On the morning of Nov. 8, I wrote my predictions for the U.S. presidential election on a white sheet of paper, much the way former Meet the Press host Tim Russert used to do on a low-tech hand-held white board. Then I posted it on Instagram.
As you can see here, I gave Hillary 324 electoral college votes and Donald 214. I went all in and predicted the Democrats would ride Hillary’s coattails to take back the Senate too.
The only doubts I had were about the totals – would Hillary take more states than Obama had in 2012? Could she take Florida and North Carolina from Donald? It never once occurred to me that I had the outcome wrong, just the details of how she would win.
So sure was I, that I laid a bunch of online bets with the good folks at Bodog.eu, picking Hillary to win Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Iowa on her way to the White House.
As you may have heard from your favourite news outlet, that’s not exactly how it went that day and night. Hillary lost the election, and I lost every bet I made. Rather than make more lousy predictions about what it all means and why so many were so wrong, I’ll settle for this: It’s damn hard to predict the future.
You don’t have to tell that to Richard Sifton. The head of London’s most famous builders of homes and offices, he is keenly aware of the pitfalls of betting on the future. But Sifton Properties has been doing that since 1923, so he’s not about to stop trying to figure out how people will want to live and work in the coming decades.
His boldest bet right now is West 5, a 70-acre development in London’s booming west end. As you can read in this month’s Business London cover story, he is using technology – some not yet invented or perfected – to build a community based, ironically, on neighbourhoods of the past. He wants to recreate the close-knit nature of communities from 50 years ago. The difference is the entire project will be as close to energy independent as he and his team can make it.
Every residential, commercial and office building will be designed for maximum energy efficiency, much of it powered by an array of next-generation solar panels that will deliver electricity back to the provincial grid for much of the year. It’s about much more than solar panels, however, and one of Sifton’s jobs now and in the coming years will be to educate buyers and renters about the unique aspects of the project.
“We’re trying something for the first time,” he says. “A lot of these elements have been used elsewhere, but we’re bringing them together for the first time.”
It’s a fascinating project with the potential to affect developments across the country because designers and developers are paying close attention to everything Sifton does at West 5.