An economic downturn might not be a good time to have a mortgage or a car payment, but it’s a fine time to have an idea. When things are going well, there’s no incentive to experiment; hard times like these force us to consider creative alternatives to the status quo. Enter the Texas Monthly Brainstorm. Taking as our premise that the state of the state can always be improved, we asked 82 people to send us one idea (in one hundred words or fewer) for how to make Texas a better place. Our correspondents were a motley bunch and included CEOs, pastors, artists, politicians, journalists, professors, publishers, activists, university presidents, district attorneys, economists, musicians, a mayor, a rapper, a blogger, a coach, a rancher, a gamer, and a first lady. Some agreed; some disagreed; some came up with things we’d never heard before; some sent back riffs on the basic idea. The result is an inspiring stew pot of optimism and possibility. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, one of these ideas (personal pod transport, anyone?) will change our lives.

For starters . . .