You are currently browsing dbreecker’s articles.
SFIP enjoyed some very favorable local press coverage last week, in the Santa Fe New Mexican and Albuquerque Business First (summarized below). This is especially gratifying because SFIP, while global in its outlook and desired impact, works at the community scale; and we find that northern New Mexico and Santa Fe are often great test-beds for developing community-centric solutions.
In addition, SFIP has an economic development role to play in the local economy. Indeed, its genesis was as an economic development strategy for Santa Fe, posing the question: Can a city do technology-based economic development without a research university to draw on? And posing the answer: let’s position Santa Fe as a globally recognized center for creative problem solving. The original plan called for an ambitious physical facility, that would host leading organizations in residence for extended periods to assist them with their innovation challenges. Then came the recession… Read the rest of this entry »
SFIP’s newest project, Wellness as a Complex System, embodies a simple but perhaps provocative proposal:
When it comes to social, cultural, and community factors in health and wellness, why not make the individual his or her own doctor?
The so-called “social determinants of health” are well-known to have a significant impact on a broad range of (or even all) disease outcomes. This effect is most evident in “behavioral diseases,” such as obesity/diabetes, that have behavior factors at their root (e.g., diet and exercise).
The U.S. spends $245 billion annually on diabetes care alone, and 17.6% of GDP on healthcare, and both are rising dramatically. We know a lot about what people do to make themselves sick, and what they can do to keep themselves well. Needless to say, it’s time for some innovative thinking about how we use this knowledge, and maybe even some tried-and-true user-centered design. Read the rest of this entry »
Anyone following SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) knows how many good reasons there are to move toward this highly decentralized architecture in terms of efficiency, reduced greenhouse emissions, community engagement, and alleviating energy poverty in un-wired portions of the planet.
Now, a number of recent research reports and presentations have added impetus to the microgrid trend by addressing various aspects of the business case: the economics of microgrid deployment, the pace of development, the societal value of conversion, and the cost of inaction. We’ve summarized some of the most interesting below, beginning with the “big picture” of current grid costs and potential, and then moving on to microgrids’ role and value.
Economic benefit of Smart Grid efficiencies by 2030: $2 trillion
Estimated cost: $338 billion. Courtesy of George Arnold, national coordinator for smart grid interoperability at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Given the role that microgrids can and will play as enabling infrastructure for many of the most valuable aspects of the smart grid revolution, we can can assign some meaningful portion of this projected $2 trillion efficiency to them, going forward. Read the rest of this entry »
SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Laboratory is pleased to announce that State Senator Peter Wirth has introduced appropriation bill SB105 for the Lab’s next-stage design and development, which was endorsed by the State Legislature’s Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. We encourage all of our readers in New Mexico to reach out to their legislators in support of this bill.
On a related note, both Santa Fe County and City have passed resolutions in support of the Lab. And Los Alamos National Security, manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide seed funding for MSL’s development (through LANS’ support of our partner Santa Fe Community College’s Sustainable Technologies Center).
The Santa Fe New Mexican published an analysis of the bill on its technology blog, and Randy Grissom of Santa Fe Community College (a project partner) was interviewed on KFSR. We expect to make some important announcements soon about key industry partners and other international-level support and engagement, so stay tuned…
The St. Michael’s Corridor Revitalization Initiative
SFIP is pleased to lead the renewable energy component of Santa Fe’s RE:MIKE initiative, under its Microgrid Innovation Lab. This initiative, which is designed to catalyze the revitalization of a “Central Santa Fe” district, kicks off with “a participatory festival-style public event on September 21, 22 & 23: A pop-up previtalization of Central Santa Fe.” The RE:ENERGIZE component will feature pop-up renewable generation and infrastructure; an “Energy Village” with displays, electric vehicles, and passive efficiency techniques; a Smart Home demo; and an exploration of what a future “neighborhood energy network” might look like. A fuller description from the initiative’s website follows: Read the rest of this entry »
Some recent readings have conspired with the launch of SFIP’s collaboration with artist Sydney Cooper and the Portray.It project’s design phase, to make us ponder the essential role of the imagination in deep innovation.
Let’s start with the magnificent Marina Warner, one of our most profound scholars of and thinkers in the realms of magic, myth, and mystery. In her new book, “Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights,” she offers the following observations (emphasis added):
“Magic is not simply a matter of the occult or the esoteric, of astrology, Wicca and Satanism; it follows processes inherent to human consciousness and connected to constructive and imaginative thought. The faculties of imagination — dream, projection, fantasy — are bound up with the faculties of reasoning and essential to making the leap beyond the known into the unknown. At one pole (myth), magic is associated with poetic truth, at another (the history of science) with inquiry and speculation. It was bound up with understanding physical forces in nature and led to technical ingenuity and discoveries. Magical thinking structures the processes of imagination, and imagining something can and sometimes must precede the fact or the act; it has shaped many features of Western civilization. But its influence has been constantly disavowed since the Enlightenment, and consequently misunderstood.” Read the rest of this entry »
Those of you following our Microgrid Lab project know that we’re interested in supporting the United Nations Foundation on the U.N.’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, one of the most important efforts imaginable. As described on its website:
Energy is central to nearly every major challenge, and opportunity the world faces today. Be it jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to sustainable energy for all is essential for strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems and achieving equity. Read the rest of this entry »
One of SFIP’s programmatic interests, under its transdisciplinary problem-solving theme, is the idea of “artist-driven innovation.” Due to their singularity of vision, passion, and imagination, artists and designers often drive achievements in other synergistic areas to new levels that mere mortals can’t imagine (think Frank Gehry and his custom CAD software, for example).
So we’re especially pleased to announce our first artist-driven innovation project, We the People, in collaboration with Santa Fe artist Sydney Cooper and leading Santa Fe design studio Anagram. Click through to the Project Description to learn more, and join the project crowd-funding effort on United States Artists.
An excellent post over at frog’s design mind blog (“Adapt, Jugaad, Hacking, Shanzhai or the Merits of Seeing the World As It Is Not”) makes a number of crucial points, many relevant to SFIP. Among them are the idea that innovation fads come and go (remember Design Thinking?); the insight that “wrong is right,” since true innovators always “see the world as it is not”; and the corollary observation that innovation is a mindset, rather than a process that can be administered or learned, for which serendipity is key. Author Tim Leberecht focuses in on the Indian practice called Jugaad:
“Jugaad is a remote sibling of the Western-style hacking, the manipulation of existing products and services, and with the Chinese Shanzhai phenomenon (innovation through fast imitation) it has in common the utter disrespect for any kind of brand or management ideology. Adaptation, improvisation, rapid experimentation, fast failing, a high tolerance for ambiguity, super-flexibility… together these principles are perhaps marking the beginning of a new era of doing business, a new economy.”
It’s enough to make you think that innovation is a case of emergent behavior in a complex system (which to some extent it is), beyond influence. But I would also argue that there is room for adding structure, context, and what I’ll call method (as opposed to a process) to accelerate and diffuse innovation. As one example, SFIP’s method, based on its overall problem-solving approach, features five main themes: Read the rest of this entry »
Having so far weathered the Great Recession (and even benefited from it in terms of being forced to think very carefully about our core mission and value), SFIP recently revised its strategy and business plan from top to bottom. Many of these changes are already reflected in the content on this site, but we want to elaborate a bit here for our community of interest. We call this SFIP 3.0 because there have been two prior iterations, but also because 2.0 already sounds so old hat these days. Onwards…
The Problem with Problems
We all know that local, national, and global communities face critical challenges in areas such as energy and climate, healthcare, public education, environmental degradation, and sustainable economic development. But despite the massive resources we devote to these problems, in many ways things are getting worse instead of better.
A new approach is needed, one that moves us from incremental tweaks to systemic transformation, and scales to address the global challenges of our time. Read the rest of this entry »