World Changing: Open Source Design and more

Every few days, or at least once a week, I scroll through my World Changing feed and read a few articles, forward them to a few friends, maybe blog one. Today I am going to blog a few, because there are a bunch stored up. So here they are:

Alex Steffen rights about Cameron Sinclaire’s Ted Prize Wish to create an open source design resource:

collaborative solution-seeking is not only our best hope for solving the most profound problems facing our planet, it is our only hope.

Last night I was having a conversation with a friend, and her friend who is a part of an elite US Army unit, he specializes in Geo-Spacial Data and Intelligence. We had an interesting conversation. Afterward, my friend and I had that throw-your-hands-up moment where we both agreed “the world is so messed up, how can anything we do change it” and it took some time, and is still taking time to reconcile the reality on the ground with my convictions that we can change it.

I spent this last weekend with some folks who are building a housing co-op in Dutches County NY, I was truly inspired by their committment, their values and their work to create a sustainable building as an example to others, and a values based community.

We can all make a difference, as cliched as it sounds, if we believe that we can, and we work to realize the change we want to see. This is why I love World Changing, it is filled with articles about people doing just that.

And technology, and the open source ethos can help us. As Alex writes of Cameron’s idea:

an online resource capable of facilitating needs-based competitions; project tagging; a database giving immediate access to thousands of proven design and best practices;

This kind of site can help people seeking to make a difference avoid the constant reinvention of the old lumpy stone wheel, the wheel continually improve.

As Jamais Cascio wrote earlier this week:

If there is a common theme across our work at WorldChanging, it is that we are far better served as a global civilization by actions and ideas that increase our ability to respond effectively, knowledgably, and sustainably to challenges that arise. In particular, I’ve focused on the value of openness as a means of worldchanging transformation: open as in free, transparent and diverse; open as in participatory and collaborative; open as in broadly accessible; and open as in choice and flexibility, as with the kind of future worth building — the open future.

This participatory openness is what Alinsky was pointing out in the excerpt Henri refers to. People want to particpate. People have knowledge, information, expertise… power. We, as a civilation, need to figure out ways to empower people to use their energy to solve the big problems, and to avoid more of them in the future.

There are things, big and small, that everyone can do to make a difference. One organization I recently read about Alliance for a New Humanity (their site is not so good) founded my Deepak Chopra hopes to empower consumers to make wiser decisions when making purchases by steering the towards the products that are “better for the planet”.

We have a client that hopes to do something similar, create a site that empowers citizens to determine which products and companies deserve their dollars, and then will let the users promote those decisions to their friends and families.

The Interra Project “empowers citizen consumers to wield a tool they use everyday—credit and debit cards—to influence how things are made and disposed of, how money circulates within their communities, and how businesses, in general, behave.”

Socially Responsible Investing groups use shareholder power on a massive scale, just like Alinsky pioneered in the 1970s.

If we can increase participation in these efforts, we can change the course of things to come.

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