I remember the first time I went to Disneyland, especially the first time I stepped onto an amazing ride called, “The Pirates of the Caribbean.” To my ten year old mind, it was imagination overload. One minute I’m outside in the hot sun carrying a soda, the next I’m floating along in a boat that made it feel like I was really in some living pirate world. Animatronic sailors sang loud and funny drinking songs, cool effects and lights filled the air – it was the best kind of sensory overload. I’m sure I stepped out of that ride speaking with some cheesy pirate accent and begging my parents to let me go on it again.
Behind all the magic of Disneyland that children (and adults) have come to love, is a team of people with amazing imaginations to dream up all of this wonder. These creators are people with the magical ability to see, think, and shape experiences unlike any other. From the big picture down to the smallest details, “Disney Imagineers” are skilled, hard working, and fun loving people who drive the Disney brand. They are the kind of people that you’d want to have over for supper.
Earlier this year I had a chance to meet C. McNair Wilson, a Disney Imagineer who had created a number of Disneyland attractions. His philosophy is that creativity and imagination is something that we all have in us. He said, “I am convinced that everyone is born with a built-in creative spirit. I believe creative thinking is the ‘Maker’s Mark’ – the image of our Creator. It is what compels every child on earth to sing, dance, draw, paint, make up stories, and raid the closets for old hats, big coats, fancy scarves, and ugly neck ties.” We were made to be creative, to dream of new ideas and shape those ideas into realities. Wilson believes that God, this ‘master imagineer,’ built into each of us a capacity for creativity ourselves. We are meant to make beautiful places and wonderful things.
Chestermere is full of creative people. When we hear of a need or a challenge, people in neighbourhoods across our city jump at the chance to lend a hand and solve problems with innovation and creativity. There is rich and deep potential for imagining the kind of city we hope Chestermere could become. As we learn to build neighbourhoods, businesses, and schools by drawing on our creative capacity, we work towards shaping a city that is more than just a collection of buildings and residents. We have the ability to make our city of Chestermere truly inspiring.
C. McNair Wilson said to me, “Imagine if neighbours were to get together and brainstorm new creative ideas for their neighbourhood. It almost never happens, but what if it did?” It’s a powerful question. What if Chestermere became a city of “Imagineers;” neighbours who understood that they were innately gifted to dream and create? What kinds of neighbourhoods could we create?