People of a certain age will get a jolt of nostalgia when they read these next three words: School House Rock. That was the name of the educational musical cartoon shorts that ran on Saturday mornings between “Scooby-Doo” and “Bugs Bunny.” There was “Conjunction Junction,” “I’m Just a Bill,” and the one I’m thinking about today, “Mother Necessity.”

In that funky ‘70s musical style, “Mother Necessity” explained how our most important inventions — the light bulb, the cotton gin, the telelphone — all came about because of someone’s need. It’s an old idea that was a given a new twist, one that has stuck with me through the many decades since.

Today, the aquatics industry faces an unprecedented need of its own. In the midst of one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression, municipal governments are cutting the purse strings on aquatic subsidies; waterparks face new challenges from resorts and the public’s shrinking recreation budget; resorts are under similar pressures due to the credit crunch in the private sector.

The need is great. Yet it’s not invention the industry needs, but rather reinvention.

I’m talking about more than just semantics. I’m talking about survival. And to survive in today’s economy, leaders, developers and designers must rethink what it means to own and operate pools, waterparks and resorts. What does it take to get funding, longterm financial stability, or profit? How can pools, waterparks and resorts compete against the new challenges of our time?

They are some of the most difficult and pertinent questions of our time. We’re devoting this issue to beginning to answer those questions. Our columns and feature all approach the issue of reinvention from different angles: green technology, project planning and overall management to name a few.

But it will take more than a single issue to address these pressing questions. That’s why Aquatics International is hosting a special virtual conference on the subject — Reinvention: Collaboration, Innovation and Inspiration.

We’ve even reinvented the concept of an educational conference. In a world where travel budgets have all but disappeared, we’re bringing the conference to you through your computer. In an age where we could all use more time, we’re making the conference not a one- or two-day event, but rather a 6-month opportunity. All you have to do is register at aquaticsvirtualconf.com and wait for the speakers to deliver their ideas, insights and inspirations to you, on your schedule. Best of all, it’s absolutely free.

So I hope you’ll take some time to read through this issue and begin to think about what it would mean for your facility to reinvent itself. Then I hope you’ll register for our Reinvention conference, and continue that process. Just as individuals sparked our greatest inventions, aquatics professionals can ignite a reinvention of themselves — and the industry.

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