A tool is a cup, a hammer, a computer. An industrial economy is a tool, and so is a dollar bill. Tools were developed long ago, when somebody discovered that a bowl carries water better than a cupped hand. Tools are essential to the survival and well-being of humanity." Matt Taylor and Richard Goering, Rebuilding the Future, 1975
Yesterday, my beloved Audi TT's battery gave out and I had to get her a new battery. Jr., the owner of the garage, assigned an apprentice to replace the battery. With nothing better to do, I watched as Jose did his work. He had learned just enough English to communicate at very basic levels but his hands seemed to know what he was doing. He was slow and meticulous but my watching did not seem to bother him. At one point he dropped a bolt into the engine cavity. Ut-oh, I thought as he got down on his knees to look under the car to see if the bolt had fallen through. No luck. He disappears and returns soon with a magnet with a long handle and within seconds had retrieved the bolt.
I had this sudden awareness as I looked around that there was great wealth all about me in this garage. Over the years thousands of tools have been invented to serve the auto industry. One problem became someone else's product design. These tools, probably for the most part, were the genius of ordinary folks with a good idea. They saw a problem (un-retrievable bolts) and solved it with a new product. This ordinary person became an inventor and a wealth creator. He is the millionaire next door type of guy.
I wonder what on earth we are thinking about today as we bemoan the fact that we have to become green; we must change our ways, do things differently. Going green means thousands of new inventions by ordinary people. New ecosystem are being created before our eyes. Each new industry needs ordinary folks seeing with fresh eyes. It's a great time to be a tinkerer and a designer! Our new environmental needs are creating a new generation of wealth and prosperity. What will the tools be to serve our new industries?