History Matters...Doesn't It?

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Dec 1, 2019 at 12:05 PM.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Maybe everyone is really busy buying stuff online or something eh? Or maybe people have just quit caring. Or, maybe everyone is just really happy how everything is going. Or maybe, ignorance is bliss.

    Whatever the case, let me give you my thoughts on the question of history on whether it matters: Only fools look to the future while ignoring the past. Bold statement (literally) and it will help you understand where i will be trying to go in the coming years.

    Some of you know i love to read. As much as i enjoy writing, a really good fiction novel is like pure gold. I read while working out on the elliptical and i read every night. With my recliner looking out at the pool, it's a tranquil setting where i can get lost before trudging off to bed.

    I've got a serious collection of series by some of the more well known authors. Periodically the well runs dry and i stop by the library. On one of those excursions i came across an unknown author to me; Jon Talton. Turns out he was a columnist for the Arizona Republic for years and had moved on to Seattle in a similar capacity.

    I loved the first book he wrote and found the 9 book series online and bought them. His main character was David Mapstone, a failed history professor turned MSCO deputy assigned to solve cold cases. His background and knowledge of history of Phoenix gave him an incredible insight solving these impossible crimes. Here is a link to the books.

    In this case, the history did matter...a lot. Oddly, once the series was done, i was doing research as i was writing the Del Webb series. I came across a website, the Rogue Columnist, and found a history of the depression years in Phoenix. It was so good i used a cut from it in the series. Turns out as i was looking for the owner/author, it was none other than Jon Talton.

    He is as well versed historically as his Mapstone books indicated. This past week i spent hours reading the Rogue Columnist. He just retired from the Seattle paper. I sent off a note of congrats and some questions in the blog he has at the bottom of columns. He responded and his comments were instant validation he was the real deal.

    He clearly cares; he knows history matters. He has been focused on getting people to get their head around the problems staring us all in the face. That ultimately, ignoring them will only make matters worse, not better. I felt i had met a kindred spirit, albeit on line. He knew if people knew the history they would be more invested in finding solutions.

    With that set up out of the way, i will break it off here and come back tomorrow morning with why any of this matters. For some, it will make no sense, hopefully for others, it will fit how we move forward.

    We'll see eh?
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I stopped at the Museum Saturday afternoon. There were several new exhibits i wanted to read and being it was slow, i was able to take my time and enjoy the story behind each. The Boswell/Sun Health exhibit in the new addition was excellent, though i knew most of the facts behind it. Still worth the time to revisit the intriguing story and how the community got involved and committed to its success. It went from a small local 60 bed facility to a new-age creation based on the dynamic promotion and investment by Jim Boswell. Webb/DEVCO played an integral role, but Boswell was the key. Once the hospital was in place, Sun City exploded, as sales spiked beyond anyone's wildest imagination.

    The back bedroom has always been where the revolving displays have been housed. The latest is on Jim Boswell. As much as i should be better versed on him, i was left in awe as i read his life story. For those of you who don't know, Jim was a 49% share holder in DEVCO. The Boswell family owned all of the land Sun City was built on and were cotton farmers, in fact the largest in the country and with holdings around the world. With the country moving away from cotton in many products, the sell off to Webb was an easy decision.

    The rest of the story is where it gets good. Jim Boswell was heavily invested in Sun City. He was always involved, not so much on the front end, but always in the back ground, always supportive of John Meeker and some of the risky steps he took to keep Sun City moving forward. The exhibit contains personal perspectives on Jim i had never heard or read before. Fascinating and revealing of the character of the man who gets little credit in the Sun City story. I hate to admit it, but it brought tears to my eyes; see, i'm a sucker for how and why we were successful.

    The simple reality is, Sun City should never have succeeded. It was shot down by virtually every expert the company talked to. It was a leap of faith by Webb and Boswell that brought them to invest the million two hundred thousand dollars in such a crazy idea. The men doing the heavy lifting, Breen, Ashton, Jacobson, Johnson and Meeker were all driven to make it work. There was no how to manual on what to do; it was all hit and miss, step and re-step. And when it was failing, they didn't panic, they refocused and rebooted. Damned if they were going to let Del and Jim down, failure wasn't an option.

    The Sun City communities around the country were all struggling in 1964. In 1965 Meeker refocused and looked within. All of his energies were directed to Sun City AZ. He understood fixing one community was far easier than to try and fix them all. The best aspect of his efforts were the residents living within Sun City AZ were up to the challenge. They accepted ownership and the responsibility to make it work. They were as heavily invested as the company, hell, maybe more so. Their future was at stake, while the company could and would just move on, one way or the other.

    That's why history matters. That's why the character of those involved and their story is so compelling. I know, it was a different time, a different era. I know those involved from both the company and living here were of different stock. They were more willing to get involved and be a part of something very special. I guess not so much today, as the most common refrain is; let someone else do it. Where i get most frustrated is when the RCSC virtually ignores our history and the rich traditions behind our success. Unless and until that changes we will simply continue to grow further and further away from where we came.

    And that my friends is tragic in my humble opinion.
  3. CMartinez

    CMartinez Active Member

    History does matter, in all phases of life. It the learned lore of familial history which keeps families together or apart. All history matters, the problem lies in who does it matter it to, who is remembering the history. I will admit, I did not like history in school, so I remembered the facts needed to pass the test and move on. The history was there for my learning, but I chose not to get involved with it and take it into my life.

    So it goes for the RCSC, the history is there, but it is being erased by the GM, and there is no one left to really remember what the history was. The GM ensures the history is eradicated from the books, making her the omnipotent power. Who do we have to preach the history too. Who, in Sun City, really wants to know of its unique history? I feel more than we can count, it's just not getting out there to the people to care. Yes, you have written magazine articles about the marvelous history, but where does on go for "the rest of the story?"

    What is needed, in my opinion, is a live history teaching seminar, running over a period of time to articulate the history and bring it to life. There is nothing better than a live story, told by an interactive story teller, to bring it all alive. Gee Bill, who could do that for the residents of Sun City? Offer up a history of Sun City in an interactive way to engage an audience and from there take the audience to a place of caring about what that history means to them and this community.

    There are two great Sun City historians in the community who also happen to be great orators. Think of what this could mean for the community.
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Dang C, what a coincidence. I don't know who those two guys you are talking about are, but Ben and I are starting a Coffee Brake with Ben and Bill series at the museum on at least a monthly basis. It is a members only event as we are trying to give members added value for their membership. We are limited to 25-30 attendees and i think the first one on the 14th of the month is already "sold out." The museum will be running 2-3 of these kinds of things each month after the holidays. Plus we are looking to expand our entire presence on the internet in ways yet imagined over the next 5 years. Way cool stuff coming.
  5. CMartinez

    CMartinez Active Member

    Well, those two guys I am speaking of come highly recommended and are known for their knowledge and speaking ability. Oh My, isn't that a coincidence that it was both you and Ben I was thinking of. I know you are just getting the show off on the road, but could it be more than monthly or a greater audience? What you two have to say is of such importance, the word really needs to get out. I know there is a quality commitment there, but the more people who hear the message, the better it is for Sun City.

    I know, haven't even had the first meeting yet, and I am egging you on for more. Well, how about recording your fireside chats and then let them loop at the museum for all to share? Garner more interest in future meetings, eh?

    Thanks to both of you for taking the bull by the horns and stepping up, Does my heart good.
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Thanks C. We are looking at the possibility of recording it. We need a better platform to play it on. This is just the start of where we want to go.
  7. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let's continue with where this is headed. To be clear, it's not some sort of revolution we are leading. Ben and I come from different backgrounds, kind of. He from WI, me from MN. I ran a union, he taught gifted high school students and more importantly served as a county commissioner for a very long time. Both of us liberal, both had to be elected and re-elected. We both came to understand accountability and transparency. When we first met in the mid 2000's, when we ran for the SCHOA board, we became instant friends. We led a charge to rebuild a faltering organization, and while it was a challenge, it worked beyond our wildest imagination.

    There were two primary components; communication and education. It was a pretty simple premise, reach out to people being honest and open and they would respond. It was what i did when i ran the local and changed the internal dynamic. It was why and how Ben was re-elected year after year. We didn't invent anything new, we took tried and true techniques and put them in play. Nope, not everyone got involved, not even close. That said, we knew what we were doing and the outcome was predictable and measurable.

    So i am clear, neither of are the driving force at the museum. Ben has been on the board the past year, i was just elected to go on this coming year. We both sat on the strategic planning committee the current president put in play in 2019. The project is all about where the museum will be in 5 years. If we did nothing, it would be fine, as far as a small building goes. The reality of how far we can go beyond that is all centered on how strong our relationships can be built. Being totally honest, what we want to do will take significant resources (money) and we don't and never will have it. The good news is there are enormous amounts of cash out there.

    That's the external side, the internal side is where this thread is focused. We've doubled our membership this year (100 to 200). We've become better at social media with still lots of room to grow. The museum itself is looking better than ever before. The added "gathering space" will allow us to do things we have never done. All of the above stuff is good. Honestly, they are not enough. We have to reach the masses, not just the 200 members. We know that and that's where the strategic plan comes in. The beauty is our history is why we exist, we also know technology will be the key to our expansion.

    I know most of you get excited by Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. I get excited by the idea of moving the needle on creating a better Sun City. We will go back to our roots; our history. We will use the proven techniques from our past experiences; education and communication, but we will also expand our use of technology in ways most will not expect. History does matter, it's still relevant, interesting and revealing. The tragedy is those who have the best chance to showcase it, the RCSC, has no interest and in fact almost runs from it.

    Our goals are simple; reach out to owners and potential buyers and help them understand why Sun City is different, unique and a better choice. Using our history to define and delineate those differences we hope to get them to long for the values and the value of this most amazing community. Easy? No. Possible? Absolutely.

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