The cover story of the current issue of Wilkommen, a seasonal guide for tourists visiting the Amana colonies, is titled "Past Shapes Present Amana Colonies." Turn the page, and the inside cover is a collection of ads for old-timey businesses like the Amana Stone Hearth Bakery and the Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse, tied together by the phrase "A Reflection of Yesterday/ the Feel of Today." The 2007 Amana visitor's guide, called Amana Colonies: the Handcrafted Escape, features a little boy shooting out of a waterslide shaped like a barrel at the Wasserbahn, the water park at Amana's nearest Holiday Inn. Even the placemats at the Ronneburg Restaurant ooze questionable history; they feature a brief, fairly one-sided account of Amana's background, ads for other Amana businesses, and a friendly recipe for their authentic German cottage cheese that uses ye olde units of measurement like "a dash" and "some."
[...] Enormous new homes sprouted across from the enormous new welcome center, betraying the Amanite principles of equality and modesty and making “nonsense of its National Historic Landmark status, meant to be the most restrictive listing of American heritage sites [Barthel-Bouchier Though these side effects are regrettable, the practical fact remains that if these compromises had not been made, there probably wouldn't be any Amana heritage left to preserve or profane. As Lanny Haldy said, “Nothing we do here at Amana Heritage Society would be possible without tourism.” Modern communities have to make concessions to capitalism if they want to live within a capitalist society. [...]
[...] Neither Barthel-Bouchier nor Doot consider that some aspects of Amana life are not part of the tourism-vs.-authenticity debate. Amanites have largely managed to keep sacred the part of their community that was most central to them in the old days: the church. Though church attendance has dropped and only some residents speak German, Amana's religion has remained fairly intact over the years. The same plain church buildings that aren't immediately recognizable as churches pop up on almost every block. Services are offered in both German and English, and both of them feature readings from Amana's Inspirational texts. [...]
[...] However, I think it's fair to assume that these patterns reflect the secularization of the rest of the country: as time passes everywhere, fewer Americans speak the languages of their ancestors' homelands, and church attendance sinks (at least, I don't know anyone who goes to church 11 times a week.) Though Amana once considered itself immune to these temporal changes, the decline of utopias throughout the past couple of centuries attests to the fact that worldly matters do creep in eventually. Also, as Haldy illuminated with his comment about the universal love for beer, what tourists want from Amana and what its modern residents want are not always opposites. Modern residents would probably rather eat at one of the slightly schlocky oom-pah restaurants that the tourism industry supports rather than farming their own food and cooking it in a communal kitchen in the traditional, authentic Amana way. [...]
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