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The Orton Family Foundation’s Heart & Soul Project continues their “What do you love about Polson?” campaign in order to discover Polson’s “Heart and Soul.”  However, after more than a year of the same, the purpose has not been publically revealed.  We hear meaningless drivel which amounts to intentional deception.  At the poorly attended neighborhood Heart and Soul gatherings, the method of data gathering is clearly prescribed, very narrow, and controlled.  One participant told me he felt like Pavlov’s dog being conditioned.  The method results in a false consensus.

The Orton Family Foundation only has one clear purpose and that is to influence land use planning (their words on IRS documents, not mine).  It is the influence part that bothers me.   Orton has a long history of comprehensive planning and zoning implementation in many cities and towns.  These plans reflect “Smart Growth” principles originating from the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda for the 21st century.  While some in our community may agree with their ideals, EVERYONE should agree that this needs to be discussed openly.

The next phase in the Heart and Soul detailed plan is “Choose Your Future (Implement and Make Decisions).”  It is time we are given a clear explanation.  How does the process move from Phase 2 “What do you love about Polson?” to Phase 3 which includes developing “guidelines for the city” and creating a “comprehensive plan and zoning plan?”  Remember, the facilitators are the same people responsible for the Envision Polson! Survey which they chose to interpret the way they wanted to.  The only difference this time is that Orton is guiding them every single step of the way.  They provide ongoing training and provide the script right down to the press releases in the media.

Anything planned behind the scenes and distorted through a marketing campaign needs to be questioned.  If we don’t, in a few months Orton will have completed their work and a comprehensive zoning plan with loss of property rights will be presented to city government claiming this is the will of the people.  Even then it is not over.  The Greater Polson Community Foundation has pledged to monitor and ensure implementation long into the future.