Monday, January 28, 2013
A Serious Condition
Last week HoCoRising author Tom Coale wrote about what it means to have "Kittamaqundi Fever." I think most of us who know Tom are grateful that he has caught the bug and continues to be willing to serve Columbia on the CA Board of Directors.
That got me thinking about a debilitating condition which has infected our citizens for many years. It is long past time for us to address the negative impact it has had on our community. It may start as Kittamaqundi Fever, but just when does it turn into Pioneer Paralysis?
Or, as Tom so deftly described it, "We're not against progress. We're just against THIS progress."
Paul Verchinski, a member of the Senior Citizen Task Force, gave an impassioned speech Thursday evening in favor of putting a line item in CA's Budget for funds specifically earmarked for seniors. He spent a good deal of time outlining the percentage of seniors living in Columbia--village by village. All in all, according to his report, Columbia's population is comprised of between 20 to 30 per cent seniors.
So, answer this for me. Why were 100 per cent of the people who spoke against the new plan for Symphony Woods from this specific demographic? This, I suggest, is a serious case of Pioneer Paralysis. But why this vehement opposition?
Mary Catherine Cochran clarified this for me:
As a ... ahem... older person who supports the concept plan and will continue to form opinions as the details emerge... I'd like to say that it is easy to jump to the conclusion that a) only older people are against it and b) they're against it because they're old. Many of the folks you see on HCCA are the pioneers that were invested in shaping Columbia in the beginning. Columbia is their canvas of which they are quite proud... Now, young whippersnappers without their level of experience are re-creating their masterpiece, their magnum opus- without even consulting them and their considerable experience. I don't think its about age. There are some pretty old folks who support it but I won't name names as none of us really likes to think of ourselves that way. ..
(A bit of info: she and I are the same age--too "mature" to be whippersnappers and too young to be members of AARP. It can be an awkward age to be in Columbia, but does bring with it some valuable perspective. "Postcards from the Middle," you might call it.)
We know that not everyone who comes to Columbia catches Kittamaqundi fever. (Although, wouldn't it be nice if more of us did?) And, as Ms.Cochran points out, not everyone who started out here, or who has lived here a long time, will develop Pioneer Paralysis. I write to ask these questions--How does it develop? Can it be prevented? Or, better yet--cured?
I don't know. But I do know that there are, approximately, another 70 per cent of Columbians whose voice has not yet been heard. If that is you, or your moms group, PTA, running or workout group, neighbors, co-workers, karaoke or trivia night buddies, friends on Facebook--your voices are important. It matters. Columbia is yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and you are a part of what makes it alive.
Click here to read Ian Kennedy's petition on Change.org. If you are in agreement, sign it and share it!
For the last week I have been haunted by the memory of an old public service announcement. In my head I hear, "Columbia. It can make 'nothing' happen to you, too."
If we don't speak up, we are a part of the Paralysis. Don't let 'nothing' happen to you, too.