I had a dream the other night: a dream in which I was walking through a city — DC, presumably, as that’s what it felt like. Except I saw it in the future when the city had become (as all are now) more residential, filled with hip GenXers and bright-eyed, collegial Millenials. A city alive, vibrant, re-energized and with all the extra zing, color and shapes that are possible in dreams.
In my dream, there was a particular image that struck me, resonated. It was an apartment building: a particular type of apartment building. The apartment was a high-end, positioned in the best of the best spots in the city. Night time. Streets filled with happy people. A good feeling in the air.
This particular apartment building wasn’t just any building where any-ol’-anyone could rent. It was marked SATURN, and in this building lived only and exclusively employees of Saturn. The city was filled with such buildings: amenity-rich, decked-out and top-of-the-line places designed specifically for the employees of a particular company. In this future I saw, this type of apartment buildings had become “the thing.” They had become a part of the economy, the job market, a recruiting tool.
See, rather than providing salaries that put just cash (lovely as it is) into the pockets of employees, companies had crafted worlds in which their employees were treated as special, where they were protected and bathed in the focused affluence and comfort of their employers who held these employees as very dear.
Think about it from a generational lens: the generation of Millennial young adults was brought into the world during a surge of “Baby on Board” stickers announcing their parents’ precious cargo; they were lovingly watched over in monitored playgroups as toddlers; resources for education surged during their years in elementary, then middle and high school; playgrounds were made safer; programming for kids exploded as an industry and, in general, the world of adults turned attention, time, money and effort toward ensuring that this particular generation would not be like the one that preceded it.
Why would it be any different when they are the dominant generation in young adulthood? It won’t be. Their young adulthood years will be a continuation of the focus and care of adults and institutions, and that is how the cycle goes.