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
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Search for the New American Dream: Where in the World is Grey Owl?
Chapter Three: The Outpost
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
"After being galvanized to action by (Alexander) McKenzie, the president (Thomas Jefferson) put in motion the training of (Meriwether) Lewis in the scientific and medical arts of the day and made a January 1803 request to Congress to provide $2,500 for the expedition. The total bill for the journey actually was almost $40,000, but the benefits realized by the United States were many times greater."
James J. Holmberg
Journal of 2020 Foresight: While I had postponed it for as long as I could, I broke down and made contact with the real world. I promised I'd email the lion's share of my interviews to my editor, so I ran up quite a bill at the hotel's Internet cafe. For our last night in town, Explorer, Lone Eagle, and I walked up a dirt lined street and a short hill to the pink restaurant, Casa Rafael's, between the Hotel Hacienda and Marina Sol.
Explorer: Ah, this is the life, isn't it? It's real easy to fall in love with a tropical resort. Once your bio- rhythms synchronize with the pace of life and the prevailing trade winds, you can see why resorts top the list of nine types of places to invest in, can't you?
Eagle: Nice set-up for our surprise.
J2020F: What, a surprise appearance by Grey Owl?
Eagle: Not unless this is what the local Indians called "Healing Water" for the thermal springs that became a popular spa in the 1800s.
Explorer: So you received another email riddle?
J2020F: What are you talking about?
Explorer: Grey Owl's on the road. He visits as many of current and past expedition members as he can. We never know where his path will take him until we figure out all the clues he transmits. Anything else?
Eagle: Healing Water, healing water? Where in the world are there communities with geothermal springs? He says this place is known for the water that reaches 153 degrees Fahrenheit. It also heats some of the town's buildings.
J2020F: Well, when I spent time at Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierras with Trailblazer and you could smell the sulfur odor on some of the ski runs, but I don?t think the hot springs outside of town match his description.
Explorer: What else?
Eagle: The location is surrounded by a national forest. The area enjoys abundant recreational activity supported by the melting snow flowing into summer lakes.
J2020F: Well, that could be almost anywhere, right. Any other clues about which one?
Eagle: Something about "Birds of a Feather," Father Serra, biting off more than you can chew and Red Ryder.
Explorer: Hmm. We may lose some points, but I?ll have to wait for the next set of clues.
J2020F: If not Grey Owl, then what?
Eagle: Oh, yeah. The surprise.
Explorer: Well, you weathered the interviews with David and Johnny over at the Pueblo Bonito Pacific Resort. We wanted to introduce you to our friends and hosts
J2020F: We met Rafael Arraut's wife and brother. I had heard rumors that the owners came to visit Cabo San Lucas some time in the 1980s and never left. They opened the restaurant in the early '90s. Rafael's brother mentioned the same 15-year period David did earlier, but when I asked him what he'd do after Cabo became too developed for his tastes, he said, "Move to Cuba."
Explorer: When it comes to resort areas, these guys like to get in at the innovation or early growth breakout stage.
J2020F: Rafael's brother regaled us with fishing stories on pristine beaches and ultra friendly people. It turns out his family is from Cuba, and that may be why, in addition to the six course meal, they offered Cuban cigars.
Eagle: Rafael told me on one of our earlier trips that they had grown tired of Hawaii, where they had run a restaurant for years.
J2020F: When we finished, Rafael's wife suggested we take the taxi, instead of walking down the hill above Medano Beach to the Marina and Sancho Panza for Jazz entertainment. There I summarized my interviews with David and John conducted initially in the Pueblo Bonita's lobby. I met David and John, who wanted to be called Johnny.
Explorer: Johnny's story sounded similar -- the golf and fishing drew him originally from Boston.
Eagle: You see a lot of midlife transitions -- a divorce with kids living with their mothers or a split from an empty nest. But, after a while of living in the Cabo fast lane, they settle down a little and find a line of business to fill some of the hours in the day.
J2020F: David said he came down from Toronto a few years ago and stayed. He bought a place next door to the resort, which will overlook a planned golf course. He told me that he and a partner had figured out and patented a bridge repair process that took off and allowed him to partially retire. He purchased 4 or 5 timeshares, including one of the two sister resorts.
Eagle: Did they take you on a tour?
J2020F: Sure did. David showed me how they built the place so no room will be blocked from the gorgeous Pacific Ocean and beach view -- although the surf is rough and no one can swim at their beach. But the meandering blue tiled pool with swim-up bar more than compensates for sacrifice. The rooms with luxurious tile and top of the line furnishings and expansive patios speak to their affluent market.
Explorer: So Johnny from Boston and David from Canada -- two refugees from the cold weather, what my retired parents in Florida used to call "snowbirds," migrated to Cabo.
Eagle: You can see the pattern begin to materialize. Mobility is a key factor that defines a neighborhood, since life stage changes often cause people to move. Those two birds of a feather move into a new neighborhood, while leaving behind an ex-wife with echo-boom kids in the former neighborhood.
J2020F: Life stage changes like what?
Eagle: The major ones. Like:
Leaving the nest,
Graduating from college,
Emptying the nest, and
Explorer: Don't forget, people will also move when their neighborhood no longer provides a good match in terms of affordability and needs.
J2020F: Now what about some positive event, like when relocating due to a job transfer?
Explorer: Just like those swallows that always come back to San Juan Capistrano, people usually find a neighborhood that is very much like the one they just left.
Eagle: Hold on, what did you just say?
Explorer: Which part?
Eagle: About the swallows and San Juan Capistrano. I think I know the name of Grey Owl's national forest.
J2020F: Isn't San Juan Capistrano near Dana Point in California -- where you all told me your core founding story around the beach bonfire?
Eagle: Of course. Father Serra. That's the place with several historic adobe buildings. Remember the restored 1895 Santa Fe Railroad station that is now an Amtrak terminal and restaurant? We ate there. The Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra, right?
Explorer: Oh, yeah. I remember the waiter told us the mission is famous for the swallows that arrive in mid-March and leave in mid-October.
Eagle: Right. It's amazing. These remarkably constant birds fly approximately 6,000 miles from Goya, Argentina to nest and rear their young in San Juan Capistrano.
J2020F: So, what's the national forest's name?
Eagle: San Juan National Forest!
Explorer: I get it. Biting off more than you can chew -- hard to swallow. "Birds of a Feather," Father Serra -- I get the San Juan, but Red Ryder?
Eagle: We're close. Real close.
J2020F: And, the point to all of this is, what?
Explorer: People with similar cultural backgrounds, needs, and perspectives naturally gravitate toward each other.
Eagle: People choose to live in neighborhoods that offer affordable advantages and compatible lifestyles.
Explorer: And, with a little research and intelligence gathering you can use this information to your advantage.
J2020F: How so?
Eagle: If you are a marketing professional, you identify and locate customer targets.
J2020F: Is that because the characteristics that define a neighborhood change slowly.
Explorer: Right, the stability of a neighborhood comes from its fixed features: location, housing, transportation, schools, places of worship, and employment.
Eagle: Self-organization and self-perpetuation also figure into the stability of a neighborhood.
J2020F: So you can take advantage of the predictable nature of neighborhoods?
Explorer: Several marketing and demographic firms offer statistics on specific clusters of neighborhoods grouped into their similar demographic and behavioral characteristics.
J2020F: O.K. Let's see. You're saying with the self-organizing and self-perpetuating dynamics working, new neighbors will very likely resemble the old neighbors when they first arrive, because an unchanged neighborhood attracts similar types of people. Like Cabo San Lucas attracted David and Johnny from the cold North?
Eagle: Correct. But, specific events can significantly change the characteristics of a neighborhood, though. Like what might be occurring in David and Johnny's old neighborhoods.
Explorer: Right. Or as in my case, these can include:
New construction in or around the neighborhood,
Major regional economic adjustments,
Transition from households with children to ones that are empty nests,
Dramatically rising/falling land values.
J2020F: So, the neighborhood goes through life stages -- innovation, early growth, late growth, maturity, decline and renewal.
Eagle: That's right. But, remember neighborhoods progress through those stages over periods of years. So, neighborhoods are both stable and reliable as a key to consumer predictability because people need to feel as though they belong.
Explorer: And, neighborhoods have an image and attract certain types of people.
J2020F: So the result is shared behavior patterns -- the self-perpetuating pattern of "keeping up with the Joneses."
Explorer: You got it!
J2020F: So, going back to the positive reason for leaving one neighborhood and finding another because of a job transfer or promotion, what are the things most people look for in a new neighborhood?
Eagle: Well, that depends of preferences, but in general things like zoning laws, the job pool, housing stock, transportation networks, commercial infrastructure, public and private schools, and land values.
Explorer: Other factors, like economic opportunities, race and ethnicity, local politics, language, culture, ambiance.
J2020F: You mentioned those marketing databases. How do they categorize neighborhoods?
Explorer: They focus on a half a dozen factors, roughly. Like social rank (income, employment, and educational attainment), household composition (age, gender, and family structure) and mobility (length of residence).
Eagle: Don't forget ethnicity (race, foreign birth, ancestry, and language) urbanization (variations in urban, suburban, and rural populations and densities) and housing (own, rent, value, age, number of housing units).
J2020F: Now, this is all well and good, but I'm not a marketing professional. What can I do with all this information?
Explorer: If you're looking for the new American Dream and are willing to share what you discover along the way, you could join one of Grey Owl's 10 expeditions.
Eagle: That's right. They're building a shared knowledge base, available to anyone who wants to contribute to it.
J2020F: A shared knowledge base?
Eagle: The learning expeditions represent the discovery phase. So, they're sketching the rough outlines and patterns of knowledge useful to anyone else wanting to apply what the expedition already learned to their own personal quest.
Explorer: But, in return they have to find ways to make the shared knowledge base and the emerging expedition community better than it was when they joined.
J2020F: And, is this what you referred to at dinner -- a shared knowledge base about resorts topping the list of 9 types of real estate investments?
Explorer: Yes. The initial learning expeditions began with Harry Dent's list. The one that attracts individuals and businesses yearning for open, innovative, social and professional climates -- the nine new growth areas in real estate.
Eagle: If you're interested, we'll go into the expeditions in more detail, describing how the knowledge base can plot migration paths from one neighborhood to another throughout the West and to some resort islands.
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