Category Archives: capitalism

It’s Time to Save the World

“Is my English OK? Is the microphone on?” asked Greta Thunberg, in one of her most recent addresses. “Because I’m beginning to wonder.”

Laughter from the audience.

It wasn’t a joke. No one seems to be listening.

Nine years ago, when I was Greta’s age, I wasn’t aware. I wasn’t politically, globally, socially, environmentally aware. I wasn’t aware of what our biggest problems were–or that I, as a kid, could do anything about it, even if I did know what was happening in the world.

Nine years ago, I was LARPing (live-action role playing). For those who don’t know, LARP is a game wherein you create a character for yourself, dress up in costume, and run around in the woods at night, fighting faux villains with foam sticks. It’s like playing make-believe in the backyard when you were little, but on a larger scale, with maybe a better production value.

LARP comes in a number of forms, but the game I played was mostly like Dungeons & Dragons. It was a fantasy game. Swords and sorcery. Lightning bolts. Storming the castle. All of that.

While I knew that the events in the game weren’t “real” and that the character I played wasn’t “real,” they always felt important. They felt bigger than the small “reality” I actually lived in. I often felt that my character was better than me. She was stronger, prettier, freer. She had more goodness in her; more to give. I wanted to be like her in real life.

This disconnect–the idea that my character was false and somehow separate from me–affected my growth in a number of ways. I could write a book on it. There’s a lot to unpack. But the point here is that even after I managed to quit the game, I had a hard time developing an idea of who I was without that character.

Recently, with the changing of the seasons, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It would be the start of LARP season now, if I was still playing.

I’m still sorting through it, but one of the things that finally occurred to me was that I could be like the heroic character I used to play. I already was like her. She came from me.

But there were still situational differences, systematic differences between that character’s world and mine, dragging me down.

I posted this on Facebook:

larp

And, only days later, the sentiment was echoed by somebody else:

dnd

I’ve been flailing for a solution. Something I could do to help the environment, and reconcile the reality of my apparent helplessness with the idea of once having played at being someone courageous and able to create change.

In this video, Jane Goodall advises people to act locally. “Quite honestly,” she says, “if you think globally, you get depressed.” Break it down, then. Start with what you know you can do. Do something. Even if it might seem small. “We’re all interconnected.”

I’ve been worrying myself sick. I woke up today with a sore throat, and a headache, presumably from my newfangled teeth grinding habit. In an anxious, somewhat dissociated haze, I drove to the store for some groceries, just to get out of the house. Everywhere, meat and dairy. Things packaged in plastic. Delicious things that I only felt bad about craving. I bought one of those chocolate bars that claims to help endangered species, and felt doubtful about its impact, but I hoped.

On my way home, it seemed like all I could see was trash. Scattered along the side of the road, accumulating in the ditches, washed up along the curb. Plastic bags blowing in the wind and caught up in bushes.

Enough is enough.

I found a metal stick–one of those garden hooks for hanging bird feeders or little candle pots–and I filed the end to a point on my dad’s bench grinder. I walked across the street to the park outside my house, and I attacked the garbage in the rain garden. I chased it through the foliage, piercing it with my makeshift rapier, collecting its remains.

Maybe this will help.

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Photo by Robert Stuart Lowden

I’m an adventurer. It’s my job.

And for all the shitheads out there who consume without thinking, and leave their trash lying around; for the people who continue to make a mess of the world, I have just one message:

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The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

“A business that makes nothing but money

is a poor business.”    Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company

Good morning all, from very chilly and gray Lutsen. Am sending this from a coffee shop  because the cabin does not have internet (true and wonderful).

I think the Mainwaring book is a keeper.  Chapter 7 really drove home the seismic shift in companies relating to their constituencies. I don’t think Mainwaring used the word constituencies, but it fits the metaphor he used on page 137:   “If brands think of every day as Election Day, they must seek to win over their audiences, not only through their products, but also through their behaviors.”

Well established social media is now giving us the 30,000-foot view of our fellow humans.  Turns out most people care quite a bit about our resources and each other.  Vague stats were mentioned, but I believe it, simply because we are creatures that are made to problem solve and protect. This is when we are in our element…except for the savages (watch Quest for Fire sometime, it pares it down pretty well to two basic human personalities).   By the way, thanks Indra Nooyi, Pepsi CEO, for your down-to-earth and courageous move to tap the public for their  ideas on how to better spend millions than on a Super Bowl half-time commercial. 

Corporations have NOT been conducive to bringing out the best qualities in people, and I am very glad to read (after my many, many, many years in corporate  and government work) that the future sees employees incentivized to conceive, develop, and bring social improvements.  That employees’ value will be accurately reflected in their pay…that this will reset the sinking middle class without which we are in a lot of trouble.  That employees may occasionally supplant the 9-5 with volunteer work, etc.  Not that corporations will go willingly, but they’re in a fish bowl now.  “Ethics is the new competitive environment” Peter Robinson, CEO, Mountain Equipment Coop.

I was surprised to learn that one of my favorite ways to get a quick lift,  twenty- minute TED Talks, actually originated from the internet and social media’s mission to educate and inspire not just individuals, but to move corporations and governments to adopt causes.

I’m also really liking the idea of how forums for different industries and forums of competitors both have a place in this new world of social and environmental conscientiousness.  Different industries discussing their programs or practices illuminates where gaps may be…competitors coming together can pool ideas and even resources for the shortcomings specific to their products and services.

All good.  Sort of really interested in the work of auditing companies (CSR Wire) http://www.csrwire.com/reports and providing tools for them to climb to the proverbial “higher ground” (Net Impact).  http://netimpactminneapolis.org/2013/09/19/the-2014-net-impact-conference-is-coming-to-the-twin-cities/

These are  good times, much to work on, and I want to be involved.  ‘Til next time,

Jeanne

So…Can Technology Save the World?

Photo courtesy of Woot!

Global Connections and Technological Solutions

For the first time in the history of humanity, we have the tools to communicate across the globe and propose solutions to problems that have plagued humans since ancient times.

Global Issues Global Solutions
Climate Change Coordinated Environmental Policy
Malnutrition Global Food Logistics
Poverty Fair Trade Global Economy

Communication Enables Process

The Global Communication Newsletter is a publication of the IEEE Communication Society, a professional organization dedicated to the development of communication professionals and the propagation of communication networks worldwide. Despite their business interest in global communication, they are pushing forward with global designs for 5G speeds and multimedia-rich mobile networks. You can read more about their proposals and ideas in their newsletter. Outside of the United States, more people access the web though mobile devices than traditional computers, so a faster network with broader service areas and better multimedia support increases the ability for more human connections to be established than was ever possible in the past.

This enables processes to be developed for us to gauge environmental and human needs and respond accordingly. One sticking point that is addressed in the newsletter is the lopsided distribution of bandwidth in the radio frequency spectrum that constrains mobile networks while providing underutilized bandwidth to television networks. Solving this would grow global communication and responsiveness, and would allow the spread of knowledge and techniques that could save the planet and its citizens.

Earth-saving Technologies

Some of the new ‘ecotech’ that we could spread virally, via our nifty new 5G networks, come in the form of fusion energy (if it is ever perfected), needleless vaccines, and nanoparticles that leech pharmaceuticals from water supplies that are subject to pharmaceutical waste. Other agricultural advances could increase yields while reducing pesticide use.  An ecodesign website called inhabitat.com includes some awesome examples of the technologies on the horizon that could save the planet and its people. It also cites new developments in rapid communication as an enabling force for positive change.

For all of the negative energy that is directed at technology in some circles, it is easy to lose sight of the promise of technological advances in the areas of environmentally-friendly design and global communication. I, for one, choose to look at the promise of technology and do rest my hope in technology as the missing link in solving the 21st century problems that our global society faces.

Capitalism for a Cause

There are many websites out there that are looking to raise money for one cause or another.  They ask you to donate, email, send cards…just help them out.  But, there is a new form of raising money that I really appreciate and support – Capitalism for a Cause.

There are for-profit companies that have started up for the premise of raising money.  Some of them partner with non-profit organizations.  Others have their own donations that they make, straight from the company.

We, as consumers, purchase products.  A portion of that money we spend goes directly to a ’cause’.  Sometimes, it’s intentionally because we support what they are doing.  But, it may also be because we like what they’re selling.

For example, the company WeWood makes wooden watches.  And, for each watch that is purchased, they plant a tree.  They also work with sustainability and all watches are created with no toxic or artificial material.

There is also Tom’s shoes.  Great shoes, by the way!  But, for each pair purchased, they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need.

At FEED Projects, their goal is to feed the world.  They build their donations into the cost of the product that consumers purchase.  They fight hunger and malnutrition here in the United States and around the world.

But, perhaps one of my favorites is Sevenly.  Every week, for seven days, they choose a charity, design a t-shirt/tank top/hoodie and sell it.  Just for seven days.  For each item sold, they give $7.00 to that charity.  It is so simple.  To date, they have raised over half a million dollars for various charities and they have only been around for a year and a half.

We can sometime be surprised at what is available to purchase that will help to save the world.  No matter how small our individual efforts, when combined, they can make a huge impact.  And, how fun is a watch made out of wood???