Change in Douglas County, 1990-2014
Archivists at the Douglas County Libraries have set up an appointment with me in a couple of weeks to record an oral history. I was the founding director of the district (it was a county library before then) in 1990, and I guess I do know a lot of institutional history. I also wrote a newspaper column from April 11, 1990 through January 5, 2012). So it's all online, but I gave a copy of the text file to our archivists, pointing out that somehow I lost track of about a dozen columns over the years. So we have an intern who is tracking down the missing ones, which is kind of neat. Then I was thinking about maybe packaging all of these as an ebook.
Then Shaun Boyd (of DCL's Douglas County History and Research Center) told me that it would be 3,000 pages long. No one would read that!
So one of the tasks I might set myself next year is going through that and producing a more digestible version. There would be at least four themes: the development of the Douglas County Libraries, the development of Douglas County as a community (and communities), the development of technology, and my own intellectual development. In all of those areas, that two-decade period was a time of extraordinary change. I think I could get it down to a cheap, readable bathroom ebook.
Thinking over my score of years here, I see the transformation of a mostly rural ranching community to a fairly privileged, well-educated community with all the trappings of modern development: the standard franchises, the big houses with big garages. While I have known a surprising number of very competent public sector managers, I've also watched the growing tendency of the Republican Party to govern by slogan: a host of right wing, fear-based alarms (we must fight the gays, the takers of our guns, the teacher unions!) that have made the political environment so toxic lately.
The Republican Party actually seems to be losing votes in each election, although it still holds sway. One wonders how long that can last.
By contrast, I remember the true statesman of my early years here: Gil Whitman and Carroll Hier, the last Democratic County Commissioner and the Republican Clerk and Recorder, respectively. These were people known for their intelligence and integrity, their fairness, and I admired them both.
My interests in life move mostly forward, but it should be interesting to muse on the patterns I've observed over the years, but haven't yet articulated.