Blindly led by the spirit 


Ever notice how a catalogue of the occupants of an average Whistler gondola ride could sound like the beginning to a joke? (A Canadian, a Mexican, and an Aussie get into a gondola car. . .)

Diversity here, in Whistler, is a real, breathing entity. Not only is Whistler’s population diverse in terms of its collection of national identities, but it is also diverse in terms of the various tax brackets that its denizens occupy. Anybody who has done their "first season" here on an entry-level salary can tell you all about what it means to sweat it out during that year where part of the fun is seeing whether or not you make next month’s rent.

This is one side of the story; the other side is that several times each night, an amount two or three times the average Whistlerite’s paycheque is blown in just one of those restaurants in town where your bottled beer actually comes with a glass.

The economic and cultural diversity found in Whistler is certainly one of this town’s greatest resources. Although I am not against the Winter Olympics coming to Whistler, I do believe that the community’s diversity is surely one of the multiple resources that are at stake with the arrival of a global spotlight and the global corporations that may follow. In recent years, poor planning and outright corruption have tarnished the Olympic experience for some communities and organizations simply because certain public figures dove head first into the shallow end of the Olympic pool.

Being from Atlanta, Georgia, I can tell you that while the 1996 Summer Olympics brought on unprecedented economic prosperity for the city and the region, such successes have been undermined by the population explosion that has resulted in not only the clogging of Atlanta’s major traffic arteries, but also the clogging of its citizens’ pulmonary arteries with god-awful clouds of smog produced by daily traffic jams. This mess was easily preventable, if the city of Atlanta had had the foresight to aggressively expand and improve Marta, its public transportation system.

More recently, the USOC and possibly even American athletes, were so overcome by the spirit of fair play that they decided to offer up any form of bribery that they could get their cold hands on in order to entice the IOC to come their way and extend Salt Lake City the right to host the 2002 Winter Games. The USOC has yet to recover from the political fallout that followed these allegations, and in recent months they have been about as organized as Cheech and Chong on a high consumption day. Tragically, New York City’s bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics has been seriously jeopardized by these allegations and it is possible that New York City will be denied the bid simply because of the fallout from the Salt Lake City scandal.


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