Mediation Team Offers “Tradin’ Places” to Soothe Town-Gown Relations

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by I.M. Knott-Tawkin
Freelance Writer

Keelan resident George Lewis moved into BuckeyeHall in December to help pilot the Tradin' Places program. "I have no plan to return to my job or my wife," said Lewis. "This town/gown thing has helped me find compassion for college students and it's making me a better person."

Breaking new ground in the troubled college town of Keelan, Ohio, a band of traveling mediators has offered to come on board to soothe the ruffled feathers of citizens worried about campus growth and unruly student behavior.

Called the Town And Gown Team (TAG Team for short), their planned role is to show up at heated meetings of local residents upset about beer cans littering their front lawns and the prospect of a new, multi-million dollar recreation center for people already in great health plopped in the center of what once was a community garden.

Hank Aha, chief mediator, says his group wants its projected success with Keelan College to be a model to which others can point and say, “Aha.”

He and his group intend to go from city to city to soothe frayed nerves and offer an innovative, patented and unverified solution called “Tradin’ Places.”

“Someone far wiser than I once said, ‘At any given moment, fifty percent of what you think to be true is not,’” Aha said. “Just take a look around the room at these meetings. We’ve got administrators who think their college is the center of the universe and residents who think their city is. The truth is the center of the universe is an illusion created with mirrors and we think all involved need to change their vantage point on what they see.”

In Tradin’ Places, senior citizen locals will be encouraged to enter dorms with backpacks for stays of up to 16 weeks, bringing any other desired supplies. They will be allowed to take (or cut) a full load of courses, do everything they wish they had the guts to do in their own youth (but didn’t) and raise generalized heck on the weekends.

Students, by contrast, will be expected to pay bills, do meticulous lawn care, wear nondescript clothing and go to work at jobs they hate.

The mediation team anticipates a massive conversion experience; however, their greatest worry is that the neighborhood will vanish once the residents refuse to leave the dorms after the students demand to come back.

In such a stalemate, experts predict the city may have to close and the campus may possibly win.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Aha said.