2020 Vision Part 2: Education, Homes, Crime

(In 1994, a team of Redding journalists produced a series of stories that attempted to predict life in Redding in the year 2020. This is the second of three articles looking at just how accurate that crystal ball was.)

In 1994, the intoxicating effects of technology were hitting folks like the third round from a frat house keg. The iMac was still four years out, but personal computers were popping up in homes like skinny steel ottomans and the internet was still more like an interesting house guest than obnoxious door-to-door salesman.

The R-S team found educators in unison about what they saw in Redding schools in 2020: Computers, specialization, computers, technology and, well, computers. And now, in 2020, it looks like those educators had done their homework — at least about the future.

One Shasta County early childhood educator predicted children as young as 3 or 4 dipping their toes into the school system with kindergarten-like classes preparing them for later academics. While sounding crazy for 1994, it won’t be radical in 2020, she said. And it’s not.

Today, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is riding that train as well, allocating nearly $32 million in his next proposed budget for all-day preschool in some areas. The kids, they are a-starting younger, just as the experts in 1994 predicted.

The Vision 2020 stories also quoted educators who predicted computers becoming a common denominator in virtually (no pun intended) all classrooms. They saw “notebook-sized computers and wristwatch-sized devices” supplanting book bags. And “wireless infra-red and microwave networking will replace the cables,” said one. Well, hello, Wi-Fi.

One high school principal envisioned more “connections with the real world” such as internships for students. He saw students spending part of their day at a hospital or similar future employer.


Boulder Creek Elementary School.

The stories described the newly built Boulder Creek Elementary School in east Redding, that was wired for the future. It included what was then “space age inventions” like classroom lights that go on when someone walks into the room and off when it’s empty. Or computers scattered throughout the library and classrooms. Indeed, some of the youngest students at Boulder Creek enjoy a stable of Chromebooks to learn on today. As the newest school in the Redding Elementary district, it was building the future into its own walls.

VTech Video Baby Monitor

Homes of the future

The R-S team and its experts stayed on the technology track in predicting homes of the future.

Wayne Gunnel, a city of Redding building inspector, saw most homes having a “computer that serves as a video telephone, fax machine and interactive television” to shop with. Soon, he said, we will have the ability to shop by computer. And it will control the home’s temperature and lighting, using software to conserve energy and save money. Not bad for something that was barely off the drawing board in 1994.

Other experts saw outlets in every room for computers, phones and faxes. Funny, the folks of 1994 had a romance with faxing that they thought would be a long-term marriage into 2020. How many of us have fax machines now? Didn’t think so.

Samsung fax machine from the late 1990s. Photo by Jonnyt at English Wikipedia.

Here’s a bit of good news — one prediction that went thankfully wrong. Based on historical home price appreciation, some real estate experts predicted the average home price in 2020 would top $850,000. More luxurious pads would top $1 million and one-bedroom apartments would go for $1,709 per month. (It isn’t clear why that rent payment was that specific).

Bracelet électronique.JPG from Wikimedia Commons by Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Crime in 2020

Let’s hope you’re buckled tightly into the DeLorean by now, because this is where the Vision 2020 stories veered off the highway. The experts’ predictions about crime — or lack of it — in 2020 ran farther off the rails than vintage Lindsay Lohan. The romance with technology turned into a full-scale orgy in 2020.

The project spun the story of parents in 2020 whose newborn carried a gene determined by scientists to make people violent. But, rather than watching their child to grow up to tattoo his entire face and change his name to “Beast,” they opted for “fairly minor” surgery to reprogram the kid and swap out the bad-boy genes with good. Oh, and they opted to shell out a bit more cash at the time and add a locator chip as a hedge against future kidnapping.

Yep, not far off on that one. But it gets better.

Experts in 1994 saw a 2020 with law enforcement bolstered by technology. Redding’s jails have no walls because prisoners have “electronic bracelets that stun then when they wander a fixed distance.” Their sentences are programmed into the bracelets. Auto thefts in 2020 would be rare because newer vehicles have built-in computers that shut down an engine on command. Older models have trackers fixed to the frames.

Best of all, some envisioned a way to prevent violent criminals and sex offenders from reoffending once released: A “chemical packet” would be implanted in their bodies after the first offense. “The device would sense if the person is going into a rage and discharge a chemical to balance their chemistry.”

See, the answers were out there in 1994 all along.

What do you think? What does Redding 2045 look like and how should we get there? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Next: What about 2045?

Click here to see 2020 Vision Part 1: Growth, Economy, Transportation

Click here to see 2020 Vision Part 3: The Good News and Bad About the River; Now Back to the Future


Click here for the 2020 Vision links. 

Greg Clark is a longtime Redding resident. He is a former journalist and the retired Redding deputy city manager.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    After six years of subbing the economy had picked up and SUHSD hired me as a custodian in 1993. As part of their technology push the district made loans available to the employees to purchase home computers. I instantly signed up and purchased a top of the line system for slightly over $3,000, I was told it was so advanced I would never need another computer, HAH.
    I rented a 1200 sq ft home in Anderson for $525 a month and raised a family plus had room for an exchange student and an aged out Foster kid. In 1999 I purchased that house for $99,000. Compare that to those that soon had to have McMansions to raise smaller families than I did.
    In 2006 I sold that house for $300,000, retired and fled to Nebraska just ahead of the collapse of the housing bubble that never hit Nebraska because the Cornhusker state did not have the impossible rise in housing prices like other states.
    Crime in Redding was starting to show it’s face as there were a few car jackings that had taken place in Redding and the aggressive panhandlers had just started to pop up, but that seemed to be limited to Redding.
    Oh, and I never even heard of Bethel Church.

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’m far from being a Luddite, but so far I’ve resisted fortifying my house with high-tech security gizmos (web-based video, digital door locks, etc.). Nor have I purchased a digital “brain” for the house (“Alexa, turn the heat up to 68 degrees and put Wimbledon on the TV.”)

    I want to ask if others have adopted these technologies, and if so, what do you think? Lifestyle enhancers? Just more costly gear to feed the tech leviathan? But somehow I don’t think the ANC crowd is where I’ll get the answers.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      My high tech home defense is a German Shepherd.

    • Avatar Tyler Cifu Shuster says:

      I live in the city proper and I’ve got quite a few high-tech gizmos, incuding a video doorbell and a digital lock, and outlets that I can control with my phone. I use “the Apple ecosystem.” I trust Apple more than Google or Amazon not to sell my data, as they’ve staked quite a bit on being a protector of privacy and they have the tech credentials to prove it. But other than my phone which is listening all the time anyway, I don’t have any devices that are always on like the Google Home or Alexa.

      I do feel a little odd about the Ring video doorbell that I have, given Amazon’s history but my reasoning goes like this: I have thick walls that it can’t hear through, being mounted on the front porch. At worst if the device is surveilling and recording constantly, it will have a video feed of a school administration building and a couple porch plants.

      I use all the devices I have every day and they’re definitely “Lifestyle enhancers.” They may also be costly gear to feed the tech leviathan, but at $30 for a wifi outlet so I can turn on the back yard lights when the dog goes out to poop instead of installing a switch between the garage and the house, I’d say it’s worth it to me.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I admit to being intrigued by Apple HomeKit. At some point maybe I’ll dig up some reviews that compares the Apple platform to Google’s and Amazon’s platforms. But I’ve been an Apple guy since my college days…..and that’s one hell of a long time.

    • Avatar Tyler Cifu Shuster says:

      I’ve done what you said: I have a digital lock, a video doorbell, and a home hub based around an Apple TV. I’ll get a internet-enabled thermostat fairly soon.

      They’re not necessary and definitely “lifestyle enhancers.” But I use Apple for most of the devices, and they’ve staked a lot on not selling my data. They make their money by charging a lot for devices. I do feel a little weird about Amazon’s Ring doorbell but I think it’s fine for my situation: in town directly across from a school admin building.

      Some might just be expensive tech gizmos, but $30 for a smart outlet that turns on the light in the back yard instead of running a switch from the garage to the house is worth it to me.

  3. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    I’m looking forward to all the electronic gadgets to be obsolete and re-placed by us mortals simply talking and thinking between our brains, that’ll elimnate all that chatter between us ‘Chatty Cathies’. And for sure I see a UC Redding campus up and running by 2045; that’ll create an educated populace, reduce crime which will insure a kind and gentle group of North State folks.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I *really* hate to say it, but I think Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry expanding to become Bethel University is a far more likely outcome by 2045 than UC Redding.

  4. Greg, I’ve always loved your writing style; so clean and clever and interesting, and I’m really enjoying this series, and having you, the holder of the R-S’s institutional knowledge.

    I so appreciate this conversation that allows us to remember the past, inspect the present and weigh in on the future.

    Thank you!

  5. Avatar Jist Cuz says:


  6. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Computers. You can’t live without them and you can’t shoot them. Well, actually, that last part’s not true.

  7. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    The first two computer class jobs I earned in Redding; the first for the Redding School District summer school, and the second at a middle school provided computers but no software. Or materials. This was before the internet. I begged and borrowed software from former customers Computer Place, and managed it make it work somehow. Later, at a secondary school in Shasta County I was handed technology and expected to figure it all out on my own time and integrate what worked into a 5 class a day schedule that how little time for experimentation. In the evenings I was supposed to investigate interesting new programs for various subject area, and present materials about the usefullness of programs based on the multi layered advertising holes in which I would find myself. I went to a training seminar for a new technology where we were expected to spend our time writing lesson plans the compnay hosting the conference could market to clients.
    Two things working well….graphing calculators and trigonomety and calculus programs, and reading programs based on exercises to increase brain processing speeds. I’m sure teachers now have the training to use the new technology to increase student learning in everyway.

  8. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    I love your articles Greg! Thank you so much.
    It’s interesting to take a look at all the changes in the last 20 years.

  9. Avatar Bethany Chamberlain says:

    Great series! Thank you.

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