Climbing Up or Sliding Down?

I read today that it takes 9 times as much energy to climb stairs as it does to stand still. Whether that number is correct or not, we do know that in order to get to the pinnacle where we might enjoy the most fantastic view requires quite a number of steps and the expenditure of a whole lot of energy. It means working against gravity and our own weakness, and it has to be deliberate.

One thing we can be sure of is that we will certainly not advance to any such place with feet up and remote in hand. Face it, most of us have spent enough of our lives rewarding ourselves for a hard day’s work by sinking into a comfy spot in front of a TV or computer screen and vegging out for hours at a time. Those hours add up to a good chunk of our lives left with nothing to show for them.

You know…we could set down our ice cream or popcorn bowl (or whatever it may be) as well as the remote, and carry on that boring waste of life later. Our work isn’t over. There is much to be done.

Diligence. It requires something of us.

So, what to do? Hmmm…

  • The “great energy” that some of us need to expend might be to get our fingers limbered up even just enough to merely to click open a copy of the Lake Park Employee Handbooks (both the previous one and the new $110,000 version). We could first and foremost allow our minds to wrap around the madness that is the pricetag of the newest version and let that staggering thought work itself out down through our fingertips as we click through the pages and familiarize ourselves with what we got for the money. After that we might come to some conclusions about what we can do with the resulting 130 pages.

Perhaps you could commit half an hour to read a few sections or more and compare and contrast the two versions, line by line, noting all additions and deletions or revisions. If you haven’t already, maybe you will leave a comment for Diane Bernhard and tell her which sections you would like to dissect. She has offered us a challenge, thrown down the gauntlet and demonstrated leadership on this. Will we silently slip back into the shadows to watch and wait and hope someone else will take the responsibility upon themselves?

Come on! What’s a little sparring with words? Simple enough. It’s not rocket science, and we might just learn a little something eye-opening about the power of the town manager, the hiring/firing policies, the discrimination and harassment policies, etc., which are written into our town’s guidelines on employment and which set the stage for much of our town’s directional future.

  • Then again, maybe the energy you need to expend is to write a simple letter that you could copy to the Lake Park Town commissioners and the new interim town manager introducing yourself if you haven’t done so already. In that letter perhaps you could share what you enjoy and what you may have concerns about or what you might like to see change in regard to Lake Park. Maybe you could offer your services for a board or a suggest your own citizen vision for some future project that you feel would benefit Lake Park.
  • It could be that the energy you need to expend is to prepare three minutes worth of comments to voice at the town commission meeting on Wednesday the 15th about an issue you care about. Sometime today the agenda should be posted on the town’s website and I will link to it here tomorrow. It will provide the agenda items that will be discussed by the commission, and you will have an opportunity to speak about any or all of them as those items come up for discussion. You may also speak during public comments about any topic you would like. What an opportunity to be heard.
  • Perhaps the energy you need to expend is just to get yourself over to town hall on Wednesday night and see what is going on. Find out who else in the community is standing up for and keeping watch over Lake Park. Some of us find the meetings not only fascinating, but let’s face it, highly entertaining. Along with the opportunity you will have to see whether your representatives stand for the principles and policies you hold dear, you may begin to see how things work in this town and what you can do to impact the outcome so it is more in line with your vision of what your hometown should be. You will see which folks in town are like-minded and gain some support for things you would like to see happen in Lake Park. Besides, decisions are being made “on your behalf” that affect your tax bill, your personal property, and what happens on the street where you live. Shouldn’t you know what your town commission and town staff are getting you into?

Rather than talk of moving forward, which as you may have realized by now, I consider to be mostly a crock, why don’t we work instead toward propelling ourselves upwards. Upwards in principle, upwards in quality and upwards in the bang for the buck we get for the taxes we are compelled by the town commission to fork over for THEIR plans. Then maybe we will begin to move Lake Park toward a new higher integrity, prosperity and a more captivating and inviting atmosphere. These have been in decline for quite some time, which is a senseless waste of this jewel of a waterfront community.

Yes, it requires vast amounts of energy to defy gravity and lift anything, much less our own body mass, to a new level. The worthy things in life are always worth the effort though. To slide downwards? Well for that you don’t even have to try, and we can see how easy it has been to do so by looking at where Lake Park is today. Numerous downward trends have been set into motion. It will take all the strength we can muster just to hold our town back from the natural descent that gravity and depravity and poor decisions have been working to accelerate through policies and procedures that have been implemented over the past years. What are we missing in Lake Park? What are we encumbered by? We’ve slid so far now, many can hardly remember any more. Many didn’t even see it happening. Others have just accepted the new norm; they consider the prospect of climbing up and out to be hopeless.

Decline can happen suddenly or it can be insidious and take us slowly downward by way of a slippery slope. To move upwards to new heights will obviously take some painstaking effort and a commitment to keep at it. Working together, we can do it. I hope you will join us. The lives and the families we can impact will be first and foremost our own. Once we are who we need to be, we will begin to impact the entire community.

And if you think you can just stand there and try to hold on as is and maintain some sort of status quo, think again. Our foundation has been weakened in Lake Park. (See also my July 28th entry: What is the State of Our Foundation?) We can see the cracks, we have noticed the crumbling, and we will find ourselves under the rubble before long if we don’t work hard to climb up and out of the mess we are in and begin to repair the damage. We must make some serious alterations to our course and throw our own personal energy into the effort to move Lake Park onwards AND UPWARDS.

But have no fear, it can all begin with each of us taking the first step. Soon after that, we’ll get our footing and regain our strength. So let’s put down the remote, take a deep breath and start climbing. I hear the view from the top is lovely this time of year, and I’m pretty sure we could use the exercise… of our minds, our hearts and our commitment to our principles. We won’t be the people or the town we’d like to be unless we actively and individually participate in this exercise. But if we do, we can each become stronger individually, and create a stronger, more appealing and more inviting Lake Park.

You never know when even tougher times will be upon us. Now is the time to get ourselves in shape so we have the strength of character and the support of each other to meet the challenges to come. Be assured, they are coming. Are we ready?

PS: These are just a few of the things you can do. There are more, many more. Some in our ranks are watching over the marina, some are concerning themselves with the town charter and town ordinances, some are keeping tabs and confronting the incessant use of grants and questioning the workings of the CDC or the necessity and effectiveness of the CRA, others are working to get the truth out about sustainable development and its impact on our community and our personal lives. We will continue to discuss what needs to be done in the days ahead. Meanwhile, if you have ideas and concerns, please let us know in the comment section.

And Diane, please let us know how much of the handbook you have covered so far. I would like to take some sections myself. Thank you!

UPDATE: After writing today’s post, I came across this: United We Sit on the Couch by Guy Somerset. It is a much more in-depth piece about the puzzling fact that so many of us acknowledge and lament the great undoing of our culture and our country, yet we sit and watch it happen without bothering to lift a finger or lift our rears off the couch to do anything of consequence to right the wrongs. He makes some good points.