The Rappaport Time Line (RTL)

Definition: The Rappaport Time Line (RTL) is a way of showing how an individual understands his life or the life of an organization. It shows how the present has grown out of the past, and how the present effects future expectations. When done by a group, like a California Select Joint Sub-Committee, it illustrates differences in perspective - differences that might affect the ability to come to an agreement.

-Concept from Herbert Rappaport, Marking Time, Simon and Schuster, N.Y., 1990.

The California Joint committee on Preparing California for the 21st Century was asked:

What events contribute significantly, or will contribute, to the emerging identity of the State of California?

(These data were collected in September of 2000)

This is a mini-example of the multiple, complex timelines that make up the state. Each of our countless citizen groups has its own future: Oakies who came to California; Mexican immigrant and native Californians of Mexican ancestry; Japanese-Americans who were caught in the internment camps during WWII.

California is an aggregation of ethnic backgrounds, economic structures, neighborhoods in various stages of renovation or decay and so on. The patterns made by the ebb and flow of the migration of people make a big contribution.

Each individual has his or her own story or past. And each has a unique way of bringing these pasts forward to create a future -- a future influenced by things like technology, the digital divide, racism and education.

A great convergence is going on. Multiple factors are making it hard to understand the future and Californians are all bringing radically different timelines to the table.

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