I belong to zero charitable committees and no arts boards. Am I a bad Sarasotan?
By Hannah Wallace
I want to watch C-SPAN. I want to read books. I want to cook better, garden, paint and meditate. There are a lot of things I want to do in my day-to-day life. Certainly, exercise seems like it should be part of my daily routine. But even if I can wait out colds and injuries and holidays (and excuses), there still remains the trouble of finding the time to make the effort—especially when there’s work to be done and a house to be cleaned and, y’know, sleep to be had.
If I have trouble budgeting time for a jog, I don’t understand how some people have so much time—never mind the means and inclination—to devote to their great causes…devotion that is, arguably, the defining characteristic of a Sarasotan. We recently met for an editorial “retreat” at Beach Bistro (I know, sometimes my job is ridiculously awesome), and one of the discussion’s recurring themes was that joining committees and boards or starting charities and organizations is simply what “one does” in Sarasota. People come here because they have a voice and an ability to make a difference. And they take advantage of that.
But this is not me, and I can’t decide where that puts me on the spectrum of Sarasotans. I do follow the arts and I do go to the beach, but I look at the legions of people—those seasoned veterans of board after board, and the folks my age and younger jumping headlong into the fray—who spend so much time and effort on endless projects, both noble and social (and often in the public eye), and it feels like, I don’t know, something alien. “When do you organize your CDs?” I want to ask them. “When do you scrub the toilet?”
So, alas, I can give little insight into this apparently major portion of Sarasota behavior. I can’t decide if I’m neglecting my civic (and journalistic) duty or representing an overlooked segment of the local population.
A lot of it’s social—people come to town, meet people and form friendships and slip naturally into work with particular organizations. Friends have great ideas that gain momentum as more friends come together and voila, all of a sudden you’ve got Van Wezel Contemporaries or Atomic Holiday Bazaar. Camaraderie magnifies ambition.
When my friends get together, we try to see how tall we can stack our beer mugs.
But it’s also about prioritizing, choosing the goals to pursue so vigorously. I’ve never been one to set my sights on lofty accomplishments, and my motivation steers me toward sports leagues and laid-back nights out…or in. It’s hard to imagine Matt Orr grabbing a pint at O’Leary’s. Or staying in to watch Kitchen Nightmares. Even when the go-getters go to the gym or gather for a purely social evening, it seems like they’re making a significant contribution to the town’s very fiber.
YPGers Albert Joerger and Matt Orr do more than enough go-getting to cover my sloth. Plus, they dress better.
Actually, the city commission is considering an ordinance declaring that more than three YPGers in one place constitutes a gala.
Maybe my job simply exposes me to so much charitable ambition that I’m blinded by its awesome glow. Maybe through my social circle of athletes and actors—and my father’s genes, to boot—I’ve developed the mindset that some skilled participation along the outskirts of the social scene goes a long way, and beyond that, whenever we can find a free moment, the best contribution we can make is to take full advantage of paradise and all its relaxing, recreational opportunities.
I mean, you can’t support youth opera and save the greyhounds if you’re stressed and out of shape, right?
I’d love to help you out, big guy, but I’ve got theater tickets tonight.