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Growing Ideas For Change
Rohit Gupta, 3 Nov 04

ideas.jpgGlobal Ideas Bank is a huge repository of 'social inventions' - "non-technological, non-product, non-gadget ideas for social change. These are a mix of existing projects, fledgling initiatives and new bright ideas." When ideas are posted, they appear as a seed. Gradually, as the reviews and feedback comes in, an idea grows into a full-fledged tree or 'social invention'.

While browsing through some of their highly-rated inventions, I found these interesting.

1. Travelbucks: Rewards for the car-free. "Each time employees walk, cycle, take transit, car-pool or van-pool to work, they earn one TravelBuck. These can be redeemed for (eg) a car oil change ($110), transit faresavers ($100) or a deli-lunch ($30)."

2. The Litter Movement : A public solution to litter around us. They function by picking up at least one piece of litter every day, and inviting at least one person to join the movement.

3. Curitiba, Brazil: "Curibita has 17 new parks, 90 miles of bike paths, trees everywhere, and traffic and garbage systems that officials from other cities come to study. Curibita's mayor for twelve years, Jaime Lerner, has a 92 per cent approval rating." This is WorldChanging, being a city of 1.6 million people.

4. Okay, call me a sucker for India-related mush, but even I find this fascinating as a non-practicing Hindu - the meaning of Namaste.

5. Green Funerals: "It aims to support those dying at home and their carers, and to help people arrange inexpensive, family-organised, and environmentally-friendly funerals. It has a more general aim of helping to improve the quality of dying."

6. Slow City: This is an offshoot of the Slow Food Movement in Italy. The seven stated particular aims of cities in the Slow Cities movement include emphasizing recovery and reuse methods to “maintain and develop the characteristics of their surrounding area and urban fabric”, safeguarding “autochthonous production, rooted in culture and tradition, which contributes to the typification of an area, maintaining its modes and mores and promoting preferential occasions and spaces for direct contacts between consumers and quality producers and purveyors”, and promotion of “the quality of hospitality”.

7. Groningen, the car-free city for bikes: In Groningen, the Netherlands' sixth largest city, the main form of transport is the bicycle. Sixteen years ago, ruinous traffic congestion led city planners to dig up city-centre motorways. Last year they set about creating a car-free city centre. Now Groningen, with a population of 170,000, has the highest level of bicycle usage in the West. 57% of its inhabitants travel by bicycle - compared with four per cent in the UK.

8. Prisoners training dogs for the disabled: The self-esteem of prisoners has increased dramatically and they now feel that they have a link with the outside world, as well as being able to do something worthwhile with their time. Many of those involved go on to work with animals on leaving the prison, and the relationships between inmates and staff have improved greatly.

9. This something I have seen happening with my own bespectacled eyes - The Indian Laughing Club. These guys believe that laughter is therapy.

10. Computers For Charity: 'Prices range from £20 for a 286 machine
to £500 for a full multimedia Pentium'

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