State-level policymaking bodies and organizations: ‘weather, climate analogies’ relating to policy determination

“The Line Storm” / 1935,  John Steuart Curry  U.S. artist (1897–1946). [i]


Once I dipt into the future far as  

human eye could see,

and I saw the Chief Forecaster,

dead as any one can be.

dead and damned and shut in

Hades as a liar from his birth,

with a record of unreason

seldom paralleled on earth.

while I looked, he reared him

solemnly, that incandescent youth,

from the coals that he’dpreferred to the advantages of truth.

he cast his eyes about him and

above him; then he wrote

on a slab of thin asbestos what

I venture here to quote,

for I read it in the rose-light of

the everlasting glow:

“Cloudy, variable winds, with

local showers; cooler, snow.”[iii]

 Pop Quiz:

  1. Name at least one of the four common weather fronts recognized by meteorologists.
  2. T or F. There are few microclimates in West Virginia, although the definition of microclimates varies.
  3. T or F. Weather proverbs are telling, although not always exact.
  4. T or F. Altitudes affect elevations differently.

(Answers in Endnote.[iv])


Those reared on farms gain inordinate respect for weather.

Farmers augur about the weather, relying largely on scientific forecasting accuracy. My grandmother, however, also had  allegiance to  “signs of the Moon.”[v]

When a wiseacre eldest grandson confronted her with the incongruence of her normative Christian faith and its admonitions against astrology,[vi] she responded with matriarchal pragmatism – “Maybe. Maybe not.”

Farming involves gambling with the weather:

Farmers rely on good weather to grow our food – too much rain can lead to rotting plants, and sufficient rainfall makes it difficult to grow crops and feed animals. Too much wind can make planting difficult, and freezing temperatures can stunt plant growth. [vii]

Mixing climatology and meteorology:[viii]

Land and weather go hand in hand when determining everyday forecasts. As the atmosphere moves over different types of terrain, weather characteristics change.

Let’s consider an analogy based on state-level policymakers ‘residing’ at higher altitudes or elevations. [ix]

From these climes, policymakers’ actions affect those at various organizational “elevations,” especially at the ‘ground-level.’ [x]

Operating from higher elevations, policymakers “view”  ground-happenings from a 30,000, 360-degree vantage. [xi]

Those on the ground may fear policymakers’ aims will disrupt or disturb the long-negotiated ‘balance’ that exists between the organization as a whole and its segments, comprising the evolved architecture of how the organization works, reinforced by its culture to protect core “non-negotiable” values. [xii]

Not surprisingly, state-level policymakers may conclude this organizational ‘balance’ impedes policymakers’ aims, including higher-level results, outputs, efficiencies.



“Weatherproofing” allows organizations to modify, mitigate or reshape state-level policymakers’ aims.

“Cant” is the most basic weatherproofing[xiv] – (often can’t or won’t to state-level policymakers, rhetoric, “happy talk”[xv] or even hooey to others). Cant serves as worthy weatherproofing until policymakers embrace other truths, readying such to achieve concentrated policy aims. Note: Based on this writer’s work with state-level policymaking bodies, both rationality and expansiveness, the tension between those two ideals provides a format for policymaking. Paraphrasing poet T.S. Eliot,  “’All significant (policymaker or organizational) truths are private (policymaker or organizational) truths.’” The melding of those “private truths,”  as held by both policymaking bodies and organizations, inform the policymaking process, creating sound policy.

Weatherproofing is also typified by the linguistic conjunction ‘but,’ with especial emphasis on contrasts: “the  sky is brilliant, clear, sunshiny, but its’s very cold.” This weatherproofing signals the organization “acknowledges” state-level policymakers’ aims have some merit, but with these reservations.

The above weatherproofing examples amount to “typecasting,”[xvi] which, like weather-forecasting, relies upon “longitudinal” or historic organizational responses applied to current, prevailing, or prospective  policymakers’  aims.

Other examples of weatherproofing:

  • Organizations “negotiate” outcomes to alter policymakers’ aims. Bartering requires both political and organizational leadership and membership cachet. Admittedly, policymakers often invite organizations into varying degrees of dialogue concerning contemplated policy emphases – sometimes providing nudges for “negotiating” prospective rules, regulations or statutes.
  • ‘We’re against this.’ Organizations object to policymakers’ aims through campaigns, implementational inaction of laws, or litigation. This approach, which may prove costly in a longitudinal political sense, prevails if the organization leverages support of its leadership and members, especially if combined with public, news media or constituencies’ favor.
  • Third-way political stratagem.[xvii] Organizations optimize potential through fluidity, nimbleness and adaptiveness strategies without loss of membership or allies’ support.

Other analogies.

Policymaking weather or climate analogies include:

  • “Red at night, sailors’ delight; red at morning, sailors’ warning,” relating to forecasting or predictability.[xviii]
  • Microclimates relate to the granular nature of policy shifts which may affect intra-organizational constituencies discretely. [xix]
  • Clear day visibility, although the norm, is subject to weather vagaries.[xx]

Sunshine/rain happen.

No less than Scripture tells us “…the sun rises on the evil and the good…and rain on the just and unjust.” (Matthew 5:45-47 – KJV).

Indeed, to be effective in its advocacy, auguring isn’t necessary. Rather, by ensuring its rhetoric and actions are multidimensional, the organization becomes a valued resource to shape and guide policy. Instead of the facile but ineffectual “either-or,” the organization operates from a “both-and” dialectic, realizing that sunshine/rain happen, meaning concentration of organizational resources and energies to what’s best for the organization prospectively, meaning organizational leaders or “influencers” forgo the instinctive maintenance of a house built upon the sands of past accomplishments: everyone else – surprise, surprise – has moved on. As poet Mark Strand says, “’The future is always beginning now’.” The effective organization sees the clearing ahead. Instead of surrendering non-negotiable core values, effective organizational advocacy includes locating a – the – ‘clearing’ in which to inform and aid policymakers. This occurs through reliance on varying strata of both entrenched and emergent core values, playing the hand (or both hands) as situations demand. In times of policy transition, organizational fixation on ‘stationary patterns’ results in landscapes much like those littered by bad weather: not pretty and a lot of clean-up.

Indeed, West Virginians know a thing or two about ravages of bad weather. We rebuild. Neighbor helping neighbor, rebuking today’s rampant tribalism.

Every organization committed to this state, builds for the future, fashioning the present as the vista that is the future rather than clinging to the ready, easy gateway the past provided.

As Hubert H. Humphrey, 38th U.S. Vice President said, “Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts – it’s what have left.” Or, paraphrasing poet Emily Dickinson, to “…dwell in possibility,” combined with an Eastern aphorism: “Great Faith. Great Doubt. Great Effort.” – gateways to sound policymaking.[xxi]

You see, folks, trade groups and not-for-profits and non-profit organizations build West Virginia’s future by looking ahead, making the best of whatever sailing winds they are thrown.

Next posts.

How? In the next two blog posts, let’s explore strategies that maximize organizational effectiveness, given an entrenched and emergent “core-values” emphasis.


[ii]  Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), U.S. satirist, author of “The Devil’s Dictionary.”

[iii]  Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), U.S. satirist, author of “The Devil’s Dictionary.”

[iv] Pop Quiz:

  1. Name at least one of the four common weather fronts recognized by meteorologists / Cold Front, Warm Front, Stationary Front, Occluded Front /,stationary%20fronts%2C%20and%20occluded%20fronts
  2. T or F. There are few microclimates in West Virginia, although the definition of microclimates varies. (Refer to EN xvii.)
  3. T or F. Weather proverbs are telling, although not always exact. (Refer to EN xvi.)
  4. T or F. Altitudes affect elevations differently. (Refer to EN viii.)


[vi] serves as a representative read.



[ix] / Civilization invariably use higher realms, especially mountains, as sites of power and authority.

[x] As state climatologist Kevin Law, Ph.D., West Virginia State Climatologist, Marshall University Professor Department of Geography states, “(One) typically references ‘elevation’ when (one is) referring to the land as in the height above sea level. For example, Huntington may have an approximate elevation of 600 ft above sea level. ‘Altitude’ is typically referred to as a height in the atmosphere and is commonly used by pilots. Actually, there are different types of altitude referenced by pilots. (Based on email exchange with author.)  Since weather occurs in the atmosphere, we typically reference clouds at certain “altitudes” in the atmosphere, but they impact people at different ‘elevations’ on the ground.”

[xi] These are representatives readings. As one will note, not all scholars appreciate the 30,000 feet concept.

[xii] Refer to inaugural blog entry: (Scott add reference.)

[xiii] Representative definition:

[xiv] language peculiar to a specified group or profession and regarded with disparagement. (Oxford dictionary)

[xv] optimistic talk. According to most sources, the term is appropriated from  “Happy Talk,” a show tune from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.


[xvii] These are representative readings: Clinton’s 3rd Way /The Collapse of Bill Clinton’s Third Way /Margaret Weir University of California, Berkeley / / My use of the term is general.

[xviii] Within limits, there is truth in this saying. Also refer to,how%20the%20atmosphere%20will%20evole regarding the National Weather Service’s means of weather forecasting.

[xix] As Dr. Law explains: “(…The number of microclimates in WV  is “…a difficult (question). It’s true there are a large number of “microclimates” throughout the state, perhaps even “thousands” as you said someone had testified (Editor’s Note: during interminable legislative hearings relating to school calendar and prompts for “calling off school” because of inclement weather). However, those ‘thousands’ are not entirely unique and different from each other. Let me explain:  Around your home/property, you may have a microclimate next to your house as plants are protected from frost by absorbing heat from the exterior (brick) of the house. You may have another microclimate that is on your property at the bottom of a hill where cold air collects at night and frequently gets frost. Then you may have another microclimate on your property at the top of the hill, that may be protected from frosts due to temperature inversions that can form at night. A neighbor down the road could have another 3 or perhaps more microclimates around their property. You can see how the overall number of microclimates quickly add up, but your neighbor’s group of microclimates, are probably not much different than yours.

[xx][xx] As Dr. Law states, “The official meteorological definition of “visibility” is the greatest distance you can see in any given direction with the unaided eye along the horizon. For example, at the airports if they report a 10 mi visibility, the skies are fairly clear.”

Finally, Dr. Law recommends:


  • Scientific American regarding an explanation to one of the most famous weather proverbs:
  • Author George Freier work, containing a variety of old weather proverbs and folklore and explains their validity:

[xxi] (Literary analysist contend Dickinson is comparing prose to poetry, with poetry having great latitude for expansive thinking, including this representative read:,which%20Dickinson%20dedicated%20her%20life.

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