Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Walt Disney Spirit: Swimming in the East River

Walt Disney once famously said, “If you can dream it, you can do it”. (He also went on to say, “Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse,” but that’s not where I want to go today). Disney’s spirit is echoed in the inspiration that drew me to join Saatchi & Saatchi: “Nothing is Impossible”. I love stories about people who transform dreams into reality and a great one has been taking place in where I live, New York City.

Over summer just gone, across the water in Brooklyn, Ann Buttenwieser brought the floating swimming pool back to New York (complete with a very cool website). It’s a strange thing to live on an island like Manhattan and be surrounded by water in which people can’t swim. Ann clearly didn’t just think about this, she did something about it. She was determined to get a floating pool launched so that disadvantaged kids can have the opportunity to get into the water and swim. She has been working on the idea for 25 years. She had read about the last floating pool in New York closing way back in 1942 and decided that this was an idea worth reviving. Through love, passion and sheer will power, Ann Buttenwieser made her dream a reality. Thanks to The Neptune Foundation she founded, a substantial 80 x 260 feet (24.5 x 79 meters) barge was constructed in Amelia, Louisiana. Named The Floating Pool Lady, it narrowly missed being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and was towed to New York on a 10-day voyage. Since July, its 25 meter pool has been open to the public and filled with up to 175 swimmers at a time. No big surprise that Ann Buttenwieser was runner-up in the prestigious Cooper-Hewitt People's Design Award. A floating pool is a fantastic idea that will keep bringing joy to thousands each summer. Walt was right, if you can dream it, you can do it.


Susan Plunkett said...

It's a great story and intriguingly the literal moment before I opened your blog I was writing to someone trying to locate a warm, indoor apartment block pool in my area.

I would want to enquire...what stops people from believing and achieving? What can be done to move people through doubt into belief/action?

Ann hung in for 25 years. Amazing unto itself. Not everyone has 25 years potentially left of their lives to make a difference.

Susan Plunkett said...

This pool is also such a great way to ensure kids connect with water, have an appreciation of it and grow to understand the need to take care of it.

I was just amused within the process of ringing around pools trying to find one with ramp access I could use. A lovely person with slightly broken English at one pool told me the staff would be happy to put me down. :) Loved it.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

This concept is just awesome. I could see it being used to teach people how to swim in places where swimming isn't permitted in the waters.

Nothing is impossible. Maybe we'll see Jacuzzis or pools on that new A380?

Craig Banholzer said...

The floating pool is cool, but at the risk of stirring up the water, I have to say: a dip in the ocean at Coney Island or Brighton Beach, both only a short subway ride away, has got it beat by a long shot.