Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Letter to Cincinnati, 2109

Today, I had the honor of participating in the burying of a time capsule at the Museum Center to be opened in 100 years. I also submitted a letter in the time capsule to the citizens of our region in 2109. It was a very interesting task, but also a great reminder of how much work we all have to do to ensure that we leave this world and this community better than it was when he inherited it.

For those interested, here's what I wrote . . . (warning -- it's pretty long).

March 29, 2009

Dear Cincinnatians of 2109:

Greetings from 2009. I write this at what is a historic time for our country.

Just two months ago, the nation swore in President Barack Obama, our first African American President. To win that election, he defeated (in the Democratic primary) Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who would have been the country’s first female president. For us, the prospect that the President would either be a woman or an African American made it one of the most momentous elections in our nation’s history. By 2109, I am assuming such outcomes are far less dramatic.

As you read this, I can only hope that we have left you a community and country that is even better and stronger than the one we inherited from our forbears. But as I write this, there are many challenges we must address if we are to succeed.

Economically, we are facing short- and long-term challenges. Short-term, we are experiencing economic difficulties (the deep 2008-2009 recession) that I am confident we will get through if we work hard and learn from our mistakes . But long-term, we are seeing great competition from countries such as India and China, and will have to work hard, and work very smart, to maintain the economic preeminence and high standard of living this country has become accustomed to. You will know better than we if we made the right strategic decisions—to invest in education, technology, infrastructure, transportation, new energy alternatives, worker training and other key priorities—to position ourselves to succeed over the next 100 years.

In recent years, we have also begun to understand the damage many of our past (and current) practices and bad habits have done to our planet. Most citizens are greatly concerned about a trend in recent years of “global warming,” and the widespread and damaging effect it might have if it continues, both on human beings and where we live today, as well as the entire planet and its millions of species. We are struggling to come up with widescale solutions and global cooperation to solve these climate challenges. But we know we must.

One of the key solutions is exploring ways we can provide and use energy without so heavily relying on oil from other countries or energy sources that contribute to global warming and pollute our air. Specifically, we are looking to see if we might do a better job using solar power, wind, hydropower, biomass, and other forms of renewable and clean energy to fuel all the activities we have grown accustomed to. We are also looking into all sorts of ways to travel, live, and conduct business that demand less energy, and create less negative impacts on our environment. Indeed, many governments such as Cincinnati and Hamilton County have recently passed mandates to reduce our “carbon footprint” through 2050. These will require great changes in how we do things in 2009.

Hopefully by 2109, these solutions are in full effect. Even better, I can only hope that they were the first generation of all sorts of other solutions we couldn’t even imagine today—solutions that have allowed our country to thrive economically without damaging our environment and climate any further. (And hopefully as you read this, the temperature of Cincinnati generally varies between 25 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with anything over 90 seeming rare and very hot. That’s how it is today, and it’s quite comfortable.)

Another major challenge is the state of relations among the world’s countries, religions and ethnic groups. As there has always been, there remains a lot of tension among nations, cultures and religions—particularly at the extremes. But unlike in the past, more and more nations are developing weapons, or trying to, that could wipe out entire cities and regions at once. The United States and the world have a lot of work to do to address these threats and tensions.

While there are many challenges, in other areas, there is also great excitement and progress being made. Over the last several decades, the world has gotten a lot smaller due to new technologies and networks. Rapid development of the computer, the dawn of the internet, cellphones, instant messaging, social networking webpages (more recently), and other changes in recent decades and years have allowed us to communicate quickly, across our planet, in ways few could have imagined even 20 to 30 years ago. They are also having major consequences on how we used to do things—more people, for instance, are reading books and newspapers on computers and smaller hand-held devices, as opposed to paper versions. As fast as these technologies have developed in the past 10 years, we can only imagine what they will be like in 2109. In fact, most of the change that will take place is well beyond our imagination.

Here in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, our view is that those regions that best position themselves to take advantage of these long-term trends will see great opportunity as communities and for individuals. But that those that do not will likely become the “ghost towns” of the future.

Needless to say, we are doing our best to position ourselves to benefit from these new opportunities. It is a tough global competition these days, and our ability to compete will stem directly from our success in 1) creating a quality of life where people and families want to live (this is only getting more important over time), 2) an infrastructure, technology, private sector, and education system that allows us to most effectively compete in this global economy, and 3) a system of government that can effectively help us tackle all these challenges successfully and efficiently. (And my guess is that our forms of government will be dramatically different by 2109 in order to help us accomplish this).

In closing, my hope is that despite all the changes, even in one hundred years, some great local traditions that have withstood the test of time remain unchanged.

Among them, I trust that Graeter’s ice cream (started in 1870) will have grown into a worldwide chain of the best-tasting ice cream on the planet, still based in Cincinnati, and into its 10th generation of leadership.

I am confident that our largest local company, Procter & Gamble, will be in its 272nd year of business, producing and sending across the world products that we can not even imagine today.

I imagine that the friendly rivalry between Cincinnati’s West Side and East side will continue as it has for generations, and only hope we have discovered new and better ways to get across town by then.

And I fully anticipate that Cincinnati will soon open the 240th season of Cincinnati Reds baseball, and we will continue to proudly hold ourselves out as the birthplace of professional baseball all those years ago. Who knows, maybe the Reds will be taking on Tokyo on Opening Day, 2109.

And on a more serious note, I can only hope that the citizens of 2109, when attending Reds’ baseball games and other public events, still stand and sing our National Anthem, hand over heart, with the same national pride we do now. And that you will do so because in all the years between when I write this and when you read this, through thick and thin, we as a nation have continued to live up to our nation’s founding principles of freedom, equality and opportunity for all.


David Pepper
Hamilton County, Board of County Commissioners


Anonymous said...

nice job

Anonymous said...

Uh, Dave...hey, I'm happy that Barack Obama won too, but it was not a choice between an African American and a woman...there was this other old white guy named McCain?

Justin Jeffre said...

Actually there were six candidates on enough ballots to potentially win the (undemocratic) Electoral College. But we still suffer from extreme political bigotry towards independent candidates.

For instance, there was a historic campaign with the first all women of color ticket and it was completely ignored by our corporate controlled media. The country is being run into the ground by corporations that dominate our lives.

If our species managed to survive another hundred years it must have been from the efforts of people trying to shift the power from the corporations to the people that live on this fragile planet.

Mark Miller said...

Considering how much of their money we're spending, you might have at least thanked them for it.

The Dean of Cincinnati said...

Considering the massive cultural dumbing down of the last century, I think the average Cincinnatian will not be able to read that letter 100 years from now.

You should have included it as an audio file.

Anonymous said...

Um, if you actually look at the Mean Global temperature of the Earth it has been declining for the past 10yrs and if you look at recent research it looks like clouds provide a negative feedback--not positive like the Greenies are trying to scare us with:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you focus on the problems of 2009 rather than 2109.

David Pepper said...

Don't worry, last anon, it was only a letter. Didn't take away from dealing with 2009 issues.

But actually, making decisions today with a the long term in mind isn't a bad thing.

Dean, I thought of the audio file, but doubt whatever format we put it in would be around in 2109.

Anonymous said...

David - Saw your picture with Strickland, smiling, because you believe you will receive money for the Banks project from BO's stimulus bill.

I really think that many folks believe Obama is doing a great job, which is quite scary. They do not understand that the government is not giving us anything, they have no money. They only spend our money which they receive from our taxes which are never ending and will continue to rise.So, any money you receive from BO is actually from me and my fellow workers.

Obama has been the president for only 4 months. He has already done more harm to our country than Bush did in 8 years. The few who read this blog will quickly say "racist!" But they have not educated themselves or even know what Obama and his party have planned for them. And they are probably liberals. I guess if you are one of the losers, you welcome what is being done. I see it as the end of a once great country

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