For three days delegates rigorously developed and designed their concepts at sessions both at Collegiate and in various venues around Richmond, including those at MeadWestvaco and the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation at the Science Museum of Virginia.  On Thursday afternoon, their ideas were fully developed to the point that they took the stage at Oates Theater and presented their concepts using a variety of modalities including video, theater, and painting.

Robin Ashworth addressed the delegates following the presentations, eloquently summing-up the impact of the presentations:

Thank you, delegates for your entertaining, creative and meaningful presentations!  As we have been sitting here, listening to and watching each other, I hope certain seeds of awareness and practical innovation have been generously planted in your thoughts.

I believe it was Amalya, who, during her presentation, said “THIS IS REAL” to ensure that we understood her reference to an existing NGO was legitimate.  I will borrow her phrase and reiterate that this is, indeed real…..real places, real problems, and potentially real solutions that have been explored here.

To you, this audience of faculty, families and new friends, I want you to consider the channels into which these young, emerging leaders are asking us to pour our considerable, collective energy and will:

 At least four of these presentations focus on utilizing an old technology or practice, and reinventing it in a way that makes it new and utterly applicable.   A high-tech charcoal filter applied to agricultural practice, an urban, modern cistern, an ecological, turtle-friendly use for solar-powered LED lights, and a new wave bicycle initiative each offer time-tested approaches to serious, contemporary issues.

 At least three of these presentations have at their root the repurposing of debris – both organic and inorganic – for the benefit of flora, fauna and humanity.  Rocket trash might become the foundation for a profitable and beneficial recycling business, husk-driven guerilla gardening signals a simple approach to recultivating land, and the bane of algal blooms might become the boon of biofuel processing on the surface of the very waters in which they grow, as well as a collection source for medicinal algae.

 A few of these ideas speak to fundamental changes in popular perception and demand, and adjustments to the designs and uses of specific, existing technologies: adapted cellular technology that demands less copper; adapted exhaust filters fitted on all vehicles; and adapted radar technology used to protect potential targets, rather than expose them.

Finally, our responsible use of resources is emphasized, whether that means enjoying the beauty of the created world in a way that does not leave destructive traces of our presence, or understanding that food doesn’t have to look aesthetically perfect to provide nutrition, sustenance and good taste, and therefore, should not be wasted under any circumstances.

Make no mistake – every single and singular effort we make as individuals adds up – those seemingly small and simple gestures multiply among neighborhoods, and become manifest at the community level.  Community effort is, in turn, magnified at the regional and national levels, and, with a little luck, and a lot of persistence and insistence, which comes from you, whole nations are changed and the world is made better.

 Environmental consciousness is clearly a worthy and emphasized theme here.  Leadership is an equally emphasized theme.  These are concepts that, I hope, will infect and pollute your thoughts and your actions in the best possible ways.  These are the kind of contagions we WANT to spread.

 It is, it will continue to be, hard work to lead others to make these kinds of changes, but you have already begun your journey on that path.  Keep to it!