Opinion: Vital connections

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The California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento is widely regarded by visitors to that fine city as worth the trip. Its expansive collection and exhibits inspire and delight for a modest price of admission. One interesting interactive presentation allows for the guest to sit in a mock-up of the cockpit of a famed Japanese bullet train. Acting as engineer, one is challenged to load passengers, leave the station, race across urban and rural landscapes and arrive safely to the end-of-the line within a few feet of the precise drop point. 

While waiting for the attraction, there are many displays regaling the history and aspirations of these innovations. It refreshed memories of a conversation I had as a college student with the then-president of Indiana University who was imagining such a connection from IU’s Bloomington campus to IUPUI in Indianapolis to Purdue’s West Lafayette home. “Imagine a 45-minute ride from one end to the other,” he mused.

What impact might it have had on our state, its institutions and all of us? Would we be more highly regarded or simply bankrupt? 

We know that points of connection matter. Old west towns came to prominence and then faded based solely on the caprice of an active stagecoach stop or train station (today, we have interstate exchages). All ancient capitals had navigable waterways. And most would argue that modern cities must have a vibrant airport to fully join the rest of the world. Like the long-past steam trains, schedules must align and access must be convenient.

Daylight saving time, direct flights and ample parking all contribute, in part, to the recipe. Likewise, high-speed internet is a connective lifeblood. Understanding the power of assembly and the risk of isolation, can we thrive, or even survive, in a modern landlock? 

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