The students eyes lit up, when I presented the idea of a multimedia SOLUTION LIBRARY. They loved the idea of finding out what people and groups are doing all over the world.


It’s astonishing when you begin to delve into the world of solutions. Like finding out about the cars that run on air in Paris, or the 16 year old girl in Turkey who won this year’s Google Science award for inventing a bio-plastic made from banana peels.


We are swimming in solutions, they are just not advertised.


Cool Planet Labs (a “think and do” tank of environmental educators and creative leaders in the Internet, dedicated to mobilizing millions of people around climate solutions) did a Hackathon this year in San Rafael with “green teens” – a town just north of San Francisco. California’s North Bay is a pretty progressive part of the world, these students are among some of the most passionate and on fire kids, I have worked with in my career.


My goal for the afternoon was to emulate some aspects of the SOLE method. I gave the group of 25 students a quick overview of what CPL’s vision / mission is: To build an interactive climate change platform on the web that will allow young people and their communities to crowd source, share and map climate solutions.



The whole idea of focusing on solutions seems to have escaped most people’s thinking. The environmental world seems far more focused on the problem, which can often be overwhelming and make people feel powerless and passive.


I told the kids we really didn’t know how to build an app that could make this easy and fun for young people to share their ideas and actions. After a half an hour I asked the kids to break up into small groups of 4 to 5 students and produce a paper prototype for an app for this project: EcoNavigator.


One of my CPL partners David Sherman and I were blown away by the results, not only because the students produced mind-boggling prototypes, as sophisticated and elegant as any seasoned web designer could produce, but also David’s son, Mael, who was one of the participants, said the kids were so excited that we gave them the power to solve the problem…they were talking about it for days after. The idea that a “teacher” would stop teaching and genuinely ask them for help was really exciting to them.


I think changing the world can and should be an adventure. We all know we need a radical shift, whether that be social, economic, political or environmental. We need to rethink the way we do almost everything. I have always known that how we educate is the key to how we solve critical problems.


Using the power of the Internet to harvest and share our collective intelligence is deeply exciting to me and the people on my team.


Here’s a rough iPhone movie of the students pitches at our Green Teen Hackathon.


Viva la SOLE Solutionaries!

Carolyn M. Scott (cofounder Cool Planet Labs)


An illustration for our SOLUTIONARIES website UserInterface

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