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Air Quality

Published on October 10th, 2018 | by Kyle Field

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The Climathon Challenges Problem Solvers To Tackle Climate Change, One City At A Time

October 10th, 2018 by  


The Climathon brings together the unique world climate change startups and the tech world phenomenon that is the hackathon into a 24-hour smash fest designed to rapidly vet and build climate change solutions in a single event.

Climathon was initially envisioned as a single event, but it has since sprouted wings and spread into forward-thinking cities around the world. In doing so, the Climathon has scaled its impact around the world and built up pre- and post-event processes to maximize the impact of the work done during the actual ‘thon.

Throwing The Gauntlet

Planning for event starts with cities brainstorming ideas for climate challenges and throwing down a challenge to the participants. In this way, Climathon gives cities the opportunity to take control of their own destinies as they push participants to define and implement grassroots solutions to their most pressing climate challenges.

More than 100 cities threw their hands up and threw down in 2017 to host a Climathon event in their cities, and even more are lining up for this year. The 2018 event is right around the corner, on October 26th 2018, and will see cities around the world pulling together their best and brightest to take on a number of wicked problems.

For example, the Climathon in Washington focused on diverting durable goods like furniture and small appliances from existing waste streams. This challenge is broad but manageable, and resulted in a number of possible solutions including reFort, which took the idea and turned it into a solution in the form of refurbishing and reselling waste and second-hand appliances as a revenue stream.

How Does It Work?

You have settled on the challenges and the event is rapidly approaching. Now what? As it is such a short block of time, the Climathon has to be organized and efficient for it to be effective, especially considering the fact that banging out all this work in a single day is exhausting. Perhaps the first order of business should be coffee.

Now that you have that settled, the event kicks off with a welcome presentation that grounds attendees in the events ahead, followed by assembling the problem solvers into teams that take the problems back and start banging away on them with their ideas for solutions. Team members are the students, entrepreneurs, developers, professionals, and the motivated problem solvers that will work to bring their skills to bear against some of the most challenging problems of our day.

Following a standard, yet accelerated startup trajectory, these ideas are run through the paces to determine their viability by assessing their probability of success, cost, and timing, which are all used to determine their priority.

Not all of the time at Climathon events is spent working, and the model encourages teams to take time to get out and do something energizing like yoga or a quick jog around the block, as the bulk of work combined with the long hours can weigh teams down. Getting out for some fresh air or my admitted vice of coffee helps reinvigorates teams and provides some much needed energy to get through an event that could be equally labelled as a marathon and a sprint all rolled into one.

With the final solution fleshed out, teams get some rapid-fire training on how to pitch and get to work on their own pitches for their new solutions. This is where ideas get their wings and learn to fly, and it preps teams for the next step where they will present their idea sproutlets to a final jury.

From the new crop of ideas, winners are selected and prizes are doled out. If that felt like a rushed process, you’re probably tracking along with what was designed to be a very rapid-fire approach to gathering a team, developing solutions, vetting solutions, and pitching solutions in a very quick 24-hour process.

The Aftermath

After the dust settles and participants are all caught up on sleep, the real work begins as teams take their ideas out into the world to see if what made sense in the sleep-deprived, caffeine-fueled craze of the Climathon really does lend itself to a sustainable business or a real product.

If history is any indicator, the model is working, as numerous startups have sprung up from the catalytic events around the world. The Climathon alumni at AirPublic and its mobile air pollution monitoring solution are working to create a network of mobile air pollution monitoring sensors that pull in data from around a city in a dynamic, flowing web.

Take Action!

Interested in participating? Sign up to host Climathon in your city, support a Climathon event or get straight to the problem solving by participating on a team. Curious, but not sure where or if you’ll fit in? Head over to the Climathon page to get a better feel for the big picture before locking in your final answer, and ease into it by watching the bumper video below.


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor.



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