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The Next Idea

pressure gauge
Observe The Banana / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

 

So many innovative ideas begin with inventors observing simple events. Take Newton’s falling apple, for example, or Archimedes’ overflowing bathtub. 

For Emil Ureel of West Michigan, it was building an ice rink in his backyard — or rather designing a refrigeration system to keep it from melting.

 

“I thermodynamically ended up producing a chiller system from a used central air unit,” Ureel said. “Going through the process, I learned something related to thermodynamics that’s referred to as saturation vapor pressure.”

Kamal Hamid / Flickr

The Next Idea

For centuries, people who need some fast cash have turned to pawn shops: "pawning" some personal treasure for a cash loan.

Today there is a modern way to pawn an item. Instead of driving from shop to shop, you can turn to a Michigan-based startup called PawnGuru and do your dealing online.

The Great Lakes from space.
NASA

The Next Idea

One afternoon while waiting for my flight to board, a headline caught my eye: “Civilization-Destroying Comets Are More Common Than We Thought.” I assumed it was one of those flashy clickbait attention-grabbers like the ones about how researchers have discovered how you can lose ten pounds just by drinking dandelion tea. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t one of those smarmy websites you’ve never heard of. It was Popular Mechanics. Yes, that do-it-yourself periodical for the pocket-protector jet set that has all the panache of your dad’s brown shoes. So why the hyperbole?

Courtesy of Meagan Ward

The Next Idea

Even in 2017, women still face difficulties in the world of business.

Studies confirm women are still perceived as less competent than men are. They’re also less likely to be considered good risks for startup capital, and, of course, there’s still that pesky wage gap between the sexes.

A Detroit businesswoman is fighting back against those characterizations.

Crashmaster007 / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Next Idea

I confess that I love football. I played it in high school. Some of my teammates went on to the college gridiron, and one of them even had a long career in the NFL. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Big plays and big money on Sunday. Well apparently things are changing these days, and with good reason.

Adriana Flores next to E2 box
Courtesy of Adriana Flores

The Next Idea

Give a book, take a book. You've probably seen or heard of those tiny, roadside libraries with that mantra. They're usually small wooden structures, like a dog house on stilts, filled with books that are free to anyone in the community.

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea has taken that concept and turned it into a special way to provide basic necessities to folks in need. It’s a box called E²: Empathy and Equity. Instead of books, the box holds free hygiene products.

Hannah Johnson, of Spera Foods, making granola and flour out of tiger nuts and the Incubator Kitchen at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market
Grand Rapids Downtown Market

The Next Idea

The Incubator Kitchen at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is helping people with an idea for a food product or business turn their dreams into reality without risking their life savings.

The Incubator Kitchen is a full-sized commercial kitchen where hopeful food entrepreneurs can get help with business planning and the licensing required to legally produce their products and sell to the public.

How to train your mind to get in "the zone"

Aug 21, 2017
With exercises and effort, anyone can train their brain to be more creative, says Dr. David Fessell.
Flickr/vaXzine

The Next Idea

Is there a “state of mind” that aids innovation and creativity?

Think for a moment about the last time you were totally immersed in a hobby, music, or sport. Things just seemed to flow, time became imperceptible, and everything seemed almost effortless. Might you have experienced this when writing? Running or gardening? Creating poetry, music, or dancing? Or even tinkering?

Are such times rare or non-existent in your life? These experiences of “flow” are rocket fuel for innovation and creativity—and you can have more of them.

Courtesy of Wolfgang Bauer

The Next Idea

Think about a hot August day. Your car has been sitting out in a parking lot for hours and hours. Think of how hot it is when you get back inside and touch that steering wheel.

What if you could take all of that solar energy and use it for something besides burning your hands?

Emmanuel Smith / MrEintheD.com

The Next Idea

If you’re old enough, you might remember Schoolhouse Rock, a series of musical films that helped kids learn.

Emmanuel Smith is “Mr. E in the D,” and he’s updating that concept by using hip-hop to teach kids math.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cass Collective Facebook photos

The Next Idea

So, you've got a small business. You've been selling your product at farmer's markets or art fairs, or maybe online.

But it's a great big step from that to having your own brick-and-mortar store. One way to help bridge that gap is happening in Midtown Detroit: the Cass Collective.

It's a new collaborative retail space where businesses rotate in and out so a budding entrepreneur can put a cautious toe in the water without a big commitment. The Cass Collective is a joint project of Midtown Detroit Inc. and TechTown Detroit.

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.

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.

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