No Bad Idea

No Bad Idea business cardsWhen I approach any idea, I have a fluid matrix of filters that the idea will tend to have to flow through.

  • economy of effort
  • low hanging fruit
  • is this win-win
  • personally sustainable
  • is it the wheel reinvented
  • exit strategy
  • failure isn’t bad
  • can this be developed online
  • what skills are needed
  • cross brand, cross develop
  • is this adaptable

Many of these are intertwined.

Chattanooga is full of ideas.  This is where they are explored.  Contact me with your idea for Chattanooga.

Creative Misfit:Jon/Chanté
Creative MisfitCreative Misfit (CM), as mentioned in this CoffeeConnect post, is someone whose creativity doesn’t quite fit into the molds created by less creative people who often have more of a business sense to control the purse strings.  The natural consequence is that the CM may have difficulty with employment unless of course he/she takes control by either developing an individual project or by collaborating with other CM’s.  Or at least with less creative people who can appreciate what is being added by that personality type.

Chattanooga seems to have more than it’s fair share of CM’s which to me is a testament to the unique drawing power and potential here.  So what is to be done.  One solution should be, “CM’s of the world unite!”  In other words, develop a clearinghouse, website, LinkedIn community, database of those that consider themselves CM’s.  This would have to be a self-reporting honor system of course with a rather free wheeling approach.  It’s purpose is just to try to connect people with a minimum of oversight and a caveat emptor mindset.

But I do propose a few simple parameters.  Each person should provide a modicum of information and accept a simple contract or understanding.  The information should include name, e-mail address, perceived strengths that they offer to potential collaborators, body of work, and areas that they may want to work in, as well as a brief statement.  The contract, for want of a better term, should allow everyone to approach each other with the same understanding that you will work together honestly, not steal ideas, but you must use your own judgement on how much you disclose about yourself and your project.  Beyond that you are on your own.  The bottom line is that this is a first step approach to help tap into the growing potential of Chattanooga’s CM community while helping that community see itself as a productive force as opposed to economic victims.

No Bad Idea:Chris
As I enjoyed my early CoffeeConnects, one thing became apparent, Chattanoogans have ideas.  This city and the type of people who it attracts and retains breed creative problem solvers.  I suppose the person that would sit down with a stranger for coffee and a chat is the person that has an open, inquisitive mind.  Seeing the trend I came up with No Bad Idea, which in essence became my first Idea to post.

Idea Mentor:Chris W.
Chris discussed this issue with me one day regarding the ideas in Chattanooga that never seem to get moving.  Ideas by people who don’t know where or even how to start.  Who don’t have confidence or support for what may be their one brilliant brainchild.  I put it in the back of my head and while discussing a different issue with Liz, we agreed that mentoring was something we both enjoyed.  That’s when the name/concept of idea mentor was born.  idea mentorThis would be an experienced idea consultant that would give a budding genius a second set of eyes, connect them to others that have needed support skills, guide them around pitfalls, and help set realistic goals to keep them on track.  The consultant should also take a holistic approach to help warn the person about overextending, misapplying energy, and generally destroying the rest of the person’s life by single track vision, an ultimately unsustainable approach.  Depending on the situation, the consultant should believe in the idea and work well with the client.  In return there could either be an upfront fee, monthly or goal-oriented pay scale, promise of monetary gain as the idea becomes profitable, a share of the business, or some combination of the above.  This is an idea I’m looking at seriously because I’ve worked in that role before in an ad hoc manner with people and ideas I believed in.

Cable CarsCable Cars:Katie
That’s right, the San Francisco type of mass transit.  The kind that you can jump on and off and rings the bell as it moves through town.  Once cities all over the world used these but they’ve gone out of fashion.  How about a tourism company or a local business consortium deploy a few of these to help specifically funnel traffic down to the museum/restaurant quarter.  We have the riverboats and the WWII duck boats, cable cars would fit right in.

Chattanooga is rich in content but poor in distribution: Phillip
This is less an idea than it is a problem that needs to be solved with an idea.  In just the last week I’ve talked with people who have this problem in various forms. In the autism field the available organizations, funding, aids, laws are not consolidated in one place for the weary, caring parent.  In the Chattanooga music industry, one band has hooked up with a good Los Angeles lawyer, another, a key Atlanta promotional firm, a third, top mention on a key music blog.  The problem is, this information is not shared amongst local groups struggling to reinvent the wheel.  In the public and private realms, funding is available but as one insider told me, unless you happen to know the right people and then ask the right question, you are not necessarily ever going to hear about the grant targeted squarely at you.  There are technological solutions but they still won’t solve a number of the issues or who will implement and maintain them.

Better bike lanes around the city: David
bikeI definitely understand the sentiment.  As biking enthusiasts we stick mostly to the North Shore back roads, the Market Street pedestrian bridge, and the Riverwalk, the roads less taken.  At some point we want to be running around town but the nebulous nature of the bike lanes and the general tone of the traffic leaves us cold.  I like what Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro, talked about in a recent TED Talk.  They were dealing with bus lanes and an underachieving budget so they just laid down a small asphalt strip along the edge of the bus lane to physically separate it from the car traffic.  I propose the same in Chattanooga.  There is every advantage for the city to giving bikes a strong, protective hand.  As a second thought, I’ve considered trying to map out alternate routes along back streets thus avoiding all the fast moving major arteries like MLK, Broad, and Main.

Update: today we were riding over the pedestrian bridge and were joined by Justin of Silent Cycles, a recent CoffeeConnect.  I posed this question to him and he mentioned that the Chattanooga BikeShare program which is coming down the line will have bikes equipped with GPS chips.  As the bikes are used a picture of common routes will be built up over time.  This information can definitely be used in future development plans for the city’s bike culture.

Update: we mentioned this problem to Ruthie over at Outdoor Chattanooga and she told us about their Street Smarts Cycling Seminar designed to help the cyclist get comfortable with city biking.  She also suggested coming over early on a weekend morning when traffic is very light and riding around the main streets for some practice.

Healthy PopUp restaurant:Chris
healthy food popupThis may sound like an old idea but not quite.  This is not a health food restaurant with all the negative connotations that involves.  I’m talking excellent food that happens to be on the healthy side of the spectrum.  A key though would be portion size.  For the most part you either buy a semi-cheap meal with enough food to feed the table on each plate or you pay more for smaller, haute cuisine portions with a beautiful presentation.  I’m talking healthy food that tastes good and normal portions at fair prices.  The idea of the PopUp as developed by Project:PopUp would be an excellent way for this to start.  As a side thought, someone connected into the Chattanooga food scene could ask each local restaurant to develop a healthy, mouth-watering dish to be included on the menu noting the chef and restaurant of origin.  Let’s stop making healthy choices a side section of the common menu.  It’s high time they were the menu.  There’s a lot more to this idea but you get the point.

Church social restaurant: Kerry
healthy food popupAnother restaurant idea but this one based on a church social/covered dish.  No you don’t bring your own food.  What you have are the staples of a church covered dish, the meat and potatoes, the green beans and sweet tea, the chocolate meringue pie.  All served buffet style with comfortable second hand seating or even along long rows of tables.  Pay at the door, walk right into the food tables, sit down and eat.  No fuss, no muss just good food, ready to eat, at good prices.  Can’t ask more than that.

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