In which I spent almost three weeks visiting the construction site of downtown Gainesville’s ice rink two or three times a day… In which I was hit on repeatedly by the people in Bo Diddley Community Plaza… In which I watched an old man who did not need the money from this project spend two weeks sleeping in his truck…
This story earned me another front pager for the Gainesville Sun.
Originally, this was going to be a video project for a class about the rink’s construction, with a final interview of someone excited about it and shots of people happily skating. That slowly fell apart. After visiting the construction site so often with my camera, the main subject started to tell me things in passing when I wasn’t filming. These details were the most fascinating and would have helped people truly understand his character and his situation. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t say them on the record. But the story was still about a guy who was struggling but not going to give up.
When the story came out, he called to thank me for doing a nice job. He said he had thought about quitting the project in the days after our last interview, but he decided against it because he said that’s not who he was. The rink should be done by the end of the next week, he said, and he mentioned hiring me to make a promotional video about it. Later, I found out he did decide to quit the project. The rink was so close to being done! But I understand his struggles, and I hope, on some level, Gainesville does, too.