How to create a repair movement

A sustainable economy is one that reuses a significant amount of material it throws away.

In the 1980’s there was a mass cultural shift to recycling. In the 2020’s it is possible we can create a mass cultural shift to repairing.

Here are steps towards a repair movement.

  1. Have a regular, weekly or monthly, Repair Circle get together where people come and bring broken appliances, tech gadgets, furniture and help each other fix it. It can be advertised in the neighborhood for people to bring their broken goods in. The repair circle can be a community building exercise. Fixing things could be done as a gift, by donation, by subscription, or by cost. There are variations of a repair circle. There is the Repair Cafe, and the Remakery. Start something like the Philadelphia Fixers Guild.
  2. People can buy broken things off the local Craigslist and other such lists, then fix the things and sell them again.
  3. Have a standard multiweek workshop that people can take to learn to repair basic things from shoes, to watches, to furniture, to phones. This can be unbranded in a similar way that the 2-3 week Permaculture Design Course (PDC) is unbranded. The PDC course allows people from all over the world to teach under the same banner without having to check in with an overseeing hierarchical organization, meaning that each PDC course is in some way raising the visibility of other PDC courses, its not an individually branded workshop that one person teaches only. Teach teacher training courses for handyman and people who know how to repair, so that they can then put on courses that teach people how to repair.
  4. Integrate repair classes into the school, after school, community college, trade school and college curriculas. Create a Repair major. Just like environmental classes are now beginning to appear in the education curricula, repair classes can also
  5. Airbnb Experiences has a section where you can put on experiences (which are basically classes) , either online or in person. You can teach a repair class as an Airbnb experience.
  6. Combine the MakerSpace movement with repair movement. Makerspaces are collaborative workspaces where people that involve exploring and making things with the multiple tools and materials around. There could be repair subscriptions to the Makerspaces people buy that also enables them to have their stuff fixed. There could also be shops setup where people can buy refurbished stuff.
  7. Collaborative coop shops/community spaces can open in neighborhoods where people can bring the things they need for repair, and other members of the community can fix it for them. There can be money exchanged, or it could be done for barter, or as a gift. Or there could be a monthly subscription got to have things repaired.
  8. Integrate the repair movement more fully with the environmental movement. As people join environmental groups they can be encouraged to get repair subscriptions at their local spot where repairs happen. So eg. Sierra Club and Greenpeace can encourage their members to get local subscriptions to repair centers.
  9. Compile open source repair manuals. Check out IFixit’s manuals. You can start a manual too on their site.
  10. Bring investment money into starting many repair centers in cities.
  11. Have a Repair Circle at local farmers markets. Farmers markets are a natural place for relocalizing the economy. Repairs are a natural part of the relocalization process.
  12. Start a repair club at a university. Setup a table on campus to do repair. Connect with other clubs to form a national alliance of university repair. Work to get a repair class happening in the engineering department. In dorms have maintainance. also be available to repair students broken appliances. Petition to have a repair center on campus. Work with sustainability initiatives on campus
  13. Integrate the repair movement with other networked movements like the Transition Town movement, permaculture movement etc . Work with local groups like Lions Club, Rotary club to have repair day. Tool libraries can have a repair day. Food not Bombs gatherings could also have a repair circle section.
  14. Get senior citizen centers and homes to host repair circles. Seniors grew up in an era where more people repaired things.
  15. Note on organizing: If you target getting a couple of repair circles/cafes/shops in any network, then the word begins to spread through that network on its own. So if you say work with 5 Lions Clubs to get repair circles going on in their organization, then the idea might go viral through the Lions Club network, and people self-organize more repair circles. You do not necessarily have to be the person organizing the repair circle/cafe, you can for instance visit 10 libraries (100 is you are more ambitious) and talk to them about why they should organize a repair circle/cafe, and then give them a template for how to do it. You can reach out to the college students you know and suggest the idea to them to find people on their campus who might organize a repair club. You can email a lot of senior citizen community centers about putting on repair circles. If a lot of people reading this list do this too, then the centers will be getting emails from multiple people about hosting repair events, and then will be more likely to do.
  16. Petition national government for Right to Repair laws (see the work of Ifixit and ), anti-obsolescence laws. Give tax breaks for repair shops and repair centers, in a similar way solar energy has gotten tax breaks to help increase its popularity. Ask for fair trade policies, which will lead to increase wages for factories in poorer countries producing goods. This will lead to higher price (and more in alignment with how much they actually cost) for goods. This will then make it more monetarily smarter to repair rather than buy new goods. State governments can charge a small percentage point tax on each product. This tax money can then be used to help subsidize repair shops and repair circles, to make the repairs cheaper, so people choose to repair rather than buy new.
  17. A town saves money when there is more repair happening, because money leaks out of the local economy when globalized goods are bought. So local governments have an incentive to promote repair. Local government can give grants to, and help promote repair shops, repair centers, Makerspaces. Fund local repair marketing campaigns. Track metrics of how much stuff a town uses, how much of their stuff gets repaired, and how much goes to the dump. Make these metrics an important part of measuring how well a town is doing.
  18. In a similar way to how there is a Peace Corps and a Conservation Corps, there can be a Repair Corps. The Repair Corps can go into towns and help facilitate repairs happening there.
  19. Job training centers can teach repair classes and help funnel people into repair jobs. The idea is to create millions of repair jobs. This would work in conjunction with increasing demand for repair through marketing campaigns to get people to repair their stuff.
  20. There is a subgroup of homeless people are often finding thrown away and fixing them for use. Homeless food service places, and missions could also have a repair center where the homeless learn and help with repairs, and where people bring in their things to be fixed. It could be a way for the homeless to earn some money
  21. Instead of buying the next iteration of the newest technology, like the newest iPhone, or the newest laptop, people can look to use existing recycled materials to upgrade their smartphones, laptops, and other tech devices. This will create a paradigm shift in how tech evolves. Instead of a big corporation pumping out millions of the same devices, devices will instead be upgraded in local DIY ways. Makerspaces will play a much bigger role in how tech evolves. So there is a greater biodiversity of devices. Software will evolve in a way that it can work in this biodiversity of devices ( perhaps in a similar way how the Internet of Things is finding ways to connect the microwave to the fridge). Software will evolve in ways more like how nature evolves. Tech will evolve in local centric ways rather than mass produced ways. Venture capital money will no longer find as much success in investing in things like the next Apple, but will rather shift to locally reuse production.
  22. Make fixing your clothes, and buying second hand repaired clothes hip. Have model campaigns, and runway shows with second hand repaired clothes. Second hand clothes can be branded with a sewn on symbol, eg a green dot, that symbolizes eco-awareness for clothing. Clothing manufacturers like North-Face, Patagonia, would shift to a business model of clothing repair and clothing upcycling.
  23. Have more reality tv shows like the Repair Shop which focus on repair. Petition shows like “Bachelor” to have repair challenges for the contestants.
  24. Have repair competitions. Schools have spelling bees, and science fairs, they could also have repair competitions.
  25. Market a movement about how the sign of a business is environmental is that their employees dress in clothes that are mended or second hand, and how their office furniture is refurbished furniture.
  26. Businesses can offer perks to their employees of having their personal stuff repaired by the business maintainance department.
  27. Make a youtube video about your attempt to repair something, whether successful or not. If not you can ask for comments on how to properly do it. Suggest to popular youtubers to make repair challenge videos
  28. Write a blog about your adventures in learning how to repair, or some other aspect of repair. Follow other blogs about repair like this one about antique repair, this one about appliance repair , or this blog about how to fix things in general

How to help spread the word about these ideas

i) send a link to this post to people who are involved in any of the groups listed above that might be interested in hosting a repair circle/cafe/center

ii) Get a poster with a lot of these ideas on it and place it somewhere

iii) feel free to copy this post, edit it, add your own ideas, and repost to your social media, with an attribution to this list as the original source post

iv) get together a council with people you know, or bring this list to your local sustainability initiative, and strategize how to make things on this list happen.

How to align economy and ecology


1. PROVIDE JOB TRANSITION SPACE for people to leave jobs in companies which are based on producing more unnecessarily. Provide space for companies to reorient more ecologically

2. TRANSITION TO NEIGHBORHOOD COMMONS. Shifting childchare, eldercare, sickcare, food cooking back into the commons, shifts money from runaway capitalism system into the commons, it recenters life in our neighborhoods so theres less travel and less gas use, and it leads to more sharing of goods which lowers consumption. This also helps with inequality.  See Transition Towns network and Shareable for more info

Producing things locally uses much less oil. It helps build resilient local communities. Lessens inequality. Local supply chains dont crash as much as global supply chains in crisis situations (there are a lot of companies that are dependent on chinese parts and ingredients, and are faltering during the Coronavirus episode)

The Cosmo part of the above term means that we can open source and share knowledge freely. Designs for tech and products are shared without patents so people in each locale can make and repair the products locally. Maker spaces grown in number. This cuts down on our dependence on multinational corporations and the way their marketing influences what we buy. We then evolve to making products more eco oriented. There is less building products for quick obsolescence. See Michel Bauwens work on cosmo-localism

5.LOCAL ORGANIC FOOD. Transitioning farms to organic regenerative agriculture techniques makes the soil healthier and able to bring down more greenhouse gases. It also helps the water cycles. Local food through farm food delivery programs like community supported agriculture, means less oil use for global transport, less refridgerants (one of the worst greenhouse gases), less packaging and less overly processed food. It means healthier people, and less money on healthcare. It strengthens our immune system , which is helpful in times of epidemics.. Community Supported Agriculture practiced en masse with community investment and marketed by the environmental movement (rather than through paid advertising), can become cheaper than supermarket food because of economies of scale, because it is community financed (not leaking debt interest to the bank),  and because it cuts out the middleman costs. Also costs will be lowered if government decides to subsidize Community Supported Agriculture rather than Big Ag because of ecoservices rendered by organic soil . See my article

6. COMMUNITY OWNED LAND . Rent increases faster than inflation rate because its turned into a cash cow for corporations and serial landlords. Local governments helping the poor with section 8 funding, helps them find housing, but keeps rents high still. Funneling the money instead into community land trusts can keep rents down. Ecovillages and intentional communities provide communal places to transition people to a more eco-oriented lifestyle. Lower rents allow people to transition out of eco-unfriendly corporate jobs. Communities can be in charge of how land is used in their locales. See George Monbiot’s work on land rights reformation and ownership  Also this article

7. CREATE ECO AUTOCATALYTIC LOOPS . These are self-sustaining loops in the eco-economic system. For instance if you have a local food forest in your town, and community gatherings where food is cooked for community, this is an autocatalytic loop that is self sustaining.

8. USE THE DRIVING FORCE AND RHYTHMS OF NATURE TO POWER OUR ECONOMY : Eg.houses can be designed to be passively heated from sun. Shade from trees can lessen our airconditioning use. Wetlands, plants and soil can be used to clean our water instead of sewage treatment plants. See the fields of permaculture and eco-building.

9. TRANSITION TO A DECONSTRUCTION & REWILDING ECONOMY: This is about depaving our roads and concrete and putting back soil. Its about taking down buildings and allowing nature to grow. Depaving roads and putting nature in, would protect cities (like New Orleans and Houston) from flooding as water seeps into soil. Bringing back urban soil and trees would help with the water cycles that come in from the ocean and replenish the ecology further inland with water. This can make less likely fires (like happened in California and Australia). We can depave roads and put in food forests that create local food commons. There can be depaving businesses, to depave driveways, backyard concrete, schoolyard concrete, parking lot concrete to make way for permaculture gardens.

10.  MULTIMODAL ECONOMY : Utilize time banks, gifting, barter, local currency, and money as forms of economy. We have more than enough stuff in the world for noone to be lacking. Its often a problem of redistrubition, rather than of producing more.  Multiple modalities allows goods and services to flow to those who need it. Eg. a healthfood store could have a worktrade option for food. And work trade could be done at another business that has agreement with the healthfood store of how it helps healthfood store in return  for the voluneer work.

11. TRANSITION TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY : create an economy that takes of products from production to biodegrading and going back into earth.  A circular economy is about not having waste. Products are kept in use. Parts are designed for reuse, after initial product ends.  See this circular economy website, and the work of  Cradle To Cradle

12. CREATE SELF-ORGANIZING ECO-BUSINESS NETWORK: Eco businesses can have incentives and contracts with other businesses that incentivises being more ecological. They can also create a participative commons that links different eco-businesses with a volunteer force that work trades for services and products.

Instead of investing so much in stocks invest money where the return on investment is community and eco. For instance many people can invest money to support Community Supported Agriculture, turning monoculture farms into permaculture farms, and their roi can be several years of food deliveries. See Slow Money  as one example of a community network facilitating such investments.


Herbs are a natural way humans can heal. Growing community herb gardens (or herbs within food forests) in every neghborhood is the natural pharmacy. …….Research has shown being around soil improves ones immune system, being around more biodiversity improves ones immune system. Kids growing up in rural areas have less allergies and better immune health than city kids. Part of a universal healthcare system is to depave concrete and roads and put in biodiversity and food forests. The more nature around us the less likelihood of epidemics and sickness in general. Some of the trillions that go into healthcare can be rechanneled into rewilding our cities.

16. CREATE A NATURE CONNECTION ECONOMY which brings people back into listening to nature and being in nature. Being more in nature allows us to deprogram from a lot of marketing and consumption culture induced needs. Nature can also guide us out of the climate crisis if we listen to it.

17. GROW THE ECO-COMMUNITY INFORMATION ECONOMY by switching our focus from GDP to metrics that measure community wealth and eco wealth.

The connective commons : helping our economy align with nature


Figuring out how ecology and economics integrate is an important issue for our society to address ; we currently have a capitalistic system on steroids that is extracting from and polluting the earth at increasing rates.

Economic systems come in different forms. Coachella for instance is more capitalistic than Burning Man which runs on a more peer production commons economy. Economic systems are defined by the rule sets people use to exchange services and products to meet needs. Capitalism is one rule set. Peer production commons (where people work without money) is another rule set. These rule sets lead to emergent collective behaviour. Peer production commons has other types of emergent behavior. When the collective behavior is coherent and harmonious humanity begins to look like a superorganism.

What we seek is for the natural ecosystem and the human collective to work in synergy together. There are certain businesses and community activities that embody a lifestyle more resonant with nature – local organic farms, farmers markets, home food growing, community food forests and gardens, community meals, communal living, organic restaurants and cafes, health food stores, solar companies, ecobuilders , eco-friendly cleaners, eco product companies, second hand stores, clothing swaps, holistic health centers, nature education, yoga, tool sharing, neighborhood generated entertainment, outdoor dance events, biking, local production, biodegradable products, eco restoration activities, depaving, permaculture etc…. These things are competing with big box stores, and extraction based multinational corporations.

How do we enable the healthier businesses and activities to grow and emerge more coherent behavior with the ecosystem? And to be resilient against other types of capitalistic forces

One of the keys is to look at the economy at the bioregional scale. In addition we can look at how to synergize the capitalistic systems with the commons to create a super organism. Capitalism runs more on people motivated to help others. Its primary unit is the business. Peer production commons, is partly run on altruism, but even more so, research has shown, by social norms, and by the social rewards it brings. People work for the commons because they like the community it brings them, and the friendships it creates. The primary unit of the commons is the community, the collective.

I’d like to introduce the idea of a connective commons. Different business can be linked by a connective commons. So for instance a yoga center and organic restaurant could be linked with this commons connective tissue. Lets say, in addition to their normal monetized activities, the yoga center and organic restaurant also have volunteers that teach yoga classes and volunteers that wait or cook at the restaurant. The volunteers can then have access to both free yoga classes, and a certain number of free meals. This builds synergy between the two businesses.

This connective commons could act as connective tissue for a bioregional collective of businesses that includes small farms, organic restaurants, yoga centers, nature school, holistic health centers and also non business activities, like food growing and home cooked community meals, home for-working, organizing clothing swaps and tool libraries. People can volunteer for any of the businesses or community projects. In return they can get a certain amount of free meals, CSA boxes, yoga classes, massages, free or more affordable rooms in other community members houses to live in etc. A community council can oversee that the volunteer- service balance is in harmony. (There’s a movement to get a small town to run on this connective commons by having everyone volunteer for 3 hours a week. It’s called the Ubuntu small town project. They call this kind of economy contributionism. The money businesses save can be used to purchase self sufficient clean energy supply for the town)

This collection of business and community can act as a super organism. This hybrid is a new type of complex adaptive system. It has behaviors that neither a purely capitalistic system nor a purely commons would have. Volunteers can shift to where they are most needed that week. So if a small farm had some crisis and needed a lot of help, the volunteers can shift from other businesses to work there during the crisis. the volunteer force is an organic marketing force for the more monetized activities. There is more sharing or resources. The businesses become more resilient. Incentives increase to start community projects (putting on a clothing swap might get you free restaurant food). There is a lot more community and friendships in this system. People work as a support system for each other. Consumption of extractive products is less.

Because this super organism is so vibrant over time, it will grow. People will flow to become part of, and spend more time in this super organism. Engagement less with big box stores and environmentally-unfriendly multinational corporations would become less. People would be more enriched by being part of a community, that would not have to depend on a consumerist lifestyle for fulfillment so much.

An economy to rewild the earth

How do we get to a culture and economy of sustainability?

I suggest it involves these design qualities:


The earth has a layer of asphalt, concrete, and brick on it that reflects heat back into the atmosphere, causes desertification, and enables floods. It has inhabitants on it producing products that cannot biodegrade back into earths normal cycles, and becoming so attached to these products they have forgotten their true wild self that is deeply connected to the earth.

A deconstruction economy can begin by having its citizens start to have their concrete driveways and concrete backyards depaved and replaced with permaculture greenery. It will have schools, campuses (especially the environment/biology departments) , and businesses depaving the concrete around their buildings. It will lead to road segments in our neighborhoods being depaved and replaced with food forests.

A deconstruction economy will transition our commerce stores to being in nature – products displayed on rocks and branches, and their stock now second hand goods. It will transition our gyms to ecogyms – where different size rocks to lift, sticks to lever rocks, boulders to do dips on, trees to hang , dirt to dig, forms natural exercise equipment.

A deconstruction economy would involve less and less consumption. A network of coaches and workshops support people to consume less.

There will also be a network of coaches and workshops that help connect with nature.


Our neighborhoods can become the center of civic activity, activity happens in our yards, in our living rooms, and neighborhood commons spaces. It involves sharing clubs, gift circles, babysitting coops, tool libraries, supper clubs , open mic nights, homeproduced shows, mens circles, womens circles, massage jams, coworking spaces, free office hours. gardening groups etc.


How would this economy of deconstruction, rewilding, and neighborhood community work? It can happen with
commons based peer production and with new ways of economic signalling on the blockchain.


Peer production is (from Wikipedia), “a way of producing goods and services that relies on self-organizing communities of individuals. In such communities, the labor of a large number of people is coordinated towards a shared outcome…. Commons-based projects generally have less rigid hierarchical structures than those under more traditional business models. Often—but not always—commons-based projects are designed without a need for financial compensation for contributors.”

The Beekeeper model is one particular way of doing where in large part the community collectively works for free, with a smaller subset being paid to more fulltime faciltiators of the process. The product and services are free for the whole community. So for instance at Burning Man, the community produces entertainment, and shares foods to each other for free, while there a much smaller subset organizers, who work year round who are paid. Another example of this peer production model is Wikipedia there is a large community that writes the articles for free, and that also gets to read them for free. People are asked for donations, and these donations help support certain key Wikipedia personnel who help keep the whole operation running.

The way this would work is this sustainable, rewilding, community-based economy is that the community has free access to communal meals to the tool libraries, to babysitting help, to editing help, to massage, to food forest, to deconsumption workshops, to sharing circles, to nature connection events, to second hand clothes, to ecogyms, to music entertainment, to communal meals, to rooms in neighbors houses, and tent spaces in backyards. The community is providing these services to itself. Its a vibrant self-organizing system. Neighborhood lawns can also be converted to vegetable gardens, with the help of volunteers who are perhaps sleeping in these backyards (like WOOFers), These vegetables are then made into communal meals.

In addition the community is working to spreading the word,with pamphlets, by word of mouth, on social media, about why we need to eat hyperlocally from our backyards, to connect with nature, to depave, to consume less. That leads to more clients for depaving work, new people coming to the nature connnection and deconsumption workshops, more people eating hyperlocally. It leads to more people using the ecogyms. The community can exponentially grow into a movement.

Some of the services in this sustainable economy will involve donations. For instance clients can have an option to donate money or cryptocurrency for depaving work. In a normal capitalistic environment, each driveway might cost two thousand to depave. Five thousand driveways in a city would lead to ten million dollars. With donations, the amount fluctuates more, but it could lead to several million dollars being donated. If there are say 100 cities involved in this movement there can be hundred of millions of dollars donated.

(In coastal cities there are especially reasons to green the roads as they can then act as bioswales to stop floods from flowing. Also when coastal cities reflect less heat into atmosphere then inland area get more ocean humidity and are less vulnerable to fires. In hot desert cities depaving the roads and putting in trees provides shade. Replacing the road wth soil helps hold the infrequent rainwater.)

A subset of the ecogyms could also bring in money in a similar way that 24 hour fitness does, except it would be with donations

The money from the depaving jobs and networks of ecogyms could be collected by a nonprofit.

The money can then be used to buy up real estate that is turned into intentional communities that volunteers can live at for free. The money can also be used to communal meal food, communal cars, communal tools etc. And it can go to key community facilitators and workers as a stipend/salary, in similar way to how key Burning Man or Wikipedia editors get some money.


Money is a way of signalling in our economy of what to product. But because we have society that is addicted to nonbio-degradable and extractive products, and because we have a moneyed class that often made their money from extractive industries, then the money will signal for us the economy to produce and consume more of these extractive products.

So we need a new signalling system. Time banks and local currencies are useful in this regards. And so is cryptocurrencies that are used mainly in the deconstruction, rewilding, and neighborhood=community economy because if the value of people using the currencies is more sustainable that it will signal to itself to do more of those activities that are complementary with the earth. Holochain is a cryptocurrency, one of a number, particularly suited for this endeavor.

As more people become involved in this movement, then the cryptocurrency will gain in value, and help the movement become richer.

The more purely gifting system described in section 3 maybe harder to get to at first so we may need the crytocurrenies to scaffold us there.

The time banks, and cryptocurrencies can work as complementary systems to gifting in this peer production economy. Some of the services could involve donations involving the cryptocurrency.

How to integrate the social justice movement with the environmental movement

How can we integrate the social justice movement with the environmental movement?

One of the primary causes of environmental destruction is that our economic system is built on producing more stuff. People’s livelihoods depend on jobs that are based on producing stuff. Half the world’s monetary wealth is based on pumping money into stocks, which are often for companies making money from producing more stuff. Money is created by banks loaning out money which means more money than exists in system needs to be paid back. And the only way this can work is if more there is more monetized economic activity. There is a growth imperative driving economic activity.

So the solution to ever increasing growth is to shift to a community centric commons. To shift ourselves partly out from the capitalistic system and more into a self organing community that shares resources. We move out of the exponentially increasing monetization cycle. Childcare, eldercare, sickcare, cooked meals moves back into the commons. Tools, toys, books, rides are shared cutting down on resources used. Communities can band together, and at times with the help of local government and foundations buy up land for community land trusts so rent can be kept low, and lessening the amount of money flowing into the real estate machine.

The feminist movement relevant to the environmental movement would then be to help men especially , and women also , to learn to relate, to care for each other. It would involve bringing an adult , man or woman, from each household back into being more involved with the domestic life during the day, where they can spend time with family and grow neighborhood connections during the day. This domestic, neighborhood centric emphasis helps shift the economic system into the nonmonetized community commons

The racial justice movements can be about learning from minorities how to build community and live richly outside moneyed systems. For instance in the USA it can be about learning from the Hispanic populace how they build these rich family and community networks that support each other even with little money.

Design thinking challenges for economics

I thought it would be helpful to come up with a list of DesignThinking Challenges for Economics (similar to the X prizes or Millienial Problems). Just like permaculture has design challenges, so does economics/social permaculture have design challenges.

Heres an initial list.


1. What is the design of an economic system where 1/3 of the food is not thrown away?

2.a What is the design of an economic system where the number of empty houses is not signficantly more than the number of homeless?

2b. How to design a system where the cost of rent and housing does not rise significantly rise faster than the general price of inflation

3a. How to design a system where the cost of repairs is not often more than the cost of the product.

3b. How to design a system that values reuse of products more highly.

4. How to design a economic system where a significant percentage of peoples livelihoods does not depend on producing more stuff in the world.

5. How to design an economic system which does not incentivize artificial chemicals over natural herbs for medical treatment a priori.

6. How to design an economic system that values the preservation of nature?

How to make organic food go viral; and help stop climate change

How can we sequester global carbon emissions on a large scale? How can we help stop rainforest destruction? How do we reduce food waste? How do we feed more people? How do we increase the populace’s health? How do we make organic food cheaper than processed GMO foods? How do we transition chemically fertilized, mono-cropped farmland to permaculture farms on a large scale?

We can tackle all these problems by changing the basic infrastructure of our food system. And such large systemic changes is possible these days because our new informational systems allow our societies to reorganize en masse . See for example how Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, or how Lyft and Uber disrupted the taxi industry.

Imagine a collectively owned and run app. ( A platform coop practicing open cooperativism)

This app
A. Connects Individual and Communities food buyers with organic permacultural farms.

Consumers can find farmers on this app. It allows for various forms of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), from people ordering preset boxes delivered at regular intervals, to people having the ability to vary their order.

Right now Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is usually cheaper than organic food. If CSA’s scale to much larger numbers organic food grown in permacultural ways can become cheaper than mainstream processed food.

This is because CSA’s cuts out a lot of the middlemen. It cuts out the unnecessary costs of chemical fertilizers, GMO fees, global food transport, mass refrigeration, packaging, branding, marketing, supermarket infrastructure and multinational corporation executive salaries.

The key here is to get a lot more people signed up to this than is currently happening. Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber spent profusely on marketing. In the case of this food app it can leverage the power of the environmental and social justice movements. We have seen these movements activate millions of people. Tapping into this similar energy, the food app can sign up a lot of people. If say smaller cities sign up 50,000 people and larger cities sign up a million people, that becomes a significant amount of the food system that are using this new food network.

B. Connects Neighborhood Cooks with people who want a Community Meal.

The organic farms can deliver food to households who are interested in cooking for their neighborhood. Neighbors can find out about these community meals through the app.

Community meals build community. And community can share knowledge and tools, provide friends to do activities with, help each other with babysitting and elder care, tend to each other when people get sick, help when there are financial difficulties etc. It creates a neighborhood commons – which is an economic system that used to function more efficiently until the forces of globalization destroyed much of it. Its a place for people to make friends, get help, share tools, help with babysitting and eldercare, help each other when sick etc… As a neighborhood commons extends its reach it can also help people who are having trouble affording food.

The farms can offer food at a cheaper price to households which will cook community meals for the neighborhood as a way to incentivize community meals. And the farms as a result will get more food being bought. It is in a way a viral community way of marketing the food.

If a farm sells to 5000 customers who will cook community meals, they are helping grow communities in 5000 neighborhoods in a city. If we see this happening all across the world, it’s a significant step to regrowing our neighborhood commons.

A neighborhood commons also shifts the locus of societal life back to the neighborhood. People will no longer need to drive as far to get services and community needs met. This can lead to a significant decrease in the worldwide usage of oil.

C. Connect Backyard Gardens and Urban Hydroponics with people cooking Community Meals

Backyard and frontyard gardens can grow a decent amount of food once people understand how. This food can be funneled to be cooked for neighborhood community meals. A hyperlocal food cycle that builds neighborhood resilience and connects the neighborhood closer with the food.
The app can integrate with projects like the Food Not Lawns network. The app can give metrics of how much a neighborhood is feeding itself through yard gardens, and metrics is a good tool to use when inspiring a movement of neighborhood growing.

D. Buy future food as a form of investment. The money you put up for it is used to fund either i. transition of a farm to regenerative permacultural practices ii. buying farmland to put into a community land trust.

i. Transitioning a farm from monocropping, chemical fertilizer, tilling methods to regenerative permaculture methods can take 2 years before the permaculture method begins to yield more than the monocropping methods. So farms need support during this transition. People can do this by buying ‘shares’ in the form of food. So you could put down $1000, then in 2 years you could begin to start receiving a larger value in food (say $2000) when the permaculture transition kicks in. (In addition to the ability of the people to raise money to help transition and buy farms, the government can also invest in this.)

The transition to permaculture methods on a large scale can help significantly with climate change. Healthy soil is a way of sequestering the carbon in the atmosphere. Current forms of agriculture destroy the health of the soil. Regenerative agriculture brings this ability back. The worlds soil, if healthy, can sequester the amount of carbon the transportation industry puts into the air. Thats huge!! And significantly undersold in the environmental movement (although it was good to see some candidates begin to bring this up in the democratic presidential debates and climate town hall).

ii. People can also put down money to buy the organic farms collectively. And in a similar way, if you put down $1000 to help buy the farm, you can get back a few years that value in food plus a large amount extra. Currently as agricultural price volatility affects farmers, they lose their land to multinational corporations. We can reverse this trend and buy back land for community land trusts.
Multinational corporate farming can also degrade the land, which means after they farm it, they leave it and move onto other lands. This land can be bought back and regenerated so it can grow food plentifully. Black Sheep in Costa Rica has been doing this, buying back land that pine companies and timber companies have destroyed and using permacultural methods to regenerate it.
Non-profits and local governments can also help with investment funds. Even health insurance companies might decide its worthwhile to invest, because if there is a mass transition to locally delivered grown organic food the health of the populace would significantly increase.

E. Create farmwork and other services commons.

People can sign up to volunteer to work on the farm. They can also sign up to help with various other businesses in the local area like yoga centers and community centers. Others can put services they will offer – massage, editing, dogwalking, a room in their house etc, without monetary prices. People who are volunteering or offering services can then also use each others services or get free organic food. It allows people to get food and services outside the monetary system, something which is especially useful for poorer people. A food and services commons creates economic diversity. Just as biodiversity is good for the environment, economic diversity is good for the city.

This is what I call a Connective Commons. It creates a communal connective tissue between all these services and businesses to create a collective intelligence. The volunteers can shift from area to area when needed. So say the farm needs more hands on deck temporarily because of some climate induced problem, volunteers can shift to go work on the farm that week . Permaculture Design Courses can funnel graduates to work on these farms and help grow neighborhood gardens in people’s yards and get room and board in the form of the community meals in return. The farm becomes a part of the local people, as opposed to a more separate corporate entity.

The commons is a powerful economic force because it provides a way for information about peoples needs to flow. Capitalism’s information flow can skew towards putting more import on rich people’s needs The commons helps to balance the informational ecosystem.

The worlds wealth is currently becoming more unequally distributed. The reason for this is described in Thomas Piketty’s worldwide bestseller. The profit rate on capital investments like in land and stocks is greater than the increase in GDP, or in his words r>g. So the rich get richer faster than the increase in economy. The way to deal with this is to transfer our wealth to the commons… This neighborhood commons is a big step towards this.


Why is the relocalization of our food systems important?

Rob Hopkins of the Transition Town movement brings up a useful analogy that of two watchmakers. One makes a watch which is organized into modular parts, and one who doest. When the person whose watch is ordered into modular parts breaks down, they can take out that part, find whats wrong with it, and then get the watch going again. The persons watch who isnt modular, cannot do the same thing, the whole watch is wrong, so its harder to diagnose what is going wrong.

The problem is that our neighborhoods and our cities have lost some of their autonomy. They no longer function
as fully self-organizing systems as they are overly dependent on multinational corporations for their functions. The multinational corporations don’t have enough capability for fully dealing with all the complexities of a neighborhood or a city, and in fact have been in part responsible for the destroying of our communities.

Heres how food globalization can lead to rainforest destruction. Currently 1 in 6 people depends on food imported from other countries. The connection of the food economies leads to global volatility. As an example China, which loves eating pork, recently experienced the swine flu, and its pig population was decimated. So suddenly it bought 3 millions tonnes less soybeans from Brazil, which is a significant loss for Brazil, because a large percentage of Brazilian export income comes from the soy industry. So there ensues financial pressure on the whole economic system in Brazil, which leads to all kinds of pressurized behavioral responses, with farmers probably the burning down rainforests to grow pigs for China, and cattle for general profit, to make up for the loss of soy income.

When food supply and prices become volatile, farmers are often hurt, and may sometimes lose their farms. Populace in poorer countries especially may go hungry. One reason for this volatility is because our food systems have become dependent on oil. It used to be our food system was fueled only by the sun. Now our globalized food system is not so much. For example the USA’s agricultural sector uses up 17% of the nation’s total oil consumption . A fifth of that is used to produce chemical fertilizer. Oil is also used for transport, processing, packaging, marketing, food preparation, and storage. The Brookings Institute, one of the most well known think tanks in Washington DC, writes “Food price volatility starts with the characteristics of food markets… Today we shocks.. due to the higher costs of inputs (fertilizer, pesticides and transport over long distances) linked to oil prices…. So what can be done? First and foremost, break the link between food prices and oil prices”. It is somewhat astonishing to see a DC think tank come to a permaculturist-like conclusion “the answer must be to change the food system to adapt to the new economics of energy. That probably means more localized and more diversified production and consumption, less use of fertilizer and less wastage (20 % of all food gets spoiled in storage and transport today). Ironically, the organic, slow-food, go-local cooperative movement may find that market forces are their new friend.”

The worlds global food system is at the mercy of all sorts of local phenomena. Oil prices and swine flu are two of the many things that can set up farming panic all over the world. Its due to this problem of non-modularity of the food systems in the world. Mass relocalization of our food systems will help with this problem.

We have seen the environmental movement lead to a recycling consciousness and an ongoing transition to electric cars. Next up we can have a local organic permacultural food movement. And just as the Airbnb and Uber movement happened through the signing up lots and lots of users, so this environmental food movement can happen through a concerted mass push to sign up lots and lots of users.

How to prepare for climate change

With possible major climate change happening in the future we can be more prepared by organizing locally into resilience hubs…

This can be done by
1. Connecting locally – invite your neighbors for dinner, have regular potlucks , games nights, connection games, block parties etc

2. Growing food locally – encouraging everyone to grow food in their gardens

3 Sharing resources – map out resources in neighborhood, have gift circles where you share what needs you have like dogwalking or editing ,and help each other, create tool libraries, crop swaps where you share food from each others gardens. The more you share, the easier it is to work together if disaster hits.

4. Storing up emergency supplies


For more info check out

Gift Circles
.resilience circles
.Transition streets

Listening to each other on Wikipedia

On wikipedia people with different opinions on topics : climate change, economics, political systems, spirituality, homeopathy, vaccines, esp etc come together to write an article together. This is quite extraordinary, writing an article with people you may strongly disagree with. And this can lead to wild edit wars on wikipedia.

Now what if there was a facilitation system that helped guide people on different sides of an article, to learn to listen to each other, empathize with one another, some kind of wisdom council. Using processes like wisdom councils, nonviolent communication, win-win techniques, etc to connect.

Could this process, if done again and again over hundreds of thousands of topics, lead humanity to listen to each other over a wide diversity of topics? Could this process if done well, help increase empathy on earth?