For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
May 26, 2005 - Flocked!
In almost every respect, my life is blessed. But that doesn't stop me from being tired out at the end of a day at the library, or a little irritated for reasons that make sense to me at the time.
But it's really, really hard to stay in a bad mood when you come home and find your front yard filled with flamingos.
Well, OK, not filled. There were just seven of them. But they were pink.
Smiling hugely, I noticed that there was a pink sheet of paper hanging from one of the bird's necks. It read:
"You've been flocked!"
Underneath that, it said, "Wanna Play? Here's how it works:"
For $5, I could call somebody and they would remove the flamingos. For $10, I could "flock" somebody else.
But for just $15 bucks, I could not only flock somebody else, but find out who flocked me.
Finally, if I just didn't want to play, I could slip out of that, too.
The rest of the sheet informed me that this was a fundraiser to benefit the C.J. Mosman Memorial Fund, established to build a pavilion at Metzler Park in Castle Rock.
Honestly, it was a pleasure to play, and a pleasure to pay. I think this is one of the most utterly charming fundraisers I've run across.
C.J. was a teenager who died in a car accident on Crowfoot Valley Road in March of 2004. The money will be used to build a pavilion in his memory near one of the baseball diamonds. C.J. played baseball for 11 years, nine of them in the county.
This sweet and lovely idea is a most gentle way to face some disturbing truths. Below are some statistics from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
* Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
* 16 year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.
* It is estimated that 16-year-olds are 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all drivers.
* 96 16-20 year-olds died on Colorado roadways in 2004; 91 died in 2003.
* In 2004, 44 16-17 year olds were killed in car crashes. 37 were killed in 2003.
* In 2004, 65.6% of Colorado teens killed in car crashes were not wearing seat belts.
* In 2004, nearly 80% of teen passengers who died in car crashes were riding with teen drivers.
There's some good news.
* Colorado's graduated licensing law went into effect July 1, 1999.
* Teen drivers get their licenses in "graduated stages" to allow them more experience behind the wheel before they can drive without an adult.
* The law adds restrictions during high-risk situations, such as nighttime driving and restricts the number of peers in the vehicle.
* Colorado's law requires 50 hours of driving time with a responsible adult before they can obtain their license. The new driver is required to fill out a written log that is signed by an adult driver.
* The Colorado law establishes a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. for new drivers. Young people with a written work permit are exempt when driving to and from work during those hours.
* The Colorado law allows newly licensed drivers to have one front seat passenger and requires a seat belt for every person in the front and back seats of the vehicle.
It happens that I lost my 16 year old sister to a car accident, many years ago. I know the pain this can cause to a family, and how long that pain can endure.
That's all the more reason I admire the Freeman/Mosman families' efforts to turn tragedy into local improvement -- and to put a smile on my face just exactly when I needed it.