Friday, May 24, 2013

The Fortunes of Permanence

Some of my least favorite people are those who text while driving. Seemingly invisible to police, I spot at least three or four every time I’m out.

They drive like they are drunk, jerking near other lanes, driving way too slow and reacting unevenly to traffic signals.  To keep from getting too peeved, I've been keeping track of what their bumper stickers (an early form of social media) say about them.

So far Obama 10, City Councilman Steve Schewel 6, McCrory 4 and Romney 2.  Guess it isn't just trailing Millennials who need to be careful about what others socially post.

The sample of course is not at all scientific. When indexed for party registration where I live, fans of Governor McCrory and former Governor Romney are more likely to be text offenders.  Traffic accidents can unexpectedly change lives in a heartbeat.  Those texts better be worth it.

One of my favorite blogs is Permanent Record, described by its author, Paul Lukas, as “an object-based history project.” If you are involved with marketing you've probably read his work on the subject as a journalist as I often did during my now-concluded 40-year career in community marketing.

Here is a link to his story on Monday about “twist ties vs. plastic clips,” a $10.6 million struggle over fiercely loyal fans of each. I’m a twist tie guy. They are more easily reclaimed for other uses.

I thought of a Permanent Record post earlier this month when I learned of Monday’s tornado where residents of Moore, Oklahoma got just 16 minutes warning before it destroyed 13,000+ homes, killing 24 people and injuring 377.

Lukas blogged about a project that took root following a devastating tornado that hit Joplin and Duquesne, Missouri on this month in 2011. After the event, more than 35,000 personal photographs were found scattered over four states and as far as 350 miles from their owners.Photos in the Wind

I know from a friend’s pain who lost most of her photographs and mementos in a flood in the late 1990s how much of a loss this was.

The Joplin tragedy spawned formation of the National Disaster Photo Rescue. Nearly half of the priceless photos and other documents have been retrieved and returned to their owners. It is the subject of the documentary film, Photos in the Wind.

I have digitized several thousand family photographs dating back nearly 100 years that captured the images of ancestors dating to the 1840s. I’ve preserved them on DVD, thumb drive and on the cloud and distributed them to my daughter, my mom and sisters, my niece and each of my nephews.

But this doesn't replace the full value of the photographs themselves which need to go in a safety deposit box. I’m really fortunate to have these.  I hope the photo rescue was activated after Hurricane Sandy and that they are already mobilized for Moore.

They are bound to be busy.  Climate change debates aside, it is probably no mistake that 69% of global losses from weather-related catastrophes take place in North America.  It has quintupled here over the past three decades.

As a line in the film trailer states – “If you could only see what this means to people.  If you could see their faces when they get back something they thought was completely gone, it will change your life.”

I suspect future generations may be saying that about a lot of things if the current state of gridlock in Congress remains.

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