The Next Idea

The Next Idea is Michigan Radio's new project devoted to the new innovations and ideas that will change our state. Each week on this page, Michigan's most creative and visionary leaders will share their best ideas for making innovation happen and how to move the state forward. Starting with essays posted here, the conversations will continue on Stateside with Cynthia Canty and with you on social media and in the comments section below each piece. Share your ideas, tell us about the cool things happening around you and the people we should talk to next.

Support for The Next Idea comes from The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Click here to learn more about the MEDC

Is this the end of marriage, capitalism, and God?

Jun 27, 2016
FLICKR USER JIM BAUER/FLICKR / HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/91DHSU

The Next Idea

 

The next big thing isn’t a clever gadget or miracle drug, it’s a way of life -- not a breakthrough invention but a social innovation.

 

Wish you were more creative? Try taking a walk

Jun 20, 2016
With exercises and effort, anyone can train their brain to be more creative, says Dr. David Fessell.
Flickr/vaXzine

The Next Idea

What is the mental fuel for innovation? What internal power plant do we tap into?

Creativity. It drives innovation, collaboration, and in many cases, success. It involves everything from the everyday creativity of the hard­working woman who figures out how to make a pound of hamburger feed her family for a week, to the genius-­level creativity of Steve Jobs.

The International Symbol of Access
wikimedia user Ltljltlj / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0 / Public Domain

The Next Idea

Each month, the State of Michigan releases unemployment numbers, which are seen as a major indicator of the state’s economic health. One subset of these numbers is often overlooked — the employment levels for people with disabilities.

Michigan and other states struggle with the challenge of employing people in this group. The discrepancy is significant. As of March 2016, the national unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 4.9%. For people with disabilities, it was more than double that figure. Perhaps even more indicative of the challenge is the gap in the labor force participation rate of nearly 69% for people without disabilities, and almost 20% for people with disabilities.

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Twitter @JeffDeGraff

The Next Idea

Six presidential campaigns later I’ve still got Bill Clinton’s iconic 1992 slogan running through my head: It’s the economy, stupid.

But it’s not the economy that I’m thinking about -- it’s the corporate relocation that’s on my mind.

What was so effective about Clinton’s irresistible one-liner is the way it redirected American attention.

Flickr user Newman University/Flickr

The Next Idea

Hundreds of leaders have descended upon Mackinac Island for the Mackinac Policy Conference this week. Their aim is to explore solutions to Michigan’s problems, and education across the state has been a big talking point.

One of those leaders is Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

Cass Adair

The Next Idea

In 2007, 10 foundations came together and put together a $100 million fund. The New Economic Initiative recapitalized in 2014 with an additional $33.5 million. They have investments in non-profits and companies that can employ others.

The NEI has served grants to 4,400 client companies. It has helped develop 1,600 new companies; 40 of those companies were created by people of color and about one-third of them by women. Pamela Lewis is director of the New Economic Initiative.

markbwavy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Climate change presents one of the biggest problems we have ever faced. It is literally as large as our planet. We must take action to address it or its consequences will intensify, growing more costly and increasingly affecting us all.

Fortunately, we know what to do -- transition to cleaner sources of energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Quickly.

In the electricity sector, this means rapidly tapping into renewable energy resources like wind and solar on a grand scale.

Flickr user Alex Proimos/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0
flickr user Ken Lund / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Driverless cars are on the horizon. That much is clear.

We’ve heard from businesses, engineers and politicians about how autonomous vehicles could change day-to-day life for all of us.

How might driverless cars affect the lives of people with disabilities?

Jodi Westrick

The Next Idea

If everyone knows of 20th century Detroit as the Motor City, what's Detroit's identity today and what should it be for the future? Every Thursday on our Next Idea segment, we look at the innovations and we look at the new ideas that could reshape Michigan. 

Flickr user thinkpublic/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

 

Modern, high-tech innovation has benefited the world enormously. It has improved health and safety, and helped us communicate and travel across borders. But lots of people cannot afford these technologies – many of which are of limited usefulness for economically disadvantaged citizens who live outside of metropolitan areas. Indeed, these citizens were never the main market for these technologies in the first place.

The black widow is one of two venomous species of spiders in Michigan
flickr user matt maves / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Pesticides are a critical part of a business that is very important to Michigan: agriculture.

You need to control the insects that are threatening your crop, but you don’t want to kill off the “good” bugs along with the “bad.” Nor do you want to pose a threat to people, pets, water sources or livestock.

A new Michigan-made insecticide could be the answer to this problem, and it all starts with spider venom.

Mentorships and teaching STEM in K-12 would go a long way to get female and minority students' interested.
Flickr/Wellington College / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a tremendously popular buzzword these days.  

 

 

The Girls Rock Detroit band The Tiger Bots performs
Peter Smith / Girls Rock Detroit

The Next Idea

There are plenty of ways to empower young girls, but Melissa Coppola has a new approach: rock ‘n' roll.

Coppola, a graduating masters-level piano student at the University of Michigan, launched Girls Rock Detroit. The summer camp is a crash course in creating rock music for girls ages eight to 16.

Grocoff: "If we wish to sustain the climate to which we and all living things have adapted, then we need to design systems more like old growth forests and less like tree farms."
Jim Sorbie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

If the first Industrial Revolution was characterized by centralization of our water, energy, food and organizational infrastructures, then the next Industrial Revolution will be characterized by the decentralization of these human-designed systems. Biomimicry, innovation inspired by nature, will be our framework for sustainable solutions to human challenges.

Morgan Willis

The Next Idea

When Amber Williams and Morgan Willis talk about #ICantBreathe or #BlackLivesMatter, they aren't just talking about Twitter hashtags. For these black activists and many others in Michigan, digital technologies create important spaces of solace, solidarity, struggle, and connection. At a recent conference at University of Michigan called #UMBLACKOUT, Williams, Willis, and an array of local and national black activists discussed the myriad ways that black organizers use technology for both politics and pleasure, online and offline. 

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Twitter @JeffDeGraff

The Next Idea

“I would love to see a renaissance in innovation here in the state of Michigan”
 

Those are the words of Jeff DeGraff, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. DeGraff knows very well that one of the biggest challenges in business is taking a great idea and bringing it to the marketplace and making it grow.

Wikimedia user Brian Ammon / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

When looking at the modern world of innovation or business, you really can’t ignore China.

The country’s influence is huge, but interacting with Chinese companies, educators or officials can present a tough challenge for native English speakers: Mandarin Chinese is so fundamentally different from English, especially in tonal inflections.

Catherine Ryu is a Michigan State University researcher who is working with a team of students to develop a new game that could help English speakers learn Mandarin.

Khalilshah / Flickr

The Next Idea

The list of people who have lost out in our state is too long for this space. The people of Flint, students in Detroit, even the Detroit Lions, all have been beaten by forces beyond their control.

screenshot

The Next Idea

Iceland is one of those countries that you don’t tend to see in the international spotlight.

That changed this week, when the so-called “Panama Papers” were leaked, revealing that a law firm in Panama allegedly set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to help world power players avoid taxes.

Iceland’s prime minister was the first major casualty of the Panama Papers. He stepped aside after the leaks showed he owned an offshore company with his wife.

But this isn’t the only political upheaval in recent Icelandic history. Following a financial crisis that all but crippled the country, Icelanders decided it was time to rewrite their constitution. And to do so, they turned to crowdsourcing.

Legos
Bill Ward / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea  

Instead of being the vehicle to join the middle class that it once was, higher education is now an obstacle that actually prevents access to knowledge and reinforces existing privilege. This was the powerful message of a compelling Economist cover story last year titled America’s New Aristocracy

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bobthemagicdragon/7003917056

The Next Idea

Growing up in Chicago during the 1950s was a remarkably innocent experience for me. We lived in a bubble of post-WWII gratitude, and religious diversity meant only Christianity and Judaism. Tales like “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and “Aladdin and the Magic Carpet” were the closest I came to even hearing about Islam, which was called Mohammedanism then.

Uniting Three Fires Against Violence advocacy organization logo.
Uniting Three Fires Against Violence

The Next Idea

How does a community address domestic violence and sexual assault when calling the police is not often an option?

This is the question facing Native communities in Michigan, according to Lori Jump and Rachel Carr of the advocacy group Uniting Three Fires Against Violence.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cliffhorn/8000874224/

The Next Idea

Over the past several years, economists and skilled trade industries have been incredibly optimistic about the future of U. S. manufacturing. In today’s society, consumers value American-made goods and the return of domestic manufacturing that comes with them.

https://www.iconlife.org/welcome/
The Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, University of Michigan

The Next Idea

Rob Stephenson, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, admits that he is "obsessed with HIV."

https://www.flickr.com/photos/creativecomputer/

The Next Idea

Most of us know someone — a friend, colleague, or relative — who has experienced a fight with cancer. We share their names and stories, do what we can to help, and take part in fundraisers for cancer treatment and research. And thanks to all that research, doctors today are able to construct individualized treatment programs for cancer patients with great accuracy. It’s a far cry from the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the past.

Courtesy of Diana Nucera

The Next Idea

Take a moment to think about how much you rely on the Internet.

It’s pretty safe to say many of us find it hard to imagine not being able to get online to communicate, access information, or explore.

Lit Kurtz

The Next Idea

 

Homelessness is a complex problem with no one easy solution. In Michigan, the needs are enormous. People experiencing homelessness see our state as more like a Third World country than like one of the richest areas in the world.

 

One of many abandoned structures in Detroit
flickr user Stephen Harlan / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Michigan is all too familiar with the sight of abandoned buildings. Detroit is one of the most significant examples, where hundreds of millions of dollars are being spend on demolition.

Rex LaMore wonders whether we can’t save taxpayers the cost of abandonment by planning for the end of a building’s life from the very beginning. LaMore is director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development, and he’s looking at ways to address Michigan’s glut of abandoned buildings.

Joe Gruber

Katrina Watkins stood on her front porch in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt neighborhood staring at the vacant, overgrown stretch of land across the street.

“I have been trying to get the city out here to cut this for years,” she said.

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