Friday, October 30, 2009

Hydrogen = Teachers...Wow!

My younger brother, Bobby, works for Gensler, the multi-national architecture and design firm. Bobby has an interesting job with interesting clients...and he's really good at what he does. I heard today that he's in China, picking out tile and other components for one of his latest projects. I'm in Amsterdam, finishing a week of work on my current project. Our younger brother, Thom, has an ongoing gig in Korea, so the Johnston boys have clearly gone global.

What got me started on this riff was an item I saw tonight at Some Gensler folks have proposed an innovative project in Chicago - converting an abandoned rail line into a greenhouse to grow food for local consumption and also including a "hydrogen generator" that would split water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen could be sold for use by alternative fuel vehicles, with the profits being funneled back into the Chicago school system to pay teacher salaries.

Hydrogen = Teachers.

It seems inadequate to call this "out of the box thinking". Sure, it's a design concept, and some of the infrastructure doesn't yet exist. But it represents an approach to problem solving that is clearly not encumbered by the traditional.

I've spent much of today talking with my project team about how we approach our work with new eyes - challenging assumptions and looking for the breakthrough ideas that get us to our goal faster, better, and smarter.

Hydrogen = Teachers.

What's our equation?