Legitimacy

Whew.

Finished reading the HNMCP Report.

It was heartening. I didn’t realize just how much legitimacy Penn State, OPP and the Sustainability Institute leaders have actually lost. The intensity of their planning for a campaign to re-establish that legitimacy is a sign that the erosion has been extremely severe.

Turns out, they suffer from an excess of fairly unfettered community engagement – the public “evaluation that may inform subsequent mid-course corrections” in footnote 110 on page 50 – even though that evaluation is severely hampered by a lack of accurate, timely information about current and projected campus energy usage. Unfortunately, they seem to perceive that abundant constructive criticism as a lack of “facilitated” or top-down controlled community engagement.

In response to that problem framing, the HNMCP Report sets up a process by which the Sustainability Institute’s leaders apparently believe they can regain legitimacy for Penn State, by eliciting acquiescence from former and current critics and potential competitors on a still-to-be-levelled playing field.

In other words, it’s a plan for self-perceived dominant parties to manage and control subordinate parties to maintain the existing structural power of the dominants. It’s a futile plan, I think: a waste of time and money if implemented.

In any case, I don’t want to participate in that framework, for two main reasons.

One reason is that the end of the cheap, easy-to-reach fossil fuel era – and the onset of the era of expensive, hard-to-reach stuff – is in the metaphorical driver’s seat now, at Penn State and everywhere else. The projected dominance of Penn State’s leadership is illusory, and unjustifiable, which is probably part of why they don’t even try to explain the reasoning behind high-level decisions.

The other reason is that I’d prefer to continue challenging dominant players by promoting alternative problem-framing and adaptation plans to create new local power bases, and to continue testing my framing and planning against reality as fossil fuel access and economic growth continue to slip away. I don’t want to be facilitated. I want the withheld raw information.

It’s probably good that I don’t want to take part; my work- and communications-style is pretty explicitly excluded from the profile of acceptable task force participants. For example, I’m, like, totally into giving “specific and substantive” answers to questions, precluded by the facilitation notes on page 43.

More details in the forthcoming CommunityWise report…

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