Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who's Excited?

In August, 2013, the Columbia Association instituted a six-week citizens academy called Excite Columbia. I first wrote about this last August. I had questions then, and I still do. More than anything else, my biggest question is, how do we present something like Excite Columbia so that it reaches new residents and young people?

And that question shows, of course, my long-standing point of view that in order for Columbia to survive, new residents and younger people must be engaged and given a place at the table. I see Excite Columbia as a wonderful way to say: 1) this is how Columbia works, and 2) how do you want to be a part of how Columbia works?

I went looking for the name of the prominent red sculpture at the lakefront which I mentioned in yesterday's blog post. I found it in a PDF of a Columbia Walking Tour brochure. (We have a walking tour? Who knew?) It is called "Sail" by James Arthur Benson. It is made of steel, and it is wind-activated. Wow. I had no idea that it was a kinetic sculpture. Has anyone ever seen it move?

That search then led to questions about the Bell Tower which I often hear people reminisce about. And that led to this video by Barbara Kellner of the Columbia Archives. Fascinating stuff. Watch it! As a teacher I can't help but think that we should be teaching Columbia History to children and young adults. That's my gut feeling about what Excite Columbia should be all about.

The impression that Columbia made on its new residents and young people in the late 60's and early 70's has stayed with them forever. I read over and over again how growing up in Columbia was a life-defining experience. Especially now--when we are seeing in the Downtown development a continued flowering of what Columbia can be--creating a Citizens Academy is a wonderful thing.

How do we take that idea and make it "exciting" for children, young adults, and new residents?




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