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Hurtful anti-housing campaign signs trigger win-lose situation

Playing 'Cowboys and Indians' doesn't seem relevant in this world today because it is clear that there aren't just two sides to anything. Winning and losing battles requires war, which is always dangerous, most times cruel and always incomplete. It appears that change is the greatest motivator for both war and peace, and change must happen because it is built into time. Time changes all things and that is one thing that doesn't seem to change.

I am a lifelong Lake Oswegan well into my seventh decade and am particularly sensitive to change in my community. Change can happen with or without my attention, and in the 1970s I decided to help take responsibility for change in the citizen involvement movement. I initiated First Addition Neighbors, the Neighborhood Traffic Coalition and the Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition. My motivation was to bring as many people, with as many diverse views as possible, together around the same table to look at - and listen to -- the issues and changes that create our community.

Experiencing and participating in both win/win and win/lose politics, I have become a staunch advocate for conversations in which all views and ideas are expressed. When participants listen to each other fully, without prejudging, what we hear is creative ideas. Creative ideas can be a positive source for change, and creative citizen collaboration is how beautiful communities like Lake Oswego happen.

I have recently put forward a carefully considered idea for small, sustainable, affordable housing on my property, motivated by my long-time residency and reluctance to leave my community. I have asked for a community conversation to help change, refine and improve the idea so that it is a creative collaboration and a win/win idea for all.

The idea is welcomed by many neighbors and others. My invitation to talk with those who oppose the idea has been rejected. Instead, they have decided to launch a 'no' campaign with lawn signs, requiring a win/lose position for all of us. I feel 'vilified' by these signs - that I am an enemy to my neighborhood and daily walks are emotionally painful. The signs are misleading and disrespectful. I forgive those who have done this knowing they are intelligent people taking action with incomplete information.

My intention is to share a creative concept for a new kind of housing that can preserve and enhance the character of our neighborhood. I would like everyone, particularly those who oppose it, to participate in a conversation that will help us design a project that compliments us all. My greatest hope is that we can sit around the table together to identify our differences and commonalities and create a process in which something wonderful will happen for our neighborhood and future generations.

Norma Heyser is a resident of Lake Oswego.