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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Wasn't Learned in Yosemite

I returned to the office yesterday after three days in Yosemite National Park, Calif., thinking I'd blog about some great emergency preparedness epiphany that I had had while hiking and biking among the Giant Sequoias. I bellied up to the keyboard and nothing. I sat there for a few minutes, the blinking cursor staring back.

And do you know why the page remained blank? It’s because I had had no epiphany about emergency preparedness. I was one of the most beautiful spots in the country. Why would I be thinking about work?!

Instead, let’s talk about another kind of epiphany. Let’s talk about invention and innovation and how they apply to the everyday.

Those of you who follow AzEIN on Twitter or Facebook or were good enough to add to your Internet bookmarks likely know that September is National Preparedness Month. In Arizona we celebrate with a poster contest, a Governor’s proclamation and some outreach events. We do some other things too, but that’s not really the point. The point is that we do all of this on a budget; that’s to say with $0.0 and our own creativity.

Creativity. Now there’s an interesting term. says it’s the “ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. ” Nowhere does it mention an associated price per pound or square inch. That’s of course because the ability to transcend is free. The cost is how much thought and action you yourself put into the idea.

Part of being creative is finding uses for free, Do-It-Yourself innovations. Take our flashlights for example. We didn’t invent Quick Response (QR) codes, but we’re using them to brand flashlights that we give away at public and corporate outreach events.

A QR Code is a homemade two-dimensional barcode that can be embedded with a link to just about anything - a website, a video or a business card. You can “read” QR Codes with a mobile application downloaded to your newer model camera phone.(You’ll find a list of some of the more popular QR Code readers at

Naturally, the end objective is not to promote a make or model of a particular cell phone. Happy to say, our motives are more altruistic. We want you to easily find and use the information we have to share. And we do that by leveraging every available opportunity and technology.

While we come up with a good idea every so often, we know that our followers and fans are a creative bunch, and so we welcome your input. If you’ve got a clever and inexpensive idea how to promote emergency preparedness, we want to hear it. Post your ideas here or send them to

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