Tahoe man pitches project to Google | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe man pitches project to Google

Jeff Munson / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

LAKE TAHOE ” With a human footprint left on Lake Tahoe and subsequent environmental policies intended to keep the basin healthy, a South Shore man hopes his ideas for a sustainable community may be chosen in a Google-sponsored contest.

Using Internet technology that could be run by solar energy, Garry Bowen has submitted a plan for Google’s “Project 10 to the 100th”, a grant program designed to help revitalize clean, sustainable communities. The project can be found at http://www.project10tothe100.com. The contest was developed in celebration of Google’s 10th anniversary.

“Tahoe’s South Shore has an opportunity to begin the process of re-doing the way people see the whole Tahoe, with their own outdoor offering that will connect people with the world around them,” said Bowen, a retired casino marketing manager.

The idea is this: With an abundance of bike trails around Lake Tahoe, Bowen wants to see solar powered kiosks, powered by Google, located around the trail systems.

These free-standing kiosks would provide an innovative, off-the-grid way of connecting nature with technology and encourage people to travel by bicycle to learn about Lake Tahoe, Bowen said.

To get the project off the ground, Bowen said it would cost about $2 million in seed funds, which Google’s Project 10 to the 100th is offering to winners.

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The kiosks would allow the wide-spread sharing of Tahoe environmental education and history in fun and engaging ways, Bowen said, “so the thoughtful and strategic placement of electronically accessible kiosks could be a transformative way for all members of the public to learn.”

Bowen, who is a charter member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, says the project, if funded by Google, could be up and running within two years. He has a prototype of how it would work.

The kiosks would be readily accessible, and would provide history and environmental information about the lake, with the use of intricate maps, factoids and graphic elements.

This idea is consistent with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s policies that incorporate alternative transportation and environmental education, Bowen said.

“Conceptualizing multi-use free-standing kiosks that would educate an ever-increasing visitor base in both overall and specific sustainability concepts, while at the same time allowing an insightful shift in transportation modes makes a leisurely and informative bike ride with members of one’s family a dream realized,” he said.

Bowen’s plan comes on the heels of the South Lake Tahoe City Council’s decision to form a sustainability commission. Bowen, who applied for the commission, wasn’t picked. But the feelings are not hard, he insists.

Like most things in life, the idea is to plants some seeds and let them grow and evolve, Bowen said.

If the Google project were to be selected and come to fruition, it would be a “profound step in the right direction toward a truly sustainable Lake Tahoe,” he said.

Google will begin narrowing down the applications for the Project 10 to the 100th on March 17. As of Friday, more than 100,000 entries had been submitted. If Bowen’s project stays in the running, people can vote for it at http://www.project10tothe100.com.