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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

african american woman leaning against door frame
Javier Sánchez Salcedo / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Next Idea

We live in a world of stereotypes, as disappointing as that can be sometimes.

Here’s one of them: black women never take any guff from anyone and they are always strong.

No one is always strong. Bad things happen in life, and we all experience tragedies. So when an African-American woman is struggling with loss, struggling with grief, where can she turn?

a group of people involved in Circles Grand Rapids
Courtesy of Circles Grand Rapids / Facebook

The Next Idea

Building community to end poverty.

That's the mission of Circles USA. It's a long-term effort that's all about empowering people of low-income to move out of poverty.

Low-income participants are the program's leaders. They pair up with an middle-to-high-income ally. The idea is to gain resources and fight poverty by building circles of influence.

Courtesy of Julie Burrell

The Next Idea 

Caring for a baby takes up a huge amount of time.

Yet one mom managed to find the time to come up with an idea for a product, pitch it in entrepreneurial competitions, win, and make her idea reality: The Pumpndo.

The slogan? "Because mom life doesn't stop when you pump."

班森 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Next Idea

Baseball and opera usually don’t end up in the same sentence. But for the next year, they will in Detroit.

Next May, the Michigan Opera Theatre will be producing Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King, an opera about Negro League’s baseball player Josh Gibson.

The CEO of the Michigan Opera Theatre Wayne Brown joined Stateside to tell us about a partnership between the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Tigers, called Take Me Out to the Opera.

Delaney Ryan

The Next Idea

Helping underserved young people embrace education, get into college and go on to be world-class citizens is the mission of a program called FATE. It's operated as part of the cause-based clothing company Merit Goodness.

Give Merit  Executive Director Kuhu Saha and 2016 FATE graduate Asha Stewart joined Stateside to share how FATE provides a space where students can create aspirations.

David Tarver

The Next Idea

It’s the quintessential American success story. Three young, black engineers left a major technology corporation to form their own business. They built it into an internationally successful company and eventually sold it. 

Today’s guest on The Next Idea, David Tarver, was one of the engineers who founded Telecom Analysis Systems over 30 years ago amid the challenges and promise of the post-Civil Rights era. 

Judy Wilson

The Next Idea

Budget cuts for school districts are increasingly a way of life. Often, the first things to go when money gets tight are music and art programs. 

But there is both anecdotal and scientific evidence that arts improve kids’ overall learning in a number of ways.

Director of the Art Experience in Pontiac Judy Wilson joined Stateside to tell us about the nonprofit that has taken on the mission of bringing back art for young people whose schools may or may not be able to afford it. Their latest project is the Community Art Lab, a storefront where anyone in the community can have access to art making experiences.

Jeff DeGraff: It’s now reasonable to assume that everything you do or say in any quasi-public space is being recorded, either inadvertently or intentionally.
Nicolas Nova / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Approximately 70% of all Americans have a smartphone: 24/7 internet access, touch screen apps, and a video camera. A quick glance at any news feed or social media site reveals how these small, cheap and mobile devices are putting everything in our lives on the record. Teenage altercations in the cafeteria, body shaming photos taken in the women’s locker room, and racist epithets at the grocery store. It’s now reasonable to assume that everything you do or say in any quasi-public space is being recorded, either inadvertently or intentionally.

Courtesty of LINCS

The Next Idea

Parents of children on the autism spectrum face significant challenges in getting the right education, support and other life tools for their kids. But the difficulties don’t go away when these kids grow up. Can they live alone, support themselves, be a part of society? And what happens when their adult caregivers age out of watching over them?

Keyboard with a"Jobs" button
Got Credit / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

A very strange article in The New York Times caught my eye the other day. It noted that while unemployment has fallen to 4.7%, the lowest in a quarter-century, that’s actually an ominous sign of trouble ahead. The article used employment data to suggest that while almost everyone who wants to be employed is currently employed, millions of high skilled, strategically essential jobs are going unfilled. More so, the new xenophobia is making it increasingly difficult to import talent from other countries.

Inside the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

Take the combined brainpower of Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University and apply that to solving the water infrastructure problems we face not only in Flint, but across Michigan.

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

The Next Idea

In a recent interview, Microsoft founder Bill Gates created quite a stir when he suggested that robots be taxed because society will not be able to manage the speed and magnitude of the impending automation of everything.

While his intent was to suggest ways to stave off the massive social unrest that will surely come with wholesale unemployment, it wasn’t a week before the editorial staffs at the Economist and BusinessWeek weighed in on impracticality of the idea, saying it would slow down technology investment and automation rates, and seriously damage American competitiveness.

veterans on bikes
Courtesy of Project Peace Peddlers

They served and protected the United States while in the military. Now, as veterans, they’re volunteering to serve and protect Detroit — and they're doing it on bicycles.

Project Peace Peddlers brings together all ages of veterans, from those who served in Vietnam to those who've just returned from Afghanistan. 

doctor looking at chart
CommScope / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Next Idea

Usually, when we hear the word “hacking,” we think of someone breaking into something — like your computer or customer data at a credit card company. But there’s a constructive, positive spin on the word hack too.

A2 Health Hacks is a weekend-long exercise where people come together to find new solutions to old problems in health care.  

two construction workers
Elvert Barnes / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Michigan and other states are having an increasingly hard time finding qualified people to work in construction. The perception that construction careers are dirty, hard, and dangerous plays a big part in the labor shortage.

Brindley Byrd, executive director of the Michigan Construction Foundation, wants to help people find careers in construction by marketing the Michigan Construction "brand" and connecting people to resources like educational training programs.

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

The Next Idea

Michigan's farmers and growers are always looking for new and bigger markets for their products. The Michigan Farm Bureau thinks they should look at China, where there is growing interest in what Michigan's farms have to offer.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

As Detroit's fortunes rise from the ashes of bankruptcy, developers are seeing opportunity. In the neighborhoods, banks and outsiders look to develop residential real estate. But recent Knight City Challenge Award Winner Chase Cantrell is focused on redeveloping commercial properties, the “nuts and bolts” businesses at the end of the street where people live.

S P Photography / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Day care for children is a fact of life for many Michigan families. But with more and more people looking after aging parents, there's also a need for adult day care.

A few of the items you can check out at the Capital Area District Library's "Library of Things"
Screenshot from CADL.org

The Next Idea

We think of borrowing from a library and what comes to mind? Books. DVDs. CDs.

Now, through the Capital Area District Libraries in Lansing, you can check out a badminton set, a GoPro camera,  a thermal leak detector or even a sewing machine. Those are just some of the items that they have available in the CADL's Library of Things.

University of Michigan MSIS / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Recently, I read a story in the LA Times entitled, “'A sea of despair': White Americans without college degrees are dying younger.” It was about a Princeton study on mortality rates. Apparently, all ethnic groups are living longer with the exception of white Americans. The researchers suggest that decades of underemployment have had a damaging effect on the group’s financial and personal decisions, making them an easy target for profiteers and ideologues. The message: You need a college education if you don’t want to die young.

The Spoke Folks, a Grand Rapids non-profit, wants to put "More Butts On Bikes" and help people maintain them.
user kconnors / morgueFile

The Next Idea

Imagine cyclists, and there’s an image that might come to mind of people wearing Spandex pants and helmets out for a ride on country roads; or maybe of someone riding through the city on their way to work or the grocery store.

There is an economic and sometimes racial gap between those two cycling worlds.

Esther Vargas / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

During the recent Academy Awards broadcast, Samsung aired a commercial for its new phone. Casey Neistat, a YouTube and HBO reality personality, narrates over a montage of young people engaged in feats of derring-do and uninhibited expressions of creativity. He declares that we are the true makers and maestros, and finishes with this zinger: “When we are told that we can’t, we all have the same answer - watch me!” And, there it is. The glorification of our selfie culture.

Venture capitalists can help a business idea grow from the whiteboard to the board room.
Marc-Anthony Macon / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

You can't have a successful entrepreneurial community without money. And that's exactly why venture capitalists play such a critical role in helping Michigan start-ups get up and running.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
flickr user frankileon / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Opioid addiction and meth use are making news almost every day, but tackling today’s drug epidemic isn’t easy. Treatments like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous might work for some who struggle with addiction, but not for others.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
Anthony Quintano / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Facebook’s 32-year-old billionaire founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has been touring the country. He made stops in Michigan recently. He toured Ford’s Rouge plant and even tried his hand at putting parts on an F-150 pickup truck. Turns out time on the assembly line is hard work. He also privately met with Muslim students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

According to Eric Lupher, cities, towns and villages pooling resources could help make services more affordable.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

A survey of local government leaders across Michigan finds they are not happy with state government.

The latest Michigan Public Policy Survey conducted by the University of Michigan heard from officials in more than 1,300 cities, counties, townships and villages.

front of twelve oaks mall
theblacklightstudio / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

More and more Americans are choosing to shop in the comfort of their homes. With a few clicks of a mouse from online retailers like Amazon and Jet.com, almost any product imaginable can be delivered to a shopper’s door within one or two days.

American malls are struggling to compete on the pricing, selection, and convenience offered by online shopping.

And because the retail industry built so much space during the 70s and 80s and 90s, dead or dying malls now dot the landscape of American suburbs.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission decided to eliminate most of the net neutrality regulations that required broadband providers to inform customers about how they manage their networks.
Dion Hinchcliffe / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

In the early 1990s, I visited billionaire George Soros’ office in New York City to provide some direction on an investment his firm had made in a technology startup run by senior Israeli Air Force officers. Their technology was something akin to an iPod, and this was almost a decade before you could store your entire music collection on a device the size of a bar of soap.

Courtesy of Brett Kopf

The Next Idea

Why is it that you can summon an Uber with one click on your smart phone, but if your child is struggling in school, you might not find out for weeks?

Ann Arbor or Paris?
FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Not too long ago, Upper Peninsula native Dawn Verbrigghe had a career humming along in super-cool Brooklyn.

Then, out of the blue, came two job offers. One, in Paris, which promised a rooftop apartment in the City of Light. The other offer: Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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