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August 29, 2006 > Editorial: Pluto is gone

Editorial: Pluto is gone

We earthlings live in a solar system of nine planets revolving around a sun with human life - us - on the third planet from the sun. These immutable truths have been repeated over and over as long as I can remember. The fact that no human being had ever ventured to the ninth planet, Pluto, or even near its environs made little difference. With the advent of unmanned spacecraft, the non-astronomical population of our planet began to catch glimpses of heavenly bodies further and further away from our little home world.

Now, those who have led us to believe in our solar stability have begun to reveal a darker side of this happy solar turf. Speculation of great catastrophes heralding the demise of the dinosaurs, celestial collisions and catastrophic encounters among the heavens are unsettling, but now these folks have ripped away an entire planet! We are now counseled that the once planet, Pluto, is now considered no more than a conglomeration of space trash, unworthy of planet celebrity status.

Backing off from the universal scale of suns, planets and universes, there seems to be a major philosophical lesson in all this. What we are told as fact is often simply perception and repetition of that perception until it dons the mantle of truth and stability. "Facts" of our lives and communities are subject to change even if today's conventional wisdom dictates status quo. New ideas or old ones that in the past met with disapproval are often discouraged by statements that it has been tried before or simply has no chance of success.

Pluto's disappearance actually gives hope to the notion that "what is" is not necessarily "what will be." Ideas that have risen to a negative reception in the past may be revived again under a different set of circumstances. For instance, the dream of a major performing arts center in Fremont may find traction in today's environment. Will this cost a lot of money? Yes, of course. It will also need to be subsidized over future years. But, it is worth the price to elevate our sights and celebrate a commitment to something more than bottom line commercial efforts.

Formation of a joint cities committee to review and reinvigorate plans for such a center can make it a reality. If our civic leaders have the vision, these efforts can create a regional center. The arts commissions from each municipality, in a joint session, could explore the possibilities and give impetus to the process. Along with discussion of a regional performing arts center, local venues should also be included. Since these commissions already exist, there is little but inertia to prevent such a discussion.

We have been running a series of articles on public art in our cities and applaud use of such artifacts to lend identity and character to the local landscape. While some may focus on costs and others the relative merit of a particular sculpture or mural, the overall idea is sound - that there is synergy in a vibrant community that transcends petty politics and dollars and cents. This idea is fostered by leaders who boldly march at the front, but in rhythm with their communities. Possibilities turn into probabilities with effective leadership and communication. If the heavens can change, so can we.

 
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