needless to say, there are many single women in the world who became inspired by her encouraging words, and the following was created and continues to grow.
10-15 years ago, one would have to get a record deal or a publishing deal to even get close to putting out an album or publishing a book, or be invited to hang with Oprah. But not anymore y'all. Oprah is calling Mandy. Usher is calling The Biebs. Its a total flip flop world these days. Hell, I'm sometimes shocked at the people who call me or ring my doorbell on a Saturday morning asking what in the world is going on with Katie Hill.
A movement starts from the bottom up. Movements occur in numbers by a group of individuals who share the same passions and interests. These interests are not driven by money, they are driven by the desire to make a positive change or impact others lives in a positive way. One person may lead that movement, but they can't do it alone. The internet has made it so much easier to build these movements. I have to say I have recieved at least 5-10 emails or messages in the past week regarding Katie Hill. We are all the same type of individuals. They are sometimes shocked that I respond so quickly and I want to meet for lunch or dinner and talk. I am most likely more excited to meet them, then they are to meet me. I want to know what drives them, what motivates them about this area, and it really makes my heart smile to see that I am not the only crazy one out here going against the grain and the norm. They are my neighbors and they are experiencing the same things I am. I am connected to them almost like brothers and sisters and I want to protect them, and in some way feel obligated to at this point.
As little people, we we will ALWAYS face bigger problems than the bigger, cool, privileged kids. I have been very complimentary to the North Precinct the past few months for attending our meetings and listening to my concerns. But in some ways, I feel like I am beating my head on a wall, In my business, I have to listen to what problems my clients have, come up with solutions, and then execute. That is exactly what has to get better with Katie Hill and crime suppression. We really need help, and the more people I can get on board expressing our concerns, the more serious we will be taken. Right now, I feel a bit discouraged and I've got to put more focus on it.
I am not afraid to speak my mind and I have nothing to lose, and only to gain. If you don't like what I have to say or how I say it, plug your ears. I have learned in life, if I take a few risks and I continue doing the right thing, God will always provide because He knows my heart. He built me the way I am. Every now and again, I deserve to get my hand slapped, but I will get the job done. I am doing His work and sometimes that takes a little risk and making my own way vs. getting tied up in the political jargon that comes along with this. I think about Jesus dying on the cross and what he stood for. He suffered selflessly for me. The least I can do for my community is fight for what is right and what we deserve and be the voice for those who have not yet spoken or don't know what to say. LITTLE PEOPLE UNITE. :-)
Lynclair - the little woman
…. with big dreams ;-)