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

Our hearts are in the right place when we use the word "innovation," but we may have ruined it for ourselves
flickr user Missy Schmidt / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

It’s not too hard for many of us to think of words that are just used so much that instead of summoning up a powerful image, they trigger a bored eye roll.

One such word is actually a very big part of The Next Idea: “innovation.”

When used correctly, “innovation” means so much. For companies and universities, entrepreneurs and inventors, it means everything.

But the word is now so overused it tends to get lost in the white noise of corporate buzzwords.

Rebuilding Michigan's theatre legacy one artist at a time

Sep 10, 2015
flickr user Lee Carson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Theatre has immense power to build community, although its power is often overlooked.

As a live art form, theatrical storytelling relies on the presence and engagement of both performers and spectators — a rarity in today’s media-saturated world. The immediacy of theatre provides us with intimate human connection and a subjective experience that cannot be replicated. You walk into a theatre, settle in your seat, and as the lights begin to dim, you realize you are about to be transported into another world.

Courtesy of Michigan Nonprofit Association

The Next Idea

In Michigan and across the country, our society is suffering from a lack of civic engagement. Many people do not have strong connections to their communities. In addition, we have vast unmet needs in our cities, our neighborhoods, and our other social infrastructure. Government has limited resources, and communities are suffering. But there is a generation of young people like me who want the opportunity to make a difference in our country by helping communities address their most difficult social challenges.

Flickr/Penn State / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

In his recent op-ed piece in the Financial Times, “Europe is a continent that has run out of ideas,” Economics Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps hangs the near collapse of the world’s second largest economy on a failure of the collective culture to produce real innovators.

Courtesy of Detroit Greenways Coalition

The Next Idea 

In Detroit we have a real chance to do things with our land that no other major city in the world has ever done. From  growing food  and  producing solar power to planting trees and improving public health, Detroit’s 23 square miles  of vacant land  offers a future full of possibilities.

Courtesy of the Capital Region Community Foundation

The Next Idea

When we think of nonprofits, we often think of them helping people or working for causes that improve our quality of life but are difficult to monetize. And usually, it’s their work and their cause that inspire us to give.  

What’s often not mentioned, however, is just how much Michigan’s nonprofit sector also contributes to our economic well-being.

Our "comeback" could use more women investors

Aug 17, 2015
Courtesy of Inforum

The Next Idea

“I never really thought about it that way.”

As someone who regularly judges start-up pitch competitions across Michigan, I tend to hear this phrase rather often from my male colleagues.

We're all pedestrians but our streets beg to differ

Aug 13, 2015
Flickr/SDOT / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

If we’re going to make sure that Detroit’s neighborhoods are part of the city’s comeback, we need an agenda that focuses on integrated mobility within the region. Improved transportation is not only crucial for raising the quality of life for everyone who lives in the area, it also affects the entire state’s economic competitiveness. 

User CedarBendDrive/Flickr

The Next Idea

As public frustration with government mounts in response to the road funding impasse, some members of the state legislature are now joining in on the calls for reform. 

Courtesy of Sakti3

The Next Idea

Ann Marie Sastry is a former University of Michigan professor, a material science researcher, and the founder of Sakti3 -- one of 30 companies invited to showcase its work at the first-ever White House Demo Day.

She's developing the next generation of low-cost batteries, a solid state solution that has generated results and hype.  A Fortune magazine article titled "Will this battery change everything?" offers a detailed look into what stands to happen if the company can achieve the "holy grail of power storage."

Courtesy of Detroit Soup

The Next Idea 

There was an article in the Detroit Free Press last month about a family’s efforts to raise money through a GoFundMe campaign. The goal was to fix up a decaying home so that their mentally disabled relative didn’t have to move into a nursing home. As the article pointed out, the family asked the public for help, “and much of the public reacted with outrage.”

This hurts my heart. As someone who’s been working for the last five-plus years on building a non-profit in Detroit, I have seen firsthand how reluctant – even afraid – we are to help people here.

Non-partisan commission would make more Michigan votes count

Jul 27, 2015
Michigan House Republicans

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea

Everybody who sets foot in a voting booth wants to know that their vote counts just as much as the vote of the next person in line. Faith in our democratic system rests on fair and representative elections.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s political map has been manipulated to the point that not all votes count the same. Politicians have drawn political districts so that in many places around our state, who wins or loses is a foregone conclusion long before the end of election night. They created the political map this way in order to give themselves and their party a head start in an election, much to the detriment of our democracy and your vote.

Michigan House Republicans

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea  

If the Michigan AFL-CIO or the Michigan Chamber of Commerce were each drafting a proposed constitutional amendment to “reform” redistricting, it would be met with media derision, with each eventual proposal seen as favoring one political party over the other.

But, when the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network announce that they are part of a Collaborative working to draft an amendment, no similar skepticism has yet arisen. 

flickr/michigancommunities / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

When I was ten years old, Kalamazoo was voted the All-American city by the National Civic League. We deserved it. We made the greatest guitars, the finest fishing rods and reels, and the best medicines, truck transmissions and automobile chassis in the world. Our downtown mall was featured in Look Magazine like it was a fabulous resort in Europe.

By the time I was 20 things had changed considerably. The venerable companies that had prospered for 100 years and given Kalamazoo its celebrated reputation began to wane, leave or fail altogether. There were cheaper, warmer and newer places to relocate. Many businesses did just that, and many people followed them.

Vet to media: We're not all broken

Jul 9, 2015
Courtesy of Jason Hale

The Next Idea

I am a veteran of two wars – one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.  Joining the military has been the best decision of my life.  But if you spend any time watching the news or scrolling through social media, you might wonder why I would say that. 

We must do more than say "thank you" for veterans in Michigan

Jul 6, 2015
Flickr/wiguardpics / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea             

I can’t recall a time when I was thanked for my military service and didn’t wonder just what exactly that person meant. Were they thankful that I took the defense of the nation in hand? Did they think that I stood watch on some specified border between insurgents and our coalition forces? Perhaps it was simply good American manners that they show appreciation for those who serve.

flickr/jmarty / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

Silicon Valley churns out apps to “change the world,” but whose world are they really changing? How do we know if these new technologies are going to work in a city like Detroit, for example?

All across America, digital innovations have proliferated in the last four decades, but poverty rates haven’t budged, and inequality has skyrocketed.     

Screenshot/Chrysler

The Next Idea

In 2009, the headline of a Time magazine cover story read “The Tragedy of Detroit” with a shadowy photo of a blighted factory in the background. The national press was brutal.

With each new idea, momentum builds in Detroit

Jun 18, 2015
Courtesy of Focus: HOPE

The Next Idea 

Innovation is at the center of Detroit’s inclusive recovery. Yet this word “innovation” is used so often that its meaning tends to get a little obscured.

Rather than the narrow definition of technological advancement, the meaning of innovation we should use in Detroit is about doing things differently, redefining our future, and challenging ourselves to move beyond business as usual. 

People who are elderly, poor, or not white have new ideas too

Jun 15, 2015
Flickr/George A. Spiva Center for the Arts

The Next Idea

“We never know where the next big innovation is going to come from.”

That’s a common phrase we hear over and over, and it is true. 

Courtesy of One Well Brewing

The Next Idea 

I own a brewery in Michigan. Sometimes I still can’t believe I actually get to say that and have it be true. Thousands of home brewers and craft beer lovers from around the country aspire to do what I do -- and I know, because just eight months ago I was one of them.

Michigan can't afford to reject rainbow dollars

Jun 4, 2015
flickr/purplesherbet

The Next Idea

As a queer man who grew up in Michigan, I sometimes wonder why I decided to come back home. I fled Detroit for New York City after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2006, and truly thought I’d never look back.

Maybe I returned because New York City was already in good hands.

Maybe I returned because I realized that Michigan still needs more love, and that I still have a lot of love to give.

Courtesy of mitalent.org

The Next Idea

When the housing crisis hit in the mid-2000s, millions lost their jobs. Licensed home builder and Saginaw resident Jeff Little was one of them. 

Courtesy of NASA

The Next Idea

You can see Michigan from space. It’s the mitten surrounded by all that blue with the bunny jumping over it.

In fact, almost half of the Great Lakes State is comprised of water. Michigan has more shoreline than any other state in the union, with the exception of Alaska, which is seven times larger.

Khalil Ligon

The Next Idea

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." —Mahatma Gandhi

This quote resonates deeply with me these days, because in my Detroit neighborhood, the change I wish to see seems so far away.

Imagining places that are clean, safe and vibrant threads my work as an urban planner and sustainability advocate. Yet, despite years of planning and designing these grand visions, my daily landscape doesn’t match the efforts. I know there’s still a long way to go, but I’m getting anxious.

Flickr/Tobias Abel

The Next Idea

A “yes” vote on Proposal 1 will improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in Michigan. It is just that simple, and rarely is anything in life that simple – including the language in the actual proposal before us.

At Disability Advocates of Kent County, we have a saying: “If you want better transportation for people with disabilities, stop working for better transportation for people with disabilities.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea 

As we near the vote to raise the sales tax to fund our abysmal roads, we’ve heard this question come up quite a bit these last few months:

“Why couldn’t the Legislature just do the job they were elected to do instead of passing responsibility off to the voters?”

The short answer -- and you’re not going to like this -- is that it is not their fault.

It’s ours.

Designers, engineers connect poetry to safer batteries

Apr 23, 2015
Max Shtein

The Next Idea

This summer, as the latest installment in the Jurassic Park franchise hits movie theaters, we’ll be confronted with a larger-than-life, in-your-face reminder of the dark side of innovation, as a bunch of scientists yet again get so caught up in their inventiveness that they fail to imagine the consequences.

How to welcome more immigrants to Flint, Saginaw

Apr 20, 2015
Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

The Next Idea

I am a daughter of immigrants who grew up in Michigan's Indian and Pakistani community. Most often the response people have when they hear this is to ask: “Why, with all the glamorous cities in America, would so many people from South Asia choose to come to the Midwest?”

Detroit can be model for how to do things right

Apr 13, 2015
Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

The Next Idea

When we hear the term “perfect storm,” the image that generally comes to mind is one of a high-level disaster.

The phrase is relatively new, though its use as the title of the 1993 Sebastian Junger novel which inspired the 2000 film of the same name has accelerated its use in the cultural lexicon.  However, no common dictionary definition for it exists. 

Pages