Archive for April, 2009

Knock Knock, The Future Is Here!

Don’t you love when your pizza finally arrives at the door? Imagine if the delivery driver arrived at your doorstep wearing a solar powered jacket connected to his i-phone that he’s jamming out to.

Knock knock, the future is here!

the future is here
Credit: World Changing

For years now, I have had people ask me about my Voltaic solar-powered backpack. I use it to charge my phone, which doubles as my camera and music device. I’m a happy camper with a complete mobile ability to stay in communications with the world, and all I need is some sunshine.

Today at Earth Day, Bright Neighbor teamed up with some other great organizations. One of them grows fruit and vegetable starts, and they sell the plants. No big deal, right? What if I told you for every plant they sell, they give away 10 of them to needy families across Oregon? They sell greenhouses to generate funds for making their operation sustainable – so while they are profiting from selling the right kinds of products, they are also giving back 10 X as much to the community at the same time.

Knock Knock, the future has arrived!

Since we began selling soil through Bright Neighbor, we can’t keep up with the orders. We are talking about beautiful, awesome, wonderful living soil. Once the “IKEA” branding of growing food at homes kicks in, capitalism will have completely transformed itself into a lean, mean, earth saving machine – run and managed by more youthful generations.

If you want to order soil, you can do so at the top of this blog.

The point is, that the future HAS arrived, and we are kicking ass. The ship will sail on, even if the banks all fail, oil runs out, and world currencies go away. As long as we have electricity and mobile devices, we are all set! We have music to listen to while we all take turns helping our local communities grow food. Tada!

The future is really, really cool. It looks a lot like Burning Man-meets-the Oregon Country Fair-meets-Capitalism.

Credit: World Changing


April 22, 2009 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

A Response to “Pathways to Community Collapse: Can We Intervene?”


This is my response to Kathy McMahon, Psy.D.’s excellent article, “Pathways to Community Collapse: Can We Intervene?


My adventures in helping to fortify resiliency mechanisms in communities have been eye-opening.

In Portland, we have successfully deployed a community system with Bright Neighbor that augments the modern communications methods used by people: Facebook, Twitter, mobile devices, laptops and desktops.

We have truly become wired into a constant buzz-buzz-buzz about who is doing what. The government doesn’t need laws to institute Big Brother’s playbook, we have done it for them. People want everyone to know what they are doing, all the time.

If there ever were a concentrated effort to overthrow the capitalist system as it stands, everyone would know about it because if it’s cool, it grows and it spreads. Right now, while everyone is so upset about the economy, we still go about our days tweeting and Facebooking about whatever we decide to publish.

Because community has now moved online, and it knows no geography for communications, but it is relevant when it comes to immediate real world needs.

If we need something, we go to the store and get it. Or we ask a friend, or a family member. And we get what we need. Now, we have lots of ways to track ourselves, sell things to one another, and everyone knows we are all in this together.

Whether you are a kid in Tibet, or a spoiled American brat, we all know that we need to change.

We need to stop valuing nuclear weapons as monetary policy checks and balances. Just alone, the cost of all the Air Force plane crashes of the last year could help install enough organic gardens in America to feed every person. The answers are very simple to solve our many crisis situations.

Until, however, that we either make it mandatory or offer incentives for all citizens to go through gardening training courses, we are not serious about solving our greatest problems.

I suggest that the leaders of governments around the world come to gether for a G20 like meeting focused only on boosting global support for instantly focusing all global efforts on soil restoration, water-harvesting mechanisms for both cities and rural towns, as well as local commerce systems based on time-banking and b2b/b2c/c2b/c2c trade.

Business to business: All businesses source locally for their raw materials within a 300 mile radius.

Business to Consumer: Support local entrepreneurs starting up soil farming, vermicomposting, tilapia farming, urban chicken, or other micro-farming and permaculture based businesses. Give them easy access to loans to start their business, and create a standard for local permaculture guidelines that allow us to reverse engineer bad 1950’s era home policies. We must not only encourage, but give incentives to do things like give up your dryer for a clothes line, or converting your lawn into a micro-farm.

Micro-farmers can specialize in their lawns and grow local organic produce to feed micro-livestock. This creates a fruit/vegetable/meat source for city dwellers, while supporting local food commerce. Add in materials providers such as soil makers, vermicomposters, and other positive-impact businesses, and you have a recipe for reversing capitalism to do good for the planet while still making a profit. This can be achieved by home owners becoming lawn farmers, as we have always said over at our blog, Lawns to Gardens. People will eventually go so far as to harness human poop as a raw material and turn it into a profitable soil-building enterprise.

Consumer to Consumer: This has been revolutionized by social media. Whether it is two moms connecting to share a newborn’s car seat, or neighbors trading food, skills, firewood – you name it, it is happening in Portland. Bright Neighbor has created an alternative-economy way of thinking and living supported at the government, community, business, and faith-group levels.

These 4-pillars of society are what hold communities together. As the monetary system continues to crumple, we must focus our efforts on connecting around our common agreements, namely food. At the local level, all other arguments can be resolved without violence as long as their is access to food, water, and shelter.

People will always argue over possessions, including ownership of one another. Whether this relationship is economic, erotic, or plutonic – it comes down to each human’s own way they go about the preservation of their life, living standards, and hope for more before they die.

We all die in the end, so I say let’s party and have a great time while we fix this place up and leave it in the best shape we can for the next set of kids that are going to pop out. Religion or not, we should all work together to preserve our entire species, as well as our neighbors in the animal, plant, and insect kingdoms.

– Randy White / Bright Neighbor

April 12, 2009 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

When Relationships Turn Economic


So economists are trying to paint a rosy picture, eh? I don’t have access to their data, so let me take a stab at a not-so scientific observation.

If food stamps, social security, and medicare went away tomorrow, what would happen in America? If the supply of oil was disrupted, how would people still earn enough money to pay for the huge spike in prices? How are people expected to pay their mortgages while being told to drive less, buy less, not consume, yet keep their job? If we can’t continue as we were, then who gets what, and why?

And will porn always be free forever, even if the economy completely collapses?

I believe we have entered the era of Friendonomics. This is the time when the snake really begins to chomp on its own tail, and relationships turn economic as people’s personal social networks bloom. And whether the friendonomics relationship is either hiring a friend or being hired by a friend, it’s important to see it from both sides of the equation.

For instance, let’s say you have a friend, and you like them because of (fill in the blank). But right now, you need some dough to pay for stuff, and you offer to help that friend for money.

That is when that friend owns you.

If you make an agreement and take payment for performing some sort of work, your friend either becomes your customer or your boss. Kind of like marriage. But when you charge your friend money for doing a job, you lose something that was there when there was no economic relationship.

“Hey buddy, you know I love you, but I was really hoping you could have had it done by now, done it for way less than market rates, and change some stuff too.”

Hiring friends can come naturally as a friend’s work becomes valued with cash or credit. When I have hired friends, I have found myself to be a driven idealist, looking to achieve maximum impact. Whether the job is highly technical or a simple chore, I want it done right. And if you become a boss to your friends, your demands could be viewed by them as a relationship changer. Because if you are in control, then they feel like subordinate rather than a friend, and the level of social understanding between you changes.

When one of your friends “Knows someone” who can do what you need, it is a gray area of friendonomics. I’m open to interpretation there.

As the economy continues to morph into something different than what it has been before, many people are going to experience all sorts of relationship changes as debts and social media fuel massive friendonomics. We live in a time when on your computer or mobile device you are actively monitoring the lives of people as they live and post stuff online. Even if it’s something trivial like your top 5 favorite albums or your tweet about whatever, we want people to know what’s going on.

And because we are so connected, many new people are available. Your old friends never really go away – they may just be choosing to unsubscribe you from their lives.

And this is why I hate our current system of capitalism. Because if you are doing things for money, you are a slave. And we are all slaves, trying to keep up with all the stuff we bought. Some work less by managing to get others to work for them. As money is no longer available to people, there are bound to be major social upheavals.

This is why before further mayhem ensues, I am training volunteer trainers to help people learn how to use technology like Bright Neighbor and Facebook to build community-based economies. My focus is to continue to work to help people deal with changing living conditions.

So if you get hired by a friend to do a job, perhaps you could work out a deal other than cash, so that your friendonomics relationship isn’t so much as boss/customer as it is friendship/barter.

April 10, 2009 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment

Lessons In Social Media Etiquette & Graces

speaker check in

Imagine this. You have created a hot new social network that promises to give Facebook a run for their money, or at least serve as a model for them to steal ideas from. You get invited to speak to an awesome group of cool movers and shakers in Portland – and when you show up, assuming you still lug around thousands of pounds of steel you when you transport yourself from A to B, you find an open parking spot right next to venue. “SWEET!” you say, as you head inside to tear it up and yack about your new technology thingamajig.

And when you enter the room, there are already panelists deep in conversation about Twitter and Facebook, and you think “awesome, I can’t wait to rock that conversation!”, only to find out that you were supposed to arrive an hour ago to speak on that VERY panel.

Welcome to my day today.

Since Bright Neighbor launched in November, I get to speak on a number of panels. At Portland’s awesome SHOP Symposium 09, I was coming prepared to talk about social media influence on real communities, and had several points to make about how Facebook is the presently king, how Twitter is irritating but necessary, and how Bright Neighbor is applied sustainability for growing local economies. I was prepared to tell five secrets of social:

1) You are what you publish online, and what you do offline

2) People like to keep in touch with the person who is always throwing cool events

3) Be fun, informed, and natural

4) Be open to making new friends

5) Help other people. That means helping the environment while doing good business.

Now, after somehow putting on my calendar that the panel I was supposed to be on started at 4pm when on the itinerary it CLEARLY states 3:15, I completely blew it and I owe Ericka Dickey an apology. And so of course like any lecturer who seizes an opportunity, I will use a variety of social media platforms to project project an experience that has revealed lessons to be learned from screwing up a talk about using a variety of social media platforms.

LESSON 1: No Matter What Your Reason For Your Screw Up, You Still Look Stupid
Everyone screws up, but what about when it’s you who flubbed things up? You can have a nice, shiny excuse, but when your malfunction affects other people, reality reigns, and you don’t do yourself any favors by not being the best you can be.

LESSON 2: For Every Screw Up, Multiply it by the Number of People You Know You Missed
Today, I could have made a connection with a business reporter, a hot blogger, a small business owner, a community organizer, and other event promoters. The room was full of potential contacts and people to make great things happen. So when you place your head in the hood of the car and start banging it into your head, make sure to do it enough until you learn to verify your calendar

LESSON 3: Make Sure You Make Up For It By Working Harder At Social Media and Real World Events
We could all be depressed about the economy and how any screw up can bring us closer to financial ruin. Everyone needs money to survive in the manner that we are used to. Grocery stores, unlimited gasoline, comfortable temperate home climates, and whiz-bang appliances and consumer electronics. Which is why when you blow it, you had better say you are sorry and get back to work doing what you do, and that means working your network and making things happen that need to happen.

LESSON 4: Triple Check Your Calendar
It’s only four words, but oh-so necessary to heed.

BONUS: Twitter joke

April 6, 2009 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

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