Editor's Points: What's on Your Wish List?

December 1, 2010
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As children, many of us saw December as a magical time of year. It was a time to dream of possibilities and imagine the inconceivable.

But then, at some point along the way, we lost our childish innocence. The dreams gave way to reality, and pragmatism set in. December became more about to-do lists and annual balance sheets with little time for foolish musings. After all, most of the items on our grown-up wish lists are generally impractical as far as gifts are concerned. Santa can hardly be expected to bring a fail-proof business plan, world peace or truly sustainable health care.

But what if we could put aside all of the impossibilities? What if, just for a moment, we could believe once again that anything is attainable? Would we spend more time dreaming? And would we have more courage to pursue those ideals?

As I worked with Michael Pallamary on this month’s feature article “The Unforgiving Boundary,” he shared with me a number of details behind the scenes. In his nearly 30 years of working along the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana, he has seen a significant amount of change in the region. Children once innocently crossed the border to play soccer, and families and friends met to share picnic lunches and cultural events at a plaza called Friendship Park. Now, thanks to the drug cartels, criminals and post-9/11 politics, the children live in fear, and Friendship Park has been bulldozed to build an impenetrable triple fence.

As a surveyor and, at times, an expert witness, Pallamary’s role in the region has been that of an impartial observer focused on boundaries and precise measurements. But he can’t help thinking about the people in that region, many of whom are seemingly without hope. “I would like to imagine that someday it could be different,” he says. “Perhaps my article will help bring some awareness of how things have changed.”

Halfway around the world, in Cameroon in Central Africa, a village was in dire need of access to clean water. Some of the people in the region envisioned a solution and reached out to a group they believed would be willing to help. Through Engineers Without Borders, the village received the life-sustaining gift of a protected water-delivery system.

Still other individuals are visualizing new ways to meet clients’ needs and, with a combination of technology and ingenuity, are making those ideas a reality--preserving and creating jobs in the process. Our GIS success stories in this issue highlight two examples, but I’m sure there are others.

Imagination, vision, hope, faith--these are the qualities that December embraces. None of us is ever too old to dream.

Best wishes for a magical holiday season. May you receive everything you wish for, and more.

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