Reimagining Your City – Part 1
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Do you envision positive changes for the future five, ten, fifteen years from now? Many people do and more, visualizing business, economics, education, etc., decades into the future. Reimagining our future is more than daydreaming; it’s clarity of thought, details, examining long-term ramifications, along with examining the challenges and pushbacks that come with change.
Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
Sociologists agree that changes in our personal and social relationships eventually alter societal interactions causing a ripple effect, if wide enough, over time can transform cultural norms revolutionizing social consciousness.
Transforming society takes time; the more significant the vision, the longer it takes. Many people making small but steady changes within their areas of influence builds momentum. Marian Wright Edelman notes, “If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.”
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” – Greg Reid
Although Imagineering did not originate with Disney, they did take it to new levels. Disney’s outside the box thinking gave birth to new ways of “doing amusement,” that same power of reimagining reality is being utilized to instigate change in society at large.
Imagineering is a science combining “imagination” and “engineering.” Utilizing creative imagination reimagining customer service, theatres, and rides, as Disney did, revisiting the past and honestly assessing current amusement theories in the light of it. The same foundational principles are at work in reimagining the social structures of a city.
The past has numerous examples of innovative people who envisioned a brighter future, describing in detail with astounding accuracy a society decades in advance.
“Unless there’s a personal transformation, there can be no social transformation.” – Deepak Chopra
Reimaging the future begins with revisiting the past since our collective thoughts and behaviors bring us to where we are today. Take talented entrepreneurial thinkers, for instance; they see opportunities taking shape and a brighter future unfolding before others do; acting swiftly on what they’re seeing, they reap the rewards of their actions because they understood movements in society and subtle shifts in consumer behaviors.
There’s no need for fortune-telling or tea leaves, just an accurate understanding of current events with an intuitive insightfulness. Understanding the trends of decades past and their outcomes which give birth to our current way of life, these visionaries charted a course speaking with amazing accuracy, of a future many never saw coming.
New York, New York
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you New York, New York” – Betty Comden (lyricist)
New York City is an example of intentional Quality of life changes over time. Cyclists are now a regular part of the city’s traffic flow; it wasn’t always so. Enthusiasts and advocates alike have been pushing for creating bike lanes for years – discussions from replacing traffic lanes to converting parking spaces to bike lanes in many areas.
Over the years, reviewing past automobile incidents involving cyclists and pedestrians caused many private citizens and advocates to join forces to raise awareness of the number of injuries and fatalities. Consistent changes in small increments directed public attention to the dangers and sought a better quality of life, which we see today.
History Has Many Valuable Lessons To Teach Us
“The great treasures of tomorrow are discovered by intentionally excavating the past today.” – JSP
My mother, a student of history and an avid follower of current events, would tell me, “None are more foolish than those who refuse to learn.” Inheriting my mother’s love for history, I know her statement to be true. Whenever society seeks a brighter future, the only intelligent starting point is to honestly assess the present in the light of the past and desire to learn from it.
I’m a proponent of keeping personal journals and have been doing so since 1980. My journals allow me to look back over decades and see my successes and failures and the decisions, patterns, and trends that led to both. An accurate understanding of my personal history allows me to replicate the successes and avoid repeating the failures.
Whenever society seeks a brighter future, it’s wise to revisit the past. Many cultures, like individuals, attempt to bury their past. Any attempts to sanitize our personal or corporate history by erasing our failures or hurtful occurrences cause us to unintentionally mislead our descendants. Spanish-American philosopher and poet George Santayana notes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Changing or skewing our history removes the reference points depriving future generations of the opportunity to replicate the successes and avoid repeating the failures. Organizations that failed to learn the valuable lessons from the Great Depression of the 1930s are no longer with us today. Preserving an accurate account of our history (good and bad) is the best societal transformation book we can pass on to the incoming generation.
“Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.” – William Wordsworth
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***