Connecting Colorado’s Jewish Teens

Using Creative Thinking to Change the World, by Sophie G.



Innovators change our world. They confront something that is not working and fix it. The process of innovation has been used throughout history and all over the world, in varying degrees and with different purposes. My first journey into innovation involved creating the Grav-WASH-ity. The development of this idea began while I was sitting in my home, simply thinking about everyday luxuries that I take for granted. Upon discovering that the ability to clean my clothes fits this description, I decided to innovate. Building upon a concept with which I was already familiar, a washing machine, I created something that no one had before.

The Grav-WASH-ity is a gravity-powered washing machine designed for use in developing countries where people lack access to electricity. The design is safe, durable, and reliable, and is made from accessible materials in order to make it both economically and environmentally viable. The Grav-WASH-ity is also scalable, meaning that many machines can be powered by one source of gravity. Therefore, it can be used by a whole community, rather than individual people or families. This will promote the creation of a business enterprise in the community to encouraging economic involvement from the community members.

Last summer, I received a U.S patent for the Grav-WASH-ity from the U.S.Patent and Trademark Office. This patent gives me exclusive rights over the idea I created. Now, I am working to improve the prototype of the machine in order to make it more efficient. Next, I plan to create a global network of people interested in using the machine in communities all over the world. This will allow me to pilot the Grav-WASH-ity internationally and consequently achieve my business-enterprise goal.

In the past year, I worked to build an enterprise to support my invention by participating in PresenTense Colorado. A Jewish fellowship for young entrepreneurs, PresenTense supports the idea that, “The power of innovation knows no age limits.” It is a 6-month program that teaches empathy, innovation, and social change, all while focusing on a set of Jewish values. Members learn how to conduct empathy interviews, research target markets, innovate for social change, and explore their Jewish identities. At the end of the 6 month period, Fellows apply for up to $1,000 to support their projects. I applied for and received this money, and I plan to use it to for global outreach and prototype improvement of the Grav-WASH-ity.

The PresenTense Fellowship concluded in May with the Fellow Showcase. During the showcase, community members are invited to see what the Fellows have been working on. We each got the opportunity to speak to the crowd for one minute about our project, and then explained our booths to people in more detail. Nearly 200 people came to the Showcase this year, and each left inspired by the projects they saw.

Not only is innovation possible, it’s a core concept as humanity grapples with challenges, big and small. With the desire to step out of line, to say “hey, that’s not working,” and to question the world around you, the ability to improve upon it becomes inherently accessible. This process spans time, location, and age. It can be accomplished by anyone with a desire to advocate and work for change.

Do you have a great idea for a social innovation project? Learn more about PresenTense here.

From Hurricane to Hope – By Emma


Emma is a senior in high school in Denver. She traveled to Haiti this fall with International Medical Relief, a program for medical professionals and students, after the hurricane. She had to raise $2,000 to participate.

After 30 hours of travel in a car, a bus, two planes, and a van, we arrived at our home for the next week. With 22 full grown adults being stuffed in a van that was supposed to seat 15, our team quickly learned that the Haitian way was not the same way as the American way. We arrived with a burning desire to jump in with both feet and get straight to work, which is exactly what we did. Hundreds of patients were already lined up outside the house before we had even unloaded the gear, so we skipped putting on our scrubs and began triage, which was both physically and mentally exhausting.

Among other things, there was a serious language gap, our group only knowing English and Haitians only speaking French Creole. So we picked out a few guys from the crowd who could maybe help translate. It would have been impossible without them, but having them added another logistic on our list of things to be sorted out and there was already a very long list.

The next week was spent waking up early, shoving down some plain oatmeal and an egg and driving out to the community. Did I mention that we were sleeping in tents? I’ll come back to that later. Every day, we set up clinic in a different place, one day in a local church or school, another in an abandoned house filled with cockroaches and trash. We set up rooms and areas for the care we provided. First Registration, where every man, woman and child got filled out a sheet. Then Triage, where blood pressure and temperature was taken, and the height and weight of anyone under the age of 18. We administered Vitamin A and Albendazole to the kids whose digestion tracts were filled with worms and diets that weren’t filling their basic physical needs. Finally, the patients each were given the chance to announce their chief complaint. Depending on the information received from Triage, they were either sent to well-care, or sick-care where they would be seen by our PA’s and doctor. Then if needed, sent to Pharmacy to pick up the medications they were prescribed. Day in and day out, we saw, treated and sent away patients, and in 6 days, our team of 15 saw over 1,500 people.

My responsibility changed day to day, sometimes working in Triage, and other times working at Pharmacy or Procedures. I saw the devastating effects of not having any medical care for a lifetime. Kids with swollen bellies, and maggots in their eyes, elderly with chronic illnesses that never had been treated, cholera, young men and woman growing up without knowledge of their basic anatomy, horrible lesions and skin infections and infected injuries – it was truly shocking. It was an experience that made it hard to go back to my daily life and school. I had seen a place that seemed to be on another planet than ours, but in reality just a few hundred miles from Florida. I saw the things we take for granted in the United States, but in many other places in the world, people go to bed hungry and without a roof over their heads. For one week, we lived in our own personal tents that we had brought with us, and we had to pitch them on the roof of one of the few houses that hadn’t been destroyed in the hurricane. I have to thank my parents who deeply ingrained traveling in to me, and allowed me to go all over the world, participating in different cultures and lifestyles, and I am more fortunate than most. Being a middle-class white kid, white privilege has been the norm in my life and I don’t deny it, but because of my lucky fortune in life, I got to go to a place where I had the opportunity to feel truly part of humanity and the people of Haiti gave me something that I will treasure forever.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Please check your email.
  Article in the Denver Post, Intermountain Jewish News, etc.
  Social Media
  Newsletter from synagogue, youth group or other Jewish organization
Please indicate at least one way you heard about us.
  I Agree to the terms and conditions of privacy
Please agree to the privacy terms.
  I certify I am 13 years of age or older
Please confirm you are 13 years of age or older.