As a kid I often had a Lemonade stand (okay Kool-Aid, really). When I had no spare change for fun stuff, I sold too sweet Kool-Aid to thoughtful strangers, mostly railroad workers who would chuckle at my attempts at entrepreneurship.
Now we really need to reinvent lemonade. Coronavirus has given us giant lemons – unemployment, death, fear of social contacts, school closings, overcrowded hospitals, overworked/endangered medical professionals. Lemons for sure.
Twelve years of a growing economy creates a very false sense of security. We all feel like we are genius-level business people when our business grows and makes money in a strong economy. We learn more when a business is failing and we have to scramble and truly innovate to survive and with luck, thrive.
Our new lemonade stand cannot rely on a rescue by Mom running to the store for more sugar. Some potential ideas we’ve kicked around (having lots of time for that these days) are:
• State level Green New Deals – If the feds cannot do it, progressive states with some wealth can bring together innovative types to create programs that improve our sustainability, and employ out of work folks doing community service, conservation, healthcare, senior care, etc. (after social distancing issues subside).
• Turn Shark Tank into Dolphin Tank – Bring billionaires together to meet with entrepreneurs and innovators to share investment ideas that make communities healthier and more sustainable, not just rich folks richer. Dolphins help each other survive – sharks eat their neighbors.
• Modernize our bottle bills to give a $.22 deposit on each returned item instead of the 5 cents currently used in most states that have a bottle bill. As kids in the 50s we picked up pop bottles and a case of 24 netted a profit of $.48. Since pop from a machine was a nickel or dime, we thought it worthwhile to spend our spare time cleaning up the neighborhood. Bottle bills have not kept up with inflation according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Make it a quarter – we need an upgrade that gets anyone needing a meal or spare change reasons to pick up thoughtlessly tossed beverage containers.
• Study the best homeless programs worldwide and invest in bringing those programs to the places where it is most needed. Don’t just work on housing. Work on how we reclaim damaged lives while helping people have safe, reasonable living conditions.
• Enlist every person who graduates high school or drops out in 18-months of community service. Help people mature in their understanding of what cooperative work is like at the community level. Don’t let anyone duck out on this due to bone spurs or other spurious excuses – everyone can do something.
These are not my ideas – they’re your ideas. I’ve heard similar ones for decades from friends and family and entrepreneurs. But now we need even better ideas and much better effort. We need more dedicated people to make things happen. It’s spring and our lemon tree on the farm is starting to bloom. Now is the time to think about how to use the lemons we’re given and get to building a new and improved Lemonade Stand for the future.
- The Caffeinated Poet