Last night, President Obama called for new ideas and innovation to decrease our dependence on oil and turn to new energy sources. That Obama, he’s always calling out to the public for ideas.
For example, on April 16, the President established America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to “promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.”¹ Well, that sounds pretty good to me. How?
Step one seems to be to start a countrywide conversation-of-sorts about promoting and preserving outdoor spaces. No, really. The powers that be want to know what you think. First, there are “listening sessions” being set up across the country, the first being Annapolis, MD, on June 25, from 1-5PM.
Can’t attend one? You can submit your ideas and innovations (and read and vote on those submitted by others) at the America’s Great Outdoors idea center. Check it out, there’s a lot of interesting stuff on there.
A lot of people seem to like the idea of creating a “master naturalist” volunteer program, based on the Texas program of the same name, in which individuals would rack up volunteer hours and undergo training to obtain a certification as a “master naturalist.” Texans seem to like their program, and it seems to do a lot of good.
Less well-liked (or maybe just more controversial) is this suggestion to revamp Smokey the Bear. I wonder if the number of “demotes” (think the oft-wished-for “dislike” button on Facebook) on this suggestion is because people love Smokey or because forcing poor Smokey into retirement at the age of 65 hits a little too close to home for some people?
Which ideas do you like? What do you think of the “conversation”? Is Obama’s tendency to solicit ideas from the public increasing democratic involvement and allowing for real innovation that might otherwise have been stifled, or is it just another way for well-funded organizations to lobby? (Oops, that last question is a little charged. Have at it anyhow.)
¹ Glunz, Christine, et al. April 16, 2010. “President Obama Launches Initiative to Develop a 21st Century Strategy for America’s Great Outdoors.” Retrieved from http://www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/Press-Release.cfm.
© Her Side of the Mountain, 2010.