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The Fort Smith Experience Part 15 (g)

"You can always assume that other people are lying or confused but when your own experience, consistently and on demand, carries you to a logically and scientifically inescapable conclusion, the truth of that experience will demand a larger and deeper understanding of the reality in which you exist. Simply labeling the [occurrence, circumstance, event] as something experienced by the delusional, the diabolical, the weird, and the wacky will no longer provide an easy way out of dealing with the existence of a reality that flies in the face of your deepest beliefs and assumptions."

~Tom Campbell from his My Big TOE (theory of everything) Trilogy pg.131

............

I realize that this theory I'm putting forth regarding Fort Smith having an active and detrimental "fort belief system" aka "fort mentality," buried in the subconscious of its collective mind, is very likely to be interpreted by many as being far-fetched (I'm probably being conservative with the use of that adjective) and that is certainly understandable and definitely expected.  In trying to explain or make sense out of this theory I am reminded of a business card that was given to me many years ago by a good friend of mine...

It was in the early 80's.  I was living in the Pacific Northwest and visiting family and friends in Fort Smith. One day I went with my friend to the Fort Smith livestock sale barn (the one across the Garrison Bridge on the right). My friend, a cattle rancher, was, on this particular day, also wearing the hat of a cattle buyer for other ranchers.  While we were watching cattle being sold that he had no interest in, he handed me his business card and told me to look on the back.  When I turned the card over what I saw was what appeared to be a framed ink blot with a caption that read..."Find the cow, this is no bull."  I asked my friend what this was about.  He told me it was a brain teaser.  Well, my brain was teased.  I sure didn't see any cow there!  All I could see was an ink blot.  But with enthusiasm I proceeded to try and turn the ink blot I was seeing into a picture of a cow.  After repetitive failures at doing so my enthusiasm eroded down to antagonism and I was just about to go "sour grapes" when I gave up and asked my friend to show me this damn cow!  Slowly, he pointed out the ears, the head, the neck and so on and little by little the tenacious ink blot gave up its identity and transformed into the picture of a cow.  It was a Charolais cow.  Once I saw the cow I could not not see the cow.

Even though it is extremely worn and tattered, I still have my friend's business card that he gave me that day.  In fact, I just went and dug it out and had a look at it.  Yep, there, plain as day, is that damn cow.  There's not an ink blot in sight.  Over the years I have used this card many, many times to demonstrate to people that just because you can't see something doesn't mean the 'something' isn't there.  Again and again, as I observed people trying to "find the cow," I watched the process with fascination as person after person went from an attitude of playful enthusiasm quickly down into antagonism as they struggled unsuccessfully to find the cow,  and then, even more rapidly (if I didn't interject with an explanation),  down to "sour grapes."   It was the same same sequence of emotions that I had gone through when I couldn't find the cow.  Very interesting!  FYI: Out of all the people I showed the card to through the years, there was only one person who instantly saw the cow.  This guy was an incredibly astute business consultant as well as a highly accomplished martial artist.

Personally, now that I see the "fort belief system" in Fort Smith's subconscious mind, I cannot not see it.  So I guess what I am attempting to do now through my blog posts is do what my friend did for me with his card i.e., take what I was perceiving to be an "ink blot" and point out the ears, head, neck and so on to bring the "ink blot" into focus as being a picture of a cow. However, pointing out a city's unseen belief system in a way where others can come to recognize it the way I recognize it, is proving to be more than a little challenging for me.  Indeed, I doubt that I have the communication or writing skills to pull it off but I'm giving it a shot anyway.  As we all know...nothing ventured nothing gained (a version of a saying tracing back to Chaucer circa 1374).

............

"We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we began and know the place for the very first time."  ~ TS Eliot.

............

I've mentioned this before but I'm bringing it up again...the mindset of Fort Smith is frequently mentioned in various writings that appear on TCW and it is often acknowledged and recognized as being an obstacle that needs to be changed.  However, from what I've seen and read, that mindset is never thoroughly described.  That noted, I'm going to attempt, in my way, to describe what I see and understand to be the extant, prevalent and dominating mindset of Fort Smith. Yes, there are other mindsets that exist in the city and struggle to emerge and be heard yet they are again and again effectively blocked by an unseen force that is, what I suspect to be, the dominant mindset of the city.

The prevailing and dominant mindset of the city of Fort Smith is an out of place and inappropriate mindset. It is a mindset of defense and force (more force than reason). This was the mindset it was conceived in. This is a "fort mentality." Fort Smith began as a military fort and forts come into existence in order to defend against a perceived threat.  Forts are not about diplomacy, they are about a show of force.  A fort's primary purpose is to hold something in place i.e. keep it from going away.  A fort's use as a military fort is finite (military forts come and go) and some, like Fort Smith, transition and transform into cities and keep their fort name. As a fort transitions and transforms into a city the purpose and mindset should also transition and transform from one peculiar to a fort to one peculiar to a city. But...what if, for whatever the reason, that doesn't happen?  What if the the fort mentality remains, unknowingly, engaged and active as the city emerges out of the fort?

Imagine what would happen if, during its metamorphosis, the purpose and mindset of the caterpillar did not transform into the purpose and mindset of the butterfly it is becoming? What if, after its metamorphosis was complete, the behavior of the butterfly was, unknowingly to the butterfly, being dictated by the instincts of a caterpillar? In other words, even though the caterpillar only exist as a past memory (it's physical form is long gone), its instincts live on as a subconscious program in the butterfly and are in continuous conflict with the much weaker butterfly instincts. Personally, I don't think this set of circumstances would make for a very successful butterfly.  Indeed, that butterfly would, I expect, have one helluva time making it unless, of course, it could somehow manage to overcome the forceful and compelling influence of the unseen caterpillar instincts. Which, seems to me, in order to do this, the butterfly would have to first become cognizant that it was being continually usurped by the instincts of its former self i.e., its caterpillar self.

I see the city of Fort Smith doing its best to hold something in place and keep it from going away.  Yep, I see it still being an active fort but defending against ghosts long gone (imagined threats) that it is superimposing over the very things that would facilitate it into becoming and eventually being the evolving, flourishing, prospering and modern city it truly wants to be.  Now...what do you suppose the 'something' is that it's holding in place and in what ways is it keeping the 'something' from going away?

More exploring to be done in the next installment.

Five Star: 
Average: 3.9 (12 votes)

Comments

it's The Way We have Always Done Things

and there is no risk for us if we keep producing in the same manner but Great Leaders are not afraid to take a few risks to get the desired results.

From LA to the Pacific NW how do we survive the help?

What if your friend dragged you all the way to 15g and he still hadn't shown you the cow yet? Now it would have to dance to be worth it wouldn't it? Let me guess if we cough up a pile of money for something you will eventually have to lead us into (for those who live long enough) then we will all go fluttering around Ft. Smith tasting flowers.

Pilgrim's Regress

Enough already, you're clogging the bandwith. Get to the point....concisely I might add. Or perhaps there are just too many points rendering Fort Smith as pointless.

no punch line

By what you state in your comment, it appears that, like me, you have fallen into the trap of waiting for a punch line, looking for that one big point, that one big understanding, the one thing that will bring sense to the perplexing and baffling behavior of a city caught in the confusion of misidentity. Unfortunately there is no one big point, understanding or answer to be found. If there were it would make it so much easier wouldn't it? Fort Smith, though, is far, far more complicated than that. That noted, as there is no one big point but a plethora of little points if we wait for a 'big understanding' we will miss seeing the multitude of little understandings that, when brought together, will hopefully not only give us a more realistic understanding of our city but also of ourselves.
By what you state in your comment, it appears that, like me, you have fallen into the trap of waiting for a punch line, looking for that one big point, that one big understanding, the one thing that will bring sense to the perplexing and baffling behavior of a city caught in the confusion of misidentity. Unfortunately there is no one big point, understanding or answer to be found. If there were it would make it so much easier wouldn't it? Fort Smith, though, is far, far more complicated than that. That noted, as there is no one big point but a plethora of little points if we wait for a 'big understanding' we will miss seeing the multitude of little ...>> Read the entire comment.

Punchlines

No Pilgrim, we are not waiting for a punchline because Fort Smith's problem is not a laughing matter. It doesn't even rate as a bad joke. Malfeasance is not funny, although it is great inspiration for tragedy/comedy drama......But the players here are not acting......what you see is what we got.

Battle Of The Ego

It almost seems like their is a battle of ego going on between the City Administrator and the BOD. Who has all the information necessary to make informed decisions and who has the power to make the decision. Its just not working in the manner that it originally planned because the battle of the ego is in control when the subordinate controls the flow of information and the BOD are the only ones who have the authority to pass the requests. Strange situation and tension within the ranks of the elected verses the hired hands. Sometime too little information can be a trap for the elected and sometimes withholding information can benefit the hired hand. Reminds me of the House of Commons and the House of lords in England.

Fire the administrators

Appoint a Blue Ribbon, ad hoc citizens administrative committee to take over to run and audit the city government for awhile until we sort things out. The administrators and asst. admin salary budget should cover the forensic audit and efficiency study to get the bureaucracy in order. At least as much has been squandered on numerous redundant consultants. It long past due for changing the way city business is mis-managed.

Its Far Worse Than You Think

The Old Fort Homeless Coalition President Ken Pyle wants to spend 3,000,000.00 Taxpayer dollars for a homeless shelter in Fort Smith that will be a magnet for all the homeless people within a 500 mile radius. Additionally there is no mention of the cost to taxpayers to run the facility that will feed and house the people along with no mention of the cost to staff the expensive project. We must all remember that Mr. Pyle is the same person that wanted to spend 169,000.00 taxpayer dollars on each home construction to build new homes for the homeless at taxpayer expense. On the other side of the coin, Bob Miller of the Community Rescue Mission said that the Homeless Campus is Not Needed because The Community Rescue Mission has enough beds to sleep 72 people every night and they only average 40 to 50 people per night even though they also provide 3 full meals every day. The Community Rescue Mission operates with the Salvation Army and is funded through donations from church groups and others with no cost to the taxpayers. This proposal by Mr. Pyle appears to be more pork barrel spending of taxpayer dollars and seems to compete with local churches that are already doing a great job of taking care of the poor and homeless. Why are we spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do what the churches and Christian people already do in the community? This is just another example of a local government that is totally out of control and it needs to be replaced with budget minded people that really understand the needs of the community.

It's elementary my dear Watson, it's not about the homeless,

it's about the view. The view for tourists driving here from Chrystal Bridges to see the Marshals Museum of course. Unfortunately the first thing they see coming off the 540 bridge is a cable barrier as opposed to a five mile art-deco median all the way to the exit at Rogers as preferred. Now after this what else would you do except send them in front of a refurbished Northside High and down 'B'? (Oh look on the left, there's a Victorian house..let's call that one in too!) Next the Lexxus or hopefully tour bus cruises by 50 to a 100 poor Ft Smith citizens standing there hoping it's ham and cheese day? I wonder if this is the real problem.

It Isn't About Homeless, It's About Money

Cleanhouse, don't cloud the picture with facts. It isn't about facts, nobody wants to hear facts. Mr Bob Miller from the Community Rescue Mission says the Mission has never had more homeless than they could accommodate, the mission can accommodate 72, but they average between 40-50, but who cares about the real facts? What is needed is accountability in the fort.

Compassion

Its always been the work of the Church to take care of the homeless and the people who have fallen on hard times so why is the Old Fort Homeless Coalition trying to take over the work of the Church and The Salvation Army?

Should we add another $50-$100,000 to the tab?

What looked like perfectly good stop lights were for some reason replaced where Grand, 10th, and 'B' street meet, just a block ahead of the monolithic Temple theater, a structure along the street on the way in, often touted by someone here as a near perfect flush of city money. Bankrupting some who have rebuilt, throwing others in a ditch, moving homeless people out of sight, paying for surveys, street repair, etc is indeed quite expensive even if we do only pay half of it somehow. Let's hope it pays off for everyone who helped pay!

If you build it, they will go

Charities located near downtown where the need actually was around the 60's give or take a decade or so, ironically at the same time the idea was being incubated to refurbish that part of town and the clash did not take long to start happening. One group had begun to flood the area with precisely what the other needed to leave. The next quarter century of rules rather than progress in Ft Smith was mainly about this.

The Fort Mentality

The Fort Mentality keeps everything within the walls and very safe so one must wonder if the Pilgrim is playing it very safe to avoid a Subpoena? Can a tax be put on long articles that avoid getting to the point so we could call it the Pointless Tax?

spectatorism

We have been very thoroughly trained to be spectators of life. Indeed, spectatorism is a belief system that, since our childhood, has been gradually and most efficaciously instilled in each of us. Being a spectator has many advantages e.g., it's a whole lot safer than getting involved and it doesn't require any deep thinking. Also, the so called 'ruling class' love spectators as they're easily controlled and they are unable to ever see what's really going on as their focus stays on the surface. Treefella, to get the points you will have to look deeper and be willing to extrapolate. In other words, you will have to choose to get involved in the exploration and then...your experience will change.
We have been very thoroughly trained to be spectators of life. Indeed, spectatorism is a belief system that, since our childhood, has been gradually and most efficaciously instilled in each of us. Being a spectator has many advantages e.g., it's a whole lot safer than getting involved and it doesn't require any deep thinking. Also, the so called 'ruling class' love spectators as they're easily controlled and they are unable to ever see what's really going on as their focus stays on the surface. Treefella, to get the points you will have to look deeper and be willing to extrapolate. In other words, you will have to choose to get ...>> Read the entire comment.

Thanks Pilgrim

Before coming to Forth Smith a few years back, I was always under the opinion that Government existed to serve the people but thanks to my exploration of the fort, I am now convinced that the people here are allowed to exist to serve the Government. Hopefully my experience will revert back to my original thought process when I transfer back to my home town.

The rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air..

Hey everybody be sure and vote for what you want our future to be over at Future Ft Smith!

Are we going to analyse all 70,000 people?

Inadvertently we are getting a much better picture of what might be grinding the city to a virtual standstill.

Standing Still

A vehicle that is always parked does not require a lot of maintenance or owner responsibility and just an occasional dusting seems to keep it looking good so maybe the same theory is being applied by city leaders.

You better keep that vehicle running

unless of course you know the Code Ranger and also it needs to be parked on a concrete slab just like the one he already had before he had it written into the parking ordinance back when he slithered his way onto that committee.

Taxpayer dollars hard at work

I am familiar with Ken Pyle. You see, I live on the Northside. In fact, I live very close to the Williams Dairy. And I can tell you that when Ken Pyle was director of the Fort Smith Housing Authority, he did the same thing. Remember the big housing addition he pushed so hard for? Even though 98% of the property owners opposed that! I went to those planning commission and BOD meetings and trust me when I say that we knew we were not going to win. Mr. Pyle is very much of the "good old boy" network that is alive and well here in the Fort. And a master at landing those "free" tax dollars. Also, notice that Mr. Pyle does not hold elected positions. He is appointed to them. Pause for thought on that one....

Free Lunch

It was reported that spending the "free tax dollars" is not free because the big spender of the "free tax dollars" gets a 5% commission for every dollar spent. Do the math and spending $3,000,000.00 of taxpayer money for purchase and remodel nets a cool $150,000.00 dollars of commission in addition to a very fat salary package along with a very generous military retirement package. BOD members that "play ball" seem to always end up with very a special future job that nets a whole lot of benefits from the "free stuff". Is it any wonder that some BOD members never say NO to big spender proposals?

Firm Ground Under The Shadetree

My driveway is concrete and on solid ground unlike the Fort Smith economy that seems to be on very soft ground thanks to too many "Code Rangers" Committee decisions that hurt business.

The Fort Mentality at Work

This line of comments is classic. It is showing the "fort" mentality in clear terms. It is not the administration or "the good old boys" it is you guys. You are so predictable and incapable of seeing yourselves as part of the problem. All proposals are met with your negativity and no alternatives. We have the guy who feels picked on by someone who turns him in for code violations. We have those who complain about numerous studies that gather dust but also would, and do, raise hell if anyone would try to implement any of the proposals. The latest is the Homeless Coalition who has raised the ire of the trolls. Everyone involved has ulterior motives according to some. Or the development of the riverfront. Someone might make some money on the deal they complain. Or deepening the river channel. No one will use it. Or completing the highway, or any type of infastructure improvement. It is always the same group here on the wire. Now this conversation has devolved into the usual. Sorry Pilgrim, this has been a good discussion until the troll attack.
This line of comments is classic. It is showing the "fort" mentality in clear terms. It is not the administration or "the good old boys" it is you guys. You are so predictable and incapable of seeing yourselves as part of the problem. All proposals are met with your negativity and no alternatives. We have the guy who feels picked on by someone who turns him in for code violations. We have those who complain about numerous studies that gather dust but also would, and do, raise hell if anyone would try to implement any of the proposals. The latest is the Homeless Coalition who has raised the ire of the trolls. Everyone involved has ulterior ...>> Read the entire comment.

What causes the mentality is not important it seems

This is a classic also as there has been no mention, and we're the all way to 15g now, about changing on the other side, things which might cause the 'fort' mentality. Could it be we don't want to change that part because of how handy it comes in at times? Out and out cheat, mislead, or lie if you must as long as you get what you want for yourself? Aren't we now right in the middle of some little pre planned scheme on this thread that's flopping big time for you guys? You've been doing this sort of thing so long you'd probably try to finagle something everybody would want anyway by this time. I do have a problem with a regular citizen is running around calling who knows how many (is 350/month a lot for this size city?) code complaints and I personally know the recipients can be well into their 80's with this guy...maybe hundreds of them by now. Done very randomly as he thinks doesn't matter, what does that do to trust of the city government here? Now after no mention whatsoever we figure out ourselves the big deal is museum traffic is going to pass right by where the homeless all get free sack lunches. Not to mention how this was touted to be about helping...them! I know, there goes that totally uncalled for 'fort' mentality again!

Observer, "Fort Mentality", Protects the "Wizard"

Observer, I think the "fort mentality" refers to those trying to protect the "Wizard", and his mystical hold, not the average hardworking taxpayers. I think the working class, merely seeks a more open and competitive environment, with less of the same ol' same ol' crony projects, the latest being the $3,000,000 proposed Homeless Coalition. You are incorrect in your assumption, only complaints and no solutions have been presented on TCW, but none of these solutions support the continuous wasteful spending you probably so desperately rely upon.

Observer Rant

Your good ole boy line is a classic example of your mindset because every comment you have made in the last few years has been in support of excessive spending and tax increases on the poor and elderly of Fort Smith. You demonize any conservative views and you supported The Prepared Food Tax, the waste and high salaries at the Convention Center that exceed total income, you support spending millions of taxpayer dollars on the homeless when the Salvation Army and Churches state that they are never full and operate efficiently just from donations at NO cost to the taxpayers. You have supported every hair brain scheme placed on the taxpayers because you are the "troll" that supports big expensive projects stacked on the backs of the average taxpayer. Sorry Observer but its time for you to be called what you really represent and that is big wasteful spending to fill the pockets of a few of your friends.

Procedural Prohibition Calamity

We seem to be very busy creating reasons why a new business, jobs, and economic development cannot happen rather than solving the issues that are holding up progress. New business and jobs lost because of ridiculous landscaping requirements, a golf course project that could have a hundred million dollar economic impact on the community because of "not in my neighborhood" nonsense, and the list continues to grow because the city planners have the "my way or the highway" mentality that seems to continually block progress. Its a mystery why the city planners and entrepreneurial spirits can't get together and work out their differences before the proposed project implodes into a dog fight of public opinion. Speaking of "dog fights" and cat issues, even that disagreement made headline news in the city and dominated our Board Of Directors meetings for what seemed like an eternity. To a person on the outside looking in, it almost looks like a new business start up persons first course of action should be to "kiss a lot of butt" at city hall before even thinking about doing any construction in the city.

Fort Smith Jobs and the Homeless‏

First; listed below is an employment search site, which list over 2,000 current job requirements for the Greater Fort Smith area, ( Fayetteville to Fort Smith to Tulsa). Please pass this information on to individuals seeking employment http://www.careerbliss.com/ To view all 2000 plus jobs, simple enter fort smith into the "Enter Location" search field, this will allow you to view all jobs Second; I just reread the " Strategic Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness for Fort Smith Arkansas, Final Report By Robert G. Marbut Jr., Ph.D.". 2012. It is a comprehensive report covering Fort Smith current State of Homelessness, and identifies the recommended directions Fort Smith should take in addressing the homelessness situation. But I did not notice a employment program for the homeless mention in the report. Homeless people, or individuals at risk of homelessness, must be given the opportunity to earn a legitimate income, thereby helping them to reintegrate into being a productive member of mainstream society. The employment program would be a means to move people out of the homeless cycle, and establish a beginning and end date individuals would be allowed to participate in the Fort Smith homeless program, and by doing so hopefully eliminate or reduce perpetual homelessness. I believe the citizens of Fort Smith would be more acceptive of a City of Fort Smith Homeless initiative that includes employment as one of the cornerstones of the program. Entry level type employment (Poultry, etc.) lower wage jobs employment is not the answer. As bad as it is for the 44% of homeless people who have jobs and can't escape homelessness, climbing out of homelessness is virtually impossible for those without a job. For those with limited skills or experience, opportunities for jobs that pay a living wage are very limited. Additionally, many members of the homeless population have to combat barriers such as limited transportation and reduced access to educational and training programs. In such a competitive environment, the difficulties of job seeking as a homeless person can be almost insurmountable barriers to employment. The Employment Program should be a combined effort enlisting various Academic, Employers, and upon completion of program Housing sectors. Academic; The University of Arkansas Fort Smith, City of Fort Smith Adult Training, other professional training organization in Fort Smith, ( Health, Beauty & Barber, trade, etc.) could provide training hopefully towards a certificate. The University of Arkansas Fort Smith already have plans for an off campus training center on the north side of Fort Smith., which could be incorporate into an Homeless Employment Program. I believe Federal Tax credits and possible State Tax credits are available for organization that would provide training, for this purpose and the city of Fort Smith could also provide some type of incentive. Employment; Various employers could agree to provide an intern period of employment for homeless individuals possible after completing an training course. Efforts to secure permanent employment after completions of the intern period should be establish with employers, in the greater Fort Smith region, ( Fayetteville to Tulsa), Again various incentives at all level of government should be available. Housing; Upon completing of the Academic, and Employment sections, and upon obtaining permanents employment, Housing should be available for homeless individuals. This would include having realtors agree to accept individuals without staller credit, or long periods of employment on the applications for housing. Additional items of concern; volunteers could provide the following services also required for individuals to obtain training or employment; Baby sitting, Logistics. Finally to complete the progression, the donation of furniture , and having various automobile dealer , agree to sale a vehicle, to an individual who has successfully completed the cycle, ( Education/ Training, employment, housing), would complete an individual participation in the Fort Smith Homeless initiative, allowing them to graduate out of the initiative. A time restraint should be considered for reentry into the initiative, this is needed to hopefully install liabilities for failure to maintain an independent productive member of society.
First; listed below is an employment search site, which list over 2,000 current job requirements for the Greater Fort Smith area, ( Fayetteville to Fort Smith to Tulsa). Please pass this information on to individuals seeking employment http://www.careerbliss.com/ To view all 2000 plus jobs, simple enter fort smith into the "Enter Location" search field, this will allow you to view all jobs Second; I just reread the " Strategic Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness for Fort Smith Arkansas, Final Report By Robert G. Marbut Jr., Ph.D.". 2012. It is a comprehensive report covering Fort Smith current State of Homelessness, and ...>> Read the entire comment.