I know this subject is low hanging fruit for an opinion piece, you either like the Innovation Center or you hate spending money, but I thought this an apt medium to express my thoughts on the place in a more folksy informal format.
The place cost a pretty penny, billions of pretty pennies (my math skills are still poor, I think that’s right), maybe a few thousand wheat back pennies as well, and plenty of other types of currency, but I truly found it to be an impressive facility for li’l’ ol’ Longmont.
Back in ancient times, in the 90s, when I went to Longmont High School, there were a few programs I took advantage of to get away from the actual physical building with too many other students. The programs I took at the Career Development Center introduced me to ham radio, the Internet, and auto mechanics repair. I remember it like it was yesterday, or the day before yesterday, or a few days before the day before yesterday. Honestly, my memory is a tad bit foggy, but I’ll power through it and dig deep to present my ankle-high fruit tree argument.
In high school I was (and still am to a certain degree) a quiet, skittish introvert and creative type who barely made C’s and D’s. I graduated high school though, and three-quarters of a school year early, I might add. I took every art class I could get my hands on and then daydreamed the whole rest of the day through. I had very few friends and darted through the shadows of the halls to get to my next classes. I didn’t want to be there at all essentially, so any escape off school property was a very welcomed option. That bike riding class I took one semester was really cool.
Yup, the Internet was one of several workstations in my tech class. That’s why I said, “Back in ancient times in the 90s.” The Internet workstation in my tech class was one fire-breathing tank of a computer that loaded web pages at the pace of an infant turtle. Slow and steady won the race, but it sure was infuriating to wait an eternity for one darn page to load. Each time I worked at that station, I think it loaded six web pages maximum in the forty-five minutes I was there. I might be generous in that estimation.
I didn’t understand what the internet was at the naive dorky age of fourteen. I thought it was a CD ROM that was loading all the information, but it was information nonetheless, and as the information hound/writer in-training that I was, I ate it up. I couldn’t get enough of it, and even though it was a science-based thing, it inspired curiosity and exploded my creative mind into the stratosphere. Pictures, stories, encyclopedias, everything my bottomless brain could absorb.
The Ham Radio was a similar thing to the Internet. I could contact anyone around the world and talk to them, ask them important weird questions about their culture, like, “Where do you buy groceries? What color is your sky? Have you seen that cool new TV show The X-Files, it’s really cool, huh?” Information was literally at my fingertips, I just had to hold down the button on the microphone a little bit harder than typing on a keyboard.
The auto mechanics class I took was short-lived. I eventually dropped it. Not because I didn’t like it, I thought it was interesting and invaluable information, I just didn’t fit in with all those burgeoning tough car guys at the time. I was painfully shy and they were painfully aggressive. The class was interesting enough to leave a lifelong impression on my mind. I’m not a hardcore car person today, but I do love cars and I believe they are engineering works of art—a seamless mix of creativity and science from the inside out.
What was I most impressed with at the new Innovation Center? A lot of stuff is the short answer. I’m still taking it all in, but if I had to narrow it down to three neatly-mentioned things (like I did earlier in this opinion piece), I would choose the studio/television area, drones, and robots. I was such a fangirl, giddy as a kid in a candy store when I was in those three areas this past Friday evening at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The studio/television area would have grabbed my attention like the ham radio and the Internet did. Information and communication at its finest. I don’t think Longmont High School had a AV club back in the 90s. If they did, I was too shy to introduce myself and check it out. But, if it meant I’d go off school property for a significant amount of time, I probably would have taken that risk. Maybe I would have worked more in television instead of written media. Who knows? My imagination does. It has always known everything.
The drones would’ve peaked my interest also. The racing part of drones, and the sheer flying aspect would have had me flying those things if I were still a teenager. Heck, as an adult, whenever I get the chance to fly one I always do. My uncle used to build remote control airplanes from scratch when I was a kid. We would fly them all day long on a Saturday until my mom would yell at us to come home because it was dark out. When I flew them, I would imagine myself flying in the plane like a World War II fighter pilot or a space alien looking for a new planet to inhabit.
Robots. Even though I probably would have failed a robotics class if I were a teenager today, I still would have taken this class. My interest in robots wouldn’t have failed me, my poor math skills would have. I would’ve loved to take a class like that in high school. My parents wouldn’t have been happy, but I would have. I probably would’ve played with it more than taking it apart and putting it back together or learning its software. I think, like the drones, I would have played with the robots like they were He-Man and G.I. Joe action figures. Again, sparking my storytelling imagination.
The new Innovation Center is just a solid modern version of what we did in high school. Our parents learned how to chisel a wheel out of stone in their high school classes, and we learned what the Internet was verbatim. Your children will eventually learn how to build T-1000s, and your children’s children will learn how to fly around space on wheels their great-grandparents chiseled out of stone (I think that’s how that works, but alas I’m a creative type that can only image how spacecrafts and flux capacitors work).
If I had children, I would see the Innovation Center as a sound investment for the rise of the robot apocalypse. That came out wrong. I see the Innovation Center as a sound investment for all students, creative types and logical ones, to advance the world through science and art. Far beyond, and far, far into the future. Further than we could ever imagine.