In the final weeks of 2016, the editor of Confluence Denver reflects on the year that was and the year to come. Did you know 2017 was a prime number?
What a year, what a frigging year. Just a couple weeks left. Yay.
The last days of sand are tumbling down the yearglass, and 2017 is drawing nigh. It's a prime number, the first year since 2011 with that distinction, and the last 'til 2027.
The most recent prime number years were: 1933, 1949, 1951, 1973, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2011.
A few highlights:
1933: Gene Wilder born; Hitler becomes German chancellor
1949: NATO established; Orwell's 1984
published; first mass shooting in U.S.
1951: First thermonuclear weapons test by U.S.
1973: Nixon sworn in for second term; U.S. involvement in Vietnam War ends
1979: Happy Meal introduced; Iran hostage crisis begins
1987: First naked-eye supernova observed since 1604; The Simpsons debuts
1993: ATF raids Branch Davidian compound in Texas; Clinton signs NAFTA
1997: U.K. hands Hong Kong over to China; Heaven's Gates cult commits mass suicide
1999: Clinton acquitted in impeachment; Columbine massacre
2003: Iraq War begins; Human Genome Project completed
2011: Osama bin Laden killed in Pakistan; U.S. declares end to Iraq War
What will happen in the coming prime year? Like all of the others, to be sure, something we've never seen before.
Maybe we'll get another naked-eye supernova, or a fast-food innovation that puts the Happy Meal to shame. But I'm hoping for something earthshaking and groundbreaking that blows all of the bad news out of the water.
No matter what, it's important to think and act locally. There are numerous groups that could use your help in Denver, or go your own way and create. Make art, or kimchi, or music. Teach, volunteer, give. Talk to your neighbors.
Sure, many things are beyond the reach of us here in Denver, the 19th-largest metro area in the U.S. It would qualify as the 40th largest metro area were it in China.
But we're also one of the most remote metro areas of our size. You've got to go 800 miles to get to a bigger metro area (Dallas). That fact alone makes for a certain level of self-reliance.
Journalist John Gunther wrote in 1947: "Denver is Olympian, impassive and inert. It is probably the most self-sufficient, isolated, self-contained and complacent city in the world."
As much as things change, it's time for the city to once and for all shake off the last of those adjectives. We need to break free of our shackles, innovate and improve, and ignore the beaten path.
Any anti-green (is that mauve?) government official would be hard-pressed to reset the clock on innovation, and cities are the true laboratories for sustainability. Denver should further implement technologies that reduce reliance on fossil fuels. If there's no demand for dirty energy, then there's no profit motive to dig and drill and frack on public lands.
It's high time for Web 3.0. Web 2.0 has netted us new ways of connecting, but we've got a logjam of fake news and a generation of smartphone addicts. We can't automate everything. How can we keep the human touch in a world marked by increasing information overload?
Cities drive innovation, and they likewise drive economies of all kinds. Denver's been on the leading edge of plenty of innovation and economic growth in recent years, a good bit of it in an area that's legally dubious on the federal level. Then consider that the attorney general-in-waiting once said that he was okay with the Klan until he found out they smoked weed. Great news for Denver.
Or maybe it's just what we need. A kick in the teeth. A punch in the gut. No more complacency.
Beyond state's rights, what about city's rights? Should we prepare for a Boston Tea Party moment?
What's next? In the face of the void, it's time to dive in.