Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kansas City Launches Sustainability Competition

Via Kansas City Infozine News comes word of an innovative approach to addressing local sustainability issues in Missouri's other big city: the Sustainable Kansas City Competition. In a nutshell, the competition challenges residents of the metropolitan area to conceive of and submit ideas for making the area more sustainable. There's no need for a lengthy proposal, cost-benefit analysis or literature review; rather, the goal of the competition seems to be to gather as many ideas as possible, from small to big, for discussion among residents:

The competition provides a means for collecting ideas from the community into a forum where they can be reviewed, discussed, and ultimately, implemented. The goal is to raise awareness of specific issues that we face within our community, to tap into the immense creative capacity of the people that know our community best, and to stimulate decision makers who can facilitate the implementation.

The issues and solutions can be of any size, from the relocation of a bus stop to allow a larger number of people access, to a metropolitan wide policy change. No idea is too large or small, what is important is that the issue and solution is made visible to the largest group of people possible. This Request for Innovative Ideas seeks to generate community discussion about how we can become an even better place to live, work or play. We are NOT requesting detailed and extensive problems/solutions, but rather, concise submittals that clearly identify problems and sustainable solutions for our community.

Ideas are due to the competition on January 12, and after an initial winnowing down, top ideas will be put on display for public viewing throughout the region for about a month. The top ten ideas will be announced on March 12, with a recognition celebration to follow on April 4. Winning ideas will be published in a resource book of Sustainable Design Ideas for the Kansas City Community, and on various websites. Winners will be invited to discuss their ideas at a forum for community leaders and planning experts, and a media campaign will feature the ideas in various formats around the metro area.

I think this is a great idea, as I'm sure there are many KC-area residents that have creative solutions to problems and issues affecting the built and natural environment, and human interaction with both. I hope the word spreads -- I also hope that the competition provides just a bit more information on urban/suburban sustainability, and perhaps even some concrete examples from other cities, as I think that might help jump-start the brainstorming. Asking residents for suggestions is not only an incredibly democratic way to address local issues, but also a smart way to generate "outside-the-box" ideas.

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