“The landscapes that we see are the
landscapes we believe in…”
– Myles Rademan
By Michel Beaudry
He bills himself as a reality therapist. No, I’m not joking. Part teacher, part scientist, part entertainer — and full-time social agitator — Myles Rademan’s approach to mountain town management is a little bit akin to Freud’s approach to human psychology.
Ask a lot of questions. Probe behind the mask of convention. And don’t be afraid to say unpopular things.
OK. So I’m exaggerating a little. So psychology is a bigger subject than mountain town life. So sue me. What I’m trying to say is that this Rademan guy has been probing the psychic closet of mountain communities for a long time now. And we should all be listening a little closer to what he has to say.
Consider the recent Travel Symposium in Vail where the much-hyped keynote speaker exhorted the resort-business crowd to “over-promise and over-deliver” (once again). Rademan, who was participating in an experts’ panel following the speech, raised the one question on everybody’s mind: “So who is going to do all this over-delivering for you?” They say he got the biggest applause of the week…
“To me, it’s straightforward,” says the veteran planner. “The social contract that once defined life in mountain towns doesn’t exist anymore. And everybody knows it. In fact, what was once a pretty egalitarian lifestyle has all but disappeared today. The workers have been disenfranchised and the gulf between rich and poor is getting bigger. We still have great towns. And we still get scenery dividends for living there. But much of the work today is being done by migrant workers. So what does that mean for the future?”
Turns out that was a rhetorical question “Reality sucks,” he says. “But it’s the only thing we have to work with. Anytime there is life, there will be winners and losers. Life isn’t fair — get used to it.” He stops speaking. Picks his next words carefully. “As a community grows and changes, some people adapt and thrive and some miss their turn — and become bitter. It’s a very common occurrence in resort towns. Particularly now, when bigger and better players are attracted to the game. But that doesn’t mean we just throw up our arms and give up on the issue.”