Earlier this week, I received an email from a New York-based lifestyle brand that I follow. The subject line read, "This is Dangerous. And Wet. And Totally Worth It."\
I opened it.
Imagine my surprise when I realized the email trumpeted the opening of Columbus' Whitewater course. The message encouraged subscribers to set aside a day this holiday weekend to travel down south and try the course. It included contact information for Whitewater Express and a compelling photo of daring rafters on an exciting whitewater trek. My hometown pride went full tilt.
Then, I read this:
First, a quick overview. This river used to be stopped up by four dams. Now it's not. The result: 2.5 miles' worth of the most monstrous rapids in the southeast. Which also makes it the longest course running through any metropolitan area in the galaxy (yes, Columbus, Georgia, counts).
Yes, Columbus, Georgia, counts? Really? There is no question that Columbus, Georgia, is not New York City, but there is no need to suggest it requires an exception in the definition to call our region a metropolitan area.
Reasonable minds can differ on whether Columbus should be considered cosmopolitan, but the area is definitely metropolitan. Both the dictionary and Census Bureau agree on that fact. So, I found the statement from my New York friends just a little off-putting.
That slight aside, it is still encouraging to see folks almost 1,000 miles away notice and promote the grand opening of a Whitewater course in Columbus. Our next goal must be to sustain everyone's interest in the effort beyond Memorial Day. The success of our Whitewater initiative will generate new energy and even more enthusiasm for the vision of Uptown Columbus that Rozier Dedwyler laid out so many decades ago.
I am excited about Whitewater not because it is a magic bullet, but because it is another arrow in the quiver of opportunities to build on Uptown's already impressive revitalization. Getting to the grand opening has been a big idea that unified diverse interests, appealed to people from across the spectrum and attracted a variety of resources from numerous sources. If it did nothing else, the quest to build the longest urban Whitewater course in the world allowed our community to work together toward a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goal. We need more big ideas just like this one.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.