Get to know your neighbour.
You might be surprised how they’re changing the world.
I’ve known Steve for the past year. He’s one of the first guys I met when I moved to Calgary and, as part of a small group of friends, someone that I get together with quite regularly for group dinners, birthdays and vacations – spent an amazing few days on the west coast sailing with he and his wife earlier this summer. Until today, I only had a hint of what he does.
Steve is an entrepreneur and a passionate energy sector guy. Like many Canadians, I’ve tended to glaze over when these guys start talking about their work. I’m a social sciences and former government sector guy – I had energy sector guys in my family and never really conditioned myself to understand what they did. I decided to change that and chose to take an hour out of my day to visit Steve in his shop here in SE Calgary.
He had another visitor in the shop with him that morning. A fourteen-year-old, middle school student that learned about Crossfire (the name of the technology) from her parents and decided to investigate it as part of her science curriculum. I’m glad she did. She took me over to a whiteboard at the front of the shop and used the schematics already drawn to explain how Steve’s invention (Crossfire) makes it possible to use solar energy to power a small air compressor (93% efficient) that controls the pneumatic valves at natural gas and oil wells making it possible for the site to eliminate emissions. Cool.
I’m not even going to attempt any further explanation because, well, I’m a social sciences guy. I learned a few things as a result of my visit today – that Steve is one of many Canadians investing their life savings into entrepreneurial ventures to make the energy sector greener, that the political and policy environment appears to be working against these innovations, that innovations of this nature won’t just improve the sector here but is gaining traction globally, and that a fourteen-year-old student has the intellect to understand and explain the technology to an old guy like me (because I chose to listen).
I also heard, firsthand, how this work can be frustrating and “profoundly discouraging” when it feels like the systems are stacked against innovation and political responses are filled with rhetoric. Innovation feels like a nice idea but appears to be tough sell politically. For now, it’s the courageous entrepreneurs that are taking up the cause and making stuff happen.
I’m encouraged by Steve’s work and glad that he has such a keen mind and passion to improve efficiency in the sector. He notes that “when given the challenge, we rise to the occasion”. Imagine the country we’d be if we adopted that attitude across industries – and I don’t necessarily think we’re far from it. Remember, I’m a social sciences guy writing about innovation in the energy sector – imagine the impact if people from across sectors chose to align for the purpose of building a nation to support our people, our progress and our planet. We need to support one another. We need a new narrative Canada.
Let’s build that narrative together at #visioncanada2119.
Originally Published on Todayville.com