Kwolz's Adventures in Saving the World

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I Won The Lottery!

Posted by kevinwolz on November 1, 2011

Okay,not really…But that’s a catchy title isn’t it? I bet you feel pretty gullible now don’t you? That’s okay though because this post requires you to be pretty open/ready-minded. While the chances of winning the lottery ($245M currently in the Illinois PowerBall) are pretty small, especially if, like me, you don’t even buy tickets, it’s still really fun to think about what you would do if you actually hit the jackpot. Gadz, my ever-optimistic roommate, thinks about this all the time, and lately he has been inspiring me to do the same. If this is too much of a fantasy for you, then just think of it as me making a lot of money at some crazy future job. Either way, what follows is my fantastic dream of how I would spend $100,000,000 if I had it my back pocket today (in order of priority).

Note: All numbers are completely made up and only have a tiny amount of rationale associated with them. I’d like to hear your thoughts!

Personal Land – $5,000,000

There is quite possibly nothing that I want more than my own land where I can firmly plant the roots of my adventures in saving the world. Everything needs a home. Revolutions are no exceptions. I don’t want land so I can make money. I want land so I can create an example and use it as a tool to create change. It will start modestly of course, but eventually, it will have all the things that I dream about day and night. At its core, this land will aim to produce as much food, fuel, and fiber as possible, while sequestering tons (literally) of carbon and using practically no inputs. There will be much more on this in coming posts…after all, it’s the top priority.

Ecological Design & Consulting Firm Startup Costs – $10,000,000

What is the most effective way to make change? Government? Industry? Academia? Grassroots? I ask myself this everyday, and I have yet to find an answer. Nevertheless, some of my friends and I have been talking about starting a company together (a la Applied Ecological Services) for quite a long time. This lump sum would easily get it off the ground and to the forefront of today’s problems.

Farmer Training Program – $10,000,000

During my own daydreams about starting a farm, I have realized just how few resources are available to new (especially young) farmers… particularly the ones that want to do agriculture the right way. Aside from directly building supply (as in the allotment two below), we need to building capacity and knowledge. We need farmers!

Illini Wind Farm – $20,000,000

This is my idea of investing…insider investing.

  • The University of Illinois has committed to getting energy from renewable sources. Every time it tries to do that internally, it epically fails. Market? Check.
  • Turbines have been going up throughout central Illinois at an amazing rate lately. The wind here is clearly adequate. Location? Check.
  • Climate change is happening. Peak oil already passed. $h|! will soon hit the fan. Incentive? Check.

Commercial Farm Education Center  – $10,000,000

This would be an initial investment in a large commercial farm. Central Illinois is a food desert. There is practically no food grown in the entire state, despite the massive amounts of arable land. Unfortunately, most of it is wasted for these horrid crops we know as corn and soy beans. Demand for local, fresh, healthy, tasty food is currently much higher than the supply. This investment would be a big step towards fulfilling that and beginning to change the Ag culture of this state.

Food Hub Development and Implementation – $10,000,000

This one directly relates to the previous allocation. A Food Hub is a place where locally produced foods can be stored, sorted, processed, preserved, distributed, packed, shipped, purchased, etc. It is the core of the decentralized, sustainable agriculture model. Very few successful hubs are currently in existence. This funding would aim to get a few big ones of the ground in order to gain attention and begin a revolution.

Podcast Donations – $1,000,000

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have learned much more from listening to podcasts than I have from practically all of my schooling combined. They are amazing, and they are the future. I may have to spend a bit of this money to go and actually meet the hosts as well. The main podcasts in line are Deconstructing Dinner, This Week in Science, and The Naked Scientists. Each of these shows runs not-for-profit and relies on donations to keep running. Deconstructing Dinner had such a profound impact on me over the last few years, and now it’s off the air due to lack of funding. I want to make sure that never happens again.

RunningAhead Donation – $500,000

RunningAhead is the online running log that I use to record and analyze all of my training. See my last post for a great adventure into its abilities. As I mentioned in the last post, I greatly admire the site owner for his leap of faith by essentially putting his life on the line in order to pursue his passion. With this money, he could really take the site to the next level and start the next great running revolution.

IXC House – $1,000,000

For those of you who don’t know, I currently live in an apartment building that has been completely taken over by runners. Every apartment in the building (and now overflowing into the one next door as well) is runners from either the club or varsity cross country/track teams. It’s great! Except for the fact that we have the worst landlord in Champaign County and the apartments are pretty darn crappy. Regardless, as the Illinois Cross Country and Track Clubs have grown, we have day dreamed on runs about how neat it would be to have a building we could call our own. Oh, and seeing as this would more or less be a fraternity/sorority, we’d have to give this place a Greek name. ΓΨΝ. Gamma Psi Nu. The letters don’t mean anything, but look at them: “I RUN”!

FPDCC Palos Forest Preserves Restoration – $5,000,000

Volunteering withe Palos Restoration Project during high school was probably the core reason that I ultimately decided to choose biology as one of my college majors. I also ran through these preserves nearly everyday while in high school. They are very near and dear to my heart. But they need help. Invasives are spreading faster than volunteers can restore the land. This money could finally put us ahead in the war against invasives.

Open Source Ecology Donation – $1,000,000

I will soon have an entire post dedicated to Open Source Ecology, but for now just watch this video. These guys ARE the synthesis of engineering, agriculture, sustainability, technology, peak everything, innovation, creativity, and everything that I am interested in. They are doing some amazing things and need the support to expand.

Tesla Roadster & Model S – $500,000

Tesla not only produces the fastest, badest electric cars in the world, but it also has more swag than any other car company. I don’t like cars, but these things are just too sweet to pass up. And yes, I would get both, with all the extras. Gotta save a little room for splurging in this budget…

Endowed Professorships – $5,000,000

Through my experiences on campus, I know that professors can have a major influence with what gets done at a school. And frankly, I’d like to get some professors here at U of I that think like I do! Supposedly it currently costs about $1M to endow a professor at U of I, so $5M should get me five, one in each of the following areas:

  • Local & regional food systems
  • Engineering/Science education
  • Endurance Training (1/2 time appointment, with the other half being the head coach of the Illinois Cross and Track Clubs)
  • Atmosphere-Biosphere Interactions
  • Savanna Agriculture/Permaculture

Stock Market – $1,000,000

I’m listing only a measly $1m for the stock market, because I really don’t like the stock market. As you can probably tell from everything else listed here, I am much more of a micro-finance/venture capital kind of guy. I guess I would just put this in there anyway to keep up with how it’s going and play around.

Personal Savings – $10,000,000

The engineering economics class that I’m currently in has taught me well the “time value of money”, so I guess that some of this money should be saved for future use. I’m not sure if I would put this wad of cash under a floorboard or actually somewhere productive, but if I did it right, this should cover anything personal in my family for quite a while, no?

Chicago Urban Agriculture Project – $5,000,000

While I don’t think that Urban Agriculture is the solution, it definitely an important part of it. Currently, Will Allen at Growing Power is blowing everyone away in this arena. I’d like to become a partner in his revolution and start a similar large-scale project in Chicago.

Direct Action Against Fossil Fuels – $5,000,000

I’m not sure exactly what this would consist of, but I know it would be epic and I know that it would help prevent any new coal power plants from being built and towards making the lives of oil executives extremely miserable (a la The Yes Men?). I know that this is not the most effective way to make things happen, but there’s still a place for it, and it can definitely be fun!


2 Responses to “I Won The Lottery!”

  1. Joan said

    Hi Kevin,

    VERY impressive. If I had $100,000,000.
    I’d give it to you!!


  2. Sheril said

    That’s why I just love you!!! You have put a lot of thought into this…now start playing the lottery!!! I thing a portion of your land should be for mead production exclusively!!
    I started a very part time job at the HS as recieving specialist…that is, checking and putting away all the food that was ordered for the week. I have seen the entire contents of both big freezers, the cooler, and the dry goods. All I can say is…..OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are feeding the children poison!! All kids love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches right? So…..there are stacks upon stacks of Smuckers Uncrustables!!! There are boxes of processed chicken in every flavor and shape imaginable. Poptarts, breakfast express packages, pizza, hot pockets, frozen per-made grilled cheese wedges…sandwiches!!!! The list is endless. No fresh eggs to be found, a small section of fresh veggies for the salad bar, no butter, no flour, no baking soda….you get the point. Poison!!! There is an underground movement and I have pledged to be the eyes and ears at my job. Have you heard the blame being put on McDonalds and fast food places for childhood obesity??? Have you ever heard them blame the school lunch program???? Same damn thing!!! Shit for food!! I have been told they have a contract with the devils (tyson and someplace like Monsanto) to lock them into the food purchases. If they serve an apple that has come from the mid-west they advertise it like they are on board with local sustainablity!!! WRONG!!! I’m not even talking about the garbage end of things….everything individually wrapped. Lots of garbage!! I didn’t always like hot lunch when I was in school…in the 70’s, but it was real damn food most of the time….it was the cook that didn’t season things well that was the problem. Garbage was the uneaten food…not a bunch of wrappers!!!
    Oh, get me started.
    I hope you will that money!!!

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