Spokane Teachers Credit Union celebrated its 70th anniversary last fall by burying a time capsule on the grounds of its main branch.
The time capsule-an aluminum canister 13 inches in diameter by 37 inches long-was filled with items designed to honor STCU's past and provide a glimpse of the credit union at 70 to its future staff and members. It is to be opened Oct. 4, 2034, on the CU's 100th anniversary.
Contents included a 1938 book on credit unions signed by Ernie McElvain, the founder of STCU, the credit union's 2004 mission and vision statement, a proclamation from the board of directors congratulating the staff of 2034 for reaching 100 years, photos from all branches, a DVD of current television commercials, a home loan rate sheet, marketing plan, a copy of the local newspaper, the Spokesman-Review, from Oct. 20, 2004, the date the capsule was buried, and numerous other items.
Susan Cerutti-Jensen, STCU's public relations manager and the organizer of the effort, told The Credit Union Journal why the time capsule also contained items as disparate as a brick, a $50 bill, a William Hung CD and a "rubber chicken" t-shirt from a local high school.
CUJ: Why did the credit union decide to do a time capsule?
Cerutti-Jensen: To tell you the truth, I dreamt it up (laughing). It was our 70th anniversary, and we wanted something fun and unique. We wanted something the community would find interesting. We wanted the people who were celebrating our 100th anniversary to enjoy this. Who knows, maybe I'll still be working for the credit union and I'll be there to enjoy it.
CUJ: How did you go about choosing exactly what would go in the capsule?
Cerutti-Jensen: I asked the heads of each of our departments to select items. For example, human resources put in a copy of our personal appearance and dress code policy for 2004. Because, in another 30 years, who knows how people will be dressing. The DVD of our TV commercials was from our marketing department. A lot of it was about honoring our roots, and our roots go back to Lewis & Clark High School, where we were founded. We invited the school's ASB president to participate, and she put in a school t-shirt with a rubber chicken on it.
CUJ: What is the story behind the brick?
Cerutti-Jensen: Terri Wilson, our vice president of operations, put in the brick to symbolize our past, present and future foundation as a growing, not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative.
CUJ: Why a $50 bill?
Cerutti-Jensen: The public relations department thought of that, because the new $50 bill made its debut in 2004.
CUJ: William Hung's "Inspiration" CD?
Cerutti-Jensen: It was a spoof. We thought we'd put in music from today just for fun, and William Hung certainly was an icon from 2004.
CUJ: What were some of the other items you and the staff felt were most symbolic or meaningful?
Cerutti-Jensen: We put in Washington CEO Magazine's 12th annual Best Companies to Work For edition, because STCU was ranked No. 2 in our category. There was a celebratory cowbell, because each time we rescue a loan from another financial institution, we ring a bell.
We put in our business services guide because we started our business services department a couple of years ago and really have been putting a lot of emphasis on that.
Our accounting department did some 2034 projections, but those were more for fun. We also did scenarios for 2010 that were more of an attempt to make real predictions.
Our CEO, Steve Dahlstrom, put in "The Five Temptations of a CEO: A Leadership Fable" by Patrick M. Lencioni, because that was a book he recently read. Finally, there was STU the antenna ball: a purple ball with our logo, a graduation cap.
CUJ: Where is it buried?
Cerutti-Jensen: It is at our main branch, which is the first one we opened. It is buried underground in a landscaping area. We place a huge rock on top of it, and the rock has a plaque with an inscription: "Our Story: Memories worth preserving, October 2004. A bell, a shoebox, $4,000 in assets. It might not sound like much, but for a Lewis & Clark High School English teacher named Ernie McElvain, it was enough to launch Spokane Teachers Credit Union and a remarkable story of financial service.
From these humble beginnings we've never forgotten, as a not-for-profit financial cooperative, that our most valuable assets are our members. Today we celebrate 70 years of success by burying a time capsule to be opened on our 100th anniversary in October 2034. We thank our members and employees for helping embrace our mission of people helping people."
CUJ: How have you left instructions for it to be opened?
Cerutti-Jensen: Thirty years from now, my folder on the event will no longer be around, so we worked with the facilities manager to identify the placement in the blueprints, since we figure they will survive. And, it is well marked. We always want to know that it exists.