Monthly Archives: April 2013

LAUNCH 2020 Summit: Genius

For the four LAUNCH founding partners, NASA, Nike, USAID, and State Department, LAUNCH is the Collective Genius for a Better World. Nike’s LAUNCH 2020 Summit is sheer genius!

“Our society has reached a point where its progress and event its survival depend on our ability to organize the complex and to do the unusual.” James Webb, former NASA Administrator

Last week, Nike hosted the LAUNCH 2020 Summit in “sunny” Portland  – and sunny it was, both in weather and collaborative engagement. The purpose for the Summit was two-fold: 1) introduce the new seven-year systems focus on materials, makers, and access; and 2) debut the LAUNCH 2013 Systems Challenge. Our last four challenges featured water, health, energy, and waste solutions. This year’s challenge is focused on materials – which are crucial for supporting life outside the protection Earth’s atmosphere – as well as for gravity-bound Earthlings.

LAUNCH partner Alan Hurd of State Department announces the 2013 Challenge

LAUNCH partner Alan Hurd of State Department announces the 2013 Challenge

One of the Summit’s highlights: Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP for Sustainable Business and Innovation, led a discussion about how creative humans can rise above the limits with certified limit-busters, Astronaut Ron Garan and Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Ron Garan + Joan Benoit Samuelson + Hannah Jones discussing triumph over limits.

Ron Garan + Joan Benoit Samuelson + Nike’s Hannah Jones discussing triumph over limits.

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Astronaut Ron Garan

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Astronaut Ron Garan

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson

Nike also featured an innovation showcase that included past LAUNCH innovations, Gram Power, Bioneedle, DTI-r, and “Born at LAUNCH” Carbon for Water  – among other innovations such as NASA’s Solar Sail and the Nike Flyknit.

Former LAUNCH Innovation: GramPower

Former LAUNCH Innovation: GramPower

Former LAUNCH Innovation: Bioneedle

Former LAUNCH Innovation: Bioneedle

"Born at LAUNCH" Innovation: Carbon for Water

“Born at LAUNCH” Innovation: Carbon for Water

The AWESOME-sauce Nike team created an immersive process called the Systems Innovation Experiment (SIX) to engage our Summit participants in a decision-making atmosphere that reflects fictional, yet realistic system choices. Team investment decisions were ranked in relation to profit, environmental impact, and social capital – with collaboration as the key to system change. The moral to the story: investments we make today greatly impact our future tomorrows.

Nike's Dave Cobban takes the stage to discuss process.

Nike’s Dave Cobban takes the stage to discuss process.

I was given the opportunity to share the “Why NASA” story on stage during the first day of the Summit. I was “set free” from a scripted speech (due to a glitch in the teleprompter), so I have no idea what I actually said.  But, here are the notes of what I planned to say. Hopefully, I hit some of these points from stage….

For NASA, we look at LAUNCH as a Collaborative Innovation Incubator. In addition to serving as an alternate means to uncover early stage technologies, LAUNCH has become a testbed for new and unexpected ways of doing business in the government. We’re incubating new methods and processes to:

  1. collaborate and partner with new communities outside our normal orbit of influence,
  2. innovate new solutions to a more sustainable existence off-planet, and
  3. broker ideas across diverse innovation clusters of creative thinkers.

Our mission is to enable off-planet citizens to live and work in the extremely hostile environment of space. Materials are key.

Think about it:  We take the materials for human existence with us when we leave our home planet for destinations beyond Earth – whether for orbiting outposts, planetary bodies, or asteroids. These materials must be reused, recycled, and recreated into anything and everything we need to fuel a self-sustaining biosphere – which could be a spacesuit, spacecraft or space colony. As you can imagine, resupply becomes less of an option the farther we travel away from home.

In essence: we need a fully sustainable, closed-loop system to support humans (on and OFF the planet).

At NASA, our issues mirror the struggles facing earthlings – scarce, dwindling, constrained natural resources – but our problem is magnified. We have no natural resources for our journey – except what we harvest along the way.

We’ve learned [during our occupation of Earth] that our ability to thrive as humans shouldn’t harm the planet that hosts us. Sadly, we have a parasitic relationship with Earth. What we want is a symbiotic partnership where Earth thrives because we live here!

 We see LAUNCH as the rocket fuel to reach this new reality.

Process talk: Nike's Santiago Gowland + NASA's Diane Powell + USAID's Will Schmitt + Nike's Hannah

Process: Nike’s Santiago Gowland + NASA’s Diane Powell + USAID’s Will Schmitt + Hannah Jones

With our LAUNCH 2013 Systems Challenge, I’m most excited about our potential to discover cool, futuristic multi-purpose synthetic or bio-synthetic, smart and/or self-healing materials, and technical fabrics with novel attributes that will enable makers (humans) to have access to the materials and data needed to make better choices for better lives.

Highest praise to Nike’s Santiago Gowland and his team for providing leadership for our LAUNCH shift toward systems thinking. Nike provided systems experience and research as the foundation for our new approach. The map below is just one glimpse of the work they’ve been doing with MIT to create a better understanding of the materials value chain.

LAUNCH 2020 Systems Map

LAUNCH 2020 Systems Map

As for the LAUNCH 2020 Summit, I have one word: WOW! The Nike team envisioned, produced, and magnificently hosted a gathering of system thought leaders to engage in the materials system, share expertise, and collaborate to bring about inspired solutions to intractable problems. I’m absolutely awed by Nike’s storytelling genius and professional muscle – crucial ingredients for the Summit’s success. They’re quite brilliant at leveraging the power of spoken word and compelling visuals. They created fabulous assets the LAUNCH team can use to help tell our story going forward, and inspired us to keep pushing through the pain – collaboration is quite messy, but WELL worth it! I’m honored to be part of the LAUNCH team and have the opportunity to take part in this process.

Nike "Word Power" Tower!

Nike “Word Power” Tower!

Nike, you guys ROCKet!! You’ve propelled us from a high school-level sports team to Olympic contenders – EXTREME performers of the magnificent kind!

Planetary CALL to ACTION: Earthlings, we need YOUR help. One of you has a mind-blowing solution to this challenge – one that we could never have imagined without you.  Please apply! If, by chance, you’re not the one, but you know who is, please share the LAUNCH Systems Challenge with your innovation networks. We can’t succeed without you.

"There must be a way to make the things we want, a way that doesn't spoil the sky or the rain or the land.

Sir Paul McCartney

Remember, we’re in this journey together. Help us create a planet-friendly future.

LAUNCH: Collective Genius for a Better World

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The Day the Music Died

Carol K. ReeseToday, 40 years ago, my best friend died.

Carol K. Reese.

Born: November 9, 1955.

Died: April 5, 1973.

It was such a long time ago, and yet just a moment’s distance in my memory. We were just 17. That was the day the music died.

Carol: Definition

  1. an old round dance with singing,
  2. a song of joy or mirth <the carol of a bird — Lord Byron>
  3. a popular song or ballad of religious joy
Origin of Carol:

Middle English carole, from Anglo-French, modification of Late Latin choraula choral song, from Latin, choral accompanist, from Greek choraulēs, from choros chorus +aulein to play a reed instrument, from aulos, a reed instrument.

First Known Use: 14th century
Carol hanging upside down.

The irrepressible Carol: upside down.

Travel back to 1973 with me to Sunday, the last day of Spring Break our Junior year in high school. Carol had gone camping with my family at Canyon Dam, not far from San Marcos, Texas, where we lived. We came home from camping and hopped on our bikes to “cruise” out to Sonic, our high school hangout. Riding back up the steep hill to her house, she told me she felt tired. Carol was never tired. Never. She had boundless energy. The next day, she stayed home from school. A first for Carol, who had never missed a day of school in her whole life. I left campus and drove to her house during lunch break. (Cell phones, texting, and email didn’t exist in our world.)

In less than two weeks, she was gone. The doctors thought she had mono, then hepatitis. They simply didn’t know what happened.

Carol: 1973 SMHS concert

Carol: 1973 SMHS concert

The night she died, I was at school rehearsing for our Spring Choir concert. She should have been been with me on the rickety risers rather than in a hospital bed. I stood on the back row, singing, when images of my life without Carol flooded before my eyes. I pictured the Spring concert with an empty place where she should have been standing. I flashed forward to Senior night on the football field. She didn’t get roses from the players because she wasn’t there. She was missing from Senior prom, and Senior Day at the river park. And more. And more. I couldn’t hold back the tears, so I dashed out of the auditorium to find refuge in the entryway bathroom. I sobbed and sobbed. I didn’t understand what I was seeing. I thought perhaps she might be too weak to come back to school. We had so many plans for our Senior year. I couldn’t imagine not having her by my side for the highs and lows of life. I told myself I was being silly, pulled it together, and returned to rehearsal. The moment I opened my mouth to sing, I choked on fresh tears. More images flashed before my eyes. Carol wasn’t in any of them.

I bolted from rehearsal, raced to my car, and headed home — with gut-wrenching sobs that made driving difficult. I searched for Daddy, who was rehearsing one of his youth choirs across the street from our house. He stopped rehearsal to console me. Daddy always made everything better. I was emotionally exhausted. I went home and collapsed on my bed. After Daddy got home a bit later, I heard the phone rang. He called me into the living room and sat me on his lap. Mother stood ashen by his side. Carol’s family had just called to say she died. She left this world at that very moment during rehearsal when the “my-life-without-Carol” slideshow started playing in my head.

That day, I changed. I may have looked the same from the outside, but I was no longer a carefree teenager full of plans for the future. I got sucked inside the sink hole of my heart. I didn’t want talk about Carol to well-meaning outsiders. I hated being told how I should feel or how I should move forward. I really didn’t care what anyone said. I refused to give her up. I put my jagged heart in a treasure box that only I could access. She was my secret pain. No one could take her from me and I would never forget her. That was my vow.

Fast forward to now. I can only write this blogpost because I’m cracking open my treasure box and setting Carol free. I’ve held her prisoner for far too long. I thank DC Metro Church for getting me to this place of freedom.

In November last year, I was in a Thrive prayer service and David Stine, our pastor, said that someone in the group had a broken heart that needed healing. I was sitting up in the back row on the risers. I felt as if I’d been hit with a sledge hammer. The experience really shook me. I sat there processing. I didn’t think I had a broken heart. I walked through a list of adversaries at work, loved ones who died, divorce. Nothing clicked. I simply didn’t get it…until a small voice inside whispered the word, “Carol.” Gut punch. A groundswell of tears gushed out, as if a pipeline burst. I was thankful to be in the back of the sanctuary. What a revelation that I’ve been a “walking-wounded” for nearly four decades. I never saw myself that way. I imagined myself quite resilient. How wrong I’ve been.

To top it off, I realized it was Carol’s birthday weekend. She would have turned 57.

God always surprises me with His perfect timing and creative order. I’m really thankful He knows the very “heart” of me, and loves me despite my brokenness. He lets me think I’m moving toward one thing, when He’s actually getting me in position for what He really wants. The DC Metro Thrive  prayer night was all having a “heart” for giving. I interpreted it literally as financial giving.  But what God wanted from me was my buried treasure.  [Note: God has an amazing poetic sense of symmetry as well. He revealed Carol’s death to me on the risers in the school auditorium. He revealed my broken heart to me on the risers in the DC Metro Church sanctuary.]

God, the Great Healer, revealed my broken heart when He knew I was strong enough to face it. I’d been praying to be fully the person God wanted, and He showed me He had to heal my heart first.  He needed to get me to a place where I could freely give Him my most prized possession — Carol. She was the Thrive offering He wanted me to bring to the alter.

So here’s the thing about broken hearts: sometimes we don’t know we have them, yet the jagged edges poke and prick and gash new holes as we bend and shift and stretch our hearts. We bleed internally, yet think we’re ok. We may feel pain, but we ignore it and distract ourselves with shiny objects. I’d stuffed my broken heart into a treasure box that I wouldn’t let anyone see. It was my way of keeping Carol alive — and not letting go.

How many of you hold on to broken hearts, broken promises, broken dreams?

Today may be your day to “let go and let God.”

1973 San Marcos HS Choir portrait. Carol @ Left in Pink. Beth @ Right in Blue.

1973 San Marcos High School Choir portrait. Carol @ Left in Pink. Beth @ Right in Blue.

Carol, 2nd from Right. 1973 SMHS Royal Guard

Carol, 2nd from Right. 1973 SMHS Royal Guard

Carol wrote this:

Even though we travel in different directions, our paths may cross and we will meet —

I will look at you.

You will look at me.

We will take ourselves and share them with each other. We will discover together there are things that are more important than ourselves. We begin trying to please each other because we care, but sometimes we try too hard and it becomes time to stop and remember ourselves again —

I can only be me.

You can only be you.

In life, we each have our own path to follow —

You have yours, and

I have mine.

We are all different so each of our paths are different — 

You travel one direction.

I travel the other.

On our paths, we meet certain problems that will have to be solved, obstacles that will have to be righted, goals that will have to be reached —

You must deal with yours.

I must deal with mine.

We cannot change for each other.

I must step aside and let you continue down your path.

You must do the same for me.

I do not know what I will encounter next, but I leave with a greater understanding of myself and others because of you.

I know that even though our paths have crossed, we will never be able the walk the same one — 

but, instead, just meet at the crossings.

Thank you, Carol, for crossing my path. I’m different because of you. I miss you.

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