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2009: The year of the total reboot, experts say
By Jamie Sotonoff | Daily Herald Staff

It's going to be trendy to dress dowdy, says David Wolfe, trend forecaster, Doneger Group, with faded colors and melancholy looks. The spring 2009 Marc Jacobs collection is shown here.


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Recycling is good, but upcycling is even better. With upcycling, you are reusing an item so that it doesn't become waste - like these neckties made into a chair.


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President-elect Barack Obama, at a campaign rally with Caroline Kennedy, is a "Cusper" - a Boomer born between 1955 and 1964.


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Published: 12/31/2008 2:06 PM

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What can you say about 2008? It wasn't good.

Most of us are looking toward 2009 with hope of brighter days ahead. Will there be?

Not yet, says renowned trendspotter Marian Salzman.

"2009 is going to be the year we totally reboot," she said. "The system is totally down. It's like the Kennedys as we know them, we're going to reboot with Caroline. The presidency as we know it, we're going to reboot with Obama. And the American city as we know it is over and we're going to reboot with Chicago."

Salzman researched and wrote her 2009 trend predictions in a report titled "Intellect Dialogue: Change is Now," for the Porter Novelli public relations firm. After studying everything from quantitative research reports to Facebook posts, Salzman isn't forecasting any quick fixes to our country's problems. But her predictions do have a few bright spots, such as a return to civility, improvements in health care, and a worldwide appreciation of Chicago.

"First, we have to fix what's broken," she said.

Top 9 trends for 2009

1. Cuspers (people born between 1955 and 1964) take the reins.

The Baby Boomers haven't left us in very good shape, so it's the "Cuspers" to the rescue. Salzman defines a Cusper as someone who's too young to be a Baby Boomer (so they weren't part of the Civil Rights movement or Woodstock) and too old to be a Gen X'er (but relate to the younger generation's high-tech world). This age group will take leadership roles in corporations, government and communities in 2009, Salzman predicts. Cuspers include: Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, Bono and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

2. A return to values.

The age of less-is-more is here. Value will be placed on how people live their life and not on what they own, where they live or what they do for a living.

Luxury is out, and more attention will be paid to corporate behavior and environmental issues, Salzman says. Listen for more consumers to say, "I'm not paying for all those extra features, I just need the basics."

"When your community - the people who matter to you - says it's not cool to say, 'My sport is shopping!' then you stop. The pushback against the over-the-topness is already happening. There's this feeling now that I don't want to be seen as a materialistic person," Salzman says.

The report quotes New York Observer columnist Simon Doonan, who proclaims: "Deep is the new superficial."

3. Taking risks to change health care.

With so much money to be made in this field, change is on the horizon. Personalized medicine, technology and genetic analysis will make medical treatment far more effective, focused and cost-efficient, Salzman predicts.

Money is already being invested in biomedical and genetic enhancement, which some consider "the new space race," the report says. Plus, patents will expire for many brand-name drugs, so cheaper generics are on the way.

Richard Heim, vice president of business development at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, doesn't think we'll see biomedical and genetic enhancement in the suburbs in 2009. But more personalized service and technological advances? Definitely.

Good Samaritan, for example, is making hospital stays more personalized with everything from room service to educational shows related to the patient's condition programmed into their TVs. In terms of technology, Good Samaritan has new, state-of-the-art operating room suites, which among other features, have green lights to help surgeons perform laparoscopic surgery with better accuracy.

"Things are definitely changing," Heim said. "Every day there's a new piece of technology that makes it faster and easier to take care of patients, to diagnose them, and to treat them if necessary."

4. "The Female Economy" rules.

Female shopping habits will be a major factor in getting the world back on its feet, Salzman predicts. The recession has had a profound impact on women, who make most household buying decisions, and they're developing a new perspective on spending, Salzman says.

Women will be the ones who clean up the financial mess left by Baby Boomers and Wall Street, says Marti Barletta, president of the Winnetka-based women's marketing firm, The TrendSight Group.

"This recession will have the kind of impact on women, for decades, like the Depression had on our parents. They were cautious about money. They were cautious about investing with institutions. They were good savers," she said.

Barletta also sees a temporary shift in female shoppers focusing on price over value.

"Normally, they'd buy the gallon of milk because it's a better deal. But now, they're going to buy the quart because it's less expensive and they're living hand to mouth," Barletta said.

5. A fundamental "reboot" of the basic systems that drive the world's economies and societies.

Just like a computer reboot, it means starting the system fresh and figuring out what caused the crash in the first place.

"Rebooting isn't about getting everything back to the status quo, it's about moving toward a smarter status quo with a new understanding of what's desirable, what's possible, and what needs changing," Salzman writes in the report.

The upshot is that it will create opportunities to think of things - self, community business, government and the world - in a new way.

6. Developing early warning systems.

Learning from tragedies like the Northern Illinois University shootings, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, technology will be used to develop more early warning systems.

Already, many suburbs are using a system that calls people on cell phones and land lines to warn them of dangers around them, such as tornadoes or terrorist attacks.

Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency said there are also a growing number of homes and schools equipped with NOAA All Hazard Weather Radios, which sits silent unless there's an alert in the area.

7. Chicago is the center of the universe.

Forget about Blago. Salzman's trend report hails our Midwestern values and multiethnic big city as the place of the future.

"L.A. is very out," Salzman said. "The president doesn't go home to Kennebunkport, or to Crawford Texas, but to a neighborhood in Chicago."

It's not our museums or lakefront, though. It's the people.

We outdo the general population in helping social causes, might be tapped to host the 2016 Olympics, and are home base for powerful people like Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Hillary Clinton (a Park Ridge native) and others, Salzman says.

Chicago Office of Tourism spokeswoman Karen Vaughan agrees that Chicago is hot right now.

"Chicago is definitely growing in terms of international attention," she said.

8. Living in your "Third Place."

It's not work, and it's not home. Your "Third Place" is your personal den of 21st century media (your choices of Web sites, blogs, DVDs, etc.) where you retreat from the world, connect with people, explore, learn, have fun or fantasize. A big appeal of the Third Place is that it's free and accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

"It's going to be a parallel universe," Salzman said. "We're going to see an explosion. As we spend less time shopping, it's only logical we'd look for other places to be."

9. Less privacy.

In a world of tell-all social networking sites, Google Earth, YouTube, closed-circuit TV cameras and Internet use tracking, privacy is a fleeting thing.

"It's a redefining thing," Salzman said. "It's harder and harder and people are more and more willing to let privacy go."