Image of a girl in a fantasy heroes outfit

The COMmUNITY Center

The Flushing COMmUNITY* Center

There have been attempts to fund a community center in Flushing. Big plans were made. Attempts to raise lots of money with millages fell short. I’m wondering if my dream of a special place, and a different way to create it, would be helpful.

The Story of the Dream

The Seed: The Dreamers’ Workshop

For me, it began when I was young and realized that while participation in group sports was expected of all children, especially boys, the creative hobbies and amateur science experiments that were more appealing to me were all left as individual activities. I began to dream of a place where people could do such things together, and combine them in new ways. The movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” particularly the song “Pure Imagination” provided further inspiration. I dreamed about a wonderful workshop for dreamers of all sorts. The Dreamers’ Workshop.

The Dream Grows: The Fantasy Heroes’ Training Center

Marvel Comic’s “Danger Room” in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and LARPing (Live Action Role-Playing) suggested an addition: a way to encourage dreamers like me who aren’t interested in sports and repetitive exercises to have fun with physical activities. We could have an obstacle course with safe versions of imaginary challenges and adventures, and an exercise room where basic science and advanced effects combined to simulate super powers. Perhaps mock battles with padded weapons or paintball guns.

Sadly, as with many people like me, I have little if any propensity for business, for selling things (or ideas) to other people, or even being outgoing, gregarious and building a posse of supportive friends. And what’s more difficult to sell than a new idea which by its nature is not geared to the majority of people? So for decades it was little more than a mental ghost haunting me, goading me into tentative solo efforts which quickly failed.

However, I’m beginning to think times have changed and there may be enough interest among the general public for this special place. Respect for “nerds” has risen since the “Revenge of the Nerds” movies, as seen for example in the popularity of the TV show, “The Big Bang Theory.” “Shark Tank” has popularized the world of invention. Magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics have documented the rise in popularity of Maker Spaces, where people share tools, materials, and knowledge for creating many different things. The Odyssey of the Mind competition provides a showcase for youthful intellect and creativity. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organizes competitions in robotics and similar challenges. STEAM education promotes the learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Viral videos and crowdfunding sites display a booming growth in amateur science experimentation and invention.

As for non-traditional physical challenges, even traditional exercise centers have added yoga, Zumba®, Pilates, Tai Chi, and more. Artificial rock climbing walls have become widespread. The growing popularity of the Japanese obstacle-course show “Sasuke” (Ninja Warrior) has lead to its importation as “American Ninja Warrior,” and that has lead to gyms featuring those challenges. “Wipeout” offers a less-demanding but more imaginative, even silly obstacle course. There are several obstacle course competitions open to the general public, such as the Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and Michigan Adventure races.

The Last Missing Piece: The Onward and Upward Club

The more I thought about having a place for personal development in different ways, the more I realized the importance of spiritual development. As a fundamentalist Christian, I wish everyone believed as I do. If I could make this idea work on my own, or sponsored by a church or other Christian organization, I would only provide Christian materials such as I already have. However, I recognize that if it is done as a public community center, especially with government aid or funds raised by everyone in the community, we would want all of our beliefs to be represented, including those of people who believe there is nothing real but the natural world.

Combined: The COMmUNITY Center

Put all of these together and they would indeed form a marvelous place. A center for doing things that are fun, educational, healthy and uplifting. A nexus at the center of a network of existing businesses, public institutions, and non-profit organizations. A clearinghouse of information for self-improvement, Do-It-Yourself, and helping others. A pool of talent and a rallying point for meeting community needs, doing public service and dealing with emergencies.

Or is it to be always just a dream? I know I can’t make it come true on my own. Will a city government or some individual or group share the dream and take up the cause?

* COMmUNITY – Uniting the community in common goals and activities with many combinations of companionship, compassion, and communication.

I was born in 1960, raised in a family of fundamentalist Christians (I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior as a child). A bookworm, dreamer, and nerd, I loved my faith and also science, fantasy, imagination, creativity — I could never settle on who I was and what I wanted to do, and never seemed to fit in anywhere. The Musement Park is meant to be as close as possible to a theme park on the planet I seemed to come from.

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