The Greek Chorus

The chorus in Greek drama, conduct imitative of this chorus, consisting of open wailing, or wise sympathetic comments.

I often hear the voices of a kind of Greek Chorus as I go about my life and work. They come from two directions, one is from inside my head, or my heart, and the other, from what on some days seems like the whole bloody world – sometimes literally bloody. These persistent voices are a kind of 'surround sound' and of the two principal themes, there is far more open wailing and not enough wise sympathetic comments. The Greek Chorus of which I speak has one unfailing characteristic, it always tells it like it is – no sugarcoat, no denial, no romance. It has absolute integrity, it only tells the truth. It is never new news to me, these truths, but that doesn't make it any easier. To say this is annoying, difficult, painful, confusing, fascinating and revelatory all at once would be accurate.

There are times when the Chorus drowns out everything else, roaring in rage at the outrageous. There are times when these voices speak in a whisper or a murmur, bemused, considered, reflective, and there are times when it is present but ominously silent in who knows– anger, disapproval, and then those occasional moments when the Chorus clucks like a chicken or 'tut tuts' like an old Granny on the porch on a hot summer evening in her rocking chair. Such a multiplicity of wide mood swings seem to flourish in everyone with a brain, even the most confident among us.

I get a little tired of hearing this noise all the time, as though I didn't have enough on my plate, as though there were not enough critics in the house and outside as well. Who needs to have a Chorus, hanging on every word, listening in on every thought? It isn't fair!

Here they come, gathered in their magisterial blue robes, with more relish than usual by the way, for the early evening synopsis of the day's events, you might as well listen in. I am trying to relax with the paper and a scotch and water. Fat chance!

You tried to dodge it Coward

Your action detrimental Coward

What you claim to care Coward

Where's your staying power Coward

If you can't stand the heat Coward

Backbone missing stand-up Coward

Give me a break! As always these guys tend to dramatize things. Let me tell you what's happening. No question, it could be one of our best projects, 75 units of low-income housing on a track of land just north of the Ashmont T station. I love the idea and it would literally turn the neighborhood around. We have been funding the CDC that wants to develop the project over the past year and have about $250,000 into the deal. Now things have gotten messy, screwed up. I'm in the middle and have exposed our Foundation to boot. The CDC is embroiled in a huge internal fight over control. The neighborhood demographics have changed and it is now primarily Hispanic where once it was predominately African American and the two groups are at loggerheads. City Hall is supporting one of these factions and putting fuel on the fire.

You knew that, knew that, knew that

Saw it coming, saw it coming, saw it

You never said a word never

Afraid of even one word

The Executive Director has been accused in the press, unfairly in my view, of being power-hungry, not sensitive to the new Hispanic voice, and of diverting funds to his own benefit. The last accusation is absurd.

He is not a good listener

That man doesn't listen

Steamrolls over people

Could of should of told him

Where were the brown faces

All those endless meetings

Where the hell were you

Saw it coming saw it coming

Last week there was a Globe Spotlight article and our Foundation was described as 'well meaning but naive'. The other Trustees nearly died.

The signs along the way

Your job was to ask questions

Whose time were you wasting

Saw it coming saw it saw it

The AG is now investigating - which is a lot of bullshit. I believe the organization and the ED will get a clean bill of health.

So you hope hope hope

You've been a dope so hope

Get off it move beyond

What's right what's substance

Whose eyes which beholder

All right, I could put the Foundation on the line. The Board of the CDC has asked the Foundation to advance funds as a bridge loan, some $1.1m, until such time as the situation sorts itself out.

You fade in and out

How incomplete you are

This is not a bloody laboratory

This is re-al-i-ty baby re-al-i-ty baby

Big-time if you get a next time

The Mayor called me personally and requested us to help and indicated he would do everything he could to make sure we were made whole. The assumption is that the permanent lenders would come in and take our loan out. I don't know what to do.

Shoot yourself in the stupid foot

Try something new very new

Think it through and through

You are not the biggest big shot

Calm down take it slow

This is way outside our Foundation guidelines, much riskier than anything we have done.

What are you chicken shit

Risk capital right

Prudent man or gutless

They call it opp-or-tun-i-ty

Big time if you get a next time

I declined to be interviewed by the reporter from the Globe. Our foundation prefers to be anonymous and has a policy against publicity of any kind and this is the worst of all - getting in the middle of an ethnic issue. We don't belong there.

What world are you in

We live in the middle of ethnic issues

Face it man you belong there

Policy or not like or not

The problem is that the option to acquire the property is about to expire. The owners have another buyer waiting in the wings who has no interest in housing. If this window of opportunity is lost, there will be no housing in that neighborhood for a long time. Two years of work by a lot of people will go down the drain, our $250,000 with it. Once again expectations raised and then not fulfilled. It happens over and over again.

The argument is complex

We acknowledge your hesitation

Think credits and debits and merits

But for goodness sakes grow up

Stop moaning and sighing

My dilemma is both political and financial. On the merits of the situation, we should continue to back the plan but I am nervous about our reputation. It isn't as though we are at fault or anything but I am greatly conflicted. I do not think I am a 'coward' but wonder. Maybe I should stand up, stand our ground.

Calm down the world will not end

You may deserve the benefit of doubt

You can still do the right thing

There is always a right thing

I should have confronted this long ago. I need to be honest and agree to do the deal only if the ED and the CDC Board commit to mend the fences, and open up to the other voices in the community. Will they listen?

Rough seas ahead

Gird your loins

Keep the wind in the sail

And you will prevail

How about this for a News Release:

The ABC Foundation is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Barker Mills property in Dorchester for the purpose of building 75 units of low-income housing. The property will be held by the Foundation until such time as the various community groups who represent the interests of the neighborhood have worked out their differences. The Foundation has also made a grant to the XYZ CDC to engage the Public Conversations Project, experts in conflict resolution to work with the community factions involved.

It isn't always about you

You and your kind

There is a missing link

Go deeper

Right! News Release

The XYZ CDC is pleased to announce that a bridge loan has been received from the ABC Foundation that will allow the acquisition of the Barker Mills property in Dorchester for the purpose of building 75 units of low-income housing. The property will be held in escrow until such time as XYZ has worked out the differences with the various community groups who represent the interests of the neighborhood. To facilitate this "community listening" process, XYZ has engaged the Public Conversations Project, experts in conflict resolution. XYZ CDC is excited about this opportunity and grateful to the ABC Foundation for their support and belief in the project and in our community.

You did it you stood up

When it counted most

Spirit away spirit away

That's it for tonight guys. I'm exhausted and going to go to bed.