2013-08-16 / Columnists


First Idea Jam In The Books
By Rick Horan

Ideas were flying around the Wharf like a swarm of bees for the inaugural “Idea Jam Mondays” at the Wharf.

The evening was thoroughly enjoyable. It was a beautiful summer evening on the deck with the bay, city and setting sun in the background. The beers and gin and tonics were cold and the staff was friendly.

Before the evening started I really had no idea what to expect and was a bit concerned as to how the whole thing was going to work if too many people showed up. Thankfully that wasn’t an issue I had to deal with.

By the time I showed up with my Ideas Wanted sign at about 7:15, two intrepid idea guys were already there to greet me: Robby Schwach and Mike Honan. We found an open spot in the corner of the deck, sat down, rolled up our sleeves and then proceeded to do what everyone else was doing there: exchange ideas.

Looking around the bar it occurred to me that ours was not the only table sharing ideas. Virtually everyone in the place was doing the same thing, including waitresses giving patrons ideas on what to order.

When you think about it, everybody is coming up with ideas constantly: ideas about what to eat, how to get into the City, what to wear? But are these really ideas or merely decisions? The dictionary wasn’t much help: Idea: noun; a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action: "the idea of linking pay to performance".

Wow, that’s pretty broad. So I guess they are ideas. The point is that we are having them all the time. The other thing about ideas is that we are always trying to share them with or sell them to someone else: our kids, our bosses and our friends.

Ideas are often shared in the form of advice: “You may want to get home by midnight, nothing good happens after that.” Or, I could be much more productive if I could work from home.” Or, “If we left earlier you wouldn’t have to drive so fast.”

So what made our Ideas Wanted table any different? Well, for one, we were the best looking table in the place. OK, maybe not, but I’ll bet you that we were one of the most creative; especially Robby and Mike. Here are some of the ideas that surfaced:

Install bike racks at the end of every beach block, a Wave column called “Civic’s Corner” where each civic/community group can share information, an umbrella group with a representative from each civic that can work together on issues that affect the entire peninsula.

Inevitably the conversation drifted towards Sandy related issues. Some were pretty radical: such as replacing the boardwalk between Beach 116th Street and Beach 126th Street with a baffle wall. Another, perhaps after one too many beers, was to concrete over the beach, or at least some of it, and use that for a boardwalk!

In a rare moment of seriousness, we spent some time thinking about the “Neighborhood Game-Changer Investment Competition.” This contest, sponsored by NYC EDC, will award up to $18 million in Community Development Block Grants for proposals that serve to attract private investment for a capital-intensive project, generate significant economic activity, support small businesses and create jobs, particularly for low and moderate income individuals.

One idea was to build an outlet mall in Arverne East. The main structure would be elevated well above mean high tide with one or two levels of parking underneath that would allow any storm surge to pass harmlessly through. Leading retailers would pull people from all of the metropolitan area including travelers on their way to JFK.

A unique Rockaway twist could be lockers and showers for those wanting to stroll on the beach or take a swim. The outlet would also provide significant local employment opportunities. For this or any other idea to work we agreed that the transportation infrastructure would need game-changing improvements.

Wave editor and Ideas Wanted founder Kevin Boyle stopped by to check out the scene and piped in with an idea or two of his own.

All in all we agreed that the first Idea Jam Mondays was productive and enjoyable and worth doing again. Next Monday, August 19th at 7:30 you can find us at Thai Rock. Everyone’s invited.

Contact me at RickHoran@ideas imoprov.com

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