The results of a workshop held at the launch of Hampshire College's LEEP program. Credit: Hampshire College
In a world of worsening social inequality, climate change, and other urgent challenges, how can higher education play a more active, constructive role? A small liberal arts college known for its innovative approaches to undergraduate education aims to find out.
The People Who Share, a UK organization working to mainstream sharing, recently launched a new sharing marketplace called Compare and Share. Being touted as the world’s one-stop shop for the sharing economy, their vision is to be the go-to marketplace to share everything from sporting goods and tools, to rides, cars and houses.
The proliferation of activist initiatives calling for systemic change around the world has never been more impressive. Yet collaborations among like-minded organizations, projects and movements have been disappointingly modest. As neoliberal economics and policies tighten their grip on American society—notwithstanding the dismal misbehavior of financial institutions, corporations and the two political parties—can leading alt-economic and social movements find ways to work more closely together?
Since smartphones quicken the pace of life and work, it only seems fair that they should also help us recover from all that quickening—give us a way to wind down and brighten our moods, right? While no app can compare to time with loved ones, nature, meditation, and exercise, there are plenty that promise to boost our happiness, calm us, and make us more grateful. Here are 15 of our favorites worth trying:
1. Gratitude Journal ($1.99)
Adam Smith knows food. A trained chef who has worked in numerous restaurants, the 29-year old also knows firsthand how much perfectly good food is wasted. Smith hails from Leeds, England, but it was a year spent working on farms in Australia that inspired The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP), which changed the direction of his life. A pay-as-you-feel cafe model, TRJFP intercepts food headed for the landfill and turns it into restaurant-quality meals.
An estimated 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted by either being thrown away or left to rot. Considering that 49 million Americans live in food insecure households, this is a sobering statistic. Food waste also exacts an incredible toll on the environment. Food waste in landfills creates methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases; it leads to the wasteful use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers; and it causes unnecessary energy and transportation impacts.
Imagine an online marketplace, similar to Amazon or eBay, that only sold ethical goods. Now make that marketplace a multi-stakeholder cooperative that involves sellers, consumers and the team building and running the platform along with other stakeholders. That's the vision for ethicalBay.
I live in one of a growing number of “illegal” cooperative houses (co-ops) in Boulder, Colorado. The city’s occupancy limit of three or four unrelated people effectively bans co-ops, which is in direct opposition to its stated goals of providing affordable housing and environmental responsibility.
During the 2008 financial meltdown, it became clear that we need new ways of making a living. Since then, worker cooperatives have re-emerged as a viable alternative to traditional businesses. A new short film, Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time, gives an overview of what a worker coop is, how they transform communities, and the realities of starting one.
A commons-based economy cannot thrive without appropriate institutions, especially those that represent a "partner state" approach. Professor Christian Iaione of LUISS University in Rome is a pioneer of such institutional innovation in Italian cities. I believe his work with the city of Bologna on Bologna's Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of Urban Commons is a breakthrough.
Amid government crackdown, seed libraries expand biodiversity and food access. Photo: Betsy Goodman of the Common Soil Seed Library. Credit: Associated Press
It’s easy to take seeds for granted. Tiny dry pods hidden in packets and sacks, they make a brief appearance as gardeners and farmers collect them for future planting then later drop them into soil. They are not “what’s for dinner,” yet without them there would be no dinner. Seeds are the forgotten heroes of food—and of life itself.
In a just published study, researchers investigated the motivations driving users to peer-to-peer services like timebanks. (10,000 People Blog)
Slowly but steadily, Vienna's collaborative economy is growing. Photo: Vienna Shares
In Austria’s capital city, proponents of the collaborative economy face several obstacles to widespread adoption. These include low awareness of alternative markets and sharing resources; media skepticism; and the municipal government’s focus on the "smart city" model.
In 1998, when the Winn-Dixie grocery store in Northeast Greensboro, North Carolina closed, it created a food desert—a community without easy access to food. For years, area residents tried to get another grocery chain to come in, but none wanted to come to the predominantly African-American, low-income town.
The community finally came up with a solution—one that didn't rely on an outside company to come in. They put into motion a plan to open a food cooperative.
The technologies that undergird Bitcoin transactions have advanced to suggest other, non-financial applications. (Bitcoin Magazine)
Libraries are vital community spaces. But many face shrinking budgets. They also face an increasingly-digital landscape, which requires new approaches to stay relevant. A new toolkit aims to help librarians use design thinking to create innovative programs for their libraries.
In June, librarians at the Joseph T. Simpson public library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania were told by state agriculture officials that their small, in-house seed library needed to comply with the state seed law. Trouble is, the law requires extensive testing designed for commercial agricultural enterprises—not neighborhood seed sharing. Being held to the same requirements as commercial seed enterprises could render seed libraries, and seed sharing in general, extinct.
The Free Farm Stand, located in the Mission district of San Francisco, distributes free food through gifting organic fruits, vegetables, and locally made breads every weekend.