16. Let's get speculative

Updated: Dec 15, 2018


A. GroTower Conceptual Design

Figure 16A. Additional feedback on the GroTower reiterated earlier points: nice idea, however, once more, what context is this rooted in? what is it trying to accomplish? and most importantly, how is it different than existing solutions of community gardens and urban farms? While the GroTower was more rooted than the GroMobile. It suffers from the same solutionist mentality.

(left) B. Urban Farm (right) C. Community Garden

Figures 16B-C. Ultimately, our critic was right. How was the GroTower different from an urban farm or community garden? From the beginning we were drawn to this problem space. Urban agriculture represents an enormous opportunity for impact. Begging the question, if urban farms and community gardens are such a good idea, why are they not more popular? Why does supply exceed demand?

D. "The Power of Small Wins"

Figure 16D. This prompted us to step back and consider why we were unable to innovate? We kept looking at the problem too broadly.

What barriers were we facing? What were we uniquely positioned to support? How do we disentangle the intertwined variables?

We can't solve for inefficient food production, but we can try to impact one part of it. In other words, what small wins were available? How could we contribute to incremental progress?

E. Non-Profit Annual Report

Figure 16E. The complexity of this task reminded me of working at a non-profit, Samaschool. Funding is highly dependent on outcomes, so the best nonprofits measure their impact rigorously. However, measuring the impact of workforce development services is tricky. You can count jobs, but then there's all of the confounding factors also influencing job preparedness or availability. Furthermore, how do you calculate (and do you incorporate it?) the add-on benefits that come as a result of someone going back to work?

Impact measurement is also complex. However, we created a methodology and adhered to it. When we wanted to make a change, there would be a formal meeting and discussion. If a change was made, we'd publicize it and the rationale immediately. So, to better understand the impact we can make in the space of urban agriculture, we should start by looking at the data.