Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Boy, Did I Screw Up

I want to apologize to those that have emailed Seems I was sure it was all set to forward your emails to my other Gmail account, but.....well, let's just say I goofed. I just found all the emails tonight,and I have been reading like a banshee. My apologies to everyone. I was not ignoring you.

Some of the emails were comments that were meant to be posted in the comments section. since I am not sure which posting they were to go with I am going to post them under this one. Sort of a "generic post".

Thanks for understanding


  1. I tried sending this as a comment, guess my computer skills aren't up to it, so sending this way instead.

    Think you have an old idea put into new words, trying to get rid of "us against them" or "them against us" isn't going to be easy at this point but yes, it can be done, not easily but it can be done. To think that Sturbridge can revive itself on eco-tourism, in my opinion, just ain't gonna happen, it may attract families with children under 7 or people over 65, to come, but we just haven't got the mountains/hills, river/rapids. Most hikers want to hike up a mountain and get to see a view, xcountry skiers want a groomed trail, go to a warming hut, etc. Kayakers/canoeists want some fast water/rapids. So to have hard core eco-tourism, in my opinion will stay in the Berkshires, White or Green Mountains. Do we have something to offer, most definitely as long as we don't think we really can compete with any of the above, we have to find our own nitch. An idea is out there on Old Route 15, on the OSV land, both on Route 20 and the purchased 860 acres, all need refining so whatever happens will be good for both developer and Town, but it can happen.
    I also wonder what some people are trying to save, I look down our Main Street and look at McDonalds, Burger King, Friendly's, telephone Wires, speeding cars....not what I call a typical NE town. Of course we have the Common, guess that takes about 30 seconds to drive past,again not exactly what most people think of when they think N.E.
    As far as Town Government working together, yes some Boards do seek the advise of others, some even actually listen to that you talk about a lost art, listening...what a difference that would make.
    Our Master Plan goes back to the late 80's, there's talk about having another, won't be cheap but oh so necessary, so many quote it as the final word, "it says in the Master Plan", the "Master Plan doesn't say", but thinks have changed drastically since the 80's. The Town is sponsoring another "Citizenship Academy", I urge anyone who has an interest in making a difference to attend and see if there isn't some Committee or Board that they might be interested in. We need new faces on some of these Boards, right now we have too few people on too many Boards...oh this town so badly needs new ideas from open minded, no agenda people.
    Time for a change

  2. Some businesses have tried to come to Sturbridge and can't get a sewer permit because of the moratorium, why the moratorium gosh could it be that the WWTF is too small....hmmm.
    The Sturbridge Bread Company isn't on the beaten path that most tourist travel, what's the old saying, oh yeah, location, location, location. And no business in Town can survive on tourism, that's only a few months out of the year, locals, us, have to support them also.
    When you say Town Hall has to be "nicer to businesses" I would change that to the Board of Selectmen, haven't heard an encouraging word from them in quite awhile, when Rom's news first appeared, the silence was deafening, only when Leicester wooed them was anything said, oops, too little too late.
    Basketville, well that's another story, they closed it was cheaper to do business on the internet so they closed all stores, but it remains empty because of the sewer moratorium....

    Ginger Peabody

  3. reply to Carol Childress:
    Your reply to "Tired of Talking"...OUCH..I've been in Town Politics in both elected and appointed positions since 1981 and do not take exception to anything Tired of Talking said. I believe the comments were aimed at the BOS, some think deservedly so, others not so much.
    If someone has never been on a Town Committee or Board I certainly wouldn't encourage them to try for Selectman their first time out, perhaps a good place would be to enroll in the Citizenship Leadership program that will be starting up soon....this town can really use some new faces on different Boards/Committees. People need encouragement not ridicule
    Ginger Peabody
    Chair ZBA
    Chair COA

  4. Hey Thinking Out I am again....the answer to many of your questions can be addressed to ConCom, they are the keeper of the OSV land.
    As you know, thanks to Tom Creamer, ConCom is now televised, someone could go and ask some of the questions or even submit them in writing to Dave Barnicle, Chair of ConCom who is very nice, also the newly hired Conservation Agent, Erin, is knowledgeable. Don't know how up to date she is on the land but believe she'd do research is so asked.
    Our Town Planner, Jean Bubon, is also extremely knowledgeable, extremely helpful.
    I truly believe its getting different faces interested in Town politics, we are what I call a bedroom town, most people work "away", and as long as the roads are plowed and the schools are good, they're happy. They leave town at 6:30 get back home between 6 and 7 and its difficult to get them out again, thus as I believe I said before too many of the same faces on too many committees.
    I'll again plug the upcoming Citizenship Academy that Jim Malloy organizes, hope you put it on your blog.

    An aside, the reason I have to email instead of directly to your blog, can't get a "verification" it remains blank so instead I email, one of these days I may figure out the other in the meantime, this is my communications.

    Ginger Peabody

  5. Carl,

    Think Differently.

    No,we don't have rapids, warming huts, or groomed trails. We do have our river, lakes, and woods, though. Seasoned hikers, kayakers, skiers and canoeist will want more, and they can get it in Western Mass, NH, or Maine, but we have "EveryMans Land". Woods, and water for the family. Trails through land that hasn't been hiked in too many years. Rivers to ride that won't toss the kids in the drink.

    I've written about the OSV land, I am glad toknow we share a common vision for the property.

    Yes,there is some blight on Route 20. that is from the 1970's and 80's when the town lost it's mind and soul. We can make it up elsewhere.

    Working together. Hmm, now that's an idea! I have preached that from day one. Again, it is good to hear from another that thinks along the same lines. Saves so much time with and money on "Conversion Therapy".

    Yes,and the Master Plan needs to be updated as well.

    As far as the Citizenship Academy goes, that sounds great!!

  6. Ginger,

    I like your comments, and I sure do hope you can figure out the Comment Thing! Send along more information on the Citizenship Academy and I will make sure it is posted here.
    Thanks for the input.

  7. Hey there Ginger: Actually, what I said was that I "could" take exception - as you say, the writer didn't specify who he was talking about - even your best guess was that he was talking about the BoS. So, that was my point exactly. For my part, I don't just talk, I'm proactive and do stuff.

    If we discourage people from running for certain positions, elected or appointed, just because it's their first time out, several people now serving on some committees and boards wouldn't be where they are now - with several months or years under their belts, and they're doing a great job, or at least, they're doing the best they can.

    With every job, paid or volunteer, there is a learning curve. I've been in the audience when new people serving on committees are actually ridiculed, it ain't me doin' it. I give people a ton of credit for putting themselves out there.

    Given the current atmosphere swirling around the BoS, plus the amount of work that is required for what are at times complicated issues that affect the town in the longterm and/or permanent ways, I have to believe that residents of Sturbridge will elect someone they think qualified for the job, first time out or not.

    And when I think of all the people who willingly volunteer their time, energy, hearts, and patience, and they have the fortitude to stand up under the ridicule being hurled around, seems to me that those currently serving on boards/committees should set a good example so that new faces will want to come forward and serve.

    I suggest you read my email again. I meant what I said: if you want to make a difference, or change things - get involved, don't count on someone else to do it.

    And finally, my humble opinion is that the Leadership Academy is a great idea. But I would like to see the number of individuals who attended last time, compared to how many actually went on to serve. Also, I'd like to see survey conducted of the first attendees (anonymously), to see what they actually thought of it, perhaps with suggestions as to how to make it better if necessary.

    As I said, I think it's a great idea, but not everyone who attended thought it was great. Sorry, that's the truth.

  8. Hi Carol....think that we agree that new faces in Town politics would be a welcome change. We obviously hear from different people about the Citizen Leadership Academy, not a bad thing to get different view points, and air them. There are changes from last year's Academy, more Departments are added for one thing. I don't have numbers as to how many went and are now serving on Boards/Committees but one could easily find out by contacting the Town Administrator. I personally know of three, one is on the ZBA and he's doing an excellent job.
    We also agree that there is a learning curve on any Committee or Board that you get on, that's why I suggested the CLA, you can get an idea of content and time before you get elected or appointed to any Board or Committee.
    We've both been on enough Boards/Committees to know that some people have no idea what they're signing up for. They show up, but have done no "homework" ahead of time and they continue to just "show up" whether they've been on for 1 month or 3 years, no I won't name names or point fingers, all one has to do is either go to or watch some of the televised meetings, it also shows who has a personal agenda or represents the whole town.
    We probably are about even on what we agree or disagree about but please remember its not personal its a different viewpoint. I really think that its time to disspell "you're either with me or against me" type attitude. Because there are differences in political opinions doesn't make one person bad the other good.
    Too often people have lost the ability to listen, just too busy talking.

  9. Hoorah I got it, finally figured it out, and just in case someone else was having trouble.....I had blocked "cookies" so nothing showed in the "word verfication box"

  10. Congratulations, Ginger!
    Thank you for sharing the "fix".

  11. Hi Ginger,

    We are on the same page. And in every town, every where, as everyone knows, there are do-bees and don't-bees. It's hard to fire a volunteer...and yes, I agree there are people who show up and not do much. I try to look at it like...well, I hope they're either learning something from this, or sharing what they've learned here with someone else. Part of the problem I see also is, the do-bees don't delegate enough. I'm guilty of it!

    You said: "I really think that its time to disspell "you're either with me or against me" type attitude. Because there are differences in political opinions doesn't make one person bad the other good."

    In reading a copy of "Town Meeting Time", Chapter 10, entitled Conflict of Interest, it says in part..."In an open town meeting, where every voter may attend, an interested vote is considered to be no threat to the integrity of the meeting. It acts in a legislative, not a judicial capacity, and a man has a right to vote for his own interest. His neighbor might even think him not quite bright if he did not. A group of personally interested voters might have a more decisive influence on the outcome of a question, but even here, there has probably always been a feeling that these things balance out in the long run. To some people, the term "pressure group" is a term of opprobrium (def: public disgrace or ill fame that follows from conduct considered grossly wrong or vicious), but as the Rockefeller Panel Report on American Democracy: The Power of the Democratic Idea (1960) pointed out, the politics of democracy is the politics of pressure groups. Logrolling and interested voting are accepted in an open meeting. The only limits placed on these activities are limits imposed by a respect for the opinions of one's neighbors as to what is fair and decent, and not limits imposed by parliamentary rules."

    It goes on, and sorry to be so lengthy, but I thinks to speaks to everything going on currently. This town needs to straighten up and fly right, all opinions should be considered and respected, and for pete's sake, we should get on with the business of making this town shine!

  12. Good Feedback Carol and the lines I liked best were "all opinions should be considered and respected, and for pete's sake, we should get on with the business of making this town shine!" And with that I'll go to my last line "Too often people have lost the ability to listen, just too busy talking."
    If all opinions are listened to and respected AND people learn to listen then hopefully we won't end up with the following statement:
    "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.
    Margaret Thatcher"

    On quite another subject, thank you and David Aho for some really great pictures. Use to Xcountry ski on the OSV land when the Sheraton and OSV teamed up, great skiing.

    Ginger Peabody

  13. Good feedback Carol, I especially like your last line "all opinions should be considered and respected, and for pete's sake, we should get on with the business of making this town shine! and I'll put in my last line "Too often people have lost the ability to listen, just too busy talking."
    If ppionions can be considered and respected AND people will learn to listen then things will improve.
    My bit of disagreement comes with voting your own interest. While I agree completely that at a Town Meeting you should vote your own interest, on a Board or a Committee shouldn't there be more of a vote for what's good for the whole Town.
    I'm reminded of the following quote:" I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.
    Margaret Thatcher"

    On an entirely different subject, thank you and David Aho for some really great pictures, use to go xcountry skiing on the OSV land when the Sheraton and OSV teamed up.

    Ginger Peabody

  14. Hi Ginger: You said "While I agree completely that at a Town Meeting you should vote your own interest, on a Board or a Committee shouldn't there be more of a vote for what's good for the whole Town."

    Sure - but is that how politics works? I'm not seeing that in other towns I work in, and we don't see it all the time on the Hill or in DC. If anyone thinks that how it is in Boston or DC, they're kidding themselves.

    So my point is, even if there are boards and committees - here, there or wherever - that may not be doing what some perceive is good for the entire town (and we all have different opinions on what is "good for the town"), wouldn't that get fleshed out at town meeting?

    We're talking hundreds of residents voting on issues that not everyone on committees and boards can or will see all sides of; or that not everyone can or will agree on; or that some people on boards and committees may have an interest in. But the vote at town meeting is the voice of the majority of people.

    I'm still trying to figure out why some issues voted on at the last town meeting are still sore points for some - it flys in the face of the majority of voters. If it was about a special interest group controlling the town, that group would have to be comprised of hundreds of residents. Is that possible? Or is it possible that residents considered all sides - as unbiased individuals because they don't serve on boards and committees - and voted what they thought was good for town?

    Are you certain that all boards and committees in years past have always served the best interests of the entire town? That has not been my personal experience over the 15 years I've lived here.

    I still maintain that it's all about balance, and there won't be that as long as people continue to pick at each other. In addition to a Code of Conduct, I would like to see some individuals sit around the table with a mediator.

    Because I don't see anyone even trying to meet anybody half way. I see time being wasted when energy could be spent on worthwhile issues the town is facing today. I see divisions, and battles. It's ridiculous.

  15. Hey Carol, you correct when you cited DC and Boston, of all examples we don't want to use, in my opinion you picked them. How many times have you heard or said, "most in Boston don't know there's life beyond 128 or 495"? and as far as D.C., I really don't want to open that can of worms.
    As far as last year's Town Meeting, still hear grumbling about the "in-law apartment" from both viewpoints...that's just a quick example, there are many more, and I repeat myself, both "sides" haven't let this one go. Think in this case maybe people forgot that when you're on a Board or Committee, majority rule and if you disagree with the majority you hash it out at a Town Meeting, not before, not by phone calls, but out in the my opinion, that's call Democracy and playing by the rules. Town Meeting didn't leave anyone happy.
    Yes, there are different viewpoints on what's the best direction for the Town to go in the future, and thus the "great divide". hopefully in April there'll be standing room only, I believe it will be one of the most important Town Meetings in a very long time.

    I leave with the following quote:
    " Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk.
    Doug Larson "

    Ginger Peabody

  16. Ginger,

    Well, unfortunately, DC, the Hill, etc are real-life examples though. And as much as no one wants to consider that those political hotbeds are similar in any way to Sturbridge - they are. It's just that we know the players, it's close to home, and the players are amateurs. It has been and always be this way...unless, wait a minute - maybe a woman will win the election? Just kidding, I'm not a Hillary fan.

    Anyway, yes Ginger, we agree on many points. The inlaw situation was the exact issue I had in mind when I wrote my comment. My opinion is that it continues in part because of the issue itself - but mostly it continues because of clashing personalities and the ongoing political smear campaigns -that issue is being used as part of the smear.

    And here's a quote back at you: "A man's errors are his portals of discovery." James Joyce

  17. HI Carol, starting to go where there are two sides to a story and
    don't think this is the place for last quote and that's it for me ....
    " Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it.
    Doug Larson"
    See you at the Special Town Meeting January 28th, if not before.


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