Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mortality (Not What You Think)

No one is keen on the concept of mortality. We may understand it in the abstract, but it is just incomprehensible when it gets personal. The only way I can get my mind around it is to look at my beautiful daughters. If everyone lived forever and no one died, there wouldn't be room for them. And so we make room. Only love can get me that far, and not reason.

I recently smacked up against mortality in a whole new way after I attended one of the Columbia Associations #AquaPlan meetings. It was extremely well run and I felt they had truly been doing their homework as they moved through the stated process. I came away feeling as though there were many possibilities. I felt hopeful.

But I also had some questions. I wanted to know: how many pools are there per village, and is there any correlation between population and number of pools? When I asked these questions on Twitter, it appeared that this was too touchy an issue to talk about in a public forum. Some of the responses I got came back fast and furious. My immediate response was to crawl under a rock.

Now, I've had some experience with Pioneers who resist change. I'm used to that. But this was different, and I wasn't expecting it. I was beginning to get some insight into a different group--people who grew up here in Columbia. And then I "got" it. It's mortality.

There is something that happens to you, as you navigate adulthood--you begin to treasure your childhood in a whole new way. That is why I go look at pictures of products from the sixties, connect with people from my old neighborhood, listen to old TV show theme songs. It becomes very, very precious. So when people start challenging the Columbia Pool way of life, it's not just a Plan, it's Killing Their Childhood.

You just don't go around killing people's childhoods, folks. If that is how the change is perceived, you are not going to get anywhere. So, how do we move forward? Does the message need to be different? The messengers? The people whose childhoods were shaped by CA Aquatics? How are we going to "make room"?

I don't know. But I have some empathy. Moving around frequently in my youth, I attended three elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. Of those six schools, only two are still standing. The others were demolished to make way for more modern facilities, or were not replaced at all. I've had to come to grips with that piece of my childhood which I feel is now missing.

I still have ideas and questions about the #Aquaplan. Many may be silly, even crazy. But I think they are worth discussing. But here is where love steps in before reason: I don't want to kill anyone's childhood.

Time for another Beer Summit?



  1. When we're talking about millions of dollars, reason needs to step back in. The number of residents/pool is not the statistic that needs to be examined though; it should be the average daily attendance/pool.

    If you have a CA pool in an area where modern apartment complexes were built with pools for residents, the population went up but use of the pools did not.

    If you have a CA pool in a low density / high income area (let's call it "Hilltholton's Glen") it may have a low residents per pool number, but those residents' CA fees subsidize the pool in the lower-income areas (let's call it "Brown Forest Lake Reach") where they have same number of attendees/pool and more residents/pool, but many of the attendees may be on the "low/moderate income" discount plan.

    I would rather have fewer pools with lower costs to get a membership, so more people in Brown Forest Lake Reach can enjoy these resources -- Even if it means that the soccer moms in Hilltholton's Glen have to drive their Cayenne one mile instead of two blocks to drop off their tweens.

  2. I guess I meandered there. My main point is two parts:

    The high income kids will go to a pool regardless, but we should keep pools open near them if the attendance numbers justify the cost; because their membership fees and CA property fees subsidize the other pools.

    The moderate income kids' ability to enjoy CA pools is directly related to the dollar cost of a CA membership. If we raise the cost of membership to keep pools open around people who have no trouble paying for their CA membership, were not following the Rouse vision, and we're not being fair. If we can manage to keep CA fees as low as possible, all the better.

    If we have to close a pool in a lower-income area it should be because it's not well enough attended to justify the cost. But this indicates we need to LOWER the CA membership fee, and make whatever sacrifices are needed to do so, including closing pools.

  3. @Mediaprophet: Thanks for your comments. I was wondering whether a focus might be deciding that each Village should have one fancy pool with amenities, and then perhaps other sites could be re-purposed for specific groups--indoor, heated, Splashpad, etc. I'd like to see some kind of transit connection ("Pool Bus?")so that folks without cars could easily & cheaply get to their Village Pools. I'd like make staying in your own village to swim more appealing. Right now it feels like we're looking for the fast food joint with the best play-place.


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