behavior · community · environment · Social

The new economy is local, handmade

English: Looking northeast at Zukkie's Bike Sh...
The new economy is local. Image via Wikipedia

I read a great article in Fast Company yesterday by Bruce Nussbaum, the former assistant managing editor for Business Week and a Professor of Innovation and Design at Parsons The New School of Design, about a trend that he refers to as “indie capitalism,” this idea of a homemade economy. Homemade in many ways: products made at home and sold from there, locally focused market, and driven by small, independent entrepreneurs:

You won’t learn about it in business school, hear about it from Wall Street, or see it in Palo Alto. But if you spend time in Bushwick, Brooklyn, or on Rivington Street in Manhattan, you just might detect the outlines of an emerging “indie” capitalism. This new form of capitalism is not just about conventional startups and technology and venture capitalists. If you add up all the trends under way today, I believe we are beginning to see the start of something original, and perhaps wonderful. It may prove to be the economic and social antidote to the failed financial capitalism and crony capitalism that no longer delivers economic value in terms of jobs, income, and taxes to the people of this country.

Indie capitalism is local, not global, and cares about the community and jobs and says so right up front. Good things come from and are made locally by people you can see and know. The local focus makes indie capitalism intrinsically sustainable–energy is saved as a result of a way of life, not in an effort to reach a distinct and difficult goal.

Indie capitalism is socially, not transactionally, based. It’s not just Internet social, involving 5,000 friends, but personally social. Take Kickstarter, for example, where people fund the music, books, and products that they can watch develop over time. In this model, consumer, investor, audience, fan, helper, and producer conflate. People find and prepare their food the same way they find and prepare their music. And then they share it all.

More at 4 Reasons Why The Future Of Capitalism Is Homegrown, Small Scale, And Independent

I am really excited by this idea of a locally-sourced and locally-focused economy. I think it is better for the environment, but I also think it’s better for community building and having a better sense of place, to feel connected to where you live and what you do, and enriched by it.

Please read the entire, well-written article, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

anthropology · behavior · community · psychology · Social · technology

Crowdsourcing the locals for travel recommendations

Uptake helps you ask locals what to do in different locations

On a recent roadtrip, my husband and I stopped in a medium-sized town out in the middle of nowhere, tired, dirty, and famished. Neither one of us are McDonalds or Subway types, but we definitely needed meat, and fast. What to do? My husband spent 10 minutes on my smartphone trying to read Yelp for a decently reviewed restaurant, which turned out to be a real dive but had somewhat tolerable pizza. Long story short, I bet this app would have helped us out a lot:

is set up to have a web community of people passionate about their local bars, hotels, and restaurants, but the key is that they let you ask questions of your Facebook friends who are local in the city you’re interested in.

When you ask questions in an open community, you’re not guaranteed to get an answer. If you’re looking at reviews on Yelp, you don’t really know who are behind them [Editor’s note: Yeah, tell me about it!]. Your friends are usually the people you trust the most with picking a great bar or pub to eat at, so Uptake takes the extra step of drilling down to the friends who are relevant to your question.

A lot of apps and services like Nomad for iPad and Trazzler let you ask for travel recommendations, but Uptake helps you ask the people who probably know best.

Local destinations still need technology, as sites like Yelp have become a stomping ground for trolls sounding off about bad experiences. Social is the key to a good recommendation, but not many services have nailed the experience yet. When I see a recommendation from a name or avatar that I recognize, it instantly has more value to me.

Uptake is in beta right now and promises a few features that aren’t available yet.

Read more at: Uptake helps you ask locals all of your travel questions (The Next Web)

One interesting trend of crowd-sourcing apps is an attempt to reach out to pre-established tribes and communities (see yesterday’s post about creating tribes through community) and trying to tap into that local’s knowledge. As the author of the article mentioned, people trust other people they know, and getting “local” knowledge is very important to us humans. We want to feel like we’re an insider, included, and not some dumb tourist who gets taken advantage of or just looks silly.

We also trust other tribe members and their knowledge more than anything else. It’s been shown we trust word of mouth and let it influence us more than advertising, and our peers are hugely influential on what we buy, use, and spend time doing. As we travel, we will also trust our peers over guidebooks on what to do, what to see, and where to eat.

I’ll be interested to see how these social peer-sourcing apps continue to evolve over time. Visit Uptake‘s website to find out more about the app.

community · culture · health · Social

‘Food corridor’ brings urban neighbors together – The Olympian

Raised beds using concrete blocks. Image via Wikipedia

For the past couple of years people have been discussing the idea of “food deserts” in urban areas where there are no groceries or places for people to purchase fresh veggies and meat. This is an interesting concept of how to address that: a food corridor in Olympia, WA.

The commons is a collection of gardens, pathways, landscapes and building demonstration projects under the stewardship of the Fertile Ground Community Center and the South Sound Chapter of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild. Together, they take up half a city block and include the guild headquarters known as EcoHouse, the Fertile Ground Community Center and the Fertile Ground Guesthouse, a bed-and-breakfast owned and operated by Karen Nelson and Gail O’Sullivan.

If chickens aren’t your thing, you’re welcome to pick a handful of fruits and berries — everything from Asian pears and Cascade cherries to golden raspberries and strawberries — growing along the sidewalk.

The community invitation extends into the garden where flowers, vegetables and herbs grow in raised beds built out of recycled wood and tree limbs.

more via ‘Food corridor’ brings urban neighbors together – Soundings – The Olympian – Olympia, Washington news, weather and sports.

I’m interested to see how this might manifest in other places, particularly those where it’s less common already to have chickens in backyards and use the front strip of grass in your yard as a raised bed. During World War II people had “Victory” gardens in containers on their front stoops, so it’s definitely doable to grow things even in the most compacted urban spaces, but it seems like the biggest hurdle is acceptance, so what could possibly be done to raise acceptance of backyard broccoli? Ideas?

behavior · community · culture · environment · happiness · Social

“The Economics of Happiness” documentary argues buying local will save the planet, ourselves

Helena Norberg-Hodge
Helena Norberg-Hodge, director of "The Economics of Happiness" and founder of ISEC. Image via Wikipedia

I am a huge fan of buying local (although I could be a lot better at it). This film makes an interesting argument that buying local is not only good for the environment and the local economy, but also connects us back to our spiritual sense of community.

Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There are personal costs too. For the majority of people on the planet, life is becoming increasingly stressful. We have less time for friends and family and we face mounting pressures at work.

The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.

more via The Economics of Happiness | Full Synopsis.

I have seen this same community/spirituality argument proposed as well with farmers in Hawaii trying to preserve traditional knowledge of taro planting, as well as other indigenous groups in South and Central America, and all over the world, so it is interesting to see this documentary maker make the argument on a larger scale, saying it can benefit all of us. I tend to agree.

I also like the idea of “grandmother universities,” which fit in well with the current trend of DIYers.

Has anybody seen this film, or know more about it? It’s sponsored by the International Society for Ecology & Culture, and directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge.