Learning From Those Before Us

May 11, 2015

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.
-George Bernard Shaw

I am fond of reading history, and lately I’ve been fascinated by books about pivotal years. The book 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War by Charles Emmerson brings together two great interests – the development of cities, and history itself. This sweeping account of a “rapidly globalizing” world in 1913 is told through dispatches from over 20 cities. The world was on the brink of two horrible wars and a century of technological innovation greater than all other centuries combined.

Los Angeles was a booming oil town and California was the most important oil producing state in the U.S. The Shanghai Bund was a bustling international port where “cosmopolitanism was the rule,” and in Tehran, the Persian capital, “uncertainty reigned as to the future.” In St. Petersburg, Russia’s capital city, the streets were lined with advertisements for European products—a point of pride and debate about whether to embrace Europe or not. The City of Detroit was over a half-million people and growing larger each year, and it was said that Berlin’s “brightest days lay ahead of it.”

We should not take economic progress and peace for granted. We should take every opportunity to build relationships—both economic and cultural—that bind us together. And we should know that at similar points in history, public and private leaders were wrestling with questions about their development and their place in the world.

Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • This week, the One Columbus team will travel to Omaha for the  Mid-America Economic Development Council 2015 Best Practices Conference and to Norfolk for the Virginia Maritime Association’s International Trade Symposium. We’ll also travel to the West Coast and China for business development missions.
  • Back at home, our team will host a company considering the Columbus Region.
  • One Columbus has released an industry profile on the Columbus Region’s automotive supply chain. The report shows that the Region’s automotive supply chain has recovered nicely from the recession, driven largely by Honda’s growth and the emergence of a significant base of automotive suppliers supporting that growth. For key findings and the full report, click here.
  • The Big Give, a 24-hour online giving rally, is this Tuesday starting at 10 a.m. The Big Give is a dynamic opportunity to join the Columbus Foundation and all of Central Ohio in supporting 630 nonprofits working to strengthen and improve our smart and open community. Click here for learn more.