We heard this refrain, in various forms, from the very beginning of our time stewarding Ray’s legacy here at the Foundation. Each time it was echoed, we first felt humbled. What an amazing honor it is to have someone want Ray’s memory preserved in this manner!
The feeling that followed immediately after, though, was intimidation. After all, we thought, the act of creating a prize and the infrastructure around it, and then ushering it onto the world stage, might be beyond our expertise and stray too far from our mission. Aren’t there already many great prizes out there, and what did we know about running a competition? And what if we failed to create something worthy of all that for which Ray stood?
So we waited. We said, “Not yet.” We patiently explained that we wanted to get our feet wet running a Foundation before considering something so bold. Our feet got wet, and then our ankles, and pretty soon we were still waiting with the water line at our shins. We felt like we needed something more before…well…moving.
Turns out that something was a simple nudge.
We found ourselves in discussion with our esteemed group of advisors – people selected not only for their role in Ray’s life, but also for their eco smarts. These are the people we look to for help in bringing the great big world of sustainability into focus so that we can define our path and find our purpose.
“We need a Ray Anderson Prize!” they said. Somehow, it sounded different this time.
Their guidance went further, and in the most energizing meeting that I’ve ever witnessed, a consensus formed around an idea that started with a particular question. “Why not take an existing competition infrastructure, based on something that Ray believed in wholly, and partner to create an even bigger impact?” From the seeds of that thought, the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge (BGDC), featuring the Ray C. Anderson “Ray of Hope” $100,000 prize, was born.
Our competition, formed in partnership with The Biomimicry Institute, launches today. It’s unique in that it provides an avenue for nurturing entrants who have commercially-viable, nature-inspired solutions to bring their ideas into focus, and into the marketplace. Up first – solutions to the problem of food insecurity.
You can read more about it here and visit the BGDC here. Not only can you read about it, I hope that you do! And who knows, maybe you’ll end up participating, learning, winning and changing the world.