How “uncertain times” have created a future of opportunities

The phrase “uncertain times” makes me squirm.

That could be partly personal. I turned twenty-one a few days after 9/11 and I turned forty in the middle of a pandemic. In both cases, a world I was just starting to figure out got flipped and shaken at a most inconvenient time.

But, of course, uncertainty also comes with opportunity. When everybody stops rowing all at once and gazes out in wonder at the sea, you can change the ship’s course in a way that’s otherwise not possible. There’s a really refreshing sense of freedom and possibility that’s born of collective confusion.

I normally like to share a few personal anecdotes about these things in this space, but if I started typing on those now, we’d be at the history page at the back of the book before I was done. Like everyone else, after the last year, I’m wondering a lot about what happens next.

This month’s cover story is about what could happen—if we dare.

The eleven topics* explored in our Big Ideas cover package tend toward the ambitious. These are ideas that could shape life in our city for decades to come. Some might say a few are pipe dreams—self-piloted air taxis powered by a local company’s technology and a local billionaire rescuing the Star from hedge fund jackals may seem outlandish until you read up on them. Other ideas, I’d dare say, are such obvious winners that it’s surprising no one has done them already—why is there no marina on the Missouri River between Omaha and Columbia?

The unifying theme of the proposals in this package is their ability to inspire as we finally emerge from a long, dark slog where it was sometimes harder to dream any bigger than getting dinner on the table and vacuuming the baseboards in the same evening.

Now, the future is coming on fast. And what it looks like is—well, it’s still a little fuzzy. I got much more excited about that uncertainty while working on this issue, and I hope you’ll feel the same after reading it.



*It’s actually twelve—aim your phone’s camera at the QR codes.

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