Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Minnesota Idea Open launches challenge to address state water problems

Aug. 30, 2011, 1:48 p.m., Posted by Michele McLellan

MN Idea Open, an innovative contest that solicits solutions to state problems from the general public, has opened its second round. This year, the issue is water quality and the Open has selected three finalists from more than 100 entries.

The finalists would:

  • Expand a canoe-lending library to include kayaks, and a curriculum for ninth graders to promote awareness of water resources.
  • Bring a puppet show  on water issues to more audiences.
  • Connect retired farmers with working farmers to educate them on conservation issues.

Public voting is now under way and a booth for the Open at the Minnesota State Fair has been drawing lots of interested people to learn more about water issues facing the state and to vote on a favorite contestant.

“Water is a perfect issue for a challenge like this because the biggest issues we have are really driven by the behavior of individuals,” said Jennifer Ford Reedy, chief of staff and vice president of strategy for the Minnesota Community Foundation.  “We’ve fixed all the pipes spewing horrible stuff – what’s left is nonpoint pollution.  It is our fertilizing, our car washing, our shower habits that are impacting our water quality and quantity.  Since we are the problem, it makes sense that we can be the solution.”

The Open, a partnership with Ashoka, was a Knight Community Information Challengewinner in the first round. Last year, the project launched with a competition on fighting  obesity.

This year’s voting closes Monday.