Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 1, 2012

North Pole and Kokomo

By Ed Vasicek
Tribune columnist

— I was enjoying a cup of coffee when Emil walked into my office.

“Ed,” he called, “What do you think of the North Pole?”

Emil pulled out a clipping. “Let me read you this from Smithsonian magazine:

“‘With 900 million members worldwide and growing, Facebook is building its first European data storage facility — 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. The reason: natural air conditioning. Some Internet “server farms” spend as much to cool the machines as power them.

“‘Facebook’s Nordic operation — which will eventually expand to three 290,000-square-foot buildings, each housing tens of thousands of servers — will save millions of dollars on electricity. Plus, the buildings are designed to capture some heat from the servers and use it to warm employee offices. The estimated cost of building the facilities is more than $700 million. Sweden hopes that construction subsidies and other incentives, including the promise of clean hydropower, will attract more digital companies to a region now being marketed as the “Node Pole”.’”

“So you are thinking that the high tech jobs are going to move north. Is that right?” I asked.

“Yep, and Facebook is a big business. Think about it. Facebook was responsible for the Arab Spring. When your youth group has announcements, how do you communicate it?” he asked.

“On Facebook,” I acquiesced.

“Out of 365 days a year, how many days would you say you check Facebook?” he interrogated.

“Well, at least 350. I might not on Christmas or when I am out of town.”

Emil had made his point.

“Yep,” he replied. “It makes sense for a lot of businesses to head north. Think I should apply up there?”

“No, I think you should stay put,” I offered. “Your job seems secure for now – you could get laid off up there, and then what would you do? Sell ice cubes?”

“Yep, you are right,” he surrendered. “And the Kokomo area is such a fine place to live. Ed, what was that article you were talking about earlier?”

“Here it is: ‘The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) has honored the City of Kokomo with its 2012 Community Achievement Award. Kokomo was selected for increasing the quality of life for its community and the results these investments are producing …

“‘In a time when budgets are tight Kokomo has decided to make itself a more attractive, livable community which has poised them to grow their economy.’”

“Something else bothering you, Emil?” I added.

“Yep, I’m worried because the city is trying to annex our area. The city says taxes are going to go up in both the county and city anyway, and they are capped at 1 percent. Still, the neighbors are worried that this will cost us more down the road.”

“Emil, I’m no expert,” I added. “I’ve never owned a house in my life. And the residents have a right to organize and try to oppose it. I can see both sides. I personally like the amenities that come from being part of a city. I know people sometimes react negatively when they feel like they are being told what to do, even if that is not exactly the way it is.”

“I know what you mean,” Emil added. “One day Elmer was not watching his step; he was about to walk into an open manhole. I yelled, ‘Stop!’ He got mad because I didn’t ask him politely; he kept walking.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“Let me just say he had a subterranean out-of-body experience. It was not a pretty picture.”

I could only say one thing: “Oops.”

• Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.