How can we keep our discourses on a higher level? : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread

Michael Berney’s email message to us of October 6 suggests that as a community, it tends to be difficult for us to stay cool when we are discussing issues.

I believe that this springs, ironically, from a positive cause. That is that when people become a part of Kentlands they have done more than buying a house, more even than buying a home, or a lifestyle. The people who are attracted to Kentlands are attracted to its aesthetic ideal, one which suggests a tie to underlying values. When we bought in here, nearly a decade ago now, I had been looking for something like Gaithersburg had been when I grew up here. This was a piece of the Homeland. There was a feel about the Kentlands that let me know immediately that this was where I was going to buy a home. Surprisingly, however, nearly everyone who buys here seems to have a similar feeling of coming home not only to a place, but to something that is reminiscent of villages in a Currier and Ives which not only looks classic but promises values that such places are felt to safekeep. Neighbors who were born on the opposite side of the earth seem to feel a similar dedication to the Kentlands that I do.

My feeling is that it is because of this attachment that when issues arise which seem to threaten the ideal, it wrenches the gut and comes back out all twisted. Anything that appears likely to lessen the ideal is therefore intolerable, and it is too easy to lose our tolerance as a result. We become recipients of the curse on the artist: driven to create that which is perfect while knowing that absolute perfection is not humanly attainable.

There will always be conflict, but there doesn’t need to be confrontation. As long as there are two people in the world, there will be some conflict, and we shouldn’t try to abolish it even if we could. It’s only through a dialectic, a point/counterpoint, that we can approach the ideal. I think that it will be better for all of us, however, if we can approach our conflicts more creatively. A former staff member at the club house was telling me that it was quite difficult to work here; "You forget to order a pencil and they’ll sue you," she said. There was the issue of the fence on Tschiffely some years ago. The controversy caused all kinds of problems including loss of community money that had to be used for legal fees. Ultimately, the resident left after apparently feeling very put upon. Then there are the kinds of situations described in Mr. Berney’s email.

I think that we can begin with gratitude to Michael Berney for stepping in and subduing the confrontational remarks. This isn’t the kind of community in which someone can say, "I don’t care about my neighbor’s yard; I’m concerned about the value of my own if I want to sell it." The way Kentlands is designed, we’re all tied together. I feel that the anger arises not because of different values, but because of similar values dearly held which different individuals have divergent ideas for achieving.

If my theories above are correct, there are a number of ways that we can ameliorate the alacrity with which community members feel threatened by proposals. I can’t imagine anyone here who--despite the beauty of the streets, houses, mansion, and wooded lakeside paths--would not agree that the neighbors are what is really going to make this the ideal village that we all want it to be.

Marion Perry

-- Marion Perry (, October 20, 2000


I think that Mike Berney [the discussion moderator] should pull all of the postings left by anonymous contributors off of the web site. I also think the rest of us should ignore them and make it a point not to respond to or discuss any of the items written by anonymous contributors.

-- Joe Paiva (jpaiva@bConvergent.NET), August 27, 2001.

I appreciate both Marion's kind remarks, her analysis, and Joe's suggestion. Here's a bit more background. When Marion wrote originally, the remarks came from individuals who posted under their own names, I was able to speak with them directly, and they agreed to the revision.

In the more recent (August 2001) situation, the individual has posted anonymously, has ignored my e-mail messages requesting that we speak by phone, and has threatened lawsuits (suggesting to me that this individual is not very open to discussing the purpose of this forum and why his or her approach is not working).

Joe, I'll tell you what I've done in terms of deleting comments, and I'd value your thoughts on this and the perspective of other participants. The first time the individual posted (under a pseudonym), two members of the Kentlands community phoned me to say I had better check the site and remove the posting. Coincidentally, the email alert system on the site was not functioning for about a week, and I would not have known of the posting - but that also means that others did not receive a copy.

I deleted the posting because of the personal attacks made (comments about an individual's weight; calling someone an "uneducated imbecile;" etc.). The individual reposted. I received another phone call, went back to the site and deleted the second posting. This went on through about 8 more cycles, until I was able to get assistance from the webmaster for in blocking the individual from participating.

At the same time, I have been in contact with,, and to report this individual and try to determine the individual's identity. I also contacted Bill Edens - the individual being attacked - and requested that he not respond to the attacks and that I would continue deleting the postings as quickly as I saw them. When Bill reached his limit - certainly understandable - and did post a response, it seems to me that the situation changed, and that the two comments should stand together. They do show how much feelings raged about this particular subject.

Again, I would welcome suggestions from any participants in this forum about how to handle this specific situation. And I think that Marion's question is the operative one for the long-term: How can we keep our discourses on the higher level that they so often reach?

-- Michael Berney (, August 27, 2001.

I agree with all of you. Joe P. makes the point most succintly.

1) Ignore and delete all anonymous postings.

2) If someone posts inflammatory personal attacks with a name attached notify Michael B. and he can determine a course of action.

Best regards

-- Austin Decker (, August 27, 2001.

I hope that the terrible events of Sept 11 will help all of us in the Kentlands to put things in perspective. I have been concerned by a great deal of vitriol here in the community. There are very positive forces at work here but there is a group which seems to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement with very little regard for the rights of others. Perhaps a bit of soul searching is in order at this time.


-- Jeanne Welsh (, September 27, 2001.

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