Living in a Company Town

February 16, 2021

From Sidewalk Labs to Nevada's tech governments, companies are the next frontier of city building. Although intended to be innovation hubs, such cities are nothing new. In fact, I've lived in one.

I spent my high school years living in Germany with the US military. My house was off-base, but I shopped, attended school, and made friends within the American military community.

The army served as both employer and de facto local government.

My father's employment ended up touching -- and in some cases controlling -- every aspect of my life.

When the military prioritized something, the results were usually great. We had access to the best gyms and every American food. Both the schools and the command incentivized travel, and everyone took advantage.

Along with its perks, the community entrenched employment hierarchy. The higher your rank in the army, the better your house. Generals' and colonels' wives would routinely pull rank in the local spouse's club.

But what happens you fall out of favor?

What happens when your town loses profitability or is no longer worth the investment?

As a member of my high school's penultimate graduating class, I've seen my home disappear.

We already tie so much of our identity to our work. Do we need to wrap up even more of our lives with our employer?

What could we do differently?


© 2020 Connor Daly