The Genius of ‘And’

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The ice cream cone is a great example of the Genius of “and.”

Imagine, an all-American food put together by a Syrian and a French immigrant!

It’s a stifling summer’s day at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  Ernest Hamwi is having no luck selling hot waffles to the sweltering crowds.  But at the next booth, Arno Fornachau is dishing out ice cream that’s selling like, well, hotcakes!

Suddenly, Arnold runs out of plates! Sacré bleu, what to do?  Ernest has a flash of inspiration. He rolls a waffle into a cone, and offers it as a substitute. Voila! The ice-cream cone is born!

“The World’s Fair Cornucopia,” as it is first known, quickly becomes a coast -to-coast hit.  Ice cream has stayed America’s favorite dessert, and today one-third of it is licked off waffles… I mean cones.

“All readers do not lead.  All leaders read,” said Collin Powell.  One of my favorite books is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Collins shares the concept of “The Genius of AND, and the Tyranny of OR.”

The “Genius of AND” recognizes that two things can peacefully coexist.  When we apply this to green and sustainable thinking, not only do solutions go together like ice cream and cones, a common form can yield multiple functions and solutions.

Take parking lots that create thermal hot spots reflecting heat. My latest favorite solution example is a Solar Shade or Solar Canopy.  Soon, a parking lot will have a structure that will provide shade and generate energy with a solar array.  As a change merchant, I hope to be the one that places them there!

Collins has the ferocious insistence that we can and must have both at once.  “Tyranny of OR” is the notion of two seemingly contradictory terms.  Examples are change or stability; low cost or quality.

“Genius of AND” says we can responsibly capture rainwater and have a cistern be an architectural feature, like a fence. A Civic Center and reasonable budget impacts. Yard waste removal and peace without noise pollution. Affordable energy and clean technology.

Throwing around another non-Collins quote, with a twist, “When leaf blowers are outlawed, then only outlaws will have leaf blowers.”

“The Genius of AND,” when applied to green and sustainable outcomes requires creative planning and cleverness of design.  My wife will tell you that I cannot get out of bed without a plan and that I focus on process.  It frustrates me when people think that a lack of a plan is a key to flexibility, so another quote, “If you want me to shoot from the hip, the next bullet goes through you.”

“If you are out of pork chops, it only matters if you are out of pigs.”

We are not out of pigs.  Have you seen the recent City Satisfaction Survey?

“Even during these challenging economic times, we continue to set and increase the gold standard among cities,” shares Mayor Keith Curry.

So let’s build some green clocks, together, embracing the genius of AND, and avoiding the tyranny of OR, like the plague.

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