Friday, May 19, 2006
Bouncing back from Banta-Davis
The Recreation Commission (RecCom) was dealt a blow when their proposal to expand recreational facilities on the town's Banta-Davis Land lost by the slim margin of 11 votes in the Town Election on May 9. The RecCom first considered a recount, but later decided to let the vote stand. What happens next?
On Tuesday, I spoke with Recreation Director Cindy Nock and RecCom Chair Allen Deary about the commission's future plans. They said RecCom members will talk with townspeople to try to learn why the project passed easily at Town Meeting, yet lost at the ballot. They hope to bring the same or a revised plan back to voters in the near future. Deary said, "We want to give people what they really want."
Deary was frustrated, and noted the huge commitment in volunteer time that has been made by RecCom members in shepherding the plan through the various town committees during the past months, "It takes a tremendous amount of time to get these things going."
The RecCom plan for the Banta-Davis Land includes the construction of four tennis courts, two Little League fields, one multi-purpose field and additional parking. Why did it just barely fail to muster a majority vote, losing 466 to 477? Was it the price? Did the suggestion to apply artificial turf to one field dissuade the voters? The RecCom added the turf as an amendment at Town Meeting, and this raised the project cost by half a million dollars. Nock thought the artificial turf, "might have confused the issue."
I agree, and would like to learn more about the material. Is there only one type of artificial turf in widespread use, or are there choices? Being unfamiliar with the subject, it is hard to see how covering a field with a plastic-like material is "environmentally friendly." Are there no non-toxic methods of growing grass? On the other hand, the artificial turf can be used early in spring during mud season when traditional fields are easily damaged. The extra playing time would be very useful. Deary pointed out that during the recent rainy weather most athletic fields have been shut down, but the artificial turf fields in surrounding towns have remained in use. According to the RecCom's entry in the 2005 Carlisle Annual Report,"the current financial break-even is approximately 13 years." Price, convenience, safety, environmental effects, and usable days per year are all factors which must be understood in comparing artificial turf to grass.
Nock said that next time RecCom may offer the artificial turf to the voters as a separate option. They are also considering seeking new bids in the fall in hopes of obtaining lower quotes.
The RecCom has sought more playing fields for many years. My husband, a sometime soccer coach, can vouch for the difficulty in scheduling practices when many teams share a small number of playing fields. We are lucky the town owns the Banta-Davis Land, which is an ideal location for additional playing fields. If there is consensus on the "why" and the "where," then the town just needs to agree on "when" and "how much."
Jumpingboy: Local boy reaches new heights daily
We started on New Year's Day by documenting my son, Aaron, jumping into the snow in his shorts. We've taken hundreds more photographs since, in locations from Carlisle to Brighton, England. As Aaron explains on our web site, http://jumpingboy.zoto.com, "This is a project by me and my dad. Each day Dad takes a picture of me jumping somewhere, usually wherever my busy schedule takes us. At the end of the day we select the best photo of the day and post it online here at the jumpingboy headquarters."
Sounds simple enough. But more than a third of the way into the full year we hope to complete, jumpingboy has taken on a life of its own — one that Aaron and I have chosen to dutifully serve each and every day. We have fans checking the web site daily, sometimes sending late-night e-mails, worried that something has happened to us. Last week we rushed back from Fenway with that evening's jump (with the Green Monster as backdrop), uploading it at the stroke of midnight. Whew!
The one-photo-each-day rule is sacrosanct. Photos can't be saved for a future rainy day. Rules are rules! Of course, to get that one photo of the best jump with the best configuration of legs and arms and facial expression in the best spot relative to the scenery with the best framing and exposure, we take between 6 and 60 exposures a day. When we upload the images to Aaron's computer for our highly sophisticated analysis, we often discover serendipitous aspects of one or two that make them contenders — or unfortunate details we hadn't noticed when making the exposures that render them rejects.
It's an adventure every step of the way! Generally great fun, though like the Ring of Power that Frodo carried to Mordor, it weighs on us sometimes as we try to coordinate our schedules to squeeze in our daily jumpingboy. Why do we do it? Aside from the compulsion to see this through to the 365th jumpingboy on December 31, the best answer is that there's no particular reason. We like it when people "get" it, but understand when others give us that blank look that indicates they don't. Jumpingboy is inherently meaningless. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, jumpingboy has become a great bond for Aaron and me, something we share every day. As he turns 16 this June and is planning on spending next spring away in Vermont, followed all too soon after that with his departure to college, every moment together I can capture, like the frozen moments of him suspended in midair we're preserving daily, is precious.
We joke that we want to become famous — jumpingboy's fan base is growing, and several jumpingboys have been "featured photos"on Zoto, the parent site hosting thousands of people's pix. Aaron has discovered a "livejournal" site where the global community posts pictures of themselves jumping (we are not alone!) and has posted a link to our site. Among the jumping livejournal comments: "You are my hero! You should totally take a pic once a day 'til FOREVER."
So maybe there will be a market for a book of our photos, with scholarly discussion of this cultural phenomenon, featuring near-miss outtakes. Or "jumpingboy: the movie." Followed, naturally, by "jb: II." If not, that'll be OK too. We're having fun. Together. And every now and then we take a great photograph, if we do say so ourselves. Check it out. See Carlisle jumping sites like the Clark Farm silo and the Wang Coombs fields. Spread the word: jumpingboy!
© 2006 The