Maxed Out 

Colouring outside the lines

By G.D. Maxwell

By the time I left Myrtle Philip Saturday, midway through the futuristic open house, the parking lot was full. The driveway to the parking lot was full. In North American fashion, several cars were circling the parking lot like hungry wolves, stalking an open space, waiting for someone to leave, preferably someone who’d come early and parked close to the door. Even in a town devoted to activity and fitness there’s something alluring about a parking place close to the door. At least one intrepid soul had tested the climbing and holding ability of his – had to be a guy – SUV, mounting the crumbly shale cliff bordering the parking lot to save himself some steps.

It was gratifying to see so many people giving over part of their Saturday to consider the future. They milled about, pondering the displays of what Whistler might become depending on which path is taken to one of the Five Futures. They clustered in currents and eddies; they mused, debated and argued among themselves. No-growth, full-throttle growth, infill, suburb.

While adults puzzled, children played. Impromptu games were created, rules promulgated, disputes settled. There were running games, games of dexterity, gathering games, stacking and construction games.

And one little girl coloured in a nearly-finished, dog-eared colouring book. She wielded her crayons with abandon, with little heed to complementary colour combinations and no heed whatsoever to the arbitrary design printed on the page. Samurai colouring.

If the adults had been less distracted by the formal displays set up around the gym, they all might have learned something from her.

In contemplating the future – as in colouring – it’s probably best to ignore the lines someone else has drawn and go with your own vision. We might not know much about the future but we do know it is not likely to arrive in neatly-defined little boxes. The future’s undoubtedly going to be as messy as the past.

So maybe the solution is to not think of Whistler’s future as wrapped up in one of five choices but more a blending of the best of five. Maybe even a sequence of events borrowed from different aspects of all five. Think of it as the Chinese Menu Theory of the Future. Something from column A; something from column B; green tea, of course.

But where to start?

Well, how about we start with Paolo Soleri? If you’re unfamiliar with his name, no, Paolo Soleri wasn’t one of the consultants who hopped on the gravy train and spun the Wheel of Future. Soleri is an architect so far removed from the mainstream he makes Gehry’s Guggenheim and Pei’s Pyramide du Louvre look like tract housing.

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