November 2009 Archives

November 24, 2009

Chicken and Cow Strike Again

In the last few days, posted not one, but TWO great articles related to chicken and cow sharing, entitled How to Share a Cow and How to Share a Chicken (or Two). There's just something about chickens and cows that mooooves people to come together, build community, start co-ops, raise animals together, and share food. This won't be the first time I've pointed out that chickens are leading the sharing revolution. They are very organized about it, too, as you can see:
cow and chicken.jpg
Actually, this is a sharing art installation by Emily Doskow and Luan Stauss, meant to draw the curiosity of and start conversations with the herds/flocks of passers by at our San Francisco Green Festival booth last weekend.  Oddly, during the course of the weekend, not one, but TWO of the cows disappeared. Now who in their right conscience would steal from a booth about sharing?  (The chickens have been brooding about it ever since.) Whoever you are cow-nappers, just know you got a special cow on your hands and she fully expects to be shared.
November 23, 2009

A Big List of Sharing Ideas from Green Fest

Here's yet another list of sharing ideas!  We collected these ideas on post-it notes from visitors to our booth at the San Francisco Green Festival. We asked people to tell us their ideas for sharing and ways to create more sharing communities. We aren't totally clear on what all the ideas mean, but we figure that no ideas should be left behind. Here's they are:
  • Book swaps
  • Goat sharing for lawn mowing and clearing of brush
  • Sewing collectivestuff.jpg
  • Share a vegetable box
  • Art days
  • Share farm equipment, wood chippers, and snow blowers
  • Sing more
  • Work lunch co-op
  • Have "Soup Night" - a weekly event: invite friends, share poetry and music, and eat soup!
  • Wellness attention
  • Massage cooking
  • Neighborhood home improvement groups
  • Share ideas and eco-ideas
  • Energy raising (neighbors doing energy-saving retrofits for each other)
  • Water raising (neighbors building rain catchment barrels and grey water systems together)
  • Garden raising
  • Frequent potlucks on our street
  • Dance together healthy! (Barefoot Boogie Dance Jam, Berkeley)
  • Gather to can tomatoes
  • Saying "hi!"
  • Chicken feed co-ops
  • Turn loneliness into community; turn consumerism into tool-sharing; turn foreclosure into shared housing
  • Start a neighborhood compost rotation
  • Sing together (you can't have harmony unless you share the song)
  • Share boundaries (land)
  • Share clothes
  • A shared metal workshop (there's on in Mountain View, CA)
  • Corner grocery store
  • Love
  • Neighborhood garden
  • Create/enforce, morals, values & traditions in our youth
  • Be a friendcars.jpg
  • Share artwork
  • Share garden produce
  • Clothes party suare
  • DIY classes
  • Share a household and all of its contents
  • Gather to make butter or soap
  • Shower together to save water
  • Poop together (your guess is as good as ours...maybe something to do with doing a community composting toilet project?)
  • Chicken sharing
  • Acceptance of others: supportive love ("I love you and there ain't a thing you can do about it.")
  • Automatic sharing
  • Of course, LOVE
  • Block parties
  • Jam sessions (make fruit preserves and music together)
  • "Sharing bags" - fill a bag with gifts, give it to someone, and then ask the person to fill it with other things and pass it on.
  • Meal sharing
  • Share a wood workshop (put everyone's tools in one place, use the space for your projects and/or gather to work on projects together). Check out the Sawdust Shop for an example of a community wood working space.
  • Stay soft and open
  • Cohousing
  • Coworking
  • Ecovillages
  • Eliminate zoning. It has done more harm than good.
  • Carpool
  • Not apart from, but a part of...
  • The power of conversation. See World Cafe.
  • Share a dog (I don't want one full-time)
  • Grow and share food locally
  • On Halloween: hand out info and/or non-boxed candy
  • Share office space
November 19, 2009

"Bioneering" Ideas for Sharing, Part 4: The Slow Homes Movement

On Tuesday, posted my article about "Slow Homes," and we've already received interesting comments and additional ideas.  Here are more ideas that may or may not have made it into the article.  All of these were collected at this year's Bioneers Conference, where we asked attendees to brainstorm answers to the question of "What is a Slow Homes Movement?"  Here's what they wrote down:

  • No more houses that are giant storage units for too much STUFF
  • Simple mobile structures
  • Eliminate divide between indoors/outdoors. Build outdoor kitchens, living spaces, and gathering spaces.
  • State where we are; work with what we have. Transform pre-existing structures, remove asphalt, and retrofit our urban spaces to build ecovillages.
  • Creating jobs for green builders artisans, and people who really care about the craft of building
  • Access to land is a basic human right
  • Building in place with on-site materials and appropriate technology
  • Designing homes that get us outside and doing permaculture
  • Homes that can adapt over time (Moveable walls, etc)  ""
  • Reading the fine print, understanding the meaning and consequences of the loan and purchase documents we sign.  Making informed choices. SLOW choices.
  • Creating our homes, not just buying mass-produced cookie-cutter homes.
  • Building with local materials, non-toxic, renewable, recycled, and recyclable materials
  • No more "Buy and Flip!"
  • Homes are not stock markets. No more "flippin' it," and investing in bigger and bigger homes. Slow down. Put down roots.
  • Lots of campgrounds for longer-term living in mobile structures
  • Design of communities to facilitate open space preservation
  • Investing in lifestyle, not just houses
  • No more billboards (especially lighted)
  • Take your time for LUNCH!
  • Removing land and homes from the market, preserving them for the commons; ensuring long-term affordability; limited equity housing
  • Finance that does not come from big evil lenders. (Citibank = Boooo!)
  • Tasting our homes, savoring our homes, experiencing our homes, breathing our homes, loving our homes, sharing our homes.
  • Creating a space for solitude, sanctuary, stillness - an uninterrupted place to dream
  • Bau-biologie
  • Combining residential and commercial spaces to facilitate walkable communities, and allow people to work near home.  Fosters local economy.
  • Designing homes that foster interaction, sharing, community, and connection among residents
  • Homes that inspire creativity, beauty, and joyful activities. Aesthetically pleasing, brings pleasure to the senses.
  • Barn raising!
  • Slow water!
  • Homes that encourage slow food, slow water, slow everything!
  • Home as a conduit for relationship. Home as a place that connects us to Earth and people.
  • Housing integrated with smart transportation, bus routes, bike sharing, car sharing, and no more laws requiring 2.3 parking spots per household.
  • More hostels and networks of simple housing for people who travel
  • Home ownership and stewardship based in permaculture and whole systems ethics and principles

November 17, 2009

Launching the Slow Homes Movement just published my two-part "Slow Homes Manifesto," which is really meant to be the starter for a much broader conversation. In the piece, I start to paint a picture of what a slow homes movement might look like, beginning with the concepts that are already being applied in Slow Food and Slow Money.  I invite everyone to read it, post comments, and build on the ideas!fast homes.jpg
November 10, 2009

"Bioneering" Ideas for Sharing, Part 3

At our "Cooperative Living and Sharing Brainstorm Booth" at the Bioneers Conference, we also asked people to tell us: "What are barriers to community building?"

Here are some of the answers:
  • Petty issues that get people angry and make them shut down to cooperation
  • Zoning issues and codes that don't support sustainability
  • Hyperindividuation
  • Egos
  • People who are unpredictable, irrational, and uncontrollable 
  • The digital divide (the fact that poor and marginalized communities do not have access to the online community-building tools that many others have)
  • Large communities that are hard to organize; it's difficult to create a unified voice or vision
As usual, the general sentiment is that sharing would be great...if it weren't for the other people. Conflict, difficult personalities, egos - it seems like everyone has a story about how they got burnt in a sharing plan or cooperative effort that went sour.  Honestly, this does seem like the biggest barrier to the sharing revolution. But those of us who are mediators, or who have taken classes in non-violent communication or powerful non-defensive communication, know the potential for any conflict situation to transform into something positive and constructive, so we feel confident that this barrier is entirely surmountable. 

While talking to Bioneers conference attendees, we also brainstormed ideas about ways to manage our differences, including:
  • Hear people out. Even if you think they are "unpredictable, irrational, and uncontrollable," they will probably be much easier to talk to if they feel they are being listened to.
  • Remember that what we interpret as "unpredictable, irrational, and uncontrollable" may actually just come from a miscommunication.
  • Remember that most people are well-intentioned. Most of the time if someone is acting "unpredictable, irrational, and uncontrollable," it's because they feel their needs aren't being met.
  • Use meeting facilitators to talk through difficult topic.
  • Postpone discussion of issues that tend to trigger people, and start by finding common ground on other issues.
Of course, whole books could be written on this topic. For now I just wanted to share some of the thoughts we collected at Bioneers.

November 7, 2009

"Bioneering" Ideas for Sharing, Part 2

We asked attendees of the Bioneers conference to write down an answer to "What Do You Share?"  Here is what they said:

  • Tools
  • Plants
  • Produce
  • A dog
  • Music parties!
  • Yerba mate
  • My/our kitchen
  • Homeschooling
  • Myself in the service of the planet
  • Garden
  • Humor
  • Yoga and dance studio space
  • Orchard
  • Water
  • Food
  • Child care
  • Time
  • Money
  • Energy
  • Crying
  • Intuition
  • Love
November 4, 2009

Grocery Shopping in the Age of Sharing

EcoSalon posted a nice piece today: "Sharing: It's not just nice, it's necessary."  I love the "rundown of the 15 coolest sharing concepts." 

Coincidentally, I know the journalist who wrote the piece, Vanessa Barrington, because we are both members of the same cooperative grocery, The COG.  She mentioned the value of the relationships she has developed with other co-op members, and I feel the same way!  I love that we have turned our grocery shopping experience into more than just a trip to a big store.  It really has become a place where community develops.  Plus, we have serious fun.

Tomorrow, I have my regular two hour work shift at the COG, which I usually spend stocking shelves (good upper-body workout, which is not something that I get in my lawyer line of work).  We have a tradition of having a quick dinner party during my shift. We take turns bringing a meal, usually from a local cooperative, like Arizmendi. Tomorrow, also coincidentally, we'll be eating falafel from the same Liba falafel truck that Vanessa mentioned in her EcoSalon article.

And then there are the monthly food tastings, cooking classes, and/or potlucks.  Last month we had a massive cheese tasting party, including a cheese-making demonstration, poetry about cheese, and a cheese quiz game called "Jeopar-Cheese!"  This Sunday I'll be back at the COG for a potluck and some live "West Coast Mardi Gras" music.  Anyone is invited!  Bring a dish to share and I'll see you there!
November 3, 2009

"Bioneering" Ideas for Sharing, Part 1

The weekend before last, I shared a "Cooperative Living and Sharing Brainstorm Booth" with Regenerative Real Estate at the incredible Bioneers Conference.  Our booth featured a coffee table and chairs in a circle, and we invited passers by to come in, have a cup of tea, and brainstorm with us on huge poster boards.  It's safe to say that was the most idea-stimulating three days of my life!  Bioneers brings together some amazing thinkers and activists, and they shared a lot of thoughts.
bioneers booth 1.jpg

In my next few blog posts, I'll list some of the ideas that we brought home on post-it notes attached to out brainstorm boards.  First, here are some of the ideas we collected in answer to the question: "How do we create STRONG COMMUNITY in our neighborhoods?"

  • Remodel the suburbs
  • Reclaim your suburban neighborhood!
  • Set up a barter system, produce share, and clothing swap
  • Neighborhood kiosks and bulletin boards
  • See what City Repair did
  • Draft ethics and agreements that the whole group creates and supports, creating a sense of ownership/accountability to the community
  • Front yard and safe active common space
  • Connect food and home. Agriculture where we live.
  • Collaboration between landlords and tenants.
  • Create unity among tenants of rental housing.
  • Get out from under the hypnosis of consumerist society and realize a new world is possible.
  • Foster multigenerational communities: children and elders together!
  • Map the skill base of your neighobrs (find out who are the painters, builders, doctors, lawyers, gardeners, massage therapists, etc.)
  • Regular annual food-based house parties
  • It's all about architecture
  • Foster compassion toward yourself and extend it to others.
  • Imagine you're an ecosystem nurtured by "THANKS!!!!" from the future. (We thank Paul Horan of Young Ecosystem Scholars Support Services for sharing that piece of wisdom.)
  • Bring together a community and ask: What are we going to do that is EXTRAORDINARY?
  • Feast together!
bioneers booth 3.jpg