River Country Journal
Celebrating and Nurturing Life in Southwest Michigan's River Country

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January 8, 2010

SUSTAINABLY SPEAKING – Commentary by Jay Newman

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Written by: Bruce Snook

It’s finally 2010.  Another new decade is here! I know there are some people who say it won’t be a new decade until next year but I’m very glad to be out of the oughties!

I want to make some prediction for this new decade.  I hope everyone will save this article and hold my feet to the fire as we progress through the twenty teens!  Here are my predictions for the next 10 years.

Technology: Energy Technology will make huge strides.  In fact, many school districts will address energy tech as the newest and fastest growing employment sector for our new 21st Century economy.  I predict that K-12 School Districts will start to offer energy technology classes just like they now offer information technology classes.

Communities: There will be a big resurgence in our need for real community.  Not the type of systems where a few decide for the many but community systems where more and more people get engaged in how the community works.  More people will take interest in how communities figure out how to do what state and federal governments cannot and probably should not do for us.  Even though the world is getting smaller and we can be in places thousands of miles away in a few hours, we are going to look inside our own communities to find the meaning and relationships that will help us prosper. Becoming locally interdependent will be the watch-word for this next decade.

Economy: We are in a global economy and what happens in one part of the world will affect the rest of the world.  This is all the more reason why we need strong, vibrant local economies.  Resilience will depend upon our ability to confront the next major global financial catastrophe with local systems that continue to work even though the whole world is reeling.  The key to this will be the continued growth and development of very small businesses.  Entrepreneurs are helping us pull out of the recession of 2009 and they will help us guard against the recession of 2019.

Education: With the recent cuts to schools, we have exposed a number of issues that keep schools from being as efficient and agile as they need to be.  When schools have to spend so much time doing reports, paper work, and administering tests there is precious little time left over for real teaching and learning.  Teachable moments come and go and are lost forever because we are spending so much time preparing for the next test that we can’t afford to take advantage of the natural opportunities that are all around us.  We sacrifice the enthusiasm for learning these exhilarating moments create because everyone has to pass the test.  In the next decade I pray that we will take the time to engage children, beginning at the earliest ages, in authentic learning experiences.  Two hundred years ago everything children learned had real significance to their lives and the world around them.  I think it is time to recapture that relevance.


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