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.