When I was in high school, I did Lincoln-Douglas debate. This form of debate is also sometimes referred to as "values" debate due to the format, in which each debater will promote a core value, explain why theirs is superior to their opponents, and how the "resolution" best promotes or is contra to the proposed value. I hope I have that right, considering it is based off of my memory from about 15 years ago.
LD Debate played a significant part in my development, despite not being very good at it. I would estimate that over three years, I participated in about 50 debates. I can only recall winning three. And this was before speed-talking took over policy and, to a lesser extent, LD debate, screwing it up in a way only Americans can, so it wasn't for lack of super-human abilities or any other easily excusable fault. I just don't think I was mature enough or interested in the heavy load of outside work that would be necessary to succeed.
That's not to say my lack of skill took away from my enjoyment of the "game". I really liked LD debate. It was like seeing the actualization of all my years of schooling. "THIS is why I am learning things. To beat people over the head with a log of logic!" I have no doubt that this early extracurricular set me on a path to where I am today and also have no doubt that every single one of the kids that beat me back in high school tells people that they "thought about going to law school."
I distinctly remember debating a resolution having something to do with public funding for the arts. To a high school student, it was a no-brainer. With limited funds and unlimited social needs relating to the very survival of the least fortunate, funding for the arts is unnecessary. This was around the time that feces and urine were finding themselves in contact with religious symbols at most contemporary art museums, which provided an easy example of what the public should not be "forced" to endorse.
What was so easy for a second-rate LD debater to understand has become a much more complex issue for his 30 year old counter-part. My wife works at an art museum. I've been to her exhibitions and felt the bridled power of art in context. Last weekend at Lakefest, I saw something else that is hard to define. Art provides common experience. It binds the young and old, rich and poor, black and white. Maybe it is a play off our our base cerebral reactions to stimuli, maybe it is something more ethereal, but you felt like you were doing something with your community as opposed to just being a part of it.
I'm reticent to apply value to something I can't define (and that argument would certainly score me similar points to those I was awarded in high school), but similar to my realization about debate all those years ago, I feel I've finally had a realization about why art has always been promoted as a community value. This isn't just something that artsy people enjoy. It is a mechanism of community building and support. While we need order, deliberation, and governance as the blood and bone of our citizenry, art is the soul. We can spend all day trying to define it, but most of us would like to acknowledge that it exists.
The Downtown Partnership bill appears to have been universally panned by both the public and the Council at Monday's hearing. Based on the comments from Council members, including Courtney Watson's description of the plan for Affordable Housing funds going through the Housing Commission a "tragedy", it seems as this bill was presented without any collaboration with other Council-members. Alan Klein notes that if the current bill passes, both he and ABC will be proven correct that the Downtown Plan is not enforceable. I think that is bit of a stretch considering the 15+ levels of approval for development, but with regard to affordable housing, it is hard to argue. I believe a lot of this consternation could have been avoided if the bill had included a wider array of membership with greater authority over affordable housing plans, and expect the Council to amend in order to incorporate the same.
The public testimony regarding Council-member Calvin Ball's proposed term-limit amendment, extending terms from three to four, had a slightly more mixed response, with Alice Giles and Alan Klein both speaking in favor of his bill. Klein adds that he is against term limits, but feels the current Council should commit to not seeking a fourth term if the amendment passes. Although Brian Meshkin testified against the bill, and said he regretted the fact that there were not term limits on Board of Education members, when Calvin asked what he has done to impose term limits at the BoE level, Brian proffered helplessness, noting that those limits are set by the State.
TJ gets very excited over Ken Ulman's announcement that he will be holding an event in support of marriage equality.
And Then There's That hosts John Stoltzfus from the Columbia Festival of the Arts to discuss upcoming programming across Columbia. It definitely made me excited about...all of the shows I will miss when I fly to Ohio for my brother's wedding.
Featured Blog Post of the Day: HowChow finds a favorite frozen yogurt chain, which he admits have popped up like dandelions across our County. Jane and I have enjoyed the variety, but have yet to find one that really stands out. Red Mango may be our next stop.
That's all for today. Slow news week.
Have a great Wednesday doing what you love.