March President’s Report

Visions need institutions,

and institutions need visions

by Robin Cravey

Masterplanning 07
Master Plan Stakeholder meeting in 2007

Without vision the people perish, says the proverb.  And I would add: Without people, the visions perish.  Putting it positively: the vision guides the people, and the people realize the vision.

Friends of Barton Springs Pool began with a vision.  It was a vision of a clean and vibrant pool, and a pool facility with the beauty of a work of art.  It was also a vision of people keeping the pool clean and vibrant, and creating artful facilities.

Already we have gone through some hugely creative work.  We have organized a volunteer effort that allows people to show their love for the pool with simple labor.  We have fostered the writing of methods to preserve and to clean.  We have written a master plan that provides a framework for creating noble facilities.  These are solid accomplishments.  But there is much more to be done.

I had the good fortune to attend a presentation about the Central Park Conservancy, sponsored by the Austin Parks Foundation and the Trails Foundation.  It was inspiring.

The conservancy is an institution that began much as we did, a group of concerned citizens trying to rescue a beloved park from neglect and decay.  From that humble beginning, it grew into a grand institutional steward, maintaining and operating the park under contract with the city of New York.  In the thirty or so years of its life, it has brought Central Park back from a shameful desolation to a vibrant work of art.

The conservancy worked from a clear vision.  And it raised hundreds of millions of dollars in private donations.

I’m writing this while preparing for the annual retreat for the FBSP board.  This is a time for us to renew our vision.  Our vision remains centered around a clean and vibrant pool set in facilities that are a work of art.  Our mission is to realize that vision.

Master Plan Stakeholder Meeting in 2007
Master Plan Stakeholder Meeting in 2007

We don’t necessarily aspire to become stewards in the model of the Central Park Conservancy.  But it is liberating to realize what’s possible.  Maybe we are the institutional vision for the pool, or the visionary institution.  But we always remember that the pool belongs to all the public.

Quick Dips

The Barton Springs Treeathlon, April 10, is a going to be a great event for having fun and raising money for Barton Springs Pool trees.  For $25 you get to swim across the pool, bicycle up the hill, and run around the field.  At the end, there’s a party, beer, and a tee-shirt.  Fundraising director Mike Cannatti has done a terrific job putting it together.  Be there or be square!

Our next springs cleaning party is Thursday, April 1.  It’s your next chance to show your love for the pool.  Sign up for a shift by writing to

We’re going to have a special cleaning party on Earth Day, April 22.  It will be part of a week of earth day activities.  During the morning shift, there will be a ceremony for us and some of our springs-loving partners to present funds to the pool.

I’m proud to announce that Emma Cravey, my daughter, has joined the board as Fun director.  If you see the Hospitality Tent at the pool on a Saturday, drop by and tell her howdy.

Public meetings to talk about general grounds improvements at the pool will get going in April.  These include: improving electrical service and water pressure at poolside to facilitate better cleaning in the pool; landscaping, new lighting, buried power lines, access path from south gate to poolside; and new aesthetically pleasing fence.