Local authorities are hardly awash with cash these days which means that some community and urban renewal projects may get put on the back burner indefinitely.
But thanks to the crowd, community-minded crowdfunding platforms can pick up the slack and start, develop and complete projects without having to wait for government bodies to get their acts together.
One such platform is Brickstarter. Conceived in Finland, the site is modeled after the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and could save buckets of tears of frustration by cutting through layers of red tape to get projects online in rapid time-frames.
These days a finger tap on a mobile device yields reviews of everything from a five-star restaurant to a grungy hole-in-the-wall gem. Foodies depend on contextualized local search to guide their chow hound adventures, and a new mobile application aims to become a Yelp for the socially-minded.
“Social Impact” is a free app that utilizes the iPhone’s GPS system to display the closest retail social enterprises—including restaurants, coffee shops, and craft stores. The developers, Rolfe Larson Associates, have added nearly 700 businesses to the app’s database so far—each include serving the common good as part of their mission. The developers are eager for users to suggest more socially progressive businesses to grow the network.
Stephen Colbert seems to have a propensity for finding GreenLiberty-type guests, and “humanitarian design” advocate Emily Pilloton appears to be another sterling example. Her book Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower Peoplediscusses how the power of smart design can and should be leveraged toward making life better for people. In her words: “Humanitarian design is really about taking design, as a creative process–which is really about problem solving–and putting it to work on some of the biggest social issues that we’re facing today. ”
“I honestly don’t know why the article became such a lightning rod,” says John Mackey, CEO and founder of Whole Foods Market Inc., as he tries to explain the firestorm caused by his August op-ed on these pages opposing government-run health care. “I think a lot of people who got angry haven’t read what I actually wrote. There was a lot of emotional reaction—fear and anger. I just wanted to get people to think about whether there was a better way to reform the system.”
Mr. Mackey has flown into Washington, D.C., for a board meeting of the Global Animal Partnership, a group that advocates for the humane treatment of animals. There was no private jet: He arrived on Southwest Airlines from Austin, Texas, and he bought the “Wanna Getaway” bottom basement fare. “I barely got the last aisle seat,” he says. While in town he stays in the bedroom of his regional president, who lives in Maryland.
For the 12th straight year, Mr. Mackey’s company has been praised as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune Magazine. Whole Foods sells healthy food, practices “socially responsible trade,” and prides itself on promoting foods that are grown to support “biodiversity and healthy soils.” Mr. Mackey donates 5% of company profits to charity and has been one of America’s loudest critics of runaway compensation on Wall Street. And he pays himself $1 a year. He would seem to be a model corporate citizen.
Yet his now famous op-ed incited a boycott of Whole Foods by some of his left-wing customers. His piece advised that “the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us closer to a complete government takeover of our health-care system.” Free-market groups retaliated with a “buy-cott,” encouraging people to purchase more groceries at Whole Foods.
Why did he write the piece in the first place?
“President Obama called for constructive suggestions for health-care reform,” he explains. “I took him at his word.” Mr. Mackey continues: “It just seems to me there are some fundamental reforms that we’ve adopted at Whole Foods that would make health care much more affordable for the uninsured.” Read the rest of this entry »
This story shows how a non-profit, Remote Area Medical, was able to provide medical care for free to approximately 8,000 people over the course of a week in a temporary clinic in the southern Los Angeles area.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — They came for new teeth mostly, but also for blood pressure checks, mammograms, immunizations and acupuncture for pain. Neighboring South Los Angeles is a place where health care is scarce, and so when it was offered nearby, word got around.
For the second day in a row, thousands of people lined up on Wednesday — starting after midnight and snaking into the early hours — for free dental, medical and vision services, courtesy of a nonprofit group that more typically provides mobile health care for the rural poor.
Like a giant MASH unit, the floor of the Forum, the arena where Madonna once played four sold-out shows, housed aisle upon aisle of dental chairs, where drilling, cleaning and extracting took place in the open. A few cushions were duct-taped to a folding table in a coat closet, an examining room where Dr. Eugene Taw, a volunteer, saw patients.
From this author’s birth region of Berkshire County, MA, comes this story about local currencies–a fantastic way for people and businesses to take matters into their own hands when it comes to ensuring local financial security and establishing concrete ways to encourage a “buy locally” approach.
Decentralization is a key concept for both libertarians and greens, and this is a way to reduce our dependence on the federal and state governments to manage currency and the economy. (Consider that money which was tied into “BerkShares” most likely was not impacted by any of the national economic dips, crises, and scandals that have thrown so much of the nation’s wealth into instability.)
And the only action required by government for local currencies to work is to stay out of the way. (Which, unfortunately, it probably won’t do.)