In January of 2006, Marisa, Chanda and I began working together in the product development group at Cranium, Inc. Together, we recognized a powerful synergy in our small team of three. This synergy enhanced the ideation and brainstorming processes of our work and brought us close together as friends.
After a few months of working closely, Marisa attended the TED conference in Monterey where she heard an impacting presentation from an MIT scientist named Amy Smith. She talked about how simple inventions could radically improve the health, environment, and economy of impoverished communities. As an example, Amy Smith handed out charcoal made in Haiti that was created using a simple steel drum kiln, sugar cane bi-products and cassava root. It was an ingenious solution to the minimal fuel resources available and to reducing the noxious fume exposure when burning wood as fuel.
In addition, at the conference, Marisa learned of the Millennium Development Goals. The eight Millennium Development Goals- which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015- were established by the United Nations to improve the lives of the world's poorest people. Marisa saw how innovation and ideation practices were used to contribute to these goals and from this her vision was born.
Marisa returned to Cranium inspired and enthusiastic. She approached Chanda and me with the idea of forming a group that would use skills of ideation, brainstorming, and prototyping- skills we'd honed at Cranium- to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. Marisa's passion was infectious and Chanda and I were instantly on board- our journey had begun.
As we sifted through many ideas as to what our first project would be, we came across the website, www.Nabuur.com, an innovative online volunteer network. Nabuur links communities across the globe that are in need of solutions to various problems with groups that work to create solutions to the problems faced by these communities. We applied to Nabuur with hopes of being selected to help a fishing village in Nigeria find ways to improve their fish smoking and preservation methods. We were accepted soon after applying and have made amazing progress in the last 3 months. We quickly developed close relationships with the village, Andrew Parker, the site facillitator, and the other volunteers who have contributed to our web discussions, research and proposed solutions. The project continues to blast forward as we grow, learn, and develop our mission to best serve the people of this community.
While working on our first project, we have observed amazing people, connections, coincidences, and successes that seem to confirm those feelings in our hearts that tell us this is exactly what we should be doing. It's hard to deny that when a group of people set out to do something for others that somehow, someway, magically, things seem to fall into place. This magic, and our continued hope to make global change, drives us to keep moving forward. We agree that this is just the beginning for our group, Greenlight 2015.