The iPod Generation

I was at a talk the other day, and the listener was going at some length about iPods and how the devices were changing the way people did things (as I often write about in this column). But this was a group of about 40 community leaders and economic developers, and one of them, in exasperation, finally blurted out, "Some of us don't have iPods."

The speaker stopped and asked for a show of hands, and it turned out only two people in the room owned an iPod, and one of them was the speaker.

Here's the problem.

Nearly everyone under 30 already has an iPod, or intends to buy one soon. For them, there is no "change." They already do things differently than nearly everyone over 30, and there's the rub.

That room full of leaders is making decisions that will affect their communities and regions for years, even decades. But they are completely out of touch with the generation that is needed to keep those communities vibrant and healthy.

I can virtually guarantee that most of the leaders, in other meetings, have bemoaned, "Our young people are graduating from high school and moving away. We have to figure out how to get young people to stay."

The irony, as they say, can be quite thick.

Perhaps the first step in a community's updated economic development plan is to buy some iPods and give them to community leaders. How about your community: Is there an iPod gap?

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