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Letters to the Editor

On the meaning of hospitality, snowmobiling, a down under perspective and thanks again.

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Searching for a word

I attended an interesting meeting at MY Place on March 9.

A gentleman named Anurag Gupta took those interested in Whistler's future on an exercise of self-examination.

After getting a predictable core sample of Whistler citizenry to agree that they did indeed want to take the journey Mr. Gupta said that to get anywhere it is essential to be honest about from where one is starting.

Anyone can get to Point B if they're sure on the location of Point A, he explained.

Using a technique that I'm sure works well with corporate clients Mr. Gupta asked the crowd to describe Whistler in one word. He had assistants write the words on large sheets of paper. It didn't take long to fill three sheets. The process Mr. Gupta employed was to distill all these words down to one word that the whole town could buy into.

At a previous meeting a sort of mission statement was created about what kind of Whistler people wanted. It was determined that Whistler should be, to paraphrase, "a place where people felt themselves to be fundamentally changed by the mere experience of being here."

The effort behind this meeting was to find the one word that everyone could keep in mind to create the desired effect while going about their daily business.

Having Whistler pull on a common oar, so to speak, would create an environment that people noticed and were profoundly changed by. Everyone's cumulative effort would make this happen.

I bought into the concept because I too believe that an infinitesimally small deed performed by a large number of people can create a dramatic effect. Think what saying "Hey" not only to friends, but to everyone else you pass would do.

Most in attendance could see the power of what Mr. Gupta was selling, but a few were skeptical. It led to some tense moments that Mr. Gupta could have handled better. He was just trying to keep the night on track, but his confrontational style was more suited to motivate corporate types who pay for his services than concerned villagers who donated for the rental of MY Place.

The evening stalled for me in the effort to wordsmith the perfect nuance. Things got the tiniest bit inhospitable and I left.

As I walked through Whistler Village it dawned on me that perhaps "hospitable" is a word Whistler can rally around. We are inhospitable to our environment by building golf courses on wetlands, to business owners through increased commercial rents in times of economic downturn, to long-term employees through the 500 names on the Whistler Housing Authority waiting list, and finally to guests of Whistler because service staff replace attitude for being courteous and competent.

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