“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
—Sir Isaac Newton
Building Fences: There are thousands of literary references to building bridges. No, not the kind we drive over, but the things, people, and programs that bring other people, programs, and things together.
A bridge can take many shapes: straight, clear and short; tall and majestic; or long, winding, and seemingly endless. And yet all have the same purpose: to connect. Bridges of the literary variety often appear to be of the same design as many of those we drive over—straight, clear, and to the point.
Others might be somewhat tedious to navigate, yet they eventually connect to the other side. A bridge that functions is a good thing. It’s a welcome tool that allows us to reach the other side. An effective bridge brings us to comfort, brings us home.
By now you might be thinking, “Bill, you started your column with the subject, “Building Fences,” and so far it’s all been about bridges.” You would be correct. I wanted to see if you were paying attention … No, that’s not really the case, but I do think it’s critical to understand the function of bridges in communication, understanding, and relationships in order to discuss fences.
Fences are very common. They’re mostly used to define territory or landownership. Often this definition is displayed by placing posts and wire or boards around the circumference of the property. Occasionally you will see only portions with fencing, meaning, “it’s okay to go here, but not okay to go there.” It defines an area … a space.
The fence might be majestic in design, displaying not only a line or perimeter, but also wealth and prosperity. It might be very old, constructed of stone or other natural items common to the area. The interesting function of fencing is that it keeps the unwanted out, but can retain the wanted as well! Many provide both to the landowner simultaneously.
What about fences and model aviation? Obviously we don’t want to fly into any—from either side! However, as a part of an activity that, courtesy of the sUAS phenomenon, has exploding interest, or being an AMA club officer, or simply a contributing member of society, recognizing fences and those who erect them is critical to the development of true understanding.
True understanding is the result of complete and thorough communication, almost always involving education. You know that thing where we all start by admitting that maybe we have something to learn?
You might experience a fence if you arrive at some of our clubs with a helicopter in your trunk. Those aren’t allowed in. You could experience the same thing if you plan to fly a multirotor. Nope, can’t have those either. There’s a fence and it’s not to be crossed.
Is it easy to learn to fly at your club? Is it easy to join your club? If not, why not? Maybe it’s because some individual or group of individuals decided that in order to make themselves feel important, it needed to be difficult or they wouldn’t be relevant?
Ouch, that’s a tough one. It’s tough because it’s true and it happens. Some people think that if they put up a fence that impedes ideas, progress, or growth, then they will be qualified to continue in a leadership role. After all, if it weren’t tough, they wouldn’t be needed. This fence may take place in the form of people choosing to not listen, maintaining the status quo at all costs, or rather than leading, choosing to dictate. Double ouch.
What to do?
Start taking the fences down and build bridges. Eliminate the bias that’s a result of limited knowledge and understanding. Tear out the fence of ownership and build a bridge of sharing. A bridge of growth, maturity, and learning will help eliminate those situations that stunt growth by containment and obstruction. This will revolutionize you, your club, and model aviation as we know it!
Where to start?
It’s spring and a new flying season is upon us. Check out all of the programs we have to engage your community in club activities. Bring youth out regularly and teach them to fly.
Consider a relationship between your club and a local school or university. Our Model Aviation Student Club and University Model Aviation Student Club programs might be a perfect tool for you to help make that happen.
Provide a simple and fun environment of activity for an entire family and watch what happens. You could be mistaken for an engineer!
Fly and have fun!