We did our annual Easter Bunny circle tour through Alberta a few weeks ago, visiting children and grandchildren and seeing all the changes since our fall visit. One of the more notable things we always see when we drive back into the valley, particularly as you come around the corner into Erickson, is how you change from the mainly monochrome existence you have led from the past week to full blazing colour with green as the dominant hue — sort of like that scene from The Wizard of Oz.
We also checked out a couple community centres, as we always do, this time in small-town Central Alberta. Even without my slightly biased opinion, I would say we still lead the pack. Not that it’s a race or anything. But of course it is. Kidding aside, spending time in other facilities provides the opportunity to perhaps see or experience things that are done better (or differently) and that we can adapt to benefit our own setting or, failing that, see where we perhaps did it right the first time. Sometimes, you experience the intangibles that can’t be defined on a drawing or spec but that lift that facility or feature slightly higher than the next.
We were in one facility that was built less than a couple years ago and had the same features as ours (plus a waterslide and a wave runner), but to us, there was something missing. Maybe it was because there was no mural on the walls or the amount of windows and the view that we have here or the open, inviting layout; whatever it was, it didn’t seem to have the personality we have here. Perhaps part of it was that it was huge — lots of open space on deck and shower rooms but so much so that it seemed impersonal in my opinion. One thing I remember with our place is that the design team knew a pretty accurate cost per square foot, as well as the construction budget, so it was pretty easy to see how bumping out a wall or making a change room slightly bigger had a pretty major impact on costs. A lot of time was spent on design and redesign to get the maximum use from a minimum of space.
On the family side, another insight we had after observing young grandkids around two or so years old, is that, for the most part, they are truly happy. Ruling out not feeling well, hungry or losing a toy, all of which generates crankiness, they toddle around and have fun and, in fact, with the advances in diaper technology, they could be high-centred on a full one yet have all the unpleasantness whisked away through stay-dry linings. We discussed on our drive back how as adults, we often seem to lose this ability to be happy for the most part, perhaps weighed down by mortgages, jobs, strife, what you are looking at and all the other neat collections we gather on the road to being a grownup.
Case in point is the recent addition to our art displays around town and all the hoo-hah it created on social media and elsewhere, with some folks loving it, others gathering up torches and pitchforks. I’ve opted to follow the lead of some toddlers I watched playing around the displays, totally thinking it’s fun and cool and neat to touch, not giving a whit to all the significant stuff us adults like to assign importance to. Every so often, we probably should take a lead from our younger citizens.
Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.