Friday, September 4, 2009

Talk about the Birds & Bees

Hollywood makes everything thing look way too easy. With the slightest flick of the wrist or the lightest touch, we get just what we want. The wetness flows and it is so refreshing...ahhhh. Holloywood is partially responsible for creating unrealistic and unattainable expectations.

As a parent it is one of the most dreaded questions you will hear. It will continue to be a controversial topic in public education. Political platforms will be constructed and demolished around this very topic. Fast forward ten to fifteen years and you will hear the tenderly inquisitive voice of a toddler ask, “Mommy, where does water come from?”

We live in a region in which a magical phenomenon occurs—turn a knob and clean, refreshing water pours out. We have so much of it we assist Mother Nature by running sprinklers during a rain storm, washing our cars every week and turning our collective noses up at the thought of drinking water that does not come in a bottle. In short we are spoiled by the supply and ignorant of the demand. I would tell the curious toddler that water comes from a region which has decided to practice the three C’s: Commit, Create and Capitalize.

Commit: If you half-ass it, you will be unsatisfied
Every good and healthy relationship begins with commitment and addressing our water issues is no different. The region needs to put water at the top of the priority list. This is not a commitment to using less; it is a commitment to using water more efficiently. It is a commitment to embracing innovation. It is a commitment to answering the toddler’s question even though it is a little embarrassing. I’ll tell you what is embarrassing, two cities right next door to each other—Clovis and Fresno—one meters residential water use and the other does not (Fresno soon will). Accountability is a telltale sign of commitment.

Create: What worked yesterday may not be so climactic today
A region needs to not only adopt creative solutions; it needs to generate new opportunities for adoption. When creativity is lacking, the answer to the toddler’s question is inaccurate. “Water comes from the faucet.” Not an acceptable answer. To truly address the water issue, the region needs to come up with more answers—hundreds or thousands of alternatives to “the faucet.” A good indicator of creative solutions is the presence of new patent filings. Money flows to where the patents grow.

Capitalize: What ever happened to dinner and a movie first?
Take out the regions metaphorical bank statement and see where money is being spent. Where are the investments being made? If there is a true commitment and focus on creative solutions, then these initiatives need to be funded—venture capital, government appropriations, language in legislation, etc. Why are the idea we like the best the ones on which we spend the least amount of money? In 2007 one half of one percent of all venture capital invested was invested in clean water technology. Not much of a priority.

If we do not make changes soon, we will all face inquisitive toddlers asking, “Where does water come from?” The public schools will require all sophomores to take Water Education classes as a graduation requirement. Let us do everyone a favor. Let us commit to adopting new ways to address water issues. Let us build an environment that values innovation and creates solutions. Let us put our money where our mouth is by capitalizing water-related ventures. Let us keep the kids focused asking where babies come from. It is a much simpler question to answer.

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