Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.
How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought:
Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth.
The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Saturday, March 15, 2003
Struggling Lone Eagle, Overpriced for Local Market
Chapter Two: The Ridge
By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
The Polls are open. We’re asking people like you to rate trends and predictions that have the greatest direct impact on your livelihood and future plans.
Today’s polling results:
15 – By 2005, technology previously confined to aircraft's onboard electric systems successfully migrates to automobiles. These cars use natural gas to power the onboard generators, which then drive the electric motors at the wheels. (Schwartz & Leyden)
14 – They also make use of super strong, ultra light new materials that take the place of steel and allow big savings on mileage. (Schwartz & Leyden)
13 – Then comes the third and final stage: hybrids using hydrogen fuel cells. The simplest and most abundant atom in the universe, hydrogen becomes the source of power for electric generators - with the only waste product being water. No exhaust. No carbon monoxide. Just water. (Schwartz & Leyden)
12 – Within 10 years, there are transitional hydrogen car models that extract fuel from ordinary gasoline, using the existing network of pumps. (Schwartz & Leyden)
11 – By 2010, hydrogen is being processed in refinery-like plants and loaded onto cars that can go thousands of miles - and many months - before refueling. The technology is vastly cheaper and safer than in the 1960s and well on its way to widespread use. (Schwartz & Leyden)
Register your vote
Journal of 2020 Foresight: We’ve summarized two of the stories, Trapped & Permanently Temporary and Staying Put, Local Support for a Calling. Let’s turn our attention to the “Struggling Lone Eagle” scenario.
Trailblazer: Unlike the first two, this one introduces the mobility theme. While the motivation may be similar to Trapped and Permanently Temporary – a layoff or some other event -- a mid-life baby boomer, or anyone else for that matter, leaves the region for a less expensive and more self-sufficient lifestyle.
J2020F: So this may be triggered by a similar “valley-of-despair” event?
TB: Yes, but their response to it is different. Instead of fight, it is flight.
J2020F: While, they fly to another location instead of fighting to regain their standard of living, what happens in this new location?
TB: This is the story of becoming more self-sufficient, with lowered economic expectations out of choice not lack of choice.
J2020F: Where does it begin?
TB: Some event, like a layoff, or a politically motivated corporate restructuring, or a spiritually significant emotional event triggers their exodus from an urban, congested area.
J2020F: So, like in “Trapped and Permanently Temporary,” either employment opportunities dry up or the middle-aged boomer middle managers discover they will not be able to command the same salary level once enjoyed.
TB: And like in that scenario, the beginning response is the same. Being unprepared for the disruption, they fall into a midlife crisis taxing financial and emotional resources.
J2020F: So they say, "what the hell" and pull up stakes?
TB: They search for and then move to a more promising location to follow their calling.
J2020F: And they live happily ever after in some remote, idyllic setting?
TB: In comes the struggling part. The more remote their new home, the less likely they can sustain their calling via the Internet. Since phone service is an expensive proposition and time consuming.
J2020F: Time consuming?
TB: For local communities without phone service, the approval process is agonizingly slow. There is no such thing as running it's approval through regulatory agencies in states like California's PUC.
TB: When this expedition spun its first story draft, the average cost to install a line was $4K to $6K in California compared to estimates of up to $20K for more remote locations.
J2020F: So, the rest of California 19 million ratepayers would have to subsidize the installation to remote mountain areas?
TB: Commissioners felt serving small numbers of people at great cost is not in the best interest of other phone users.
J2020F: In a down economy, the question boils down to, “Do the costs outweigh the social benefits?”
TB: If a small phone company sells the commission on their plan to initially hook-up the community for $1.6 million, local customers would pay 150% the fixed monthly fee of urban and suburban users for $28/month fee, the highest in the state.
J2020F: California ratepayers across the state would kick in another $100,000 yearly to repay the interest free loan, right? So, that’s the crux of their struggle?
TB: That’s only the beginning. Through choice or not, they embrace self-sufficiency and reduce their dependence on anything but their own self-reliance, tourism and local economy. But, no-growth forces push against newer boomers migrating to more popular resort areas.
J2020F: You mean the people who already live there?
TB: Sure, having grown up there, or migrated months and years ahead of the newer movement, the locals resent the negative impact on the environment, the crowding, and taxing of the resources new arrivals bring with them.
J2020F: I’ve heard about how jumps in local population strain water supplies, especially during disruptions of water supplies in the West.
TB: Not everybody is against development.
J2020F: But, you’ve just raised the whole issue of “Californication.” The new comers driving the locals out of the market, because they can afford astronomical real estate prices, and the homegrown locals can’t.
TB: Well, there you have it. The dynamic tension forms between two local forces.
TB: On the one hand businesses built on attracting tourist trade and the real estate and construction trades lobby for more growth, while the natives and retirees who originally escaped from the hustle and bustle of traffic and stress push to keep tight control on local regulations and ordinances.
J2020F: So, strange bedfellows and covert coalitions form and once idyllic communities become political finger pointers?
TB: This scenario becomes the Whole Earth Catalog scenario.
J2020F: The what?
TB: As Howard Rheingold, editor, says on the back cover of the catalog for the millennium, "It's all new again, because the world is all new again." It's the small guy against the big boys -- big business, big institutions, big governments. It's about maintaining independence in the era of big institutions.
J2020F: All politics is local.
TB: In working through the local issues, cooperative community learning skills emerge. These boomers re-discover the romance of self-sufficiency.
J2020F: They discover and then provide wholesale access to tools and ideas for the 21st century?
TB: Right. They take an activist-citizen, community view to “live smart, think for themselves, and to transform their own futures,” as the Catalog advocates.
J2020F: People see themselves as world changers connecting and networking with others. Not just locally, I take it.
TB: These become “co-evolving” worldwide communities of information hunters and gathers.
TB: The network's focus is on what is needed to build “practical utopias.”
J2020F: Can you give me some examples?
TB: They blend environmental restoration, community building, whole systems thinking, medical self-care with backyard biodiversity, electronic mail, eco-tourism, and green investing.
J2020F: So, this is an environmental and technology crusade?
TB: In a way. This is a story of bringing out the best in both arenas. Still important to this network are ancient forests, watersheds, technology policies and telecommunication software.
J2020F: So, each network is pioneering on the challenge and response journey, issuing field reports from what, the Amazon jungles and cyberspace?
TB: Like the PBS / NPR audience, they value the straight, honest scoop. Not what is typically broadcast or cablecast.
J2020F: Information about sex, AIDs, political grass roots organizing, parenting, preserving and restoring ecosystems?
TB: And, new ways to revitalize corporations, install more sustainable home energy systems, ways for citizens to protect their privacy, to transform schools, and to see life as a journey of lifelong learning.
J2020F: As this scenario plays out, the scarcity of resources and opportunities to make a living stimulates a quest for self-sufficiency, small cooperative networks of activists and environmentalists. They act locally, but think globally to promote sustainable growth.
TB: They celebrate the power of individuals to conduct their own education, find their own inspiration, shape their own environment and share their own adventure.
J2020F: What about our final and the second of the mobility scenarios?
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