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Million Dollar Ideas?

OPB | July 9, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:31 p.m.

After giving out more than $500 million over the last 32 years, the Meyer Memorial Trust has decided that it will now let a village (or, actually, a state) take a crack at figuring out how it should spend its next million. The foundation has opened up a contest of sorts. The plan:

[T]o jumpstart Oregon’s historically innovative initiative in the face of the state’s multitude of challenges by looking for a million dollar idea proposed by the state’s collective brain….

We begin by inviting all Oregonians and others to help us identify funding opportunities to create a better future for Oregon. Tell us what you think is the most pressing issue facing Oregon that an investment of up to $1 million could provide meaningful support and leverage over the next two years. Give us your best ideas about the form that support and leverage might take.

Over 200 ideas have come in already, and they’re all over the map. There are plenty of economic development suggestions, along with ideas for environmental issues, social services, and healthcare. And then there are the pitches that are harder to categorize, like one that aims to create 100% Oregon-sourced beer, or the one that would help people slow down daily life and teach them “to simplify and then prioritize what’s really important.”

The Trust has said that they’re not just going to award $1 million to an individual  — although that’s exactly what one man suggested. (“Yes, this is serious,” he wrote. “I would really love the opportunity to be given this million dollars, and look forward to your consideration, review, and jurisprudence in the matter.”) Instead, the goal is to fund the implementation of an idea, which may mean partnering with an existing organization. But it seems that anything could happen: the funding of one big project, a handful of smaller ones, or, if the ideas don’t make the grade, none at all.

What problem are you hoping to tackle? And how do you propose tackling it? What would you do with $1 million?

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