Saturday, April 1, 2023

Battle of the Turf Gods


Reality show? Video game? Science fiction superhero movie with a dystopian twist?

I can’t decide.

This week’s announcement of the County’s intent to build the new Central Branch of the library at the Lakefront has brought out two of our most familiar local complaints. (Gosh, I wish that were a better sentence. I may come back and fix it.)

Let me set the scene for you. As soon as the celebratory press event had finished and the artist’s/architect’s images of the potential library were released, two age-old objections were heard throughout the (Columbia/HoCo) land.

Library? This should be green space.

Library! This should be parking.

Green space! Parking!



Well, it’s the first of April. Let’s have some fun with this.

Imagine a reality show where two teams of locals are given the challenge of remaking Downtown Columbia. One is Team Parking. One is Team Green Space. If your opponents manage to turn your home into parking or green space, you are automatically voted out.

I don’t really watch reality shows so I clearly need some help fleshing out this idea. Feel free to chime in. I’d rather that participants not have to go naked or eat bugs, if that’s all right with you. 

Or how about a video game where the goal is to turn as much of Downtown Columbia into parking or green space without destroying the delicate balance of how people actually live and work here. I can imagine an equivalent to Orgeon Trail’s “you have died of dysentery” if the player goes overboard in racking up points and, without meaning to, makes Columbia uninhabitable.

Imagine how much fun it would be to zero in on a location you’ve never particularly liked and turn it into a park. Feeling vengeful? That annoying coworker or politician could easily be neutralized by turning their home - - heck, their whole neighborhood- - into a parking lot. 

Maybe you’d rather settle into a comfy reclinable seat at the multiplex and watch “Columbia: Battle of the Turf Gods.” Don’t forget the popcorn. Live action? Animated? You choose. See whole chunks of town transform in an instant as the Turf Gods’ extraordinary powers change local topography with a wave of the arm. 

Perhaps the lesson they’ll learn along the way is that green space and parking alone are not enough. Somewhere ordinary people are yearning to live, eat, sleep, love, learn, and grow.

And go to the library. 


A disclaimer: it’s fine to have a cause you really believe in. This post is poking fun at the application of such causes to extremes. I’m well aware there are plenty of other lines of discussion going on about the library proposal. I chose these two to focus on today because the battle has been ongoing since I moved here in the late ‘90’s. It made me wonder what would happen to the New American City if the only powers we enabled were for green space and parking lots. 

What would that look like? Would we survive? Perhaps you think we’d be better off. Tell me about it.

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