What the Hilton Head Institute Means to Me … and to My Grandchildren

By Jim Allhusen, Vice Chair, Hilton Head Institute

We all know that life today feels so much differently than the lives of our parents and grandparents.  While earlier generations had a pretty clear view of the future, life today feels far less certain – with everything happening now, “in real time”– and with far less predictability than ever before.  Gone are the days where futures could be confidently mapped out, as in previous generations.  The world is in a state of constant change, and things are happening today that we wouldn’t have ever predicted --  leaving not only our generation, but future generations, to lose that clear view of the future that our parents and grandparents experienced.  

Like many people of my generation, I am caught between the clear view of the future that my parents and grandparents had … and the more uncertain view of the world as seen through the eyes of my children and grandchildren.  Yes, technology has been a big part of this change and how we live our lives today, but it’s more than that.  Our entire world view is changing.  Our societal values are changing.  Our economy, our education system, our healthcare system are all changing.  Yes, change is good.  But what is all of this change going to mean to our children and grandchildren: how will they view the world and their place in it?  What will it take for them to thrive in the continuously fast-paced and “real time” decades to come?  What are the issues that we should be talking now to help shape a better future for those generations?  What can/should we be doing today to help positively impact the lives of our children and grandchildren – and how can we help them better understand, and find a place in, this new and ever-changing world?   

Those were some of the questions on my mind as I retired and came to live full-time on Hilton Head Island last year.  Our family has come here for over thirty years, and we love this place!.  This was our home away from home as our international career caused us to live and work in very exotic places around the world.  But this is where we came to think of as our permanent home, and how our dream to live here full-time has come true. I love everything about Hilton Head Island – the Lowcountry environment, the weather (well, most of the time anyway), its beaches, its beautiful golf courses,  its restaurants … and, most importantly, its people. 

What I excitedly realized soon after retiring to Hilton Head Island, though, was that the Island was home to some of the most “intellectually curious” people I have ever met.  People who, like me, were asking the big questions about our world, our future … and what life is going to be like for our future generations.  I found myself having fascinating and thought-provoking conversations with people who didn’t necessarily all share the same world views that I had, but who all shared a common goal:  to “dig deeper” into today’s most important issues in order to make a positive impact on future generations.  I embraced these enlightened – and courageous – conversations … and knew that I wanted more.  And, I quickly found out, so did a lot of other people.

And so, the Hilton Head Institute was created, launched … and continues to evolve into a major draw for our area for those seeking a place to live that is as intellectually stimulating as it is invigorating and beautiful.

To me, being part of the Hilton Head Institute has made the already near-perfect Hilton Head Island even more perfect.  The Institute has already brought together so many intellectually curious Lowcountry residents and visitors ... and we’re just getting started.  There are so many issues to explore, so many big questions to be asked and so many conversations to challenge, engage and enlighten us all.  Yes, it’s a different world than the one known by our parents and grandparents.  But, to me, an organization like the Hilton Head Institute makes me more confident about understanding the future that we’ll be leaving to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the many years to come.  I look forward to learning and to continuing those courageous conversations.