Last night I spent the evening with the Good for Nothing crew and an energetic bunch of social innovators solving the problem of ‘how to find better problems’. The premise is that often we solve the wrong problem or are asking the wrong questions. The aim of the night was to get a smart bunch of socially engaged motivated people in a pub together and debate what are the real problems we are trying to solve.
Where are the better problems?
- How do we find them?
- What stuff gets people excited?
- What problems look terrifying?
- Where are the opportunities for impact? Social, environmental, commercial.
- How can we help each other to get more stuff happening faster?
The format of the evening was 4 inspirational speakers interspersed with long breaks to chat with other participants washed done by nice selection of ales. Simple.
Christophe Warrack presented the low down on building community cinema as a platform for participation, development and play. Creating film without borders. Particularly social borders! Christophe created his vision after years of working in a corporate role and volunteering in his spare time. His solution stems from a passion to merge those worlds.
“Question: What’s yr passion? Find a problem. Apply.”
Much of his volunteer hours were spent with the elderly who didn’t have access to films or the cinema exerience so he set about changing that. Et Voilà! Open Cinema.
Matt Linnecar presented his business Gnewt cargo, a zero emission delivery service in London, describing the journey from a few deliveries in electric van bike imported from france to custom design of an innovative fleet of electric vehicles complete with modular pod system for super efficient logistics.
“We look for people who live our values and work with them”
I was impressed and instantly saw the potential for collaborations with research into integrated zero emission supply chains. From continent to continent, via sea to port, then van to door all with no fossil fuels! What a dream that could be. Apparently the pod system Gnewt Cargo has designed is modular and to the same size specifications as a pallet, which could work well for small scale sail cargo trading.
Olivia Knight energetically and emotively explained her thinking behind her good, green startup that she has been developing from her kitchen table. Olivia married her long term partner recently and was frustrated by the lack of services for unconventional wedding gift lists. Olivia works part time for one of my fave green tips websites called ‘Do the green thing’ and is a bit of an eco activist so the last thing she wanted was more stuff, clutter or pointless consumption & waste creation. However she understood that people love to give especially at weddings. So she designed a beautiful bespoke gift giving site where people could create a patchwork of experiences for her family on honeymoon. They choose to go to Cuba so gifts included pints at the bar (the best man bought 150! Representing his relationship with the groom), pony trekking, rental of a vintage car and the odd night in a boutique hotel (They had chosen to couch surf and travel for 6 weeks for the rest of the time). Olivia is starting a business called Patchwork Present and is writing about her journey here . Patchwork Present streamlines this gifting service to make it easy for couples to build a site, upload pictures, share honeymoon snaps of gifts being enjoyed and streamline sending out bespoke thank you cards. Personally I can this being a great tool for all sorts of occasions. Especially as we enter the age of dematerialisation / age of experience. If this had been available when I was planning my voyage in January of this year I definitely would have used it!
Last and by no means least the irrepressibly enthusiastic Ed Dowding, founder of Sustaination, bounced onto the stage. Sustainantion is a bit like a linkedin site mapping local food and distribution networks. I’ve heard Ed speak on countless occasions but he always manages to surprise me with some new nugget of data that he has harvested from the interweb. As ever he spoke about how action around food and the food system is at the basis of solving our environmental and social problems. He offered glimmers of hope that big business is moving in the right direction with the statement that Unilever is looking to get 500,000 small farmers into their supply chains (although they don’t yet know how…). And that Birds eye are kind of on it to. But (and its a big but) we still have so far to go in terms of true sustainability. Basically Ed was laying down the gauntlet to all of us in the room to get on it, find our passion and create something damn well world changing. Before it is too late.
Let go. There are few prizes for being right. Let’s go. There ARE penalties for being wrong.
I got a double mention in Ed’s talk. One about how I wax lyrical about the importance of soil and secondly on how we shouldn’t piss it all away (urine that is). This sparked off a discussion about all the useful things we could be doing with our waste. Like using it as fertiliser or to generate electricity.
Sustaination is certainly an interesting network and business platform for New Dawn Traders. The ability to map supply chains and rapidly tap into distribution networks will be critical to our viability trading by sail. It is a monumental challenge to compete with commercial shipping. We can’t compete on the same terms. The system is stacked against us. So we have to create smarter, more nimble service, collaborate with smart tech start ups and create a better experience.
I presented briefly my passion for sail, zero carbon sustainable globalisation and a future filled with sail cargo ships criss-crossing the oceans on slow food & slow travel adventures. The presentations all touched on aspects of the New Dawn Traders dream as it is currently shaping up. Gift economics, community building through arts and cinema, smart networks and zero emission logistics… All important food for thought in shaping the final venture.
If you want to see what people were saying at the event you can check out the twitter feed #findbetterproblems. (I did like Lucy Warin’s tweet that at the end she felt the evening might of been #findmorefollowers…)
Oh and one final thought… HAPPY GLOBAL SHARING DAY!