As much as we humans are the same (our tolerance for climate, days without water and isolation from each other fall into narrow bands), we take a near excessive pride in our distinctions. Amused by this reality, one might suggest to the latest brand of hipster that the excessive goal of uniqueness only ensures that one is different in exactly the same way as all others who seek distinction in entirely the same way! We cannot entirely escape the subtle cues that expose our history and predict our potentials regardless of one’s facial hair or body art.
Communities, too, find little safe-harbor from these indications. Each, in its own way, betrays the secrets of its past, tells the story of its present and unwittingly forecasts a projection of its future. Athens recalls a storied history with grand edifices perched at the Acropolis but its present-day empty storefronts and careless graffiti speak to its contemporary challenges to keep up with northern Europe. Present day London is bustling with commerce. The streets are filled in the early morning with citizens navigating the many construction sites converting notable buildings into more modern configurations. One is immersed in wealth. Bentley’s wiz by transporting harried fund-managers to the first stop on the daily schedule. But even here, does the empire wane? Russian oligarchs are displacing the local aristocracy with brute force and sheer wealth. For either of these two examples, will the future carry decline or renaissance? And, what indicators can help them to influence that trajectory.
In our own cities and towns, we can find the same watermarks. Are we brick streets, or performance halls, or sports fields, or town squares, or lakes, or green pastures? Are we robust or sickly? Most importantly, are we paying attention? Time alone will tell. Col