Please Reinvent the Wheel

I just got an email about a group called Strategies for Sustainability Working Group that is working to document and share sustainability ideas across the Colorado Front Range. I skimmed through their Powerpoint looking at their objectives and the number one thing on their list was:

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

This really struck me in a different way today. Now, I have been working in business and on sustainability issues for many years and have worked on making programs that could be scaled. There is a great cost and time savings when you can build something once and use it many times. McDonalds has made billions on this concept – but the product is not what I could call exceptional (or healthy). But what struck me today and what I have been realizing is that we have traded time and money savings for creativity, invention and quality. I have seen over and over where the money for sustainability projects has gone into top-down government run programs, but they aren’t really inspiring the public and have not been very successful. I have also been involved in local community inspired initiatives and seen amazing things happen.

What I would like to see is for the leadership to set some objectives – energy or carbon savings goals, then provide the resources to the local communities who need to meet those goals. Then ask them to create what would work in their community. I think it is vital to share with each other what others are doing, as knowledge is power. But, I believe that inspiring and supporting creativity is the answer. People want to solve problems and be part of the solutions for their own lives. We can’t keep doing things the way we have been doing them. So please, reinvent the wheel!

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