Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Neighborhood of Make Believe

I wrote a tongue in cheek piece a while back about what fun it would be to have action figures of the People Tree. It’s safe to say that not everyone thought that would be a good idea. I still think it would be cool to be able to collect one’s own Neighborhood of Make Believe play set which included the People Tree, a few other Lakefront Sculptures, The Chrysalis, Merriweather, the Rouse Building, and perhaps even the Mall. And a little Colum-bus as the Trolley? Exquisite.

Clearly my recent viewing of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, which is a documentary film about the legendary children’s program creator Fred Rogers, has influenced my view of Columbia as the Neighborhood of Make Believe. Sometimes it feels as though we are living in that sort of stylized Make Believe world and just moving the pieces around to see what will happen.  Although I’d say that most of the time we do this with far too much seriousness and no where near enough of a sense of play.

Mr. Rogers knew how important play was in the life of children. He understood the value of creating a pretend environment where children could safely examine their feelings about new or challenging happenings or ideas. I’d argue that adults need to allow themselves the same opportunty. We all become so serious about our particular issues and it is hard to be flexible or have a sense of humor about them.

Oh how difficult it is for grown ups to take ourselves less seriously. To allow for other points of view. To imagine other solutions.

We don’t play enough. Adulthood doesn’t encourage it. We need to push back and make room for it. People who allow for the “what ifs?”and “what would happen if we?” are the great creators we all admire. Rouse, for instance. Or Disney, his well-known contemporary. But folks like that seem to do better being admired in retrospect. When we bump into someone in the here and now who is trying to bring joy into the picture and challenge the status quo we hardly give them the hero’s welcome.

All of this is a rather roundabout way of saying that, if you want a People Tree Action Figure, you will have to use your imagination and make your own. I saw a few possibilities at the new Home Sense store in Columbia Crossing.



If you want to be a part of a better Columbia you will need to use your imagination to make that, too.

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