WUOMFM

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

Courtesy of Michael Bernitsas

The Next Idea

Earth’s water is a natural medium for collecting energy, taking in about 97% of what we receive from the sun. After reflection and radiation, water stores over 2 million TWh (terawatt hours) per year. The world’s annual energy consumption is about 150,000 TWh. Clearly, we could benefit from using water for power.

Courtesy of Grand Valley State University

The Next Idea

Michigan's philanthropic organizations are facing a changing climate of giving.

Movement of money within the nation's wealthiest families, low wages for many of today's young people, political polarization and the erosion of government safety nets are just some of the many drivers impacting how people give and how charities organize themselves.

Today's contributor to The Next Idea has been watching many of those trends and others that affect charitable giving.

fatedsnowfox / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

 

What if governments just gave money to people?

 

That’s the big question that Thomas Weisskopf​, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Michigan, is asking.

Since automation is replacing human-powered labor in fields like manufacturing, robust employment may be a thing of the past. A permanent surplus of labor has massive consequences, driving down wages and even contributing to social unrest. According to Weisskopf, such a dramatic problem demands a dramatic solution.

Clinton Steeds / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

It’s said necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Innovation is often born out of crisis or conflict – a war, a pandemic or a financial crash.  Sometimes the conflict can be constructive, like the invention of a new miracle drug. And sometimes the conflict can be destructive, like, for instance, a contentious election.

Courtesy of Kate Madigan

The Next Idea

Last month, Traverse City officials pledged that by the year 2020, all city operations will be powered by renewable energy. That means traffic signals, street lights, and city-owned buildings will get their power from wind, solar, and other clean sources.

Kate Madigan, the Energy and Climate Specialist for the Michigan Environmental Council and director of the Michigan Climate Action Network, joined Stateside to talk about the ambitious effort and if this could be a trend for other cities in the state.

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
University of Michigan Ross School of Business
The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.
earl53 / Morguefile

The Next Idea

The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is directing a federal program aimed at helping small local businesses adjust to that foreign competition.

Dave Doe / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

The North American International Auto Show begins its media previews on Sunday in Detroit. The show opens to the public on Jan. 14.

Along with the gleaming displays of new vehicles, the show will be a gathering place for innovators from many backgrounds, focusing on the future of mobility.

Michigan Makers / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Over the past few years, makerspaces have become more understood – and popular.

Think shiny industrial warehouses with 3-D printers, laser engravers and metal-working tools. And – of course – think groups of people. As our most recent contributors to The Next Idea explained, makerspaces can become crucial focus points for entire communities.

Ann Millspaugh / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Say you’ve lived in your neighborhood for ten years and suddenly it’s become the place to live.

Rents are rising, and you’re looking at having to move. What then?

Stay Midtown might have the answer. The program aims to help working people in Detroit’s up-and-coming Midtown area stay there.

Courtesy of Zollipops

The Next Idea

There’s now a new way to enjoy candy – without the cavities and the tooth decay.

Zollipops” are 11-year-old Michigander Alina Morse’s creation. They’re sugar-free and gluten-free suckers, made with natural flavors and colors, that are good for your teeth.

A bioretention garden on Evergreen Avenue in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood.
Dave Brenner

The Next Idea

My work in ecological design leads me to think about how the billions of dollars that governments must invest to replace and repair infrastructure can achieve more for American cities. Over the past several years I’ve focused my work on Detroit. Many cities, including Detroit, have some pipes more than a century old moving wastewater, stormwater, or drinking water underground. A handful of cities with industrial legacies, like Detroit, also have thousands of abandoned structures awaiting demolition. When a road is rebuilt, new pipes are laid, or when a building is demolished, I see the possibility of achieving many different, complementary benefits for residents and the environment at the same time.

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

Dec 8, 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.

 

Rising numbers of young people are now deciding to do everything their parents didn’t. They’re eschewing cultural and economic conventions to challenge what we take to be civil society.

 

They aren’t marrying.

 

They’ve become the refuseniks of our competitive corporate culture.

 

And many of them have opted out of organized religion altogether.

Courtesy of Erika Brown-Binion

The Next Idea

Learning a new language and making new friends in a foreign land are just a few of the hardships faced by refugee children. They also encounter cultural differences that affect their ability to adapt; they worry about friends and families back in their home country; and they struggle with the uncertainty of acceptance in a foreign land.

The ProNav Angler mobile app allows you to set a route and let your trolling motor do the driving so you can focus on fishing.
ProNav Marine

The Next Idea

At this time of the year, we're hearing a lot about the economic power of hunting in Michigan. But it turns out that fishing packs an even larger economic punch. Fishing brings in about $2.4 billion to the state.

Our latest guest on The Next Idea has helped to create something to help anglers come away happy when they set out on the water. And it comes from an unexpected source: your smartphone.

When it is complete, Afterhouse will support the cultivation of crops such as figs and pomegranates.
Steven Mankouche

The Next Idea

It wasn’t too long ago that the house located at 3347 Burnside St. in northeast Detroit was a true eyesore.

Long since abandoned, it had been damaged beyond repair by fire and vandalism. There were boards over the windows and spray-paint on the walls—all the telltale signs of the kind of blight that has afflicted neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

Feliciano Paredes grew up in a family of migrant farm workers.
Courtesy of Feliciano Paredes

The Next Idea

I grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. Every spring, Dad would take the truck to the mechanic to make sure it was in good condition to make that 2,000-mile trip across the country to pick crops. I’d let my friends know when we were leaving, and when they could expect to see me again in the fall. I remember waking up to Mom yelling at us from downstairs to get up and get ready to go. We’d scramble out of bed, make sure we all went to the bathroom, and sit down for breakfast before heading out just before dawn.

No matter how prepared we were, we faced many challenges as we went from state to state. We’d break down on the road, and because we weren’t familiar with what resources were available, we would end up spending a few nights in the truck until Dad could find help. It was common to arrive at farms only to find out that we didn’t have work, or that the labor camp was full. Basic health care and educational resources were also scarce. The transient nature of our work, our language and income, and the insecurity of not knowing the local area worked against us.

Wealthy Street used to be a predominantly African American business district, but Robinson told us there are only two black-owned businesses there today.
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

One proven way to give local businesses a boost is by grouping them together and building a brand. Think Detroit’s Greektown or Corktown, or Little Italy and Chinatown in other cities.

Jamiel Robinson is working to make that happen for black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids.

Robinson is founder and curator of the group Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

The STEMinista Project is active in Southeast Michigan right now, but Matthews told us it's getting a lot of national attention and she could easily see its reach expanding.
Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

It’s clear that Michigan’s economic future depends on turning out graduates who are strong in STEM skills - science, technology, engineering and math.

Attracting and keeping girls in STEM fields is the mission of The STEMinista Project, founded by Michigan Science Center chief executive officer and president, Dr. Tonya Matthews.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

One of my favorite movies from last year was The Big Short. It brilliantly explained many of the complex factors that set in motion the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. It also captured the arrogance of the age. But the movie got one thing wrong. It suggested that only a few insiders understood what was really happening, when in fact many professionals and academics knew as early as 2003 that a crash was coming.

US Embassy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

So here we are at the end of one of the most odious and vitriolic campaigns in memory. Rather than adding yet more commentary, I’d like to dig deeper into a claim both parties make – that they will bring jobs back to the U.S. The question no one is asking is “where exactly will the jobs come from?”

Valenstein hopes the project will help those in need of social services connect with agencies that are better suited to help them.
flickr user Rosser321 / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Take funding from the Affordable Care Act, add a $70 million state innovation model grant to the state Department of Health and Human Services, and you’re about to see an ambitious new project that can change health care delivery in Michigan.

It’s called Michigan’s Blueprint for Health Innovation.

Holman told us some of the top jobs in Michigan are for CNC operators and welders, but employers are having a hard time filling those positions.
flickr user David Urbonas / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The message we’ve been hearing in Michigan is pretty consistent: employers are having a hard time filling jobs that pay well – jobs that rely on skills in science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

Chris Holman is leading a push to make mid-Michigan’s capital region a national leader in STEAM education and fields.

Holman is CEO of the Michigan Business Network and the Chair of T3: Teach. Talent. Thrive.

T3 released a report last week regarding the “State of STEAM” in mid-Michigan right now.

Freewrite, from Astrohaus
Courtesy of Astrohaus

The Next Idea
 

If someone asked you to give up your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop, It’s likely you’d have a hard time agreeing to let go.

But as much as we revel in technology and all its bells and whistles, there is a growing awareness that the technology is controlling us.

The tail is wagging the dog.

That thinking has led a couple of Michiganders to come up with something that strips all this technology down to its purest form. No bells, no whistles, no distractions.

"While we can choose to turn off our technology, there is no turning back from the new expectation that we are available anytime, anywhere," DeGraff writes.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

If you listen to the World Economic Forum, we are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The WEF calls this “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” Just as mass production launched an era of large-scale centralized organizations at the turn of the 20th century, the Internet and smartphones in the 21st century are ushering in new forms of collaboration — and conflict.

Technologies are replacing the fundamental missions of organizations. They are moving from scale — creating something once and distributing it everywhere — to scope, creating an infinite variety of offerings. Everything from your made-to-order sneakers to the medications you take for your unique ailments are being mass customized. That is, companies are using integrated technologies and supply chains, along with complex information from diverse sources, a.k.a. Big Data, to create a product or service just for you, just in time.

Ford autonomous test vehicle
Ford Motor Company

The Next Idea

Start talking about Willow Run and chances are pretty good that images of Rosie The Riveters building B-24 bombers in World War II come to mind.

But there are big plans being cooked up to transform the old factory grounds near Ypsilanti into a highly advanced proving ground for autonomous and connected vehicles.

Pete Bigelow spells it all out in his story for Car and Driver.

Flickr user TIm Ereneta/ Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

I spend a lot of time looking for the future. I never really find it. Humans are too unpredictable. Innovations are like teenagers. They’re never really sure what they want be when they grow up, if they grow up at all. You can only hope they find their rightful place in the world somewhere along the way.

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?

"The traditional classroom style was not the best way to teach this type of information ... Once the guys were able to see hands on what it meant to run a business using the food truck as a classroom, it completely changed what they thought," Harris said.
Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The Skillman Foundation has awarded $50,000 each to six different programs in connection with the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge.

One of the six is Giving Them the Business. The goal is to teach young men of color to be owners and operators of restaurants, not just hired help, according to a release from the foundation.

Jerrell Harris coordinates Giving Them the Business. He joined us today.

To fight the system, ignore it and innovate now

Sep 29, 2016
history.nasa.gov

The Next Idea

Recently, a bright young colleague of mine alerted me to a meeting of the minds at a top technology institution. The event was to be a discussion of breakthrough research and innovative ideas that are flying under the radar. So I joined the online conference just in time to hear a web feed of CIA computer analyst turned whistleblower Edward Snowden giving a rather unremarkable account of the authoritarian state of things here in the land of the free.

Pages