Prediction Infliction

an uneducated guess at what we’ll be talking about in 2015

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

Well, here you are. Reading this at a time when most people love to look back over the past year, quietly reflecting on what has come to pass. The highs. The lows. The halfway-between-high-and-lows. It’s a time for introspection. A time to plum one’s soul for the jewels of wisdom gathered along they way. To which I say, “Who cares?”

Let’s look forward! Using a combination of insider info, crystal ballery, Brazilian voodoo, and complex thought experiments, I have formulated what I believe to be some of the more likely (and noteworthy) local occurrences of 2015. See what you think. In one year’s time, if none of these things happen, you have my sincerest apologies and shruggiest shoulder shrugs.

Having emerged from last year’s controversy and referendums, the Confluence Project found itself on a clearer path, with construction beginning in late 2014 on the Haymarket Landing building. Now the project’s art center component must be fully designed and funded. In early 2015, in lieu of a green light for the arts center, the stakeholders approve the construction of large steel box, to be filled with the city’s hopes and dreams for a sustainable, arts-based boost to the local economy – which will then be sealed, locked, and buried on the riverfront until the project moves forward.

Late in the year, Eau Claire will look up to find itself completely surrounded by Altoona, who then uses its strategic, loopular location to regulate the larger city’s flow of resources, exacting steep fees to move people and goods across its borders.

Next year, the Eau Claire Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department will work to extend various sections of our local bike trails. Inspired by a recent push from locals to plant an “edible forest” on city property (producing both gorgeous scenery and actual food), Parks & Rec will construct “edible bike paths,” utilizing the latest in fruit strip technology. The tasty new trails will provide superior traction for bicyclists and pedestrians while also providing a nutritious, anytime snack. The city will hold a number of public input sessions to discuss flavor options, such as wild strawberry, juicy watermelon, and orange-vanilla dreamsicle. (Savory options such as basil-ginger-fig with pine nuts are not out of the question.) The fruity asphalt can also be infused with a vegetable puree, delivering higher levels of vitamins, calcium, and iron – literally paving the way to a healthier city.

In the fall of 2015, the Chippewa Valley Museum will unleash an additional permanent display to its already revamped exhibit space: The Valley 2000. In the exhibit, exciting (one-eighth scale) dioramas approximate what life was like in the Chippewa Valley from 2003 to 2010. Notable features include animatronic (one-eighth scale) construction workers building the Waterford project and thousands of (one-eighth scale) vehicles – shown as they are diverted from Hastings Way to the newly opened Highway 53 Bypass. One diorama, called “When Bon Iver Got So Big,” includes audio, video, and a (one-eighth scale) cabin in the woods. Another part of the exhibit focuses on how west-central Wisconsin was affected by the iPod.

As national media clamored to use the phrase “lumber sexual” as much as possible in 2014, the rest of the country – believing it was an actual thing worthy of conversation – clamored to make fun of it or just scoff in disgust. Meanwhile, most Wisconsinites simply responded, “You mean people wanna grow a beard and dress like Uncle Martin? That’s for real?” But in 2015 the pseudo-trend will launch not one, but three reality TV shows: Ice Fishing Wars, The Cheddar Boss, and Drinkin’ with the Knutsens. Despite their well-flannelled, full-bearded stars, the shows prove to be heinous wastes of time and money.

In 2015, as Eau Claire continues to focus on sexy development projects in the heart of the city (like performing arts centers and parking ramps), Altoona – our quiet, unassuming eastern neighbor – uses the distraction to its advantage, extending their already awesome River Prairie developments further and further around the city. Late in the year, Eau Claire will look up to find itself completely surrounded by Altoona, who then uses its strategic, loopular location to regulate the larger city’s flow of resources, exacting steep fees to move people and goods across its borders. Altoona markets the land acquisition as “a neighborly hug,” while Eau Claire calls it an “awkward, unsettling embrace.”

And finally, after the wild success of the Justin Vernon-curated Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival, a slew of other local events attempt to replicate the formula, rebranding their festivals with barely pronounceable names sure to confuse most attendees. So in 2015, we can expect to have tons of fun at Taste of Eaux Claires; Rhojk Feste; Country Jam, Country Jam; Ch’alk’fest; and the Elevax Hroiler Festivale.

Well, that’s all I can predict for 2015. Sit back, relax, and see what the future holds.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.