“Community 3.0” … The People Have the Power, Part 3

In my last two posts, I’ve lamented on the current and very possible future state of America, and that of many other developed nations.

I’ve deplored the role of narcissistic special interest groups in our government and ultimately our livelihood. I’ve bemoaned the effect of the religious right’s self-righteous social campaigns have had on the rights of women and children. I’ve been appalled by the actions of our government in turning back the basic tenants of our constitution – to the time when there was no constitution. And I’ve become sincerely embarrassed to be part of a country that would so bluntly disregard a portion of its population by refusing to give a it hand-up in their time of greatest need.

But today I’m going to take a step out from the dark, out from the gloom. Enough’s been said about what’s wrong and how much further we can fall into the abyss void of compassion, empathy and sensibilities. Now it’s time to turn the tables and visualize hope. For today, let us be immune from the abuses of the 1% and immune from the dysfunction of our government. Today let us envision solutions.

The strength, the salvation of a society lies not with their governmental leaders. It lies not with their institutions. It lies in the hearts, the souls, the minds and the fortitude of its people … the people of its streets, your neighbors and your friends. And it lies with you. And from your neighbors, your friends and you will lie the solutions.

Our governments have let the safety nets so many depend on, here and abroad – fall to ruin and deteriorate to tatters. And they have shown no willingness to repair them. It is us, it is you – and your friends and your neighbors who must step in and be the ones to catch less fortunate as they plummet to the ground.

It is us that must be there for the elderly in our neighborhoods, those that have no family. We must make sure they are fed, housed and looked after – even it’s just a simple visit to have a cup of coffee, to say hello.

It is us that must not look the other way when see that veteran on the street, the one who risked his life for our freedom in a war he neither condoned nor volunteered for. We must show him respect, and with the help of our friends and our neighbors provide those services, the services the government who sent him to war – no longer feels necessary.

It is us that must not let our children, everyone’s children – the future of our society, fall through the cracks because of bureaucratic insensitivity and outright neglect. We must look at each child for the talent they are and the contribution they can make to our community. We must listen, even if they say nothing. We must foresee their needs, even before they actually need them. And when they require that extra guidance or assistance school cannot provide – we must step in and provide that guidance and assistance … that tutoring and mentoring that will transition them to life after school. And we must not discount their views, their opinions and their abilities purely because of discrimination due to their age. For their views are the views of the future, both theirs … and ours.

It is us that must patronize the businesses of our friends and of our neighbors. For without us they would have none – and we will continue to be beholden to the whims and conceit of the corporate elite in their ivory towers of “ill-gotten gains.” It is us that must give the hand-up to Main Street and level the playing for our friends and neighbors that provide the life blood of our community. We can do that with our wallets and our purses, even if means spending an extra dollar or driving an extra mile.

We may wish that with a simple pull of lever in a voting booth, things will be all right. But they won’t be. No matter what their promises or their intentions, no politician will truly have our best interests in mind when it conflicts with the money that put them and keeps them in office. Only we, with help of our friends and neighbors, can be assured that our best interests are protected. I look at this community empowerment as a new generation of societal operandi … an operandi of empowerment we must embrace to survive.

In decades past, neighbors looked after each other, took care of each and their own. But with the proliferation of suburbia, neighborhood relationships waned under the strain geographic stretch. Then came the internet and social networking. Facebook and Twitter became the new defacto neighborhoods. Old friends were reconnected and new ones made, but these friends were not next door, and not available for that cup of coffee or that cup of sugar.

Imagine if we could the combine the neighborhoods of the past and the connectivity and expanse of today to create a new generation of societal support. This new generation, this new lifestyle, I call Community 3.0 – the re-establishment of our neighborhoods, the re-establishment of Main Street. With technology and social media, we, the 99% – can identify and provide the needed support and responsibility our governments have so blatantly chosen to absolve themselves of.

Imagine having a community infrastructure which revolves around social support from its residents and local businesses. Government indifference, whether federal, state or local – will be rendered irrelevant. Those in need would be automatically connected with those who can provide assistance. And with this “cause infused” neighborhood connectivity we can can give our local businesses the marketing and loyalty retention tools to compete favorably with any out-of-town, bloated “ivory tower” corporate goliath.

No time soon will the “powers that be” relinquish the power they’ve tried so hard to acquire. That doesn’t mean all is gloom though. Fighting these adversaries head-on, on a field that they built, will prove to be futile though. But we must still demonstrate in the streets and keep our message front and center in the minds of our converts, present and future. And we must still fight using our social media superiority to re-establish the world on our terms, not there’s.

But ultimately in the end, they are no match for us on our true field … in our neighborhoods, on our Main Streets and most of all – at the tables of our kitchens.

“For … The People have the Power!”

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

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A thought for 2012 …

Well with 2012 only a day away, of course it’s time for resolutions.

It’s time for you to profess you’re going to do the things you said you’d do last year … but probably didn’t.

It’s time, with the dropping of the ball in Time Square, for you to all of sudden done a cape – and become “super-human,” accomplishing things unimaginable just hours before.

Let’s make it easy, this year. You don’t have to be perfect, but I have to believe if you try – everything else, will just fall into place.

And maybe those other resolutions, otherwise probably just “pipe-dreams” … might not be on your list next year.

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Leave every person, every place and everything, better off from you being there.

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"Make a difference in 2012"

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In 2012 join me on Twitter @clayforsberg

 

Before you give … “Walk a mile in their shoes!”

Well Christmas is over. We’ve braved Black Friday, Internet Monday, and Fed Ex Friday on the parade of consumption. We’ve opened our presents. We’ve had our kids get us up before dawn even thought about getting up. We’ve had the food, the basketball (at least some of it) … and now it’s back to malls for the deals, for the exchanges and for the movies.

Next in line is New Years Eve with the parties and the resolutions. “What can I do this year that I said I’d do last year, but didn’t?” But if your resolution wasn’t about quitting smoking? What if it wasn’t about shedding those stubborn last ten pounds? And what if wasn’t about saving for that vacation you haven’t taken in years.

What if your New Year’s resolution was just to make through the day … and then only to do all over again the next day?

For a lot of people, Christmas and New Years are just other days. There’s no presents and there’s no Christmas dinner, unless you count MacDonald’s. For these people, the holiday season is not a time to remember, it’s more a time forget – a time of memories, long past – of a time and place that often appears to belong to someone else.

For those that have, the holidays are time to give. We all have our lists. We shop neurotically for our husbands, our wives, our kids, and whoever else we feel obligated to buy that fireplace trinket for. Donations go up and you can’t even find a homeless shelter to volunteer at. The ringing of the Salvation Army bell and the clinking of the quarters are as ubiquitous as the “mall rage” that accompany’s it.

After the holidays though … not so much. The bells are gone, packed up like the midway – Monday morning after a county fair. There’s still the lines, but they’re not filled with the volunteers, only those hungry and trying to stay warm.

They say “don’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” This goes for charity too. Don’t assume you know what they need until you’ve seen life through their eyes. What it means to help these people and even who these people are may not be as apparent as it appears.

“Not all take a night’s sleep for granted”

Need depends on individual situations. It goes without saying, food, clothing and shelter are on the list. But the requirements of someone living on the streets are different from those living in their car. Where do you park, especially at night, without running the risk of getting roused by the cops or “God forbid” robbed or assaulted?

But the homeless struggle goes beyond day-to-day survival. How do you register your kids for school when you don’t have an address? How do you get ahead when you’re paying twice as much having to live in motel because you don’t have an apartment deposit. Much of the attention is paid to those in the most dire straits (rightfully so), but there’s many others – others not so desperate, but still fighting an uphill battle. This battle needs reinforcements … it needs you!

I pose you a challenge!

Take that giving spirit you’ve had in the weeks up to Christmas, and set yourself a new “standard of giving.” But before you give … think! How can I really make a difference in someone’s life this year? What can I do that extends past just the quarters, the bells and the Christmas dinner? “Walk that mile in someone’s shoes.” Talk to people outside your element, people you’d never associate with. Take a bus. Take a bus anywhere – especially to an area you’d never think about going to, and talk to people you’d never think about talking to. What would make their life a little more tolerable? Find out what would make their “Perfect World” a little closer. “Grow some empathy!”

What if you could be instrumental in setting up a parking lot for “car based people” to sleep safely at night … without being harassed by the police. The prospect of good night’s sleep could be invaluable. It might just be that spark to get them up with that little extra – that little extra that gets them out the door taking that first step. And what about bus passes for those that don’t have a car. It’s kind of hard applying for job or going to the doctor if you can’t get there. And how about cell phone minutes. Without communication the status quo is all but inevitable.

You don’t have to go solo on your goodwill mission either. While it’s fine to give to established causes, maybe you and a few motivated friends can band together and solve the problems right in your community. All it takes is a catalyst … being the one that starts the momentum. Imagine a career and lifestyle resource center manned by volunteers located in vacant office space using technology only one version replaced. Often just one person with an idea and drive is all that’s needed.

Make this holiday season the one that puts new meaning to your definition of “give.” Make it more than that tie for dad, or a video game for your kids.

Give someone a future.

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I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg and on Google+
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“Give, give … and give some more!” Make 2012 the year of the CGO!

We are in a precarious economic times. It seems like every business is trying to find that edge, that one thing that will set them apart from their competition.”The status quo won’t work – and if you don’t change then your day days are numbered.”

Well now it’s all about solutions. The question is:  What is it going to take for your firm to be one of those that makes the cut? I’m going try to throw out some ideas over the next couple of weeks … here’s the first one.

Hire a CGO … a Chief Giving Officer. Their job is to figure out and nurture ways your company can give. And not talking about “giving back.” I’m talking about giving, “Paying it Forward” – regardless if you’ve received.

Never miss an opportunity ... to give!

A few months ago I was visiting my daughter, Alex, in Los Angeles when I saw this banner on a gas station in West LA yesterday:  

We give 20% of all our proceeds on Tuesdays to the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Tolerance.”

I’m not Jewish and I don’t care if they don’t have the best gas prices in town … but I’m still going there. They’re giving, they’re trying to be part of the solution – and I want to patronize a firm with that attitude.

People do business with people and companies they like and respect. The little bit I’ll save getting the best deal pales in comparison to helping someone who’s out there for the greater good. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. All your capabilities and “stuff” is not “the be all and end all.” Make your firm one that if … I don’t do business with you, then “I’ll feel guilty.” There’s always “workarounds” on capabilities.

Giving  – corporate speaking, can be in two different forms:

1. Give to existing causes – like my example above. This is nice, but an easy out. Unless your clients and target market identifies with the cause … it probably won’t resonate, except for its symbolic value.

2. Create your own causes. This is where the CGO comes in. Remember most of your business is local. Local in the sense that your customers share the same “away from work” issues that you do. It’s their community too. Imagine if your firm is seen as a major player in helping make your neighborhood better. Don’t just give to the Salvation Army, for example. Organize “ground crews” where you can solve local problems – ground crews that are led by your employees and your clients.

Given the chance, you will be amazed at what happens. Buyers, who you have to go down a gauntlet to see, will be standing hand in hand with you – helping the homeless, working in a mentoring program (that you built) … or even cleaning a public neighborhood park and fixing its playground.

This isn’t just about selling or marketing, and it’s not about any of the other services I’ve advocated over the last couple months. It’s about getting to core of humanity, human motivation and what makes us tick.

I have to believe we all, or at least most of us, want what’s good for all us. Call me an idealist. But if agree and you truly believe this – then why not demonstrate it in your company? Make giving such an integral part of your culture that without it, your company … well, it isn’t your company. Make it what your firm is all about.

Now this perspective may sound crazy. Well maybe it is. It’s not like Groupon where group buying and half off is all the rage. It’s not about advertising on Facebook, or tweeting till your figures bleed.

What it’s about … is being a person, and being a company that people feel proud to do business with. And worst case … you’ll sure feel better about yourself.

Please throw in your 2 cents worth – yea or nea. Share your ideas on giving and making it a marketing priority and a business strategy.

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I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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“Imagine … an App Store for benevolence”

I’ve been thinking about something. With the disaster in Japan we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of charity. At last count over a hundred countries have pledged support along with a multitude of charities. And the Japanese situation only exemplifies  a current trend. One of the hottest marketing discussions coming into 2011 is cause marketing. We see it everywhere. It’s vogue to give.

But I to want to raise a question.  Do disasters actually do a disservice to the causes cause marketing normally support? With a catastrophe of the magnitude in Japan and the resulting media coverage … is it taking away from other smaller, but worthy causes? What about all these small causes that don’t get the attention that the Red Cross and its efforts in Japan get? They may get some initial publicity, and maybe that will give their cause some legs – but with Japan on the stage, there isn’t enough light for anything else. Will the donating public get cause fatigue and forget these lesser charitable siblings?

Charity App Store

I gave my daughter, Alex, a donation of twenty dollars in her name to buy homeless teenagers sleeping bags. It was her favorite Christmas present. She’d been through the “down times” with me – when a tent and a sleeping bag was our home, so it was very relevant. I got lucky and found the charity on the Huffington Post. But it a fleeting moment. I can’t for the life of me find it now. How many other little causes, great causes that “hit home” with certain people are there out there. But how do you find them? There are web sites that include a few causes together, but they’re mainly just working their own projects. I’m not saying that bad … it just is what it is.

Now arguably the most revolutionary business model to arrive the last few years has been Apple’s App Store. You have thousands of independent software developers churning out hundreds of thousands of apps. Look at the activity it’s spurred. Upon Apple’s approval, anybody can post their app and hope it becomes the next Angry Birds.

If you want to add to iPhone’s repertoire, log onto the App Store and download to your heart’s desire. Everything is in one place. No need to load your browser with bookmarks. No needs to Google for something you don’t even know exists. You can just go into App Store and browse, browse like I used to do in record stores – serendipitously finding my next favorite band.

Why can’t we have an app store for causes. Let’s call it the CauseStore. We’ll have an open call for anyone that has a cause. We’ll include existing organizations as well as new ones. It’s not just to get causes up and going like 33needs. It’s about keeping them going – providing that one stop shopping site for benevolence. Some of them may not even want money … but rather volunteer labor or expertise. And we’ll set up a committee to do vetting – to make sure everyone’s legit.

We’ll make it “cause superstore.” When someone’s in the giving mood they’ll go to the CauseStore. It’ll be the first place people go to when they look for gifts for friends and relatives.

You can’t fault me for dreaming. I may not have found it … but I still believe there’s a “Perfect World” out there. Maybe this can be part of it. God knows, the world needs all the help it can get.

If anyone has any ideas or implementation suggestions … please throw them down in the comments. Let’s get a discussion going. Don’t be shy 🙂

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

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Raising Homelessness Awareness via Foursquare … Good or Bad?

Urban Ministries of Durham has undertaken a thought provoking approach to homelessness advocacy. Will knowing that the homeless are everwhere even in your backyard create positive action. Or will it backfire and create a NIMBY backlash. We can only hope for the former.

Amplify’d from mashable.com

Non-Profit Creates Foursquare Venues for Homelessness Awareness

Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD), a North Carolina non-profit organization providing food, shelter and clothing to the city’s homeless, is launching a Foursquare initiative designed to unsettle application users and raise awareness around homelessness in Durham.

UMD is spotlighting unusual venues such as abandoned warehouses, dumpsters and old construction sites by seeding them, along with corresponding informational tips on UMD, as Foursquare (foursquare) places in the downtown area. Application users in neighboring areas will discover the strange venues in the “nearby places” portion of the app.

The idea behind the campaign, engineered by the McKinney ad agency, is to inspire Foursquare users to check in to these locations to spread awareness about UMD and its mission of homelessness prevention. The hope is to create a chain reaction, where a user checks in to a UMD-created venue and thereby exposes the venue and UMD’s cause to friends and social media contacts who also pay it forward with their checkins.

The campaign is specifically designed to make Foursquare users in the Durham area uncomfortable with the reality of the homelessness around them. By exposing these realities, McKinney and UMD aim to spread awareness and motivate younger audiences to volunteer and help the organization prevent homelessness.

It remains to be seen how Foursquare users in the area will respond to their social experience being overtaken by the addition of these sobering venues, but the idea is certainly unique and bound to raise at least a few eyebrows.

Read more at mashable.com

A creative approach to panhandling

I have been visiting my daughter, Alex, in Westwood, the last few days, and every morning I go for a long walk with my new iPod (my first one).

Anything helps!

I ran across a guy who was carrying an art briefcase.  You know, the big ones.  He was clean cut and looked very respectable – like an art student.  He stopped me and asked me if I wanted to donate a dollar to the arts.

I’m willing to bet that that dollar would make it no further than his pocket.  But you got love his creativity.

I gave him the dollar.  God bless him for perfecting his craft.

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

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