One day, city commissioners announced the park would have to go. “We need a road,” they said, “a road that can only go right there.” The city, it seemed, had grown far beyond the original urban planning. There were unique geographical features at play; a road must be built through the middle of the park.
This is a story…
for the conscientious professional who feels embattled in a time of transition, a time of assessment and accountability. I am being vague on purpose, as I want both higher education faculty and physicians to read this story in their own contexts…and probably other professionals too, as you all seem to be in the same predicament at the moment.
The following is a summary of (or possibly an elaboration on) something I read for a class on program planning and facilitation for adult learners two years ago. Thank you in advance, Dr. Terry Carter.
Once there was a community situated in a city which was situated in the heartland of America. At the center of the community was a park. Children played on the swings while their mothers talked. Old men sat on the benches reading their newspapers and drinking coffee. The high school track team ran along the paths, practicing for one regional meet or another.
“You will not divide our park!” cried the community. “It is the heart of our community. You will destroy us!” They were angry, impassioned. They brought signed petitions to every commissioners meeting.
“There is another park two miles away. You can go there. And this road will reduce noise pollution and commute time for three other city sectors,” the city commissioners reasoned. Let’s be honest: None of the commissioners had spent time in the community’s park. None had seen or experienced its magic, its charismatic connectivity or the relationships built there.
And so a battle ensued for months, energy expended in the same arguments, over and over again. Energy dwindled, bitterness grew, respect dissipated. Nothing ever really got done.