My name is Keith Zeff. I have enjoyed two careers, first as a city planner for eighteen years, and later as a commercial real estate researcher for twenty-seven years. My education includes undergraduate degrees in architecture and a graduate degree in political science.
City planning is a unique field. It requires knowledge in a wide variety of disciplines. Without being an expert in any, the city planner is tasked with integrating the work of educators, traffic and transportation engineers, law enforcement, architects and landscape architects, attorneys, and specialists in the fields of medical care, employment, local government, recreation, building codes, solid waste disposal, geology, water supply, and more.
Less obvious is the breadth of knowledge required in analyzing commercial real estate trends. Everything from LEED certification of office buildings to the size of container ships passing through the Panama Canal enters into discussions of price, demand, supply, and location of commercial retail, industrial, and office buildings.
From one of my first jobs, I have maintained an interest in exploring what the future may hold. My non-profession-related reading has been on and around this topic for over a decade. I approach the subject with the same mindset of a city planner. All these global issues are interrelated, and it is important to consider what consequences might occur as a result of current decisions – and not only in the near term, but especially in the long-term. Unfortunately, neither business nor government decision-makers are prone to this approach. Stock values, quarterly profit and loss reports, and election cycles are more likely to dominate decision-making processes.
Fifty Year Perspective is designed to address the longer-term concerns. The perspective of 50 years was chosen to respond to those in business, government, and private life who may have said: “I am doing this for my children and grandchildren.” Two generations – fifty years.
Baby boomers enjoyed many benefits made possible by the sacrifices of previous generations. Should we not dedicate ourselves to do the same for future generations? Make this personal: If you were told that you and your children and grandchildren face life-threatening danger within the next five months, would you work to avoid that fate? What about in five years? What about in five decades? The complexity of global systems necessitates taking a long-term perspective, with every important decision made by local governments, national governments, international institutions, and businesses. Make sure the decision is sustainable – for the environment, economy, energy, geopolitics, social structure, food, water, and more.