If you follow international news even flippantly you are most likely aware that the world is still in a serious economic situation and Spain is one of the countries, apparently precipitously close to defaulting. I am not sure whether the cyclists that recently cycled the inaugural TransEuropa noticed, but this desperation was certainly not evident when I drove through the country. In fact I saw some rather interesting things that though I have traveled and seen many countries, this really surprised me.
Once upon a time a word shepherd would initiate a whole bunch of electrical signals in my mind; the neurons would be making very quick links ending up with a picture of an old or young man walking with a stick, edging his herd of cows or sheep on the way home or to pasture.
Though the Spanish economy may be on the brink, I saw on three different occasions a real vision that will at least in my mind, force my neurons to link differently when I think of a shepherd. On a quiet country roads I saw a heard of cows being herded back home by a shepherd in a car. Not once, not twice but three times.
To be frank I do not know what to make of this. I would have thought that if you are going to use technology, that you should use an ATV, but what this really brought to mind is that all the smart innovators and entrepreneurs in silicon valleys around the world, have simply forgotten where their organic meat is coming from. The shepherds of the world should not be ignored and there is an urgent need for new technologies to bring them to the 21st century.
They need a vehicle that will give them the flexibility of a horse, the suspension of an expensive mountain bike, the connectivity of a smart phone (I mean they also have the right to check their Facebook every ten minutes), the speed of a cheetah in order to protect the herd from some dangerous carnivores, be able to keep the shepherd warm in the high mountains and cool him in the savannah, be built from sustainable material, and cost no more than an inexpensive good bike. After all shepherds in developing countries do not have much money, though I know an NGO or two who would gladly help with costs and distributions. Of course adding a shepherd tax on organic meat, milk and cheese to help pay for the vehicle in developing countries would solve the cost issue.
So I hope that the creators of the X Prize Foundation – Making the Impossible Possible that set up million dollar prizes to encourage innovators to solve urgent planetary and interplanetary needs, read this piece and set up a new competition to help poor shepherds in the mountains and the valleys of this beautiful planet. And that this new shepherd transport vehicle will be less polluting than the old cars I saw on the roads herding the cattle home. Of course the beautiful part of the X Prize Foundation or as they tag line says “revolution through competition” is that once big bucks are tangled in front of our ever greedy innovators, it is only a short time before there is a breakthrough. With any luck a new transport device for shepherds – let’s give it a working title, the Shephedron – will be tested by next summer and the participants on our Orient Express tour this summer will be able to report to us their impressions of the Shephedron.
So if any of you reading this have any good connections with the X Prize please pull your strings and encourage them to set up the new Shephedron Transport Competition. Hundreds of thousands of shepherds around the world would be ever thankful to you and you will be making the world a better place.
– Henry Gold
Flickr photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/