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Considering the Possibilities

December 25th, 2006 by localoid

Futurology, the study of the future, is a risky endeavor. Despite the difficulty in forecasting it, humans are drawn to the subject of what can or might be possible in future.

In the Wikibook, The Information Age, the authors observed “we imagine the information age in order that we can affect its becoming.” Based on this concept, can we, as West Virginians, envision the future, and then utilize that vision to begin the process of building a brighter economic future for ourselves and future generations?

The (virtually unknown) plans

For decades, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has held a key role in efforts to bring about a better future for the people of Appalachia. The agency routinely develops a strategic plan of action that will enable the Appalachia region to realize “full economic parity with the nation.” Additionally, a ARC State Appalachian Development Plan for West Virginia is completed each year in which the state’s goals, objectives and priorities are identified and outlined.

Unfortunately, most West Virginians will never read either report, or be aware of either plan’s existence. In fact, many citizens of the state claim it’s difficult for them to believe state officials actually have developed a formal plan for improving and strengthening the state’s economy.

To the average West Virginian, improving the state’s economy means jobs. And more often that not, the types of jobs the public is hoping for are jobs in factories or some sort of heavy industry. Unfortunately, neither of these types of jobs are likely to be numerous in the New Economy, a movement from the traditional industrial and manufacturing based economy to an economy based on knowledge or ideas.

Few state politicians or leaders seem to be willing to pro-actively embrace or promote the concepts of the New Economy. It’s far more common to hear the state’s politicians speaking about attracting new manufacturing plants and industry to the state, simply because this is what they believe the average citizen wants to hear.

Hope for the Future?

The state’s website, A Vision Shared, was apparently created in 2002 with hopes of increasing the state’s economically competitiveness in the 21st Century. As much of the organization’s goal depend upon citizen involvement and input it’s rather discouraging to find absolutely zero message postings in the site’s message forums. The site’s most recent new story is from 2003, and most recent press release is dated 2004.

If seems that if there is hope for West Virginia’s future, it lies lies in its people. But unless we become involved in the process of shaping the future, and consider what that future might involve, much of the state’s population may well find ourselves suffering from future shock.

Posted in Plans and Planning | Comments