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Crowdsourcing a Better World

“Four African Teenage Girls Create a Pee-Powered Generator”   That title catches your eye, right? I never would have guessed that one liter of pee could provide six hours of electricity.

The creativity displayed by these teens rivals those displayed by America’s top universities and start-up incubators. Good ideas can come from anywhere.

That’s the beauty of creativity. Sometimes a fresh perspective is more necessary than years of job experience or graduate degrees– particularly when dealing with a difficult problem. The difficulty is in connecting good ideas with the funding to make them happen.

Entrepreneurs have a framework for obtaining financing to make their ideas a reality, but there is no guidebook for ordinary people who have ideas about how to improve their community but not the funding to implement them.

I’ve fallen in love with GOOD Maker, a new platform “for pragmatic idealists to creatively and collaboratively engage with each other, our communities and our world.”   That sounds a bit complicated, but the idea behind GOOD Maker (maker.GOOD.is) is quite simple — crowd-sourcing for a better world. An organization or charity or even the government posts a challenge and offers a prize. Anyone can propose a solution, and the winner is selected by the community.

Since discovering the GOOD Maker platform, it’s become my new “go-to” social media distraction. GOOD Maker inspires me to propose a good idea, to evaluate and vote for solutions– which is a way more productive use of my time than pinning a bunch of recipes I’ll never cook and organizational ideas I’ll never implement onto beautifully-organized Pinterest boards.

To get you hooked, here are a couple of open challenges that interested me as a mom:

  • “Discover the Forest’s Get Your Community Outdoors!” Challenge
  • Submit your best ideas for how to motivate people in your communities to discover their wild side and reconnect with nature. The entrant with the most votes will be awarded $500 worth of airfare on Frontier airline to escape to the forest of their choice and $1,000 in grant funding to activate their idea. This GOOD Maker Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, The Wilderness Society and the Ad Council.
  • Entering doesn’t take long. Submit your ideas for how to encourage families and communities to escape their stresses and enjoy the great outdoors in 3-5 sentences and submit an informal video or photograph(s) to illustrate your ideas.
  • Enter by Noon PST, Tuesday, November 13, 2012. Go to discovertheforest.maker.good.is for contest rules, eligibility guidelines, and submission instructions. 

“Beyond LOLcats: Improve Lives With Animals” Challenge

  • How would you use animals to improve your community? Perhaps you could organize a puppy petting party for people in the hospital, create a therapeutic horseback riding program, or work with your community to improve a wildlife habitat in your area.
  • Tell us how you think animals can make the most impact on your community and you could win $2,500 to make it happen. This is a great contest to discuss with your
  • Enter by Noon PST on November 15, 2012. Go to improveliveswithanimals.maker.good.is for contest rules, eligibility guidelines and submission instructions.

I wish GOOD Maker had been around when I was in school. I had so many ideas about how to help the world, but I didn’t have the money to implement any of them. I’ve been asking my son his ideas for encouraging families to explore the outdoors and what kind of animal project he would like. He’s only four and a half, but he’s had some original — sometimes impractical– ideas. And it’s made for some interesting dinner table conversations. So often we use social media to escape from the world, but I love that GOOD Maker enables us to use an online platform to inspire offline action.  What are your ideas? I’d love to hear them.

Read more of Debbie Bookstaber’s writing at Mamanista.com and Bloganthropy.org. Don’t miss a post! Follow Debbie on Twitter and Facebook.

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