Seven50 and “Agenda 21”: Apples and Oranges

Let’s get this straight: Seven50 and “Agenda 21” are completely different.

But some people are trying to create correlations between them, mostly for political reasons. Others are downright confused and are projecting their fears of “Agenda 21” onto Seven50. They are making all sorts of assumptions, and we all know what happens when we assume. In either case, these naysayers are doing more harm than good by disseminating misinformation and trying to stymie a process that actually represents the best shot everyone in Southeast Florida actually has at getting what they really want and need: a voice in the future of their communities.

First, let’s be clear about what “Agenda 21” is: It’s a 20-year old, non-binding United Nations agreement with global goals for the 21st Century that was signed by the United States and many other countries. Just about everyone we’ve asked agrees that this 300+ page document contains many bad ideas, despite whatever its mix of good intentions might have been. “Agenda 21”was largely ignored until the recent national election, when it was used as a tool to try to rally support against the Obama campaign. Opponents of “Agenda 21” say that if wholly implemented, Agenda 21 would result in a totalitarian military state similar to George Orwell’s 1984 or Glenn Beck and Harriet Parke’s new novel Agenda 21. Both novels depict oppressive states with censorship and surveillance, forced labor, terrible living conditions, children taken from families, zero religious freedom, relocated populations and a lack of private land ownership.

Those who have engaged with Seven50 recognize that none of this has anything to do with Seven50. Look at the facts. Comparing Seven50 to “Agenda 21” is like comparing apples to oranges.

Let’s be clear about what Seven50 is: It’s a process for producing a new plan, currently being created, based on input from the public to help enable each of the seven counties in Southeast Florida to help guide future investment into the region. Let’s nip in the bud the wrong rumors that there is any link between Seven50and the United Nations. It is unfortunate that some people are spreading these nonsense rumors in order to further their own political agendas, and that some people are paying attention.

Seven50, which is a local initiative, made possible by a federal grant, is entirely under local control. The plan has no enforcement mechanism other than simply providing good ideas for people to consider in the future as they plan their communities. At the end of the day, each county will decide whether or not to implement those ideas. If any county doesn’t like something in the plan, they don’t have to do it – it’s that simple. Think of it this way: Much like businesses, families and individuals can benefit greatly from working with experts to develop plans for their future, to protect their investments and ensure their visions become reality, Southeast Florida can similarly stand to benefit greatly by planning ahead for future investments that will be made into the region.

So if Seven50 is so good for the region, why are some people objecting to it? In some ways, the new objections by anti-Agenda 21 individuals are probably due to the fact that the historic Seven50 project and partnership came at an unfortunate time when Florida was a key battleground state in a polarizing national election. Despite this, many who participated in the first Seven50 Regional Summit or one of the County Roadshows saw that Seven50 is a non-partisan, open, team effort. They saw the extremism fostered by the national media and partisan propagandists who get paid to make people angry melting away when they joined friends, family, coworkers and neighbors around the same table to identify goals they agree upon. Pictures and tabulations from those meetings can be found at Seven50.org, and we encourage you to review them closely. In the photographs, you will likely recognize people you know participating in the kind of democratic civic involvement Seven50 makes possible.  Democracy is more than elections (winning or losing); it has to do with building a culture of inclusion, of peaceful dialogue, and of respect for multiple points of view.

The impact of the misleading rumors and the intimidation tactics used by “Agenda 21” opponents at recent meetings is that mainstream citizens are frightened to participate in important conversations about local and regional development and infrastructure investments. This is very unfortunate. Here’s why: Development and infrastructure decisions will continue to be made with or without public involvement or the kind of coordination that Seven50 makes possible.  By not participating in Seven50, people are sacrificing part of their rightful voice in the future investments that are made into their communities. Ironically, when those who are afraid of “Agenda 21” put the brakes on public discourse, they help create the world they are most afraid of – one without citizen engagement, without local decision-making, and without representative government.

The time to decide whether Seven50 is right for your community is when the plan is completed and you have evaluated whether the plan accurately represents your voice. We urge you to stay a productive member of the discussion about Southeast Florida’s future and participate in Seven50 by attending our meetings and providing your input. We look forward to working together for a brighter future for Southeast Florida.

Thank you.

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