The other day I had a Great Idea.
This idea was inspired in equal parts by Red Bull’s Flugtag events and by Burt Reynold’s The Cannonball Run.
I imagine an event that is fun for those involved and for those watching.
I hope to inspire engineering students, psychology students, smartphone programmers, sports gear makers, and possibly even a beverage vendor to be excited to be a part of this event.
The pie-in-the-sky version of this plan includes not asking for permission from the city.
When I say this to people, the reaction I most often get is: “But there are safety issues!” to which I reply: Exactly. If it’s not adequate for the blindfolded, it’s not adequate for the blind. Why not make a political statement while doing real-world research and raising awareness?
However, on a nuts-and-blots level, this is about: 1. making improvements to our city, and 2. pushing the state of the art of assistive technology and gear forward. Everything should support these goals, so if I have to ask for permission, so be it.
What needs to be done:
1. A Name
Also a tagline, a logo, and other design sundry. This will be most people’s first impression of this, so it has to send the right message and have the right feel. Done well, we can raise awareness and have a great turnout.
Done poorly, you can get mocked on YourLogoMakesMeBarf.
In other words, we need good branding. Oh, yeah! We’re going to need web space and a domain…
2. We need to decide on a maximum size.
I know, I know. I should be so lucky that I’m having to turn people away. Unfortunately, in order to plan a lot of the logistics we need to be able to tell people that we won’t go above X number of people. This isn’t just the participants, this also includes their helpers, our crew, and press too.
3. We need to decide on the Start/End locations.
It has to big enough for everybody, it has to be easy to find, and ideally it should have nearby parking and should allow us to hang banners and post fliers. Also: the end location should be roughly 10K from the start location, duh.
4. I need to get someone else so this “we” business doesn’t sound so pretentious.
Consider this my official call for help and input. So far, I have two artists on board. It’s a start. I’ll be talking with a reporter this week. Also, I wrote to the group in Utah that held a similar event this weekend.
5. We need to write the liability waiver.
If you step off a curb in front of a bus because there is no bell to announce WALK/DON’T WALK I’d prefer it become a matter of the city’s insurance than with mine.
6. We need to write the Post-Walk Questionnaire.
What’s the point if we don’t learn from this? I need to find people who know what we should ask. Also contact statisticians, behavioral psychologists, biology students, traffic analysts, and anyone else who may want to learn from our focus group.
7. We need a tax attorney.
I don’t want to bother with the hell of becoming a 501(c)3 in time and I don’t want to be at the mercy of someone who is. We are officially a “not for excessive profit” group. We’re not in it for the money, but we need to pay the bills and our taxes.
8. We need an accountant.
Someone with experience in something that resembles this project.
9. We need to draw up a budget.
You can’t just “wing it” on something this big.
10. We need to work out the crew plan at both ends.
I repeat: You can’t just “wing it” on something this big.
11. We need to officially invite the authors of all turn-by-tun navigation apps to submit an app for step-by-step gps/gyro navigation system for the blind.
Is there an app for that? Why not?
12. We need contact makers of sports equipment, medical equipment, and accessibility gear for sponsorships.
Stress medical equipment profitability and government paybacks.
13. Find friends in the tech press to publicize the fact that we will not be getting permits and to make first call for participants.
Stress how non-visual navigation can be used underwater, in caves, while climbing mountains, and in wartime situations. Get the geeks excited about the techhy possibilities.
14. Contact lighthouse for the blind, ask for “loaner white canes”.
It is unreasonable to ask participants to purchase a cane. Also contact white cane day people, the “blind press” (whatever that is), local press, etc.
15. Get a beverage sponsor.
Also see if we can get freebies from the sports/health gear people to give as prizes.
….and this is just the “before we get started” to do list.
The key to this plan’s success, like any project this size, is to get certain groups of people excited about the project for completely different reasons, and at completely different times.
Now is the time for “Blue Skying it”. Put your thoughts in the comments. Watch these videos for inspiration.
(Ignore the first 35 seconds of the second video. Please.)