24 ACResolution Magazine
crusading. Development planning wasn’t about responsible
growth and conservation of natural resources; rather it represented infiltration from “outsiders” and social engineering.
We heard arguments based on religious perspectives,
fairness and injustice (how governments were unfairly distributing the impacts of their decisions), and identifying
the “other” in who was the source of the problem. Coun-ter-frames were adopted in order to quickly respond to
perceived threats from these “others.” Perhaps the stron-gest frame we saw, though, came in the form of identity.
Many people spoke about their love of Roanoke and what
that meant to them as a person. This connection to the area
certainly plays out in different ways for different people;
however, the overall theme came through quite clearly in
language from people on all sides of the issue.
Over the course of the three years between 2011 and 2014,
Roanoke County Board of Supervisors held three different
votes around whether or not to stay a member of ICLEI. The
2013 local elections brought a new mix of membership to the
board that turned out to feel strongly that Roanoke should not
be involved in ICLEI. The next year, the line item in the county’s
budget that carried ICLEI membership dues was removed,
and the county effectively withdrew from the organization.
RC-CLEAR was then disbanded.
National participation in ICLEI has seemingly followed a
similar pattern to Roanoke County’s experience. Overall
participation was on a steady growth pattern from its birth
in 1990, yet seemed to have hit a stumbling point around the
same time as Roanoke County. According to annual reports
found on the ICLEI website, membership in the organization
from local governments within the United States steadily
increased from 164 in 2005 to 670 in 2010, but then fell, and
in 2014 stood at 450.
In Roanoke, the immediate conflict—whether to be a
member of ICLEI—was thus resolved, though not because
the parties found common ground. Although many readers
of this article (and its author) might have preferred a
different result, the established political process produced
the outcome, as it should in a democracy. The conflict
also may have created a more engaged citizenry, and the
energetic expression by many people of their love of the
Roanoke area. Perhaps that engagement and energy can
be harnessed to reframe and resolve future community
conflicts before they become intractable.
Frames defined for participants what the
conflict was about, who was to blame, how the
problem should be solved, and who should be
responsible for solving it.
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