Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Outerspace vs. Cyberspace


Michael Jackson didn’t invent the moon walk, Neil Armstrong did…literally.  And when Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” in 1969, he had no idea what an understatement that would turn out to be.

For that generation, fellow space travelers Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin proved that the moon wasn’t made of cheese, fulfilled the promise of deceased President John F. Kennedy to put a man on the moon, and opened up a world (pun intended) of opportunities.

Although rocket scientists, they didn’t realize they started a revolution.  A revolution of possibilities never before imagined.    If men from the planet Earth could achieve what many thought to be impossible, what was stopping us from, well, just about anything?
You don’t have to look any further than the freshman graduating class of 2016 to realize how ginormous that leap for mankind really was.  They were born in 1994 on Earth, yet in cyberspace; it’s all they’ve ever known.

In Beloit College’s recently released Mindset List, they report that the average college freshman doesn’t even recall when J.R. Ewing from Dallas was alive, that Woody Allen was married to anyone other than Soon-Yi Previn, or the art/skill of cursive writing.

The next millennium will lie in the hands of a future President of the United States who has never twisted a coiled phone cord around her arm while paying long distance on a land line?

It’s a good possibility that in 2020 our Indiana Governor won’t even know what bound encyclopedias look like or remember a time when we didn’t have blue M&M’s or rolling luggage.  (Yes, kids, we used to actually carry our luggage!)

Although our future mayor will have a television with more than three major networks, he will likely prefer to watch via the newest iSomething, which is why he entered college having a slight hearing loss in the first place.  And, although he’ll be well-read, Amazon will be his bookstore of choice. 

Obviously, as Bob Dylan wrote, “Times, they are a’changin’”.  Sure, maybe cyberspace has supplanted outerspace in the minds of incoming freshman.  But, both were important. 

Last week, I attended a Community Foundation CEO Retreat where we discussed Indiana’s upcoming Bicentennial Celebration in 2016. It was fascinating to learn that the first Indiana parks were developed in 1916, the year of our 100th birthday.  What a tremendous gift Hoosiers have enjoyed for generations because 100 years ago someone was intentionally thinking about Indiana’s future.

Let’s face it, the moon landing was awesome because it turned science fiction into reality.  A true game changer.   It was the end of the world as we knew it.  It was a tremendous gift that NASA gave the world.

And, so here we are.  It’s our turn to leave a gift.  What will our legacy be in our hometown, our county, our state?  The time has come to put some serious thought into it.

In 1947, Neil Armstrong entered our very own Purdue University as a freshman.  He was thinking about his legacy then. Thousands of college freshman are off to college in the next two weeks.  They’re thinking about it now.

Let’s be intentional, fellow philanthropists.  What can we do now that will make a difference in 50 or 100 years like the Indiana State Parks?  How can your Community Foundation help you achieve that goal?  The time is now.  The sky is the limit.
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