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Spotlight: Winner puts sustainability commitment to practice through the Climate CoLab

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With a background in Computer Science, Ecological Economics and Transportation; and a home on a farm in one of the most ecologically-conscious places in the USA, Galen Wilkerson was surrounded by inspiration for his proposal, Smart Mobility for the 21st Century (awarded the Judges’ Choice winner in the Transportation Efficiency contest).  Here’s his story:

Galen Wilkerson

Galen Wilkerson

Galen Wilkerson

I heard about the Climate CoLab through a friend of a friend who was interested in transportation. I was inspired, since I saw the dire need for a good open-source platform to submit ideas.  I think it is important that solutions to major problems remain publicly accessible — by definition “bottom-up”.  So I contacted the CoLab organizers about how to submit a proposal and one thing lead to another.

I had the basic idea for Smart Mobility roughly five years ago while studying Ecological Economics and Transportation. I was very deeply steeped in sustainability thinking at the time; I was living on an intensive permaculture farm in Vermont without three major icons of modern life: car, credit card, or TV. (Vermont is arguably one of the most sustainability-oriented places in the United States, if not the continent.)

I have a background in Computer Science from a rigorous program, so my mind automatically started thinking about “How to really solve the mobility/energy problem.”  Also, I was lucky to be subsequently exposed to recent ideas in Complex Systems and Big Data by doing my graduate degree in Computer Science in Boston and working in one of the more advanced labs in this field. The result is a combination of these experiences.

It is one thing to have a vaguely general, nice idea.  It is another to write it as clearly as possible for implementation and put it out for the public to see.

It was very difficult to put all of my thoughts to words, but the process was extremely valuable. I re-wrote the proposal from scratch 4 times or so over several years. It is one thing to have a vaguely general, nice idea. It is another to write it as clearly as possible for implementation and put it out for the public to see. I have made many connections on the way, enabling me to put my commitment to sustainability into practice.

 


You can meet Galen when he presents at our Crowds & Climate Conference, Nov 6-8 #MITcc.