The following isadapted from David M. Boje, Judith White & Terance Wolfe
"The Consultant's Dilemma: A Multiple Frame Analysis of a Public Housing Community"

Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 8, pages 181-242, An Annual JAI Press Inc. Journal ISBN: 1-55938-871-4

What I want to show is how many different and contesting frames of reference in the Nickerson Gardens community. While I know the people represented in each frame, I can not use their names until I have received permission to tell their story. I will just divulge my own frame, and frames I worked between.

First there is a contest of two frames residents of public housing use to make sense of information, events, and personalities. "Resident" is therefore, many frames, not one. Here are two that I (David Boje) worked and consulted with from 1991 to 1996 and even now in 1999. I worked hard to consult with two RMC presidents, who championed these first two contesting frames. Both were featured in the same University (at different times) and in the same Housing Authority annual reports and press releases, and in the LA press:
 
The NGRMC "Build Community" Frame from 1989 to 1992
First RMC President
e.g.
"Resident management and ownership will boost the self-esteem of {Housing Development X' thousands of residents, create a sense of neighborhood in a place now mired by fear, and provide a piece of the American dream to families that have given up hope."
-Lacey, Marc. Watts Residents Go Public on Privatization. Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1992: B1.
  The NGRMC "Move Out" Frame from 1992 to 1997
e.g. Second RMC President
"My American dream is not to own a unit in public housing - come onů I want a white fence and a Jacuzzi. A housing project is not the American dream. It's not even the African-American dreamů This is rat and roach infestedů There's no privacy. The pipes don't work. I want my own back yard to lay on the grass with a book or something. I have relatives who have homes. And when I visit them, I don't want to come back here" (Lacey, Marc. Watts Residents Go Public on Privatization." LA Times, December 14, 1992: B1, B12).  (See pp. 207-208 in Boje, White & Wolfe, 1995). 
 

 There were at least seven different consultant frames through which the two residents' perspectives above are refracted in the events, alignments, and transitions faced by the Public Housing site in question, between 1989 and the present moment (for Academic description of the frames, see Boje, White & Wolfe, 1995: 208-209).
 
    1. HUD/HACLA brought in someone from outside the state to train residents for Economic Empowerment in phase one (Resident Advisory Councils) and phase two (Resident Management Corporations). RMC By-laws were copied from their approach. E.g. "I have established resident management in my own housing development in another city. I can show you the way. I am paid by HUD/HACLA" (Source HA Annual Report 1991 (with photos). 
    2. Someone with an MBA degree Frame (authored the Economic Empowerment Grant for $400,000 ) this RMC. e.g. "I have MBA training and can show you how to write grants, conduct your affairs like a business, and take on the Housing Authority." (Source, First RMC President Speech January, 1993 presentation at inauguration of Second RMC President, Nickerson Gym). 
    3. Chief consultant Frame, and worked for First RMC President until January, 1993 when Second President took office: e.g. "I can work with you on teamwork, communication, and resident empowerment." (Source, interview, 1993). Chief Consultant was initially a co-author on the Research in Organizational Change and Development (1995) article (with Boje, White & Wolfe) but got busy and could not see it through.
    4. David Boje Frame - worked as strategy consultant, grant writer (e.g. Peace Corps Fellows Grant) and got 1992 Dual Management One for First RMC President and worked with 1994 Dual Management Two for the Second RMC President.  Second training was done with combination of RMC, staff and University faculty. E.g. "I will negotiate contracts, on behalf of the residents with the Housing Authority and work with both First and Second RMC President." (Source, field notes, 1993). 
    5. Various Consultants working for the Housing Authority, City of XX - Frame e.g. "I work for the Housing Authority to train residents to conduct Resident Management Corporations according to the HA policy and procedure." (e.g. Consultants mentioned in HA Annual Report 1993 with photo.).
    6. A congress person's lawyer has a Frame - this consultant/lawyer favored "I represent the congress person in this." (Note: favored the "Move Out" Residents Frame above) (Source, Video taped RMC meeting Friday, January 8, 1993).
    7. Consultant to a division of the RMC until January 1993. Did staff training, selection, and in-house consulting to Transportation Staff. E.g. "I work for First RMC President and do what she/he tells me to do. I am a professional." (Source, interview, January, 1993). 
The consulting implication is the necessity of a long-term commitment. It takes time to understand the multiplicity of frames and the context of public housing. Some favor grassroots initiatives, others expert consultations. Some are Republican privatization and ownership initiatives, others are trainng to move the resident into the "mainstream." When one president of an RMC is succeeded by another, and when the board also turns over, the staff relations are in a mess. People lose thier jobs. There is a great deal of stress and chaos.  Where I worked the locks were changed four times in a month.  Each president has such a different frame, that when they gain control of the RMC and board, they do dismantle the opponents' programs and ininitiatives. Dismantling is how they get elected.  And when the First President is re-elected with support of a majority of the boards, the dismantled programs are reconstructed. It is a cycle that seems to recur in many sites I have consulted with.

Community politics are also reflected in city, county, state, and federal politics. Then HUD's leadership moved from Kemp to Cisneros, from Reagan/Bush to Clinton, there were major shifts in the context, and these were felt most dramatically in January of 1993. Dual Management and empowered RMC's was pushed hard during the Kemp administration. Privatization was in, resident subcontracting of Housing Authority jobs was in. When the Democratic party came into power, a new HUD frame happened. Public Housing Authority in Los Angeles has dropped all reference to Dual Management in the late 1990's.

The situational context of the consultant's dilemma is when a consultant aligns with one frame (e.g. First RMC President implementing Kemp initiatives) he/she is at odds with other frames (e.g. Second RMC President preferring the Democratic HUD initiatives). I had to decide to stay or to go when the fatal Friday succession cam. I stayed, volunteered my time, and worked to keep the Dual Management initiative alive. Now, as I write on August 24, 1999, First RMC President is back in office; the head of the lcoal Housing Authority is now heading up another metropolitan HA, and that person's successor is apparently not a fan of Dual Management, a Kemp initiative. Empowering resident initiative depends therefore on which residents a consultant or volunteer is working with, and on the situational context of many politics. Is it more empowering to build the community's economic potential or to get resident out of the community into more affluent middle class housing situations? What is clear is that the various consulting frames are not presently in alignment. To work with one is to invite the displeasure of anther consultant working with a different frame of reference. Neutrality is an illusion in this context.

 I agree with Martin Luther King Jr.'s statement that unless we empower resident initiative (one or another) public housing is a "cement reservation" and its business as usual. We can return to the Nickerson Gardens situation and leave the Boje, White and Wolfe (1995) article behind. At Nickerson Gardens, there has been a change in presidents of the RMC, there are multiple consulting frames in play. The current RMC president, Ms. Nora King was succeeded by Ms.Pam Griffin. Much of the Economic Empowerment Initiatives I worked with have been dismantled. The Dual Management program has been re-absorbed into the HACLA. The Transportation, Construction, and other ventures are no more. The Tutoring program has been absorbed or institutionalized into the University. None of these are resident grassroot intiatives. Ms. Nora King, if she is to grow an empowered community and an empowered residents' corporation, will have to get her frame (growing a community) to become prominent and co-existent with the other frames mentioned. I hope this is clear and that I have not compromised anyone's identity that does not wish to be identified by name. -David Boje August 25, 1999.