What Uber and Lyft are really about … the ‘Nomad Movement’

Last week I was reading a piece by Joe Mathews in Zocalo, a Los Angeles publication that focuses on culture, ideas and local politics. The title was: “Yes, Airbnb has a dark side.” The piece was about the sharing economy and it’s relationship with existing rules and regulation. Considering the title Joe bestowed upon his prose, I expected an expose’ on the horrors of letting someone stay in your house or of jumping into a stranger’s car for a ride. This was not the case though. There were no horror stories, unless you consider the disruption of the local government regulatory system one.

Of which I don’t.

                               Alexandria's Lyft

Alexandria’s Lyft

First I want to talk about the term ‘sharing economy.’ I’ve had people take offense to my use of that term to describe these app driven upstarts like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. So I stand corrected. While Airbnb could be considered truly sharing, the ride sharing services really aren’t. They’re a replacement (In my opinion, a better one nonetheless.) for cab companies and  their relatives – black car services, etc. I prefer to call this app driven movement the ‘nomad economy,’ or better yet the ‘Nomad Movement.’

I like to look at this movement from the perspective of the providers of the services; the drivers, the pet sitters, etc. This is in contrast to looking at it from the owners’ or media’s view. They are going to label it however they feel will catch on the best. And all the power to them. It’s branding. Coke and Pepsi do it. Why can’t Lyft and Uber. But from the drivers perspective, it’s something else to a lot of them.

As Joe mentioned in his piece, many involved in the industry view it in a humanity-saving way: “reversing economic inequality, stopping ecological destruction, countering the consumptive and materialistic tendencies of First World societies, enhancing worker rights, mitigating the effects of globalization, empowering the poor, curing cancer and other diseases, and reimagining our politics in more participatory ways.” That may be. But those descriptions feel very ’60s to me, very counter-culture. While these goals may be admirable, and for some primary … this isn’t the ’60s. Most young people or Millennials think this way just because they think that the way you’re supposed to think. It’s not a statement as much as it is a way of ‘being,’ a way of living.

Alexandria and Flash

Alexandria and Flash

My daughter, Alexandria, is neck-deep in the ‘Nomad Movement’ in Los Angeles. She drives and mentors for Lyft. She boards dogs short-term at her house and resurrects Mac computers and iPhones for her friends and their friends. She is a professional nomad. Her attention is focused on what will produce the most results. She lives by ‘resource maximization’ and her various skills and time are the resources. But this professional nomad existence is not an end, it’s a means to an end. The end is Alex’s and her partner, Christina’s, reptile breeding company, StarDust Scales. StarDust Scales breeds rare morphs of Brazilian Rainbow Boas, Satanic Leaf Tailed Geckos and other scaly creatures. Her various nomad pursuits, most specifically Lyft, allow her the time and money to fulfill her entrepreneurial dreams.

And that’s a good thing!

It’s not what older generations would call job security. It’s not your standard corporate career path. But does that path even exist anymore? And when was the last time it actually did – a generation ago, maybe two. Assuming it is a viable option (big assumption) … why should it be the preferred one?

Those who paved this so-called path sure as hell haven’t done a very good job keeping up the maintenance. And it doesn’t matter what end of the political spectrum you’re on, the potholes haven’t been fixed in decades. Government has been AWOL for years. And corporations demand conformity to rules and procedures long archaic years ago (and hardly applicable now). What might have worked for their parents grandparents has been thrust upon younger generations dramatized by stories of the “good old days,” that weren’t really very good in the first place. Maybe it’s like Tyler the Creator said in a recent interview with Larry King: “The suits are scared.” They’re scared of something. Maybe it’s just change.

Fortunately my daughter didn’t go down that path. She’s making her own. It’s not easy. But it’s fun and it’s stimulating for her. Work isn’t work for the sake of work. It’s a journey down a path to goals she’s created, not one of the suits. I know. I see it. I visit it her twice a year for a month at a time. I sit on the couch next to Blake or Brody or Sydney, their cattle dogs – constructing my own path.

Joe from Zocalo is concerned. He’s concerned for his young kids. And that’s to be expected. He started out his piece referring to them and referred to them again at the end. He believes this new ‘Nomad Movement’ will cause upheaval that government (local, state and federal) won’t be able to keep up with. That seems to scare him for the future of his children.

His view may be warranted. I view it as ‘glass half empty, yet with a hint of optimism.’ Fixing the status quo, tweaking it to try to make it better. That’s seems to be Joe’s path. But that’s not mine. And it’s not Alex’s, nor many of her friends I had the pleasure of meeting. The ‘Nomad Movement’ is the younger generation’s way of dealing with all the craziness and the crumbling of the once vaunted traditional institutions built years gone by for generations mostly long gone also. The ‘Nomad Movement’ is their tool for survival and more than that … their tool to realize their American Dream. This is a dream where they can create their own path; potholes, washouts and all. But it’s still their own. To discount it or look at from how it affects regulation and government and the rest of messed up economic world given to them to negotiate, is hardly empathic to those having to clean up the mess.

                 Sydney

Sydney

A memo to the elders in this world: Would it be so damn hard to get out of your children’s way? They’re not asking you for much … but just get out of the way. If you can’t see that: I’m sure I can make some room on the couch next time I’m in Los Angeles.

Plus, Sydney’s always up for a good belly scratch.

Hail the new American Dream!

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Come and join me on Twitter at @clayforsberg or on Google+.

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Yet another blow in the search for the next Hemingway

Yesterday it was announced that the College Board would drop the essay requirement for the SAT college entrance test. This along with free access to pre-test preparation material is hailed by many as a good thing, the change that will level the playing field for low-income and disadvantaged students. I view it as subversive tactic to rid American schools of writing in lue of irrelevant facts, figures and Common Core nonsense. After all David Coleman, the man behind the Common Core standards, is also the president of College Board.

When my daughter was in high school, our living situation was not ideal. Now we lived in a great area, Manhattan Beach, California. We had the beach, the weather, crime was virtually nonexistent and the neighborhoods were clean and friendly.

Our physical abode, was little different story. Well actually, we didn’t have one – at least in the traditional sense. We had motel rooms and tent, a very good tent … but a tent none-the-less. However, we made it though and I believe we’re both better off because of our precarious living situation those years. Alex, my daughter, had one thing she could always fall back on. Alex wrote. Writing was her own personal therapy. She wrote about the good times … and she wrote about, well – the not so good times.

Writing

But writing was more than therapy for Alex. It was a source of pride. She writes well, very well – and she knows it. Being a good writer give a student a ‘leg-up’ in not just English class but in any other venture that involves communicating – and that’s most everything. And not being able to write effectively can set an otherwise good student back a step.

Writing enables you to form thoughts in a way that requires you to think before you talk – which all too often happens in discussion. This thought process fine-tunes articulation. By altering just one word, meaning can take on a whole different twist. From this thoughtful articulation, synaptic connections are built. And we all know we need more synaptic connections.

Writing also has an archiving function. You can always go back and read what you wrote a month ago, or year ago and reflect. You can build on past ideas, thoughts and revelations. It’s not so easy to reflect on a conversation you had with someone six months ago. Chances are it’s gone the way of burnt out memory cells.

You would think our schools would make it a point to incorporate writing into the curriculum wherever they could. Don’t sequester it to English class. Every class, every subject requires communication, and writing is high level communication. And every class and every subject need our students to further develop their abstract thinking abilities. And that’s where writing comes in … it’s perfect for that.

Well that’s what you’d think. But … NOOOOO! That just makes too much sense. Here’s a technique that would systematically improve our student’s prospects now and when they leave school. But … NOOOOO! We can’t do that – we have standardized tests, and we have our ‘fill in the right oval or be damned’ philosophy. After all we have to keep up with Jones (oh! I mean the Chinese).

I’m fifty-five years old. I didn’t really start writing until five years ago when I started this blog. Before then I didn’t write. I don’t think I wrote 5000 words total in my life. I didn’t write in high school and I didn’t in college. But I didn’t need to. Because even back even we had the ovals – and I knew how to play the oval game.

But I’ve found out something over these last two years and 200 blog posts. Even being ‘old,’ I’m thinking better. My comprehension of issues is better. My articulation of these issues is better. And the breadth of my understanding on diverse subjects, subjects I’ve had little exposure to – is better. And this is happening now at age fifty-fifty. Imagine the effect it would have on the formative brains of teenagers!

But … NOOOOO! Writing proficiency is too subjective. How are the teachers going to grade writing? Where’s time for them to go through all those words? “Just give me multiple choice … and give me my ovals.” Now I see the point in periodic testing. If you don’t test students on progress, how are you going to know if  someone is following behind to the ‘point of no return.’ But does that mean we have to kick writing to the curb because it involves more effort and can’t be tested with ovals?

Our public education situation in the United States is unfortunate at best and more accurately, pathetic. This vaulted institution which reigned king has dropped precariously in world comparisons. And this free fall shows no sign of letting up. Writing would help … help a lot. But we have no time or no patience for writing in our schools. We have ovals. And in the age of ubiquitous technology and social connectivity where’s so much information to devour and write about, this situation is ironic.

The internet 2.0 is based on communication – back and forth. I say something, you respond … and so on. Constructive dialogue using writing is what it’s made for. Some would say term papers are writing. I suppose, in the broadest interpretation of the word. But outside of a grade and a few notes in the margins (mainly grammar corrections), there’s no dialogue.

Personally I write about things that interest me. While I’m twice as old as the average college student and three times that of someone in high school, I don’t consider myself a better, or worse writer – just one with more real world context. My 25-year-old daughter writes better than I do. But what if writing could be that bridge that connects school to the real world for these students? What if writing made all those irrelevant ‘facts’ relevant? And what if writing provided that “spark” that ignited an interest in school … and a want to be there, and a desire to learn when they’re there.

They way we can do this is through blogs, blogs that students write. I’m a firm believer in students creating a blog that can travel with them, even after they graduate. The content can be personal or it can be incorporated with class material. Students can determine relevance on their own terms – not just on the teacher’s. In other words … they would be thinking.

I believe the purpose of school is prepare a student of a life-long habit of learning, a yearning, an addiction. You can learn a trade or a profession. But what happens if that trade changes, or worse yet – becomes obsolete and goes away.

The skill of learning prepares one to adapt to the changes that loom as inevitable as the rising of the morning sun. And the sun is going to keep rising until we’re all dead and gone.

And writing is the vehicle that can deliver that skill.

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Come and join me on Twitter at @clayforsberg or on Google+.

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Now you’ve ‘Raised your flag’ … what’s next?

The events in the Ukraine, and specifically Kiev, over the last couple weeks have been extraordinary. A group of determined protesters overthrew a government with heavy backing from Russia. And most amazing is that the protesters were not driven by irrational religious zeal, but rather by a desire for economic reform. They’ve ‘Raised their flag’ in pursuit of having lives dictated by their of own doing … not according to decades of old ideas hatched in the former Soviet Union. And if the rebellion in the Ukraine isn’t enough, it appears a similar situation may be unfolding in Venezuela.

Ukraine Protest

About twenty years ago I coined a phrase. “On the Road to Your Perfect World.” It was used mainly in the context of my recruiting business. It’s premise was that life is a journey, not a destination. Thus the “Road” moniker. I told my candidates to view a job as step to where they wanted to go. And if the job they had or the one they were considering didn’t go down the path they wanted to go … then find one that did.

Well the “Road” and “the Perfect World” has taken me a whole lot of places I would have never envisioned back in 1995. But that’s a whole different story and the concept itself has evolved. “The Road to Your Perfect World” is now about more than just work and career. “The Perfect World” is my way of looking at life. It’s about breaking from the way you’re supposed to do things and the being on the road you’re supposed to travel according to societal norms (or what others think ). Everything is in question – even the our whole system of how we value ourselves and our place in this world. I got into this a couple of weeks ago in my post,Can we ever stop the march of the Neanderthals.

Greg Rader over the years has also articulated a lot of the same issues in his blog. Two years ago he posted a piece on making the jump to this alternative way of thinking and breaking from convention. I commented on this post about what happens after one makes this break. Below is my comment:

“Well here we are. We’ve done it. We’ve waged war on the status quo for control of ourselves. We’ve thrown out conventional wisdom concerning education and the value of a traditional institutions. We’ve decided that the accepted professional ladder climbing is no longer acceptable. We’ve even redefined our system of value – with the ‘undying sole pursuit of material goods’ being a casualty. The welfare of all is to be held above our own personal desires and wants. Our knuckles are bloodied, our will tested … but we’re here.

Now what’s next. We’ve deconstructed every norm we can find. We’ve sought them out in the classroom, in the boardroom and even the bedroom. No room was left untouched.

But now … what’s next!

It’s easy to tear down, to point out the faults of convention and the “one model fits all” thinking. But it’s harder to actually break loose, to endure the ostracism of the masses, the lemmings on the crusade to the cliff.

But again I ask  … what’s next. It’s not enough just to declare victory. One can only look at Egypt. They won the battle for freedom from tyranny – to be replaced by what? Have we, us fellow “sociopaths” relegated ourselves to a similar fate? What will fill the void of conformity and a life not unlike the one Donald Sutherland so valiantly tried to escape in the ’70s classic, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers?”

Reminiscent of post World War II, now is time for us to develop our own person Marshal Plan. How are we going to succeed in this new world we’ve thrust upon ourselves? It won’t have a timetable of months or even years. It is a plan we will need to follow, to implement, over the course of our lives. And our plan must take into account not just ourselves, but all who we have a vested interest in, and  those who have a vested interest in us; including the generations who will follow. For all them are stakeholders and will be effected.

We’ll lose some of them. Some just won’t be able resist the pressure to conform and step back into the old societal comfort. We’ll have to accept that. We’ll just have to make it so that those that matter most remain in our fray, and realize their own “Perfect World” – even if it’s not in lockstep with ours. All we can hope for is understanding and empathy. Because to succeed in this rebuilding effort, we’ll need them.

We’ve raised our flag, assessed the damage – envisioned the possibilities. Now it’s time to go to work!”

This very well could be a mantra for the heroic of Kiev and the other nations who have sought and will seek to break from the convention of physical and societal tyranny. Or it could just be your own. Discarding the status quo is only the first step. It’s only the first of many battles that will have to be fought. The hardest ones will be ones of choice, of what to do next. Deciding the goal to ‘tear down’ is an easy one to make. The decision of what to build in its place and how to do it … not so much so.

I’m not going to tell you what your “Perfect World” should be. And I’m not going tell how you should travel your road. That’s up to you. All I’m saying is it’s alright to map your own journey. Moses didn’t have an eleven commandment saying you have to blindly join the crusade to the cliff.

But once you have ‘Raised your flag’ and you ask yourself what’s next … you better have your own Marshall Plan.

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You can find me on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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Can we ever stop the march of the Neanderthals?

Update January 19, 2013: I wrote this post three years ago. And just, if not more appriopriate today than then. Naively so I thought that maybe by 2014 things might be different. Maybe in some respects they are. A new generation is gaining more of a foothold in the world (For the better I believe). But at the same time, the old guard of attitudes, those resident in the ‘ivory towers’ of materialism are digging in deeper … reminiscent of siege of the Civil War battle Vicksburg.

Yesterday (February 21, 2011) I commented on a provocative blog post by my friend Greg Rader, “The Future of Status – Conspicuous Production.”

Imagine if there was no money and no things to buy. How would you show the world your worth? How would you show yourself?

Would your value lie in the number of friends you have – physical or electronic? Would it lie in the quality and depth or your relationships with these friends (kind of an esoteric three-dimensional assessment)? Maybe it would lie in the number pieces of art you produced, or books and articles you’ve written.

Or better yet … what about the number of nebulous karma points you’ve accumulated by doing random acts of good? Haven’t we reached a point on Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ where we can at least flirt with self actualization?

Over your last couple posts, I think you’ve been us leading to this. It’s obvious, the standard societal measurement of wealth and worth just isn’t cutting it for you. I join you brother.

Maybe this is the first step – discontent. Only then we can find our own “store of value.” and from there truly maximize it’s worth. Maybe this is what I mean when I talk about “On the Road to Your Perfect World.” Thanks for pointing me the way.

I viewed the focus of Greg’s piece as: “Isn’t there a way of presenting our value to world other than just through the money we make and our consumption habits?” As you can tell from my comment above – it’s a topic that’s been on my mind also.

Recently, in light of the sky-high valuations of several dotcom 2.0 stocks, such as Facebook, Groupon and Twitter, this matter seems to be especially relevant. Recent investments have Facebook worth $52 billion and Twitter at $10 billion, while Groupon recently turned down a $6 billion offer from Google.

But I ask you … on what are the values based. In the first two it’s their ability to act as advertising platforms, and Groupon is worth what it can take as a cut of the pie. Isn’t there more though … more than just advertising, more than just a vehicle to accommodate more and more consumption. God I hope so.

Let’s put Groupon aside, they are what they are – a group buying coupon service … nothing more, nothing less. Eventually they will fall prey to another ‘new and improved’ version of the same.

But Facebook and Twitter are different. To label then as just advertising platforms is to vastly understate what they really are – what they’re really worth. One needs to look no further back than one month. Only thirty days ago the political environment in the Middle East was much the same as it’s been for the last thirty years. No longer. Tunisia is liberated. Egypt is liberated (well kinda). Libya will be in a matter a days, and whoever is next is anyone’s guess.

While Facebook and Twitter didn’t overthrow these dictatorships … they played an integral role. They facilitated strategic and tactical communication that was on the level of a sophisticated military sorte, only performed primarily by young civilians. These social networks provided something that wasn’t there before … coordination. The results to this point have been the liberation tens of billions of dollars and ten millions of people, people who now have the prospect of governing themselves and having a say in their future.

What’s that worth?

Have you evolved?

How can you put a monetary value on person’s freedom? How can you say in dollars and cents what it’s worth to know you have something to get up for in the morning, to know that just maybe your children might just have a better life than you … a life you could only dream of.

Why does everything have to be based on money and what we spend it on. Just because you drive a Mercedes 450SL and I drive a Ford Taurus – does that make you worth more than me. I could make a case on the contrary. We focus so much on our children making sure they go to college and get a job that pays a lot of money. How many us even discuss any other options – any other means of worth? This valuation system seems Neanderthal in the light of what’s happening in the world these days.

I have been there and done it. I’ve had the nice car, the apartment on the water, the original art on walls. But it sure wasn’t “the be all end all.” The car’s gone (well,not a Mercedes – didn’t have one of those), the apartment gone and my daughter has the art. The memories are good, but now it time to move on.

It’s like the pursuit of possessions had put me in a cloud. I had other pursuits, but the almighty dollar seemed to reign supreme. No longer.

My valuation lies not in my financial net worth, but rather in what Greg says, “my conspicuous production” and what results from it. Production can be anything. It could this blog post. It could be the comments that result from it. And as I said in my comment above, it could be in the karma points I accumulate by doing good things. So here it is, here is my new definition of “my value:”

My value is the sum total of all positive synaptic connections I have a role in creating, both in myself and in others. In other words, the more I can get people thinking in ways they wouldn’t otherwise think in – and correspondingly, act in ways that benefit themselves and others … the more I’m worth.

There you have it.

Now it’s time to pick up my hands … my knuckles are bloody.

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And if you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg

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“The Art of Empathy”

Over the years I’ve been involved in many projects, professionally and personally. Some have been successful and some … not so much. A friend of mine, Yvette Dubel, posed a question to me in reference to an eBook she’s writing. What piece of advice would I share to current and future business leaders? What’s the one thing I could take from my experiences, my successes and failures, that would benefit others.

Empathy

After thinking about it, one thing keeps surfacing, actually one word – empathy. Put yourself in their head or your feet in their shoes. It doesn’t matter if that person is your business partner, a potential client or a homeless man collecting bottles and cans. Try to understand their plight –  and if you’re trying to help them … really help them.

Normally we look at a situation from our perspective, which is only natural. Our experiences, views and biases provide us with our own personal perspective. But how relevant is that perspective to the person we’re trying to convey a message to?

Most companies can’t get their head around the concept of empathy either. They seem to be locked into this myopic view of what they think we should want. They resort to features and gimmicks, ‘bells and whistles.’ The auto industry is a perfect example of this. How many people really want a driverless car? They all seem to have jumped on this bandwagon and rationalize their seat by touting the potential safety aspects. But isn’t it just a gimmick?

Politicians are another example. How many of them know what’s it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck, or spend a year looking for job that’s fast becoming obsolete.

Empathy isn’t just listening and taking everything at face value. It’s actually hearing what someone says. It’s looking past the words or the actions. It’s the art of ‘pulling back the curtain’ as Dorothy did in The Wizard of OzWhat are the whys?

Empathy will be the physical fitness of the future.

I call this ‘the search for the whys,”\’ ‘looking behind the curtain’ … ‘The Art of Empathy.’ This isn’t about truth or deception. Much of the time, the person you’re talking with doesn’t even realize there’s a disconnect between what they’re saying and what’s deep down inside them. But when it’s time to act, they will act on what’s inside … not what they say. 

Unless you live on a mountain top or spend your life in solitary confinement, you’re going to have to communicate with people. And this communication requires understand what the other person is saying … really understanding. This is empathy at its core.

And one can never fully master the ‘Art of Empathy’ anymore than you can master any other art. It’s a life long pursuit. You can always find a new and better way of interacting, of delving into the true meaning behind the action. 

And that’s not a bad thing.

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P.S. ~ Special thanks to Yvette Dubel for providing the genesis for this post.

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You can find at Twitter @clayforsberg and on Google+

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“A Society Within Itself”

With the unprecedented level of government dysfunction in Washington D.C. as of late, everyone is trying to find a solution to our broken system. Much blame has primarily been placed at the foot of the Republicans, specifically the Tea Party movement led by Ted Cruz. However the Democrats and the president have not escaped the wrath either.

“How do we fix government! How do we fix government so we can get back on with our lives! How do we fix government so we can get on with our lives and live like we’re supposed to in America. After all, aren’t we supposed to be exceptional? At least that’s what our politicians tell us.”

There are a lot of ideas on how to fix the dysfunction, or should I say just “awfulness” of Washington. Some want to take the Occupy movement’s lead and protest … like going back to the ’60s thing. It worked then (kind of), so it has to work now … right? Except it’s not working now. While Occupy’s message is wonderful, outside of making the word “occupy” part of our political lexicon – it really hasn’t accomplished much. Raising awareness to issues like “income disparity” is great. But doesn’t this awareness need to evolve into action and results at some point? To date … it hasn’t.

Some of the ideas I’ve come across propose new variations of government – everything from straight participatory democracy, to communal tribalism. Some of them make sense. In fact some of them make a lot of sense. But they’re not going to happen. Aside from an exercise in synaptic gymnastics, pondering these governmental alternatives accomplish little or nothing. All of them involve the tearing down of the status quo. “We have to blow it up and start fresh.”

Occupy WS arrest

The problem with “blowing something up” is that those who are getting blown up aren’t going to be too happy and probably, as Dylan Thomas famously said, “Do not go gentle into that good night!” Occupy Wall Street found this out the hard way. Even though they demonstrated peacefully; they were rousted, time and time again by Bloomberg’s RoboCop peacekeepers. Those in the “ivory towers” like their ivory towers and don’t want anyone messing with them. And they will do whatever they deem necessary to retaliate. And it’s naive to believe any other frontal assault on the status quo will be met with anything less.

I agree that government needs an overall, and those in power should be packed up in their clown cars, with their soap boxes and a full tank of gas and sent home to the hinterlands to pontificate in front of their fellow ideologues . But I think we’re all missing the point here. Where is it that says our happiness and wellbeing is dependent on a fully functioning government that oversees our every move and alleged misstep? Where is it said that this “game” of politics,  played out on television and in the newspapers every day, has to hold the same addictive qualities as “crack?”

I understand government is needed. I don’t think we can live in anarchy. There is definitely a role it plays. But the question is – how much of role does it need to? Do we need it as the only resort? Does it have to be the only “safety net?” Should its importance take precedent over help gotten from family or from community?

I’m not a libertarian, or at least not full-fledged. I don’t propose scaling government back, and cutting taxes and services to austerity levels like Ted Cruz and the lunatic fringe. The government can keep on doing what the government does, doesn’t do, supposed do to or not supposed to do. I’m not interested in “blowing the whole thing up” and starting new.

“It is not necessary to tear down the old system … but rather to create a second system to which to flourish in.” ~ Nelson Mandela

I read an interesting piece on the French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze deciphered the Hippie movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s in the United States. Contrary to popular perception, these “hippies” weren’t really trying to change the government. But rather they just wanted to start a separate society where they could co-exist with the status quo. Unfortunately their idea didn’t really take hold (except in a few isolated enclaves like Berkley or the Haight in San Francisco). Maybe it was their unconventional clothing, or their recreational drug use or their communal preferences. Or maybe it was these outliers were just … too different. And after all, aren’t we supposed to be leery of people who tread outside of the “bounds of conformity.”

Burning Man

But maybe things are changing. It’s obvious that the traditional institutions our parents and grandparents depended on are but skeletons of what they used to be. Political and institutional greed and sel-interest have replaced the interest of the common folk (fast becoming the serfs).

Attitude are changing though. And acceptance of alternative societal existences is nowhere more evident than the annual Burning Man Festival in the desert of Black Rock, Nevada. Twenty-seven years running, Burning Man offers the nearly 70,000 in attendance the opportunity to experience a technological, art driven culture of benevolence, inclusion and most of all … celebration!

My vision follows that of Nelson Mandela, “Create a society that flourishes within a larger society.” While not as extreme as the hippie movement or Burning Man, … I pull inspiration from them. A society’s wellbeing and the happiness of its occupants should not be dependent on its elected officials anymore more than our personal happiness should be dependent on our friends.

I call this new society, Community 3.0™Community 3.0™ is a network of community members, people like you who want to make change. These are people who want to take back control of their towns and neighborhoods by doing the things that need to be done … and doing it themselves. Community 3.0™ is about NOT relying government or other arthritic institutions.

Movements that spread organically, not through force or edict have staying power. You can’t force something down someone’s throat and expect it to stick. It’ll come back up. It has to be the people’s idea and they’ll embrace it when they’re ready. It’ll spread gradually and if it works it’ll take off exponentially. This organic neighborhood, community based self-sufficiency is my vision for Community 3.0™. Make it yours too.

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I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg and on Google+

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There is Hope …

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This photo was taken on September 3th, 2011 by my friend, L. Sean Key. It was a few months after the “once in a century” devastating flood in my hometown of Minot, North Dakota. You can see where the water marks death on the evergreens.

What Sean and I saw throughout our travels in Minot that weekend wasn’t death though … it was optimism. Whether you’re religious or not (which I’m not), this image says something. 
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Whatever the circumstances …
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There is hope!
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I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg and on Google+
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