Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Free Soap Box

The Big Game is on all day. It happens once every four years. The pre-game hype dominates the airwaves for months ahead of time. Advertising and sponsorship involves far more money than any sporting event. It draws more viewers than the Olympics, Superbowl, and World Cup combined. The whole world watches.

To get away from such portentuous global developments, my letter to the editor below was printed on Thursday, October 16 in the Telluride Daily Planet.

Dear editor:

Recent articles have discussed the growing enthusiasm for eliminating the Free Box in Telluride. Two reasons are given. First, people sometimes place trash in the Free Box. Second, some Free Box donations encourage alcoholics, marijuana users, and others whom nearby boutique owners dislike.

I remember the early days of the Free Box. I remember my Mom explaining it to me, and my initial thought was: why does anything ever remain in the Free Box? I was five and, like nearly all of us, I later came to appreciate that a thriving and sophisticated society like Telluride prospers from giving and sharing, even though this places some expectations on people who have more to share. The Free Box is an intense and poignant metaphor for larger issues. Of course, there are always a few people who will take advantage of societal largesse, and they were there 30 years ago too. A community that decides to be a little more altruistic, together, hip, and forward than most towns may attract some baggage. Should such people ruin a structure and a mindset that even the most ardent Free Box disestablishmentarianists agree is as central to Telluride historically and culturally as geographically?

Someone will dump junk in any Free Box, both literally and figuratively. This is wrong, insulting, and inevitable. A lot more people will leave clothes, blankets, trinkets, and a little toy plastic brain that I loved for four years until returning it to the Free Box. It was gone the next day. Don’t let a few leeches ruin it for the next generation. Keep the Free Box.

Brendan Allison, PhD
Brain – Computer Interface Scientist

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