16 November 2008

You are... Renaissance People

Today’s Back Issues’ article isn’t exactly an article. In fact, as far as I can tell, it has never been printed in a publication anywhere. It is, however, printed on a plaque that is located inside of the Epcot 25th Anniversary Gallery. Back in 1981 Ray Bradbury gave a speech to the men and women of Walt Disney Imagineering as they were in the process of constructing EPCOT Center. It is an awe-inspiring address to be sure.

John (Hench) and Marty (Sklar) told me I was supposed to come up here and explain you to yourselves… and to tell you what you are and what I am and what I’m doing here. I’m here because I want to be here. There are a lot of places in the world I could be, but I’ve been coming through WED and going to Disneyland for many years now and I like what I see.

A wonderful thing happened to me in 1954, I went to Italy for the first time ever. I traveled through Rome and Florence and Venice. I saw the works of Fra Angelico and I came home inundated with the Renaissance. By a wonderful coincidence, a few months later I came out to the Disney Studios and wandered and saw the sketches and the drawings and the paintings for “Sleeping Beauty.” I said, “My God… this is fantastic, that I’m seeing work here commensurate with many of the thing that I saw in Renaissance Italy when I visited there for the first time…”

And so, really, what you are is Renaissance People. If ever there was ever a Renaissance organization, this is it. You haven’t peaked yet, but you’re peaking, and sometime in the next twenty years when you peak completely, the whole world’s going to be looking at you…”

Buckminster Fuller lectures us on how to change the World and yet the only people I see who are successful at changing the World are right here – people with very special dreams. We are acting out what Schweitzer often spoke of in his philosophies years ago. He said, “… set a good example for the World. If you are excellent, if you are of high quality, the World will imitate you.”

What we’re doing here is creating a “Schweitzer Centrifuge”… That’s the way I look at the EPCOT project. If we build all of this correctly, if we build it beautifully, if we set an example for the World, we can change the whole damn country. That’s how important you are. That’s how important I feel, working with you. People will come from all over the World; they’re already doing it at Disneyland and Disney World – when you get people like Hirohito, or you see Khrushchev pounding at the door and not able to get in – and being irritated by it – you know you’ve got something. And so, what we’re going to do in the next year and the next five years and the next thirty years is change our own country, only for the better. And after that – the World.

It’s a big project. But of all the groups in the World, while everyone else is busy talking, you’re doing the stuff that’s really going to count.

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