Maybe that caveman saw a bolt of lightning ignite a tree and thought, "Oh, now I get it... I can do that!" Next thing you know, humanity had fire, and we were off to the future.
The point is, change — even the earth-shaking, life-altering variety — can come very quickly. Here in 2015, examples are everywhere. Next month, we'll mark a year of legalized cannabis sales in Washington state. Just typing that sentence seems crazy. A medical school for Spokane — hopefully someday soon the Elson Floyd Memorial Medical School — is another big, quick change that appears to be coming. Gay marriage, likely to be confirmed as a constitutional right, and the expected removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina's Capitol grounds are two more changes that were a long time coming but, in the end, happened quite suddenly.
Change is a constant in business, too. We all know that the automobile put the buggy whip makers out to pasture, and the Internet continues to reshuffle the deck of the American economy. In business, change always creates winners and losers, which is why executives who can visualize and embrace the future are in such high demand.
So how can a place — a city, a region — keep up with such a dizzying pace of change? It falls to our leaders to guide us between passing fads and profound changes, all the while staying true to time-tested basics. Voters need to embrace such leaders, which can be tough, as most of us don't really want to change. Candidates who pander to that by, say, denying climate change, are not moving us forward.
Local legislators Marcus Riccelli and Michael Baumgartner envisioned a new health-care paradigm and pulled the start of a new medical school across the finish line in Olympia. Spokane Mayor David Condon has kept his focus on infrastructure like streets and parks while introducing modern management into City Hall. Like other strong mayors before him, Condon knows Spokane needs to change to keep up.
Change can come organically, too — a combination of government, business, timing and even luck. Check out the new Davenport Grand Hotel on the skyline by Riverfront Park — built in less than two years, it and other public and private investments are signs of confidence in our future.
I'm confident, too. With California sadly drying up, and the Puget Sound area choking on traffic, we're getting discovered. Water is relatively plentiful here. University of Washington Regents are turning their attention to Spokane. Heck, ESPN is broadcasting from Hoopfest this Sunday. Change is coming, and as we see all around us, it can come fast. Are we ready? ♦