Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why Not Monday?

The value of the idea lies in the using of it.
-Thomas Edison

Okay, I know it’s not  Monday. But I have an idea for a new weekly blog post called Big Idea Monday and it can’t wait until Monday. Isn’t there a saying about the right time for a good idea is now. My son is constantly coming up with ideas and “what if”  questions. I frequently tell him to right them down. He started an idea notebook more than once. But never really followed through. Maybe I haven’t set the best example. Ideas pop into my brain all the time. Random stuff on making life easier or less wasteful. But the idea usually ends with a silent sigh and a wish that somebody else would try it.

So my first step in following through is to at least write them down and share them with others. Thomas Edison had an idea quota. The man, who had no formal education, held 1,093 patents and founded fourteen companies including General Electric. He demanded that his lab team come up with an idea for a minor invention every 10 days and a major one every six months. I’ve visited his winter retreat/lab in Fort Myers and was amazed at the massive collection of ideas that took shape into machinery of all uses.
You might be wondering if it is such a good idea, why are you sharing it on the Internet? Well, because if it is a good idea that I don’t pursue than maybe someone else with a different skill set will breathe life into it. Maybe, I won't know it is a good idea worth pursuing unless I get some feedback. Call it market research. Maybe, the idea is less important than the thinking. Just maybe by forcing myself to have an idea quota, I will start thinking more creatively, more childlike. 
Perhaps your also wondering, why Monday? Glad you asked. In the book, “Where Will You Be in Five Years From Today? ” author Dan Zadra points out how many millions of people dread one seventh of their life. It is the opposite of the Thank God It’s Friday mentality. He challenges readers to welcome Monday for what it is: a clean slate, the beginning of something new, or another chance to make it happen this week. Now that is a big idea!
So here goes my very first Big Idea Monday post on Thursday:
I would like to start a fruit co-op to cut down on wasted fruit and help feed needy families. We picked several pounds of Star fruit (carambola) from a neighbor's tree a few months ago and I gave it to everybody I know. We had star fruit breakfast, lunch and dinner and we couldn't eat it all. When we were at the dog park, I tried giving several bags away. People said: Hey I have an orange tree that needs picking. I have a grapefruit tree. Do you like mangos, come and get them. 

This is when it first occurred to me the abundance and waste going on in Florida's residential neighborhoods. My kids and I love picking fruit. It was even more fun than eating it. It also occurred to me that  it  would be wonderful to organize a group of volunteers to rotate picking opportunities and create a database for homeowners to sign up their properties to be picked when the fruit becomes ripe. Obviously, there would require some administrative effort. Somebody would also be needed to deliver the fruit to shelters and feeding programs in a timely manner. You could even have a fruit stand as a physical structure to sell produce to off set costs and volunteers could take what they could eat as a small incentive. Taking the idea one step further, there is a similar wasteful situation going on at area farms. We picked strawberries in Plant City in March and it was clear a lot of that fruit was going to waste. The hired farm hands are instructed to only pick the perfect fruits that are to grocery store standards, but that leaves a lot of perfectly edible fruit behind. Finally, we went in search of bees and beekeepers in June In Search of Beezzzzz. We ended up on Mike Morgan’s 500-acre farm in Ruskin picking watermelon in the rain. He had just harvested more than a million pounds of melon, but his fields were still littered with ripe delicious green balls as far as the eye could see. We ended up smashing several dozen for fun at his invitation. He also expressed great frustration that so much goes to waste every year. He said that he has called non-profits in the past and offered to let people come out and take what they want, but no one is set up to do it. So the food lays rotting in the summer sun until it is plowed over for the next crop.Trying to add a picking program to commercial agriculture properties would be a whole other task, but could probably work on the same principle and infrastructure as the residential tree idea. A few names come to mind like "fruits of our labor".

So what do you think? Do you have a big idea you would like to share?

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