Solution Search Announces Winners of National Contest

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Solution Search has awarded top prizes totaling $60,000 to five organizations in its 2015 contest, which crowdsourced solutions to weather disasters.  Reducing our Risk: Innovation for Disaster Preparation is an unprecedented effort to identify and celebrate the many ways Americans are working to reduce the risk of weather-related disasters on their communities.

A team of top judges and 26,000 votes from the public helped choose the winners.

The Judges’ Choice, $25,000, went to City of Ottawa, IL for a floodplain project that moved buildings and people out of harm’s way so the natural river floodplain could flow freely. The project succeeded in stemming flood damage during a devastating 2013 flood. 

The Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project was also awarded $25,000 in the People’s Choice category for a project that simultaneously prevented both wildfire and floods in the area.   

The People’s Choice Runner-Up: Restore America’s Estuaries ($5,000) showed that instead of bulkheads, a better approach is to use Living Shorelines to manage shorelines, protecting them from erosion while allowing them to maintain their ecological functions including absorbing storm surge and flood waters.

Also in the People’s Choice Runner-Up category, the University of New Orleans – CHART ($2,500) developed a literacy program that teaches people how to read maps and signs to allow them to evacuate in case of storms. 

People’s Choice Runner-Up: the American Littoral Society ($2,500) initiative seeks to reduce its frequency and effects by mitigating the impacts of sea level rise, storm surges, and wave inundation by rebuilding badly degraded marsh islands in Jamaica Bay, Queens, New York.

“We are nearly ten years out from Hurricane Katrina, and starting another hurricane season, yet disaster preparation remains politically siloed and thus is often hampered and insufficient in practice,” said Brett Jenks, CEO of Rare, the international non-profit that manages Solution Search. “Human and economic costs are increasing, and not only are solutions needed, but so too is a new kind of conversation.”

The Solution Search judges include former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, The Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore, former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, and the leaders of MunichRe America, TransRe, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Evangelical Environmental Network, and the Robertson Foundation.  The contest partners include Evangelical Environmental Network, MunichRe, Rare, Save the Children, The Nature Conservancy and TransRe.

“For far too long, levees, large pumps and walls were the only "resilience" tools in our tool chest. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Sandy and others taught us that we must take a comprehensive view to resilience,” said Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06). “This includes innovative measures to improve the resilience of our communities, economy and environment. They work in concert. We've come a long way.”

Based on a careful study of innovation and competition theory, Solution Search not only fosters identification and replication of proven methods, but by accelerating discourse and networking, it helps advance the entire sector. The process is designed to maximize the sharing of promising new approaches that generate optimism around the growing number of successful solutions.

Solution Search is an open-invitation contest platform that sources, rewards and disseminates solutions to address critical conservation and human behavior change challenges. The model uses competition theory to engage a broad range of stakeholders, build and share a large knowledge base, develop a network and create a vehicle for promoting solutions. 

While the contest identifies “winners,” Solution Search also recognizes all of the entries as potentially replicable solutions that advance conservation. Upon contest conclusion, the contest develops a lessons learned report highlighting the frameworks, case studies and themes that emerged from the full set of entries.

About Rare, host of Solution Search

Rare inspires change so people and nature thrive.  Rare looks for proven conservation solutions and trains local leaders to inspire communities to adopt them and make them their own through its signature Pride campaigns. Pride campaigns use proven marketing techniques to move the hearts and minds of local communities, accelerating the adoption and increasing the sustainability of the solutions. Rare has conducted over 250 Pride campaigns in more than 50 countries, empowering local communities across geographies and cultures to shift from resource users to become natural asset managers. Visit Rare on the Web at