Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Celebration; but No Gloating Please!

By Belinda 

When I returned from our January visit to England I wrote a series of posts on a situation that I ended up in the middle of. It had felt rather like finding myself in an episode of The Twilight Zone--Rod Serling's anthology series, in which ordinary folks suddenly found themselves in extraordinary situations. I was into science fiction as a teenager and used to love the eerie story lines of episodes of The Twilight Zone, in which a bizarre and ironic form of justice always seemed to be dished out very satisfactorily in the end!

For those who didn't read the posts at the time and are interested in catching up, the links are below. Unlike an episode of The Twilight Zone though, this situation looked pretty hopeless:

Close Quarters Part One 
Close Quarters Part Two 
A Quick Update 
The Gathering Protest
The Saga of the the Stones Continues

Mum became ill in February and when I went back to England for her funeral in March, something related to this story happened. It would have felt odd to write about it back then because a much bigger drama was unfolding in my life. Now, though, I would love to catch you up!

In the post, The Gathering Protest , I left the elderly and disabled residents of The Close rallying together to protest the crazy chain of events that had resulted in a plan to remove their parking privileges and which had large stones, painted white, placed on the grass to prevent anyone parking there if their parking spaces were taken by people renting the community hall. All of the residents signed a petition and sent it in to the local housing trust.

In March Rob and I spent my first week there taking care of many paperwork details and one of them was going to the local housing trust to inform them of Mum's death.

We were sitting in an office there when Rob's cell phone rang. He answered it and it was the very person to whom I had written an email in January when the issue began. She was wondering if she could arrange a meeting with Rob. Rob said, "Well, you will never believe this, but we are  here, right now, in your office!"

She was as amazed as we were at our coincidental proximity! She came right down to the office to chat with us for a few minutes. Initially she wanted to know why, after Rob saying that he wasn't going to pursue the issue any further, a petition had now arrived. There was a definite frost in the air. 

Rob explained that while he had personally decided not to fight on, once the residents of The Close knew what was happening, they were incredulous and decided to take action. I explained to her how it had felt in the meeting where her staff member had told us that if the carefully worded parking signs were not saying what was she felt was right, the signs would be taken down and replaced by signs that did and how a situation that could have been resolved escalated unnecessarily. By the end she seemed to be listening. It felt as though the meeting was meant to be.

After I came back to Canada though, Rob mentioned in one of his phone calls that the residents had received another letter from the housing trust stating that the signs were indeed going to be changed. It was so disappointing.

Last Saturday, I was just getting ready to call Rob when the phone rang. He told me he'd been outside talking to the neighbours when his alarm went off inside the house. He said to them, "That's so I don't forget to call my sister."

He had a written a list of things he wanted to remember to tell me about and one of them was pretty astounding. 

The Close residents had written a letter in follow up to the decision that the signs would be changed, asking for a public meeting with the housing trust. They had found a clause in their original agreement stating that this was a requirement for any change being proposed.

That meeting had happened during the previous week in the community hall with the woman that Rob and I had spoken with in March. 

Rob described the little hall with 25 or so people packing it tight.Then the woman turned to Rob and asked if he would call the meeting to order.

Rob said, "Belinda, you know that my comfort zone is talking to about two people." I do! But Rob spoke up. He said that initially people looked up in a little bit of shock when they heard his voice. It must be an example of God's quirky sense of humour; he gave my shy brother quite a loud and commanding voice.

He ended up speaking to the issues, and here is the wonderful news--the entire situation has been reversed. The residents of The Close keep all of their parking rights and the only signs going up will strengthen and clarify those. And the stones are being taken away as they would prevent access to emergency vehicles.

What wonderful news to receive on a Saturday morning! I said to Rob that I was so excited and I would write a blog post with this great update.

"Belinda," he said, and I knew a warning of some sort was coming; "I don't want names mentioned and no gloating."

Well, I agree. No gloating. But surely a celebration is in order. This Twilight Zone episode ended as it should. A very happy ending. :)


Anonymous said...

How encouraging. I had read your round-about with the situation - and thought to myself "how typical". It was indeed an episode from TV - but more like one of those off-beat British comedies. So glad to hear of the positive ending. It does happen. It is like our walk of faith - just can't see how the situation can possibly have a good ending - but God does. Out clocks are just running too fast. Congrats - and to your brother too. This may be a boost for him - with a little extra in the public speaking area!! :-)

Dave Hingsburger said...

He told YOU not to gloat, but I'm sure there will be enough gloat to go around!! YOU CAN FIGHT CITY HALL ...

Belinda said...

Ha ha Dave! YOU CAN gloat--that's right! :)I love the fact that this little group, who lived through the 1960's, refused to take this lying down (not that there is anything wrong with lying down :)

Belinda said...

Yes, Anon, it was a splash of unexpected surprise in a sea of dismay! I am so proud of my brother, for rising to the BIG challenge and for his deep sense of right and wrong in how to respond to victory. :)