From growing up here on the coast, I know and love all of the seasons of Seaside. One of my favorite seasons is fall. Each day is a surprise; you never know what the days will be like before we settle into the constant rain of the winter season.
I think many people in Seaside love autumn because it is the time of crisp air and rainy evenings and reading a good book by a cozy fire. This fall, especially, has significance to me because we have reached the culmination of a year of visioning for the city. Starting a year ago in September, we have had a wide range of community input, including kids, teens, visitors and any community members who were willing to give us their feedback about the common threads and important goals for Seaside and what we want to move toward in the future.
There were surveys, community meetings, informal feedback, a teen summit and other events throughout the 12 months to extract community ideas regarding where the city should grow and change in the future.
As library director, I specifically avoided bringing forward the library in visioning conversations, just to see what the community saw as the library’s relevance. It was terrific to realize throughout the visioning process that, as a community, people in Seaside typically assumed that the library would be around for the next 20 years.
It validated for me what I believe: that the library continues to be an important part of the community and there is no question in most people’s minds that the library will continue to be significant, thriving along with the city, as we grow and flourish over the next two decades and beyond.
The city’s new visioning statement looking toward the year 2034 states that: “Seaside is a remarkable, culturally rich community. Our families thrive, our businesses prosper and generations of visitors create memories that last lifetimes — all in a healthy, safe and neighborly coastal environment.” The question is where you see yourself in this statement. Do you identify with these aspects of Seaside and see room for growth in all of the areas mentioned? I believe the library is represented because the library staff and volunteers strive to have a remarkable, culturally rich library that continues to stay relevant in the community while creating memories.
This reminds me of futurist or forward thinking. I have been taking a MOOC (a massive open online course) that is aimed at unlimited participation and open access through the Internet. This class is on futurists and trends in technology for the future. Futurists are people who identify current trends and assess how they may develop in the future. They try to provide definitive ideas for moving forward to adapt and adopt new technology.
One example of some futurist thinking is the recent art initiative called the Future Library. Author Margaret Atwood has written the first book in this project that will not be published for 100 years. The goal is that in 2114 there will be 100 texts total that will be released for the first time. This year they also planted a forest of 1,000 trees, to be cut down in 2114 to provide the paper for these texts to be printed on for the very first time. The texts will be stored in a special room in Oslo Norway’s Deichmanske public library. Only the titles will be on display in this room until 2114 when the content of the books will finally be revealed.
This is a different kind of futurist thinking, storing texts for the future. Isn’t it interesting that one of the assumptions is that the writing will stand the test of time?
Margaret Atwood’s comments were that the books may need some kind of anthropological interpreter to understand current terms. However, well-written books, regardless of age, often don’t require an interpreter. Both Jane Austen’s and William Shakespeare’s works are still relevant across multiple centuries. Isn’t it interesting that with technological advances, our current assumption is that the world will change so significantly over the next 100 years that there will be far more of a divide than we have seen over the past centuries?
So what will the future hold? Nobody knows for certain, but based upon our current avid thirst for knowledge and ideas, I think the written or typed word will continue to shape and develop who we are and will stay relevant for years to come.