As you can imagine, the discussion I had over lunch yesterday with DJ and Andrew was quite interesting and left me with a lot to think about. We’re all passionate and deeply involved in local projects, trying to make the places we live better. At one point we were ranting about the money government wastes on certain projects. A little while later, DJ remarked that he could do so much more if he didn’t have to worry about paying the bills. A light bulb went off for me then.
What would happen if we took ten passionate and involved Albertans and enabled them to focus on their extracurricular activities? Pay the bills for a year, and let them focus on improving their communities. What would they come up with? How big of an impact would they have on the province?
Now, I recognize there are many potential issues with the idea. First and foremost, if you pay those individuals for their “fun” extracurricular activities, there’s a danger that those activities become “work”. I’m sure you can think of many other issues. But imagine the possibilities! Let’s say, as DJ suggests, that you pay each individual $50,000 for the year – that’s only $500,000. We could easily come up with a list of things our municipal and provincial governments have done in the last few months that cost as much but will have a far smaller return.
Funding this idea needn’t fall to the government, either. Wealthy Albertans or large companies could fund it. Anyone with the money and the desire to make Alberta a better place. Think of it like the unconference version of the X Prize or the Netflix Prize (in that there’s less structure and no pre-defined goals).
The idea is to simply set ten individuals free for a year, knowing that they’ll rise to the ultimate challenge: twelve uninterrupted months to make your city and province a better place.
Thoughts? Know of anything like this happening elsewhere? Let me know!
Check out DJ’s blog for another take on the idea.