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Try this Brainstorming Exercise for the Renewable Energy Challenge

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Selina McPherson is our volunteer Community Champion for the Renewable Energy Challenge. You'll see her popping up across the challenge with handy tips and words of encouragement – and posting community updates here like a true champion!

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The Ideas phase for our Renewable Energy Challenge begins this week, so now is a great time to brainstorm and submit your awesome ideas. Some of you may have one already, and for others, you are still searching for that moment of brilliance - I’ve been there. Read on for an exercise to help you start generating your winning idea.
Our Research phase provides tons of great content and questions that can serve you in the Ideas phase. As you will see, there are specific Opportunity Areas in the Ideas phase that we use as "buckets" for our thinking. These are the areas that had the most energy and content around them in the Research phase, and are great themes for exploring further. Try brainstorming within each Opportunity Area to come up with new ideas. This tactic will narrow the scope and help you come up with more specific, actionable solutions, which is exactly what this challenge is all about.

OpenIDEO has created a super handy Brainstorm in a Box worksheet to help facilitate a brainstorming session. I find that brainstorming with other people is incredibly generative because it allows you to bounce ideas off each other and build them collaboratively. If I'm in an OpenIDEO pinch, however, I will also try going through brainstorming exercises on my own, just with paper and a pen. Do what works best for you – the most important thing is to be creative, follow your instincts and say YES to wild ideas!

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Let's start by brainstorming around one of the Opportunity Areas: Talk the Talk . How might we better communicate energy efficiency information - such as home and office energy usage, and energy choices - in a way that leads to increased development and use of renewable energy resources?

First, familiarize yourself with some relevant posts from the Research phase to bring this area to life. Here are a few that I found to be inspiring:
Then, try jotting down some answers to the following brainstorming questions. Remember: there are no bad ideas and the wilder the better. Try to write down as many thoughts and ideas as possible.
  1. If you were the communications director of a solar company, what do you think would be the three most important things to communicate to potential users? How would you leverage existing communications tools to get the word out?
  2. If you were charged with decreasing the energy usage in your office TODAY, where would you start? How would you communicate energy usage and renewable energy solutions to your co-workers and office management? How would you influence those around you to take action as well?
  3. How would you communicate the benefits of renewable energy in visual ways? (Try drawing pictures to mix it up!)
  4. Where do you think is the best place for energy usage and renewable energy communication? On your phone, a billboard, your light switch, or somewhere else?
  5. If you were the mayor of your town/city, how would you inform people about existing renewable energy solutions in your area?
  6. What are some awesome models for changing peoples’ behavior? (Here’s an example: Weight Watchers) How would you translate the communication strategy of an existing behavior change model to the renewable energy space?
  7. What groups, causes or activities are prevalent in your community? How do they communicate with their members? How do they communicate their initiatives to the community?

Hopefully this exercise provided some thought-starters for your next big idea. Pop over to the Brainstorm in a Box kit for more inspiration, and keep the momentum going by hosting a brainstorm with friends.

Best of luck with the challenge. Start contributing your ideas now!
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Community Champions , Renewable Energy Challenge


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Photo of Tej Kumar

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Photo of Sonali Ahmed

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