Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fiat Lux - Dunwoody Needs Light

NOTE:  Light Up Dunwoody is still scheduled for
November 22.
More information as it happens here.

October 4, 7:30 PM

Tonight's Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting is a full house as city council candidates and other elected officials are visiting tonight.  In an election year this sort of meeting is  ...   tense.

Elected officials make the rounds greeting other visitors.  Some candidates do likewise.  Some seek out their confirmed supporters.  Others grab their seats, fold their arms and sport a Grumpy Cat Face.

Everyone goes through the motions:  candidates are invited to give brief introductions.  Exec board goes through their agenda items.  The Katzenjammer Kids chatter in the back.

Then we get to Light Up Dunwoody.   For years some have wanted to include a Menorah with the Christmas tree because Hanukkah overlaps with the Christmas season and Dunwoody has a major Jewish community that wants to celebrate their traditions with everyone else.  DHA chair Rob Wittenstein announces that the DPT has declined a request to host a Menorah of comparable size to the existing tree.

And for one brief shining moment, all the tension in the room disappears and everyone is of one mind as they respond with ---   "WHAT??"

Thanks to our litigious society and a subset of our population that isn't happy unless they're suing someone, the DPT has had to establish a policy that allows only secular symbols of any given season on their properties.  They're going to have to deal with the interpretation of what is "secular" and what is "religious" in years to come as many of our traditions in the USA have some kind of religious roots.

Light Up Dunwoody is still going to go on.  An update is in the works and the DHA will announce it when the Exec Committee is ready to do so.

Your gracious host of DWG is not going to criticize the Preservation Trust.  It would be way too easy to take the South Park approach and return offense with offense and turn an event that brings people of goodwill together into an appendage-measuring contest over who's the most legally correct and who has the most right to be offended.  Everyone loses out except the lawyers.   DPT has other fish to fry and they're smart enough to know what they're going to get dragged into.

But Opportunity still knocks.

Consider the following for the future...

Dunwoody, contrary to the opinions of its detractors, has many different ethnic and religious components.  It's not homogeneous.  There are several possible "light up" traditions that are celebrated in our borders.   There's Hanukkah, of course; the Jewish population has been a major part of Dunwoody for decades.  There's Kwanzaa.  (Someone asked at the above DHA meeting, "What if someone asked about Kwanzaa?"  "So, what if they do???")
Diwali: the Indian Festival of Light
Who else besides me has heard of Diwali?  There's a substantial and growing Indian population on Dunwoody's end of Ashford-Dunwoody Road, do they get to "light up" Dunwoody too?  Then there's variations of Halloween and the extended Christmas holiday (Epiphany/3 Kings Day and Candlemas) celebrated in Central and South America.

Is Light Up Dunwoody ready to evolve beyond a one-night celebration into an umbrella that encompasses numerous traditions in multiple locations around the city?

The possibilities:

  • Remove legal liability from a City event by opening to more religious and cultural traditions.
  • Place responsibility for cultural or religious celebrations upon the population that contributes to them.
  • Distribute the costs among a wider range of populations looking to participate
  • Encourage more community involvement than just DHA regulars
  • Bring the goodwill of "Light Up" to more areas of Dunwoody, instead of limiting it to just the Farmhouse

I don't see a reason why what is currently thought of as "Light Up Dunwoody" could not grow into a kickoff or climax of a series of events celebrating Fall and Winter.  Is there a problem with "lighting up" the "Everything Will Be OK" sign to tie it all together and remind all of us in Dunwoody that we don't always have to battle to the death over Every. Little. Thing?

Besides, with November elections getting more and more heated every year, don't we all need MORE goodwill, wherever we can get it, when life starts to look dark?


Unknown said...

Very well said.

I'd love to see Light Up Dunwoody become a larger event - not focused on one location or one holiday. By all means, let's have a Christmas tree. Let's have a menorah. Let's have lights and lanterns for Diwali. We are all residents of this wonderful city and all have positive things to contribute.

Max said...

I completely agree that Dunwoody could take a true multi-cultural approach and celebrate many types of events. We are changing, slowly, and with change there is friction and pain.

Well written!