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David Zach is one of the few professionally trained futurists on this planet, having earned a master’s degree in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Of course, this was way back in the 1980s, so it's pretty much history by now. Since then, Dave has worked with over 1400 associations, corporations and colleges offering insights on the personal and professional impact of strategic trends. In other words, he gives funny and thought-provoking keynote speeches on the future of technology, economics, business, education, demographics and society.

He reads a lot – and he reads a lot more about the past than he does about the future. He knows that change is vital but it's also overrated and in this time of tumultuous change, it's far more important that we find the things that don't change and shouldn't change. Tradition and change are really choices, and we are only prepared to choose wisely when we look far and wide for causes, implications and lasting value.

Dave has only had two real jobs; one with Northwestern Mutual and the other with Johnson Controls in the roles of environmental scanning and strategic planning. Along the way, he taught Future Studies in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Since 1987, he mostly sits and read everything he can and then designs fascinating presentations that leave people either engaged in vivid conversations or quietly reflecting on what it all means. He gives talks about 50 times a year and really wishes he would write more. He is the author of two books so far.

Dave is on the board of the American Institute of Architects and on the board of the American Chesterton Society. In December 2012, he received an AIAS Presidential Citation from the American Institute of Architecture Students. Past activities include: Wisconsin Small Business Development Center Advisory Council, AIA-WI Board, Future Milwaukee Advisory Board, Community Advisory Board for NPR station WUWM, board member of eInnovate, member of the downtown Rotary Club of Milwaukee, and chairman of the Goals for Greater Milwaukee 2000 Education Committee.

Along with a fascination for design, Dave also has a fascination with past artistry and images — and this has become a signature feature of his slide deck. The slides look like they might have been made in the early decades of the last century. He uses almost exclusively illustrations from the 1920s & 30s, some of which he has from licensed image disks. Many of them have been found in antique stores where he's hunted for classic images that are in the public domain, representing people, technology and the various signals of life that can reflect upon our own experiences in this time. Again, a recurring theme in Dave's work is that futuristic doesn't just mean the new stuff, it's also the timeless stuff.

Along with a fascination for design, Dave also has a fascination with past artistry and images — and this has become a signature feature of his slide deck. The slides look like they might have been made in the early decades of the last century. He uses almost exclusively illustrations from the 1920s & 30s, some of which he has from licensed image disks. Many of them have been found in antique stores where he's hunted for classic images that are in the public domain, representing people, technology and the various signals of life that can reflect upon our own experiences in this time. Again, a recurring theme in Dave's work is that futuristic doesn't just mean the new stuff, it's also the timeless stuff.
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The comet symbol that Dave has used in various forms was inspired by the comet symbol for the Chicago World's Fair of 1933. That fair, along with the New York World's Fair in 1939, were profoundly important events in the history of the future. In many ways, these were the first times that we as a society really looked at the future as something that we could affect and shape into what we hoped it would be. Everything from suburbs, freeways, refrigerators in every home and even trips to the moon were on the lips and minds of everyone who attended these fairs. These were events of unlimited optimism; of finally shedding the past and reinventing possibility and imagination. Oddly enough, we achieved a lot of what we had imagined — and we're not happy about it. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it. It's also a poignant reminder to think far and wide about the implications of choices because you own those implications and they will follow you, sometimes they will haunt you and the generations not yet born.

There's also a family story attached to the comet. When I was a boy, my grandfather told me of when he was a boy, and how all the talk in 1910 was of the coming of Haley's Comet. Of course, lots of fortunetellers said the comet was going to bring the end of the world. That sort of prediction can capture the attention of a ten year old. On the night the comet would finally be visible, he was sitting on the log pile with his father and they were looking up at the night sky. He asked his father if the comet was going to be the end of the world — and his father, my great grandfather, smoked his pipe for a while, then moved over and put his arm around the boy and said, "No. I don't think so. Not yet." It's rather nice that fathers can have that role, to tell children in words and in deeds that there will be a tomorrow. (My book, Worth Remembering: The Future Value of Old Ideas has lots of quotations about the futuristic role of parents, grandparents in the lives of children.)

Art deco is a design style that held sway in the early decades of the last century. It articulated much of what was emerging in those times: technological competence, cultural confidence and an artistic aesthetic that merged old with new, artistry with science and the future with the past. In some ways it was a break from the past, and in other ways, it was the first global perspective, taking inspiration from everywhere it could find it; Egyptian, Byzantium, Mayan, Aztec, Incan, Japanese, American Indian – all of these contributed an aesthetic to the art deco movement.

Wikipedia has a broad and deep explanation of the art deco style.

Here's an article I wrote about art deco architecture in Milwaukee, and here's one that was written about my home and art deco collection.

Chicago Art Deco Society is a local art deco group that offers tours and lectures.

A nice site that gives you a visual taste of art deco architecture is DecoPix.

Dave's on the board of the American Chesterton Society, a literary society dedicated to the revival and renaissance of the works of one of the great writers of the early 20th century. There was a time when most every school child and certainly most every adult in England or the United States might have read him, but he was almost forgotten by the modern decades. The author of over 80 books and over 4000 newspaper columns, he wrote about everything and wrote well. His poetry was recited by soldiers in the trenches of WWI. Considered by many to one of the great Catholic apologists, he was loved by Protestant and Jewish theologians — and even atheists. (There's a great story about C. S. Lewis, who was an atheist until he read Chesterton, and is quoted as saying, "A committed atheist cannot be too careful on which books he reads.) George Bernard Shaw and Chesterton constantly battled it out in debates but they were the best of friends. Upon Chesterton's death in 1936, Shaw said, "The world is not thankful enough for G. K. Chesterton."

The renaissance for Chesterton's work is going strong. There's an entertaining and thought-provoking television show on EWTN called The Apostle of Common Sense that's just starting its seventh season. Many books have been published in recent years about the man and his work. Three favorites are The Apostle of Common Sense (based on the TV series) by Dale Ahlquist, Common Sense 101, also by Dale, and Wisdom and Innocence, a Chesterton biography by Joseph Pearce. To learn more, visit The American Chesterton Society website.