What do we do with all of those dead malls....and other big questions. A LEAD Global briefing from Futurist Chet W. Sisk
Here is a sample of our LEAD Global Source class...
Without a doubt, we have more technology at our access than any other time in human history. We are connected to more people world wide than anything in the known existence of humankind. We have so much information at our fingertips in this day and age that we drown in an embarrassment of riches. So why are we, collectively, suffering from lack of imagination? Why are we using , 18th, 19th and 20th century models as our guide in the 21st Century? Shouldn't we be creating more powerful, abundant, innovative, egalitarian and inclusive ways of living --- like, a Utopia? It's not like we don't have the tools.
Unfortunately, we're not there yet. That's why we're having a tough time trying to figure out what to do with all of the malls that are being abandoned by retailers. Millions of square feet at our fingertips to do evolutionary work and our reaction is to look at them as if they were bad car accidents. We slow down to check out the ugly scene, but in the end, we stay in our cars and keep it moving....as if there was nothing to see here.
Allow me to take the time to start a fire under your imagination, to resuscitate your innovation, to stimulate that gigantic creative mind of yours so you can break the bonds of entertainment, and start to re-imagine the immediate future. Let's just use the dead malls as a kind of canvas to paint our new masterpieces.
1. Renewable Energy Solar Farms. Many of you heard me talk about this before, but the opportunity to utilize those flat roofs and open space to create gigantic solar farms is tremendous. Even more, the malls are perfectly positioned close to neighborhoods which would help in the power distribution.
2. Aquaponic Vertical Smart Farms. This is basically a no-brainer. All of that room can be used to grow enough food to feed a city and a region. There would have to be significant retrofitting, but this is a conversation worth taking to the mall investors. Granted, the return may not be the same as retail outlets, but we live in a time where we need to have a different kind of conversation about the future.
3. Mixed - Use Affordable Housing Development. This one would take an large amount of political will because some countries, don't seem to have vision to provide support for it's most vulnerable citizens, Nevertheless, these are the places you point to when people say we don't have the facilities or resources to create affordable housing.
4. A massive Maker's District with 3D printing labs. There are tons of "giggers" and entrepreneurs who make things all the time, but find it difficult to get their wares out to the public except by the trunk of their car. If a city decides it is better to create spaces for more entrepreneurs to do well than to let the tax base of an empty mall continue on it's death spiral, there could be something special here.
5. A Learning Institute for the 21st Century. I am not thinking another University in the traditional sense, but more of an open series of classes or mini schools that allow people to receiver certifications as they retrain and rethink being human in the 21st Century.
6. A massive fitness and preventative health complex. I've heard experts say that the great challenge of losing the malls is that it takes away a place for people to meet, talk to each other and socialize. Here's one way of bringing the social interaction back while creating healthy futures.
Those are things to consider. Here are ideas to avoid like the plague...
1. A high end mall. First, high end retailers are facing the same challenges as other retailers, so replacing tweedle dee with tweedle dum is simply not smart. Even more, it creates ethical conflicts in a world where the economic divide is greater now than at any time in the history of the world.
2. Luxury condos. Basically, the same reason as above when it comes to basic ethics.
3. Something that ignores the challenges facing society today. The Fourth Industrial Revolution/World Shift is more than a catchy phrase. It is a notice sent to societies that we must do something different in order to thrive and succeed in this next phase of humanity. Our plates are full with challenges, so using these dead malls to create more of the same is a recipe for social disruption on a massive scale.
All of the challenges we see today are asking us to be creative, insightful, intuitive and kind. If we lean forward into that part of us that is calling out, we'll know exactly what to do.
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Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org