We all dream of a safe, happy and healthy home in a safe, happy and healthy neighborhood. We all need and want the security that comes with a real “community” where we can raise our families, spend time with our friends and families and retire to when we want to shut the rest of the world out. Unfortunately that ideal of “home” seems to have been lost in a quagmire of a legal morass. whether in a residential association or out in the countryside. Gone are the days of a simple and peaceful life where neighbors were friends who looked out for each other. Sadly nowadays the people watching are not doing so to be helpful but instead looking for ways to destroy their neighbors and take their property away their property.
Martha Boneta joins us On The Commons this week. Martha, an organic farmer followed her dream and her passion for growing good wholesome food to feed her family, friends and neighbors. She soon discovered that not all her neighbors were pure of heart. Over the past 10 years they have sought to take her farm away from her. They have been abusive, underhanded and plain obnoxious. Throughout it all, she has stood firm, fought back and inspired many people to step forward to “Stand with Martha”. No matter how bad things get,Martha always has a kind word and a radiant smile . Her story and her positive attitude in the face of adversity have attracted people to support her. Legislators so outraged by how the laws are being abused by government agencies and appointed commissions have carried bills for her to try to right so many wrongs. Movie and documentary producers followed her battle for years releasing an award winning documentary earlier in the year called “Farming in Fear”. Martha also has a website, In Martha’s own words, “Today will never come again. Be Humble. Be Compassion. Be Love. Be Light”.
From an early age, we give children coloring books and a box of crayons and teach them to “color inside the lines”. We also “help” them pick the right colors. Pink elephants? Oh my! Blue hair? You can’t do that! Here is a nice bright yellow crayon instead.
When my daughter was little I used to buy her un-coloring coloring books. These books consisted of stories with just a few lines, or part of a drawing and encouraged children to complete the picture and add to the story before coloring it. Looking back I wonder if those coloring books contributed to my daughter’s rebellious nature? I also whether we are training our children, from a very early age, to “conform to accepted norms”? If we won’t encourage our children to think outside the box, will they be able to do just that as adults or will they continue to stay safely within the lines?
Bill Davis, for whom boxes and lines just don’t exist, joins us On The Commons. From the day Bill, a Texas attorney, switched his practice to representing homeowners in HOAs, he has been busy with some of the most interesting cases. We talk to him about several of his cases, marvel at the incredible gall some “neighbors” have, listen to some of the crazy and whacky stuff that goes on in HOAs. Through it all we hear stories of real people, find humor and horror. Bill entertains us and instructs us. He explains the legal issues, talks about Texas law and points out the nuances. And by refusing to stay inside the lines drawn by the HOA industry, he manages to come up with some unique and creative strategies to protect his clients’ property and their rights. Be sure to tune in and listen to the show and if any of the cases Bill discusses sound a little too familiar, make sure your attorney also listens in.
Those darling dinosaurs, happily grazing in a Texas yard brought smiles to the faces of children of all ages. The grumpy board members of the inevitable HOA, not so much. They decided that the dynamic duo had to leave “or else….” Well, you know what they can be like – a little power and they lose their heads. But this story really is all about the power of the people, the ability of the neighbors to appreciate a couple of beautiful sculptures that give such joy to the folks next door and across the street. Notwithstanding the grumpy ones, the residents of this neighborhood all wanted a pair of dinosaurs of their own – at least for a while. And thus began an amazing journey and a lesson for all of us, including the grumpy group. Are you listening?
By the way, you do not have to be a board member to be grumpy and not all board members are grumpy.
Nancy Hentschel joins us On The Commons to give us an update on her ingenious plan to share her dinosaurs with her new friends in the neighborhood. She explains how her generosity is helping make money for the charities. The plan is simple and brilliant. Any neighbor who wants to have the dinosaurs spend a little time in their front yard will have to make a $50 donation to the charity of their choice. Charities are getting much needed money, especially at this time of the year. Smiles, grins, joy and photo ops these big prehistoric beings bring continue. It is a win win for all. Although Nancy is in the process of moving to a saner, kinder neighborhood where grumpy people are not allowed, she is generously allowing her dazzling dinos to remain behind. They are defying the traditional HOA wisdom about uniformity and conformity protecting property values and proving that a little fun can go a long way in making a happy community. Talking to Nancy I was reminded of a short story I read online called A Flock of Lawn Flamingos . Nancy, thanks for reminding us of what is really important in life.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have news for you, if it hurts it is NOT good for you. The only people who would have you believe that nonsense are those who are out to take advantage of you and to harm you. One of the biggest scams that has been harming Americans for the past several decades is residential associations. If these associations are such a great deal, why not provide housing consumers with honest, truthful information about what they are buying into? However, that disclosure will have to include all possible risks to their homes, their wallets, their health and the health and well being of their children. It is not about pools, tennis courts, community centers and all the glitz, but also about harassment, fines, being put under the microscope, special assessments, foreclosures, and all the abuses for such ridiculous alleged infractions, such as children’s bikes that are visible, basket ball hoops, hopscotch on the sidewalk. It is about living, living as a family without fear, raising happy healthy children instead of couch potatoes with weight problems and a lifetime of health problems.
Dr. Gary Solomon joins me On The Commons this week. Dr. Solomon has dedicated the last several years of his life to to educating the public about the health risks of living in an HOA. He has written one of the most creative and comprehensive e-books called HOA:Crisis in America which he has made available online free to everyone. You can read the book, listen to it or watch video clips. It is book that everyone should read, whether in the hallowed halls of our State and Federal Capitols, academia and especially his colleagues in the medical world. The medical practitioners who have the task of healing and curing their patients need to understand the root cause of the problems their patients are suffering. Every time I talk to Dr. Solomon, I learn something new and I get to know the man a little better. He is definitely a man well worth getting to know.
Let the children play in HOAs. They deserve a normal childhood and will not devalue property.