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Life as performance art

Life as performance art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

One of my favorite books as a young reader was “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.” Maybe you read it too, and/or watched it in segments on the old Capt. Kangaroo TV series.

The basic plot involved Mike Mulligan, with his antiquated steam shovel in an era when diesel-powered machines were faster, won the bid to build a new city hall in a small community.

The problem was he forgot to build a ramp, so when excavation was done he couldn’t get “Mary Ann” out of the basement. In the end it was decided that the outdated steam shovel would spend her final days as the boiler to heat city hall.

The recurring line in that story was “Why not?” Maybe I was and still am naïve, but I’m devoted to that question every time there is a challenge. Why not try this? Why not consider that? Why not take a different approach?

Today’s “thinking outside the box” still means “why not?’ with word inflation.

I’ve been reading with interest the ongoing discussions about the proposed Blue Star Highway bike trail. I’m no engineer, but can see the challenges they and others face trying to make this work. Why not look at something a little different, keep it simple and not over-design things?

Like every resort community, the Saugatuck-Douglas area is looking for opportunities to increase the tourism business. The CVB, SDABA and a host of other organizations make it a priority, because “The business of America is business,” as President Coolidge said.

At the same time, we also know more people are devoted to “green transportation” such as bikes. So, why not provide a trail and increase tourism?

Re-routing the bike trails through downtown Saugatuck, back to the Blue Star,  through downtown Douglas and back to the highway again might be good for all of us. It wouldn’t be without a few challenges, but with creativity, it can be done.

Adding downtown bike racks could help in much the way both cities have placed “spousal waiting rooms” (benches) outside shops. It makes a statement that bikes and their riders are welcome. Ideally, they come, chain up their bikes while they wander around some, lighten their billfolds and have such a good time they tell others and come back.

It’s a good thing so many of us learned from Capt. K and his associates. We got our first dose of creativity with words “Why not?” and are richly endowed with creative people who can solve almost anything.