the last straw
Quick Wired News piece on straw bale housing as an alternative building method in northern China.
Still, selling developing nations on the idea of a straw house can prove challenging. In China, where consumers are snapping up Western products like cars, televisions, refrigerators and even tract homes, the idea of a straw house can seem backward to some. "It's a tough message to give them," says Dan Imhoff, who recently wrote a book on sustainable building practices and has watched the growth of consumer culture in Shanghai over the last few decades. Yet Lerner is finding success in rural northern China, where there's less money to satisfy expensive tastes. Each house costs just $2,000, which is split evenly between the U.S. organization, local builders and homeowners.
Here's the article itself: The Great Straw Walls of China.
Whoops...here it is...
"Chance favors the prepared mind".Pasteur
In 1926 Graham Wallas reported his insights into the creative process. (Wallas, G. (1926). The Art of Thought New York: Franklin Watts
The description he used included 4 four stages which are often referred to today:
Preparation: exploring a challenge from many perspectives and directions
Incubation: subconscious thinking about a challenge
Illumination: the sudden "ah-ha!" experience of the unexpected solution
Verification: investigating the validity and value of implmenting the idea
One of the few major Creative Problem Solving methodologies with proven results is SYNECTICS. Wallas's description of the creative process leaves the creative breakthrough in the realm of the unpredictable. In the 1950's George Prince, Bill Gordon, Arthur Little, and others asked themselves if creativity had to be so unpredictable. What they discovered is the building block of many creativity techniques today. Companies such as IDEO, PLAY, and others continue to explore and expand upon this approach. Synectics means the "bringing together of diverse elements" and, as such, it encourages the deliberate practice of applied diversity. Identify a challenging task, bring together a group of people from widely divergent backgrounds, interests and experiences and add an impartial process leader (facilitator) and you have the recipe for the deliberate discovery of new ideas. The discovery of creative ideas does not have to be such an unpredictable happening. The excursion technique or imagery trek is an example of the combination of Wallas's process ideas and research in visual thinking, metaphors, analogies etc... take a look... try it out...
Is This What Gladwell Intended?
So, I pull up Internet Explorer here at work, and my Yahoo Start Page pops up with a headline that I didn't quite expect..."U.S. Military Commander: Iraq Has Reached 'Tipping Point'" The article goes on to talk about how the U.S. military believes that ordinary Iraqis are now at a point where they reaize that the regime of Saddam Hussein is over. Having read "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell on the recommendation of my esteemed former internship boss Charlie Park, I thought it was interesting, and a little jarring, to see Gladwell's philosophy applied to war. Does that make President Bush an Innovator and Colin Powell an Early Adopter? Where does the rest of the world and the Bush Administration fit in? Trust me-- I'm not trying to start a big angry political discussion, I'm just asking.
Have idea...must travel
Embracing creativity is all the rage and rage is happening all over. Ideas. New Ideas. Different, unique, unusual, revolutionary ideas. Creative ideas. Rage. People are raging with frustration and confusion over the destruction of their new ideas. Many times when the request for new ideas is granted they are crushed beneath waves of criticism. Creative ideas are often ignored or punished by supervisors, teachers, parents, governments, advisors, friends, committees, etc. and others don't make time to hear them. It's true that new approaches and fresh perspectives often bring about positive change. It's also true tha what is new is different and what is different is often strange and what is strange is often perceived as threatening. New perspectives often challenge existing ones creating tension which is often resolved by returning to the "comfort" zone of what is. Often coming up with the idea is not the big challenge. The challenge is often choosing the unusual, supporting it's uniqueness and strengthening its potential. New ideas are often weird. How do we react to "weird" things? How do you react? It's easy to point out successful innovations, seek new combinations, and listen to our "gut". The challenge is new ideas often make our gut feel weird and we seek a verbal laxative.
Atkins. The name strikes fear into the hearts of carbo-philes everywhere. And therein, amidst the fat (shall we say), lies the creativity of Dr. Robert Atkins. He started his own business from the idea that the various low-fat diet plans were the basis for the obesity which is so prevalent among Americans today. And he tested out his own idea: eating more fat and less refined car-bohydrates. Judging by the fact that I know two people successfully losing weight on the Atkins diet, perhaps the Atkins diet is not a fad, and moreover (gasp!) the real thing.
Although Dr. Atkins was hailed in the 70s as a rebellious fraud of the medical industry, his innova-tive ideas have caught onto the American public. At first, he advertised his ideas as merely a way to consume lots of calories while looking like you exercise for hours a day, which brought him almost no profit. However, with his second wave of popularity circa early 1990s, Atkins modi-fied his idea and company to fit the times. He brought in new management, renamed the company Atkins Nutritionals, and developed some new products. The company now has every-thing from low-carb bread to waffle mix to candy bars, and grossed over 100 million dollars last year.
So now I find myself in search of a new product, which goes against everything my American culture taught me, from which I also can become a multimillionaire.
Katherine Carter Avery (future president of the united states / summer intern)
Become an Atkins addict here: http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,47902,00.html
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