Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tahoe man goes after Google millions

unedited 1/09 Tahoe Mt. News:

By Kathryn Reed

Two million dollars – that’s the amount of money South Shore’s Garry Bowen hopes will come his way from Google through Project 10 to the 100th. The money would be used to bring his idea to fruition.
Bowen’s is one of more than 100,000 entries in Google’s quest “to change the world by helping as many people as possible.” The project is in conjunction with the Internet company’s 10th anniversary.
Last year Google solicited ideas relating to community, opportunity, energy, environment, health, education, shelter and everything else. Google employees will narrow the entrants to the top 100. Then it’s up to the public starting Jan. 27 to vote and select the best 20. An advisory board will choose the final five. Those five will share the $10 million Google has allocated for Project 10 to the 100th.
To learn more about the project and to vote for Bowen or others, go to
Bowen’s proposal is about educating locals and tourists about the area. He’d like to create a kiosk for people to understand the science behind why the Lake is so clear and what needs to be done to keep it that way, as well as other environmental facts. But he wants it presented in a fun manner, not where people’s eyes glaze over. Water, soil, air, fire and other issues would be presented in an entertaining way.
“The information needs to be pretty solid if we are going to teach people about the world around us,” Bowen said. “I know there is a hunger for knowledge. We need to share with people why we are working on clarity. It’s for their benefit. A huge missing element here is public outreach and education.”
He envisions using Google’s hardware technology and Edwin Schlossberg’s ESI Design, which he calls the world’s premier interactive designer, for the software end.
Bowen would like to erect a yurt at the end of Linear Park on the old Shell station site next to Holiday Inn Express. He selected this site because it’s essentially a confluence of pedestrian-bicycle traffic, especially as Lakeview Commons and the South Tahoe Greenway bike path become realities.
This kiosk would be part of a trail network. Bowen envisions other kiosks being erected throughout the basin, ideally nowhere near a parking lot. He wants people to walk or bike to them so the environment is always a part of the learning process.
The kiosk would be in the yurt. No foundation would be needed, so no EIR needed because it would not impact the ground.
Bowen realizes the fine details like ownership, maintenance and information updates would need to be worked out. That can wait until he knows later this month if he made the top 100.
“I think Tahoe needs another attraction besides the Lake. It’s so politicized now. In some ways it’s so irrelevant to people,” Bowen said. “Why not build an attraction for them and put it in a place of natural beauty?”

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