The immediate future

May 28, 2012

As far as I can tell, Habitat for Humanity does great work in the Seattle area and elsewhere. A vivid example came at this weekend’s Northwest Folklife Festival, where, in a brilliantly simple activity, the Seattle Habitat group helped festival-goers make bricks to be used in the construction of a “House of the Immediate Future.” Below is Phil doing his part.

Phil working on a non-Lego brick

I love the phrase “House of the Immediate Future,” which seems to poke fun at the “…of the Future” items often touted by world’s fairs and science fiction. (Folklife is held in the shadow of Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum and the Space Needle; the latter was created for the 1962 World’s Fair, whose 50th anniversary we are celebrating this year.) I imagine the underlying sentiment to be, “Yeah, all of that futuristic stuff is cool, but we have serious housing problems right now that can be addressed with current technology, a little bit of money, and some elbow grease.”

The reference to the “Immediate Future” was also amusing in reminding me of the film Time Chasers, which was filmed in the Rutland, Vermont area, where I grew up. I saw an early cut of it (at a point when it was still known as Tangents) at “First Night Rutland” back in the early ’90s. Much more recently, Joe Creighton lent me the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 DVD in which Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo ridicule this low-budget time-travel adventure. “Oh my gosh — they’ve transported themselves THREE YEARS into the future!” exclaims one of them in mock astonishment as the circa-1991 scenery of Rutland, VT is replaced by a circa-1991 mall in Burlington, VT.

The immediate future may not be as exciting to contemplate as the distant future, but it’s more recognizable, more certain, and more directly moldable. Kudos to Habitat for working on the here-and-now, one non-futuristic house at a time.

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