I spend quite a bit of time in rural Idaho. It isn’t Afghanistan, but it ain’t Brooklyn either. There is a new wind farm project being built on the outskirts of town. As I understand it there are 63 windmills being built to convert wind power into electric power. An unknown number of local farmers have leased the land to the developer.
Photo Source: caffeinejournal.blogspot.com
The ‘locals’, at least those who haven’t made any money by leasing their land, are not happy. They are generally not in favor of new things or new ways and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the ultimate effects of the wind farm. For one thing there will be windmills and not a few of the sky, for another there is a great deal of angst about the potential effect on crops and animals.
The developer built a network of wide dirt roads on private property – part of the land leases. The local newspaper ran some stories explaining that this was all on private land and that the county had not closed any roads.
Yesterday I’m picking up my lawn mower and there’s a couple ahead of me talking to the proprietor of the mower repair shop. All parties agree that the county has been reached by the developers to close roads and that something evil must be taking place because they can’t seem to figure out a way to ‘get up there and see what’s going on’.
I’m willing to bet that this is a scenario NATO forces are seeing in Afghanistan every day. It’s hard to convey information that people don’t want to hear.
Making matters worse is that the most credible spokespeople for the project, the farmers/ranchers that have leased their land, are hesitant to come forward and admit that they are actually making money from the project, perhaps for fear of being looked upon as traitors.
Bottom line: Credible rural messaging requires respected local spokes people.