Collectively we would be better off to read and re-read Claire Piech's "Promoting the Whistler Youth Illusion" piece last week in which she makes a strong case for us to "embrace Whistler's inner gnar-bro."
It is good that the chamber is focused on Whistler's future in the commercial and retail sector. And it is dutiful that the RMOW is revising the Official Community Plan to look at land and resources. But amidst it all I am not sure who is taking stock of the important demographic dynamics, shifts, even tensions, as described by Piech.
At the Best of the Fest at the GLC last week I commented to a friend that Whistler still reminds me of a "college town" although as he pointed out, "without the homework." And as a parent of three twenty-somethings, I know of the contributions the under-30s make and the criticisms they have of inequities in the community and world order. We need more Dr. Ken Nickersons around to help stitch the generational tissue.
Over lunch at the Aspen Institute a couple of years back, a former Whistlerite commented that Aspen has matured over the past 70 years, whereas young Whistler is still in its adolescence - thinking it can do anything, that it's the best at everything and is vulnerable to nothing. I'd be fascinated to have him and Ms. Piech in dialogue on identity and image.
But it's the "illusion" part I don't get. Is the argument that Whistler is a kind of "Fountain of Youth" and we should forget all our troubles to hang out here? Or is it that from the strain and stress of modern life, visitors and locals come here to escape and get a new lease on life?
For me the danger in illusion is that it is illusory and transitory. It's not a foundation upon which to build a vibrant community and mature resort. Nonetheless, there are demographic dynamics and tensions in Whistler we ignore at our peril.
Through Leadership Sea to Sky this year we have piloted an "Intergenerational Mentorship Initiative." The results are mixed and we are learning a ton. But it is one of the few intergenerational anythings going on. At the Chairlift Revue the cast, crew and audience spread across the generations and it felt so good. We need more.
So thanks for Promoting the Whistler Youth Illusion, gnar-bros and all. Out of this illusion let's all work for the reality of vitality, authenticity and intergenerational equity.
President, The Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue
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