[Opinion] Developing the Present

When in economic development conversations with government officials, investors, and concerned community members, the tension is always revealed at a certain point in the dialogue.

Usually it comes in the form of either (or both) of the assertions below:

In the past, one person (typically a politician, or group of politicians) provided the authoritative voice that told every other person, political party, or community member what was going to happen.

In the present, one person (typically a politician, or group of politicians) no longer exists with the authoritative voice that tells every other person, political party, or community member, what is going to happen in the future.

And then, typically, there’s a moment of silence and a sigh.

The tension between the imagined past (or actual past, as in the case of Walter Cronkite versus Lyndon Johnson) and the current day reveals a nostalgia for centralized control, a reduction in the clamoring of voices for attention in the public square, and the desire for speed in change.

  • Was there an authoritative voice in the past that stated “how it was going to be,” or was that also an illusion?
  • Was there a centralized authority that “flattened” choices in the past, making everyone in a community conform, or is that just a myth that we tell ourselves in the present in hindsight?
  • Was there more progress yesterday than there is today, because yesterday people in the community knew not to ask for permission, and instead followed orders?

The conflict—or tension—between remembering a simple imagined past (nostalgia) and living through an uncomfortable present, won’t be resolved by a centralized voice—if it ever could be.

Instead, the development of new ways of persuading, convincing, caring, and telling stories that resonate must combine with patience to accomplish an economic future we can all experience the benefits of.

[Advice] Nostalgia and Disposable Income

When a town economy runs on the fuel of nostalgia for an imagined past, and relies on a pool of people with disposable income who are willing to spend money to remember the past, the town is in trouble when either the nostalgia or income run out.

This is not anything new in the culture of towns away from bustling city centers globally, but the phenomenon will become more acutely noticed in the coming years, as nostalgia is abandoned in favor of the new and the shiny (you can’t compete with that) and as disposable income becomes less evenly distributed and less disposable.

And if you don’t think that it can happen in the 21st century, well, there are gold and silver “rush” mining towns throughout the American West that do a brisk business in seasonal tourism as ghost towns.

And it only took them 100 years to get there.

[Strategy] The Three C’s

Clarity is the quality of being clear and understandable.

Candor is the quality of being open and honest in expression. Not transparent, not vulnerable, but truthful.

Courage is the quality of doing something that is frightening.

The character Mattie Ross in the Charles Portis book True Grit, published in 1968, is the rare character in fiction who is unvarnished in her candor, uncompromising in her clarity, and unwavering in her courage.

In the way of fictional female characters before her, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice to L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy and beyond, Mattie’s character stands out because without her making a decision and then communicating that decision, nothing much occurs.

With the three c’s, she is able to move the action of the plot forward, demand acknowledgement from other characters in the narrative, and is able to get engagement—but not resolution—to the issues which are driving her.

With the three c’s, Mattie is able to look at her world, her choices, and her circumstances without nostalgia—but not without regret.

With the three c’s, Mattie becomes the character with grit—that quality of resilience that often gets overlooked in the pursuit of happiness.

Fiction often reflects truths of life in ways that make us uncomfortable. This is because fiction shows, through the representation of “pretend,” that the traits we look for so hard in others, must be curated and developed in ourselves first.

[Podcast] 3 Reasons the Future Won’t Be the Same as Now – The Earbud_U Minute

Nostalgia for the future is a terrible thing. As a matter of fact, we have heard recently that nostalgia for the past might be poison.

Human beings, without much great reluctance, tend to romanticize the past, and believe that the future will be exactly the same. Only slightly cooler.

However, three facts mitigate against this view:

  • Peace is not the absence of conflict. It’s the management of change.
  • The “good old days” were just as filled with uncertainty, suspicion, anxiety, awe, nostalgia (both forward and rear facing) as the current time is.
  • The same conflicts that occurred in the past, will continue to occur both now and in the future, but the impacts of those conflicts will seem faster and more immediate.

Case in point for all of this is the recent 75th anniversary commentary around the 1964 World’s Fair. None of the changes that we currently take for granted were even thought of then.

Or, to make it even more bald: We are currently living in the future that Blade Runner promised us, just without it raining all the time and us all wearing the same drab outfits.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principle Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

A Bon Mot

Imagine if the entire Internet were encased inside the boundaries of the United States.

Now imagine that all the original search engines, the ones that were around before the dotcom bubble, are in an area the size of the original 13 colonies, arrayed along a watery coastline.
Now imagine further, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram, YouTube and all the rest, a geographical states, crammed in between the original 13 and the “Appalachian Mountains.”
Now imagine the rest of the country of the United States before the Louisiana Purchase being totally empty and wild.
THAT’S what the entire Internet is right now.
And instead of it being crammed into the boundaries of the continental United States, the virtual real estate of the Internet goes on infinitely.
So, go West.
Build something—an idea, a strategy, a platform, a city—out there, that all the folks “back East” will marvel at.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com