Bangla-Pesa Launch | Koru Kenya
Today's launch of Bangla-Pesa was a great start to an empowering community process! Prior to the launch, members of the business network processed through Bangladesh, led in song by the Bangla Business Network Committee, and following the Bangla-Pesa, which was escorted by local security officials.…
- European Banking – It Is Getting Scary
- U.K.’s BG Group files $16B plan to export LNG from British Columbia
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- Is Yours More Corrupt Than Mine?
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Inspired by the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows Program, the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and City Hall Fellows (CHF) recently launched the Mayor’s Innovation Fellowship Program. San Francisco’s Mayor Lee welcomed the city’s inaugural class of innovation fellows last week.
I count myself lucky to have been selected to serve the city with such an accomplished group of fellows. My path to this fellowship started with Shareable’s May, 2011 event, ShareSF, which posed this question to a diverse mix of city leaders – how can we strengthen San Francisco as a platform for sharing? The city’s Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Nath, keynoted ShareSF along with Lisa Gansky and myself. That kicked off a collaboration with the city which included helping to launch the city’s Sharing Economy Working Group at SPUR in March 2012.
My work as a fellow will include publishing a sharing economy policy primer for cities and liaising with the city’s Sharing Economy Working Group. With the primer, I hope to catalyze more policy that supports resource sharing, co-production, and mutual aid in cities. While national governments are slow to address today’s urgent challenges like global warming, many cities have moved ahead. Cities can go even further by helping to set up the necessary institutions for commons-based peer production. In other words, there’s a chance to drive even more transformational change by “open sourcing” our cities.
Below are a selection of the fellows I’ll be serving with. This is an amazing group of people, and I’ve already learned a lot from them. Below the bios is a video invitation to apply for the next fellowship. Please apply!
Rahul Mewawalla has held senior executive roles with Fortune 500 and high growth companies such as Nokia, NBC Universal / General Electric Company and Comcast, Yahoo! and Monitor Group. Rahul is Senior Advisor to the San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Innovation. He leads the Mayor’s office of innovation’s efforts across broadband, access, wireless and related information and technology services for San Francisco as the innovation capital of the world. Working with the Mayor’s office, the White House, senior staff, government agencies and departments, Rahul is engaged across public assets and agencies, private corporations, partners, entrepreneurs, coalitions and communities to help lead the growth and progress of San Francisco into the future.
Jessy Kate Schingler
Jessy combines technology and urban development for experimental placemaking. Currently Jessy is "hacking home" through the development of urban community housing for creatives and modern nomads. The Embassy Network is a distributed, shared housing network for those who travel the world to live, work and collaborate. The Embassy also develops open source software and documentation for operating open and shared housing spaces, and works to advance urban housing policy and analysis around high density urban housing.
Krista is a practical optimist seeking to connect creative people with ideas to make cities more livable, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. Krista led national marketing strategies and advised Fortune 500 companies on communicating their environmental commitments during her five years at San Francisco-based renewable energy startup, 3Degrees. In 2012, Krista received funding from the Chilean government program Start-Up Chile to co-found UrbanKIT, a crowdfunding platform for communities and individuals to pitch and raise funding for neighborhood improvement and public space projects. Krista is also a founding partner of Ciudad Emergente, an organization that implements tactical urbanism interventions in combination with social media technologies to encourage citizens to participate in the creation of urban space. Krista received a BA in International Relations and French from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Building and Urban Design in Development from University College London. Follow her on twitter: @kristallakis.
During her fellowship with the Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation, Krista is focusing on Living Innovation Zones, a program through which certain parts of the City will be designated to demonstrate new ways of improving the public realm. San Francisco is building on the success of Open Data and Parklets by engaging the private sector, non-profits and residents in tech and creative innovation to ask: what other City property can be opened for innovation to enhance public benefit?
Most recently, Cory was the CEO of the Hub Bay Area, Hub Ventures and the SOCAP conference. Previously, Cory was the co-founder and CEO of Webcast Solutions, a company that produced some of the first ever webcasts in Africa, the US and Latin America. Prior to Webcast, he co-produced Planetary Dialogues with UNESCO’s World Heritage Center. Cory also co-founded MediaCast, a company that produced many of the first webcasts in the world featuring bands, CEO’s and global leaders. Other companies Cory co-founded in SF include a music recording company and a television production company.
For the Mayor’s Office of Innovation, Cory has helped bring in technologies from companies such as Splunk and Eventbrite to benefit the City. He is helping to organize a roundtable that will help foster the advanced manufacturing/maker movement in SF as well as helping to establish a public/private co-working space within City Hall.
We are conditioned to think that financial "investing" means sending your capital to Wall Street. There it will be put into paper securities (stocks, bonds, etc.), and hopefully when your next statement arrives, the dollar total is higher than you put in.
There's no connection between the investor and the investment. And in today's market, where safer investments offer nearly no return, investment capital is increasingly paying to chase risk it has little understanding of. And all the while, the middlemen -- with their 100% perfect trading quarters and record bonus payouts -- demonstrate that the system really exists to siphon off money from this 'dumb capital'.
- A High Frequency Map of the Market
- Gold & Silver – It Could Get Uglier And Take Longer
- Safeguarding the Past, in an Uncooperative Present
- What Is The Fed Thinking?
- Better Safety in Bangladesh Could Raise Clothing Prices by About 25 Cents
- Traffic Pollution May Be Harming Kids in Ways We Never Imagined
- Cyclone Could Threaten Thousands of Myanmar Refugees
- Rebuilding After Sandy, but With Costly New Rules
Another way to grow plants and produce when working with small spaces. Easy to setup with readily available supplies.
About to graduate? Don't get the post-graduation blues. The flowchart below is from Shareable's free online book, Share or Die (#ShareOrDie on Twitter), which offers life-changing strategies to ease the transition from college to the real world.
Got a blog? Embed the flowchart with the below code and get a free Share or Die paperback (just e-mail neal at shareable dot net with the link & your address).
POST THE FLOWCHART ON YOUR BLOG WITH THIS EMBED CODE:
<p><img alt="" src="http://www.shareordienews.com/images/img2.jpg" style="width:490px;border:0;" /> <p>From "<a href="http://www.shareable.net/blog/post-college-flow-chart-of-misery-and-pain">A Post College Flowchart of Misery and Pain</a>" on <a href="http://www.shareable.net/">Shareable.</a></p>
- Stocks Are Officially in a Blow Off Top
- Kevyn Orr: Detroit Is In Worse Shape Than I Thought
- Living on a budget: Readers' stories
- Mobiles 'to outnumber people next year', says UN agency
- The man who makes his living whittling wooden spoons
- Yen breaches 100 threshold mark against US dollar
- Renting your home can be lucrative, but are you ready for tenants from hell?
- No "Peak Natural Gas" Anytime Soon
- Union joins environmentalists in call for stricter controls on raw log exports
When 250 workers were laid off by what was then called Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago, they arranged a sit-in to protest violations against their union agreements. The second time it happened, they decided to purchase the now-bankrupt company and operate it themselves. The new company is a worker-owned co-operative called New Era Windows, which opens for business today.
- How Workers Laid Off from a Chicago Factory Took It Over Themselves
When their boss tried to fire them, the workers of Republic Windows and Doors occupied the factory. Now they own it as a cooperative.
The Obama administration has come out in support of the idea of exporting U.S. natural gas. This stance is counterproductive, short-sighted, and if followed will prove harmful to domestic manufacturing (i.e., value generation) – not just now, but for future generations of Americans.
While exporting natural gas would certainly prove to be an economic boon for a very select minority of companies and individuals, it makes no sense from an energy standpoint and undermines our national interests. All it will do is enrich a few, while boosting prices for all domestic consumers and shortchanging the energy and environmental inheritance we pass along to our children.
So how did an off-season, collaborative campaign for nonprofit journalism raise almost $80,000 for 24 participating nonprofit news organizations in one single day?
Simple. They did it in February.
"The first quarter is usually very quiet; the donors are pretty exhausted," says Jo Ellen Kaiser, executive director of the Media Consortium, which sponsored the event.
This meant that a collaborative February campaign would be unlikely to threaten the fundraising calendars of the news nonprofits in her network, which she describes as "progressive and interested in impact and solutions journalism."
Yet that serendipitous timing still had its challenges. Could news organizations safely share donors, and not freak out over sovereignty issues?
Yes, it turns out — given the right conditions. Support Your Media Day's ultimate success was in a collaborative planning process that built up trust between participants.
"Having a strong strategic framework for this kind of event is vital," notes Erin Polgreen, the Media Consortium's former interim director. "You can't just say it's going to happen without doing the legwork to seed personal connections and identify common threads."
Another concern was whether Consortium members could overcome post-holiday donor torpor. Bigger still is the issue of whether people even like to donate to journalism in the first place.
"No, they don't. Journalists are right behind lawyers on the hate list," said Jason Barnett, executive director of The Uptake in Minneapolis, and an early Media Consortium advocate for a one-day fundraising event. "Of course, Congress has low numbers; but when people are asked about their congressman, they tend to have significantly higher ratings. So they also might like their local nonprofit news organization."
This, he said, is an opportunity to "cross pollinate" the donor rolls of all Media Consortium members, by building on the links of affinity and affiliation between donors and their preferred nonprofit news outlets, and rolling it all into a larger, combined marketing campaign.
Ultimately, on February 15, 2012, Support Your Media Day inspired 1,408 acts of individual giving to nonprofit journalism, of which about 25 percent were second, third, or even fourth gifts by donors who crossed over to give to other news organizations beyond their first choice.
The haul wasn't so bad, either — $79,924, an admirable sum even if it was short of what Kaiser describes as an "ambitious" goal of $150,000.
Also worth noting is that the lion's share of the funding — $52,226, about 65 percent — went to just eight news outlets, including heavyweights of the advocacy press such as Mother Jones, Truthout and GRITtv. Almost all of the rest raised three figures or less.
"A lot of the folks that participated didn't draw in a lot of money," said Kaiser. "They thought, 'If you announce it, they will come.'" She described it as a "great learning experience" for those Consortium members that were surprised to discover they didn't have very good lists.
Beyond any financial goals, Support Your Media Day also was a high-water mark for Media Consortium efforts to inspire collaboration between its membership of likeminded but otherwise competitive news outlets
"The Consortium had spent years building relationships and connective tissue between the organizations," says Polgreen. "We were able to build on a strong history of organizations working together."
The inspiration for Support Your Media Day itself came from GiveMN's Give to the Max Day — a daylong fundraising campaign and event aimed at supporting Minnesota nonprofits and schools.
Give to the Max Day's launch event in 2009 raised $14 million for more than 3,000 participating nonprofits in one day, says GiveMN's executive director Dana Nelson; in 2012 that number approached $16.4 million for 4,381 organizations.
The Uptake's Barnett had participated, and later proposed a variant on Give to the Max Day for news organizations at a Media Consortium revenue-generation lab.
The notion took hold, and prep for the big day progressed throughout 2011. Members chose the online-fundraising platform Razoo for donations mechanism, and followed the GiveMN script closely.
That meant an emphasis on community, and fun. Donations were driven through a hub website hosted by Razoo, which kept a running tally of individual goals for participating news outlets, amounts raised, and diverse promotional opportunities and competitions between participants.
This carnivalesque atmosphere, complete with prizes and sponsors, inspired fascination, participation, competition, and cooperation.
Some donors, fired up by brand loyalty and monitoring the campaign's progress on the Razoo hub page, would rally to help their favorite news outlets meet their fundraising goals.
Some news outlets, having hit their fundraising goals early on, would promote other participating news organizations that were shy of the mark and needed a boost.
The lesson was not lost on Kaiser.
"When you know the work someone is doing is extraordinary," she said, "don't worry about telling your loyal supporters about something else they may like. If they like Yes! Magazine, why not Earth Island Journal?"
Despite the successes of Support Your Media Day, the Media Consortium is taking a year off to cultivate sponsors and build the infrastructure.
It's also time to let the network of news outlets continue to cultivate their budding collaborative potential.
"Once a couple outlets started promoting the work of their peers, it started to spread. After the fundraiser, that really good feeling continues," Kaiser said. "It's much easier to create editorial and business collaborations, because that feeling of trust that started with that collaborative fundraiser has extended and continues.
"In some ways it's the most magnificent outcome of the fundraiser."
- Gold Is Collapsing, Not Bottoming: Swedroe
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- India’s new China war
- No Bank Deposits Will Be Spared from Confiscation
- Gold: Who’s Selling, Who's Buying, Who's Lying
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- Only 150 of 3500 U.S. Colleges Are Worth the Investment: Former Secretary of Education
- Sea Of Money
- Why we all need the middle classes
- Buena Vista: Meeting could tell if school will start again; district knew state overpaid it
- Gold and Silver: Sentiment Reversal is Inevitable
- Downloads for 3D-printed Liberator gun reach 100,000
- Canadian Government Establishes Two-Tier Approach for Trade Talks: Insiders and Everyone Else
- Shell to develop Stones deepwater oil field in Gulf of Mexico
- JP Morgan: A New Type of Dirty Energy
- 5.09.13: Canadian Tire follows Loblaw’s lead with real estate spin-off
In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Mish discuss:
- Fuzzy Fed Math
- Housing-cost methodology understates true inflation
- China's Gold Hunger
- Vacuuming up 50% of total world production
- Market Madness
- Any news – good, bad, or worse – drives stock prices higher
by Hillete Warner
Global Innovators is a 10-part series that celebrates the remarkable work of social innovators from outside the English-speaking world. Twice a month we profile the stories of inspiring community pioneers from across three broad cultural clusters: change enthusiasts from Italy, France and the Spanish-speaking world. The series, inspired by the multilingual editions of the Enabling City toolkit, focuses on a rich variety of themes that explore 'enabling' frameworks for participatory social change.
Tactical urbanism. Urbanismo tàctico. Urbanisme tactique. The term is the same in many languages, but the way the practice translates on the ground is just as diverse as the people (and the places) behind it. Javier Vergara Petrescu is a seasoned ‘translator’ whose projects have been inspiring citizens and practitioners both at home and abroad. As the founder of Ciudad Emergente, he has worked in three continents to improve the quality of urban life through creative community involvement. We spoke to him today to learn more about his current projects, his travels, and what brought him back to Chile to experiment with tactical urbanism.
Enabling City: You have studied in London, lived in New York, worked in Germany and Brazil, and are now back to your native Santiago de Chile. What brings you home?
Javier Vergara Petrescu: I was a Lecturer in Urbanism at the Universidad Católica de Santiago when I was awarded a full scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the London School of Economics. With my MSc in City Design fully funded by the Chilean government, I committed to returning home after my studies to work in the country. Today, more and more young Chileans are studying abroad and are coming home with fresh ideas and a new way of doing things. For Chile this is important because we are a remote country, and this helps us challenge close-mindedness in a very tangible way. I hope this means that the young Chileans absorbing new ideas today will become the progressive decision-makers of tomorrow.
EC: You have been involved with the Tactical Urbanism team in the US for some time and now you are mainstreaming the practice in Chile. Have you noticed any major differences between North and South American approaches to tactical urbanism?
JVP: Yes. It all started in 2011, when I was living in New York. I was starting up Ciudad Emergente and kept meeting a great number of people working on amazing participatory planning projects, people like Mike Lydon of Street Plans Collaborative and Aurash Khawarzad of Change Administration Studio.
But tactical urbanism is not entirely new to Chile. The basic premise – implementing short-term actions to respond to urban challenges –reflects a way of doing things that is deeply rooted in South American culture. Ciudad Emergente simply introduced a new term to capture the spirit of this growing practice and to raise awareness about its transformative potential.
One of the main differences I see between North and South America, though, is the culture of participation. In the North, people are more inclined to have a say in decision-making processes, whereas in the South civic engagement is something that began to flourish after the fall of dictatorships and the emergence of new economic opportunities. It’s only in the past few decades that we have collectively become aware of the importance of civic education. Latin American societies are still influenced by a ‘paternalistic’ approach where disadvantaged people are turned into passive receivers of public support rather than being seen as active agents of change. At the same time, those who are better off tend to embrace individualism and personal success, and don’t quite trust institutions or see them as possible partners. We might already be active on the ‘short-term action’ side of things, but we are missing a long-term vision – and for that you need a confident and empowered citizenry.
EC: You started Ciudad Emergente to work on urban livability and high-impact participatory projects in South America. What are some of the key lessons you have learned along the way?
JVP: What I’ve noticed so far is that, regardless of a community’s overall social capital, people really connect with the “lighter-quicker-cheaper” model. It’s a ‘capacity-building-by-example’ approach that works really well here. I have learned that urbanism isn’t just the domain of urban planners, and that the everyday and the DIY spheres matter, too. Some of the best examples of great public spaces are the ones that are shaped by the people themselves.
EC: You have lived and worked in many countries. What kinds of opportunities for knowledge-sharing have you found between Chile and the rest of the world?
JVP: We are a remote country that has been catching up to the developed world through digital literacy. Chile is ranked 10th in the world for Twitter users and over 80% of Santiago’s population is on Facebook. This means that more and more people are sharing their experiences and coming together at events like Buenos Aires’ CityCamp. That said, we have a long way to go to effectively connect local actors with groups both inside and outside the country!
This is why we have brought the popular Tactical Urbanism Salon format to Chile’s XVIII Architecture Biennale, and why Ciudad Emergente and Street Plans Collaborative have partnered to launch a Latin American version of the Tactical Urbanism toolkit. We will be featuring initiatives from Colombia, Chile, Perú, and Argentina in the hopes of sparking a debate on participatory urbanism from a South American perspective.
EC: You are also the founder of Citisent and a Professor. Is the tactical urbanism model well received by academics?
JVP: Yes. Introducing tactical urbanism into academia has allowed us to go deeper into research and debate. Engaging with that world gives us a chance to tune up our projects with the help of dedicated students, and to organize national and international seminars to get more urban planners familiarized with the model of ‘short-term actions for long-term change.’ Universities can be great partners for that.
EC: What else have you been working on lately?
2013 continues to be an exciting year for Ciudad Emergente!
The Chilean Council of Culture and Arts commissioned a large, pop-up recycling plaza for Valparaiso’s Urban Festival, a city where there is no recycling system or recycling culture. We built a temporary roof structure made out of 12,000 plastic bottles brought to us by the people of Valparaiso. Then we launched a city-wide campaign and partnered with grassroots organizations to install four stations for the collection of PET bottles. The idea was to demonstrate that people are willing to recycle if there is the political support for it. Thanks to the project, we were able to successfully install recycling stations that are now 100% operative!
We are also working on a project called Malòn Urbano, a kind of urban potluck where residents come together to discuss solutions for their neighborhoods. We have four planned in Antofagasta City this year. Because of the mining industry, Antofagasta is the wealthiest city in Chile. It has the GDP of Toronto but performs poorly in areas like education, green spaces, and social capital. Malòn Urban will serve as a tactic for community-building and neighborhood improvement, as well as to develop a set of indicators on subjective wellbeing (such as happiness, life satisfaction, etc.) that will be used to complement data from the OECD. Malòn Urbano is also being used by the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism in Chile as part of a heritage zone master plan at Barrio Yungay in Santiago.
Other projects include an international seminar with Universidad Católica de Santiago and Monash University to prototype mobility strategies for Santiago; ‘tactically’ extending the bike lane network of the Municipality of Providencia; transforming neglected spaces near shopping malls into areas for urban agriculture… and more!
My hope is to share what I have learned from my international practice and to do my part in improving the quality of life in our cities. There is no shortage of ideas or opportunities in South America... This is just the beginning!
NHK Broadcasting, Japan’s equivalent of the BBC, contacted me last month, wanting a statement on the American public’s reaction to the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
A super-sized NAFTA, the TransPacific Partnership is a free-trade agreement whereby countries give foreign corporations rights and privileges to encourage investment and global business. The TPP was a major issue during Japan’s recent national elections, when thousands took to
the streets in protest. It was hard for the Japanese journalist to believe me when I explained that there is little awareness of the TPP here in the United States, because our media has hardly covered the subject.
The corporate powers granted in the TPP can override domestic laws on environmental health and safety, and labor and citizens’ rights. Not only that, but multinationals can claim that those domestic laws hamper free trade and sue member countries for millions of dollars. The TPP is
in many ways an attempt to revive the stalled expansion of the World Trade Organization.
At present, the TPP talks include 12 Pacific Rim countries: Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and, most recently, Japan. Thailand and the Philippines have expressed interest, and other countries would be allowed to join the TPP at any time.
Although trade deals have potentially huge effects on the economy, environment, and food sovereignty of communities throughout these 12 countries, the TPP negotiations are being held in secret between unelected government officials and representatives from more than 600 of the world’s most powerful corporations. The United States has plenty of interests clamoring for the trade advantages of the TPP, while developing countries like Vietnam see the TPP as an opportunity for economic development.
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But the AFL-CIO, one of the few non-corporate and nongovernmental entities that have access to the text of the agreements, does not support the TPP in its current form because of implications for labor and human rights.
The talks are scheduled to finish by October of this year. Meanwhile, negotiators are lobbying Congress to grant “Fast Track” authority for the TPP. That would mean Congress couldn’t revise the agreements and could only vote “yes” or “no” to the United States joining the TPP.
Leaked documents show how extensive the reach of the TPP would be. It is shaping up as a corporate takeover of public policy that would impact safe food, sustainable jobs, clean water and air, access to life-saving medicines, education, even our very democracy. After 20 years under NAFTA we know the likely impacts for people and the environment.
Can a "Dracula Strategy" Bring the TPP Into the Sunlight?
A highly secretive trade agreement aims to penalize countries that protect workers, consumers, and the environment. Luckily, the growing opposition goes beyond the usual trade justice suspects.
In March, Citizens Trade Campaign organized a letter to Congress signed by 400 U.S. organizations outlining expectations for public involvement and calling for an end to Fast Track. It was signed by, among others, the Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders, Public Citizen, the National Family Farm Coalition, and state trade justice groups including my organization, the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. Polls show the majority of Americans believe that offshoring jobs and NAFTA-style free trade deals have hurt the U.S. economy, so it’s likely that Americans would be opposed to the TPP too—if they knew more about it.
The next round of TPP talks will be held May 15–24 in Lima, Peru. An International Day of Action Against the TPP is set for May 11, International Fair Trade Day. TPPx-Border, a network of groups in the United States, Canada, and Mexico resisting the TPP, is organizing actions throughout the month of May and beyond, including webinars with Peruvian activists, a TPP action camp, and local community events. Visit TPPxBorder.org to find out how the TPP will impact you—and then take to the streets!
Kristen Beifus wrote this article for Love and the Apocalypse, the Summer 2013 issue of YES! Magazine. Kristen is Executive Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, which is dedicated to creating an equitable global trading system.
- Idle No More: Indigenous Uprising Sweeps North America
Idle No More has organized the largest mass mobilizations of indigenous people in recent history. What sparked it off and what’s coming next?
- Rights, not Riots: What Seattle's May Day Was Really About
The largest march on May Day in Seattle was about immigrant families and their supporters standing together for human rights. Not to be confused with the rowdiness that took place later in the day.
- A Tax System for the 99 Percent
Feeling like taxes are more unfair than ever? Three ways corporations, banks, and individuals exploit an unjust system—and three ways the people are pushing back.
Hello Dhaval! We met several years ago when you asked me in as an advisor for Cria, the first shared-value branding group in Brazil. Last year you implemented the first startup incubator in Brazil, Pipa. Did Pipa evolve out of Cria naturally?
Yes, Pipa came out of my experiences with Cria, but is much broader than that for good reason. Pipa has been founded by a group of individuals and companies with complimentary experience in a diverse range of fields, including social sciences and impact, futurism, technology, venture capital, strategy, consulting, branding, design, UX, and more. The founding companies are Engage, Tátil, and Cria. In addition, Pipa’s team consists of experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that have managed some of Brazil’s leading funds, including IdeiasNet and Warehouse Investimentos. Google, Singularity University, and Endeavor also support Pipa, among other partners.
On the board are: Fabio Coelho, Country Director at Google, Brazil; Michael Nicklas, Managing Partner at IdeiasNet; Marcelo Cardoso, Founding Director at the Integral Institute of Brazil, ex-VP at Natura; José Cesar Martins, CEO at Paradoxa; and Ivo Godói, Executive Director at Grupo Promon.
The same thing that motivated me to start up and work with Cria motivates me to work with Pipa. It is no longer a mystery – the way we live, do business, consume, and organize is no longer sustaining our future world. It is an imperative to re-imagine our relationship to ourselves, to others, and to the living environment. A new awareness has emerged, principles and behaviors can be shared at massive scale through social media channels and new ways of doing things can be implemented through new global technologies. Cria created and supported Pipa to help accelerate this transition to a new way of doing business focused on shared-value branding and living.
How is this playing out in your teachings within the incubator?
We believe strongly that successful companies of the future are ones that create value by having relevance in the lives of people. As a result, we look for startups that are:
- Purpose driven and transformational, driven by entrepreneurs that want to make positive impact regenerating communities and the natural environment.
- Ambitious and huge, driven by entrepreneurs that have scalable ideas that can impact millions of people.
- Disruptive and innovative, driven by entrepreneurs who are making breakthroughs and solving problems in radically new ways.
These entrepreneurs and their companies might be focused on healthcare, education, bottom of the pyramid, sanitation, energy, solid waste, empowerment or other sectors; they are usually powered by digital and/or other technologies. More importantly, they are founded and led by visionary entrepreneurs with a strong commitment to building a better future using business as a vehicle.
What are the companies that Pipa is currently accelerating?
We have an amazing group of companies working with us with entrepreneurs from four different countries. Two of the companies were founded at Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program, one was already invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012, another to TechCrunch Disrupt, and another is profitable already. Despite maintaining a very low profile, the first selection process at Pipa attracted 173 companies from more three continents, and the current class consists of entrepreneurs from France, Spain, Israel, and around Brazil. The businesses that Pipa has invested in include:
Nanopop: A microwork application based on photographs that allows users with cellular telephones to make money just by taking pictures. Think of a world in which Instagram would pay you for your pictures. This allows low-income populations to increase their monthly income by as much as 30 percent.
Simbio: An open-source management software for small and medium businesses that adds a social layer. Think Facebook for small businesses and micro entrepreneurs. Combining an educational focus with a simple user interface, Simbio seeks to help small businesses improve efficiency, create more jobs and increase the success rates of small businesses, which are the backbone of the local economy.
Nativoo: An artificial intelligence-based system that provides you with a customized and complete sustainable travel solution. Nativoo sources content from multiple partners such as Trip Advisor and understands user behavior through social networks and experience, providing customized itineraries that can be updated in real time and promote sustainable travel.
WPensar: An ERP software for schools to manage their operations, administration, resources, and people better. WPensar is already being used by more than 200 institutions and 16,000 students around Brazil.
We did a previous article on Pipa when you first began the accelerator. Can you tell us what Pipa is today and how you have evolved this unique Brazilian social innovation incubator?
After a successful test drive, Pipa is launching its first global selection process which runs through the 15th of May. Pipa is hoping to attract around 400 companies from more than 10 countries in this selection process -- companies that dream big and want to pioneer a global transformation. Pipa was selected as part of Startup Brasil, a program of the Brazilian government to receive $1 million in funding to invest $100,000 in 10 startups this year. And we are proud to say that two of our startups already have seed funding, one of them from a leading impact investing fund in Brazil.
Pipa is unique due to its focus on impact- and equity-based business models. Accelerators around the world today either tend to focus on digital technology and take an equity stake in the companies they support (such as Y Combinator, Tech Stars, or 21212 in Brazil), or focus on social or environmental impact, but do not take an equity stake (such as the Unreasonable Institute or Artemisia in Brazil). In addition to our focus on creating impact, we believe that being business partners with the accelerated companies aligns our financial interest and propels our efforts to support them further.
We are interested not just in accelerating companies and entrepreneurs, but in helping the entrepreneurs grow spiritually and emotionally. Through our deep ties with the Integral Institute of Brazil, we deploy methodologies that are intended to promote lasting and holistic growth and development in the participants, as well as the companies and their outcomes. This is quite unique and is what Brazilians are known for.
Fantastic. You are always evolving. Do you have any thoughts for the future of Pipa or other groups/concepts you wish to ignite?
At Cria, we are looking to move more into shared-value corporate ventures and not just consulting. At Pipa, we talk loosely about raising more capital to make larger investments. The purpose is constant, but we are always evolving and adapting to the changing context, looking to create ever more impact at scale. This is our overriding focus.
Jody Turner is founder of Culture of Future, a brand anthropology consultancy. Client engagements include and have included IDEO, Nike Foundation, trendwatching.com London, BMW Europe, Baumann Foundation, and others.
Dhaval Chadha is a founding partner at two companies focused on creating shared-value business. The first is Cria, a strategy and innovation consultancy, and the second, Pipa, an accelerator program for entrepreneurs. Clients at Cria include Coke, Whirlpool, Natura, and the Olympic Games. Strategic partners at Pipa include Google, Singularity University, and Endeavor.
An assessment by Paul Gilding that John Abrams discusses in his blog is more than dramatic. I don't know anything about Paul Gilding, but I do know that John Abrams is rock solid in reliability within the US worker co-op and workplace democracy movement.
Obamacare is changing the game of private health insurance, but private health insurers are still in it to make profit. And while they are in the game, they will do their best to rig the game in their favor. Ask anyone who has had a significant health problem. So why do we continue to give control over health care and our money away to companies that don't have our interests at heart in a matter that is literally life and death?
I wanted to look at alternative, community-based models and see if they actually work. One model is the Ithaca Health Fund, operated by the Ithaca Health Alliance since 1997. This nonprofit, inspired by the Canadian health system and the Amish Church Aid self-insurance program, runs several health-related programs. The Ithaca Health Fund reimburses medical costs for certain categories of preventive and emergency health care and its free clinic provides conventional and complementary primary care visits to the uninsured, as well as classes and a newsletter on preventative medicine. They rely on member fees and grants for funding and local college students to fill the many needed volunteer roles.
The Ithaca Health Fund was challenged by the New York State government as an noncompliant health insurance provider but restructured to work around the laws partly by making “grants” to uninsured patients, rather than reimbursements and restricting their boundaries to New York State. They are still struggling to get official nonprofit status from the federal government even though they are a charitable organization that depends significantly on grants to meet the needs of its low income clients while maintaining fee levels that they can still afford.
Even more intriguing was my encounter with PEACH (Preservation of Equity Accessible for Community Health) at Sandhill Farm in rural Missouri. On a visit there, I asked the residents of this intentional community how they made it without health insurance and they glowed about the benefits and low cost of PEACH. I recently interviewed PEACH's initiator, Laird Schaub, about this little known program to get the inside scoop.
The Federation of Egalitarian Communities (FEC) started PEACH as a group, self-insurance plan for income-sharing communities in October 1987, based on a program offered by Coop America at the time (now discontinued) with similar premiums and deductibles but managed by a commercial carrier.
FEC started by asking for monthly contributions of $10 per person per month (now $15/month) for several years before taking claims, after which time the FEC figured they'd have enough money to start reimbursing participating communities for major medical expenses, including natural medicine. Built in was a high $5,000 deductible that the intentional community would pay on behalf of its members' claim before PEACH would kick in and pay the rest. The deductible sounds like a lot, but the average premium for just one person was $5,615 in 2012 and that doesn't include a deductible.
The program was started when members of newly formed intentional communities were still relatively young. They started thinking ahead about how they would pay for healthcare while still trying to live a mostly self-sufficient, sustainable lifestyle, separate from the dominant economic system. This allowed them to save up a bit and invest the small monthly fees to grow the fund. Many of the FEC communities have their own sustainable enterprises and purchasing commercial insurance would be too great of a financial burden. Founder Laird Schaub said, “It was pretty easy to get buy in since these communities didn't have health insurance already and didn't want to buy into that system anyway on principle.”
Investments include socially responsible investing funds and loans, which have grown the fund far beyond the member contributions. The fund is now at $500,000 with eight to ten short to medium-term loans out at any given time to cooperative ventures and intentional communities that are in line with FEC values of social justice, sustainability and cooperation. Unlike commercial insurance companies, where money paid in premiums is gone forever, PEACH has a policy of paying back communities that drop out of the program 90% of what they paid into the program minus what they received as reimbursements on claims.
Another unique aspect of the program is that PEACH does not insure individuals, only the communities that they are a part of. That means claims are agreed on and filed by the community on behalf of its members' medical expenses. "PEACH is an agreement among communities and extends no right per se to individuals. Thus, it only works for groups that take primary responsibility for the health care of members, as is true in the income-sharing communities that participate," says Schaub. The community pays everything upfront and then gets reimbursed for the 90% beyond the first $5,000 and up to a pre-established limit for claims in that year, which is determined by a formula based on net income realized in the previous year. Communities agree to not seek reimbursement for using heroic measures to save a member, such as life support when the chance of survival is low or for unnecessary surgeries.
This system creates two layers of trust - trust between the individual and the community they live in and trust between member communities of PEACH. “Trust”, Schaub says, “is key to the system working. I am not sure it would work with people who don't know each other or share values.” Besides trust, they also have well defined rules and democratic decision-making processes that govern the program, its administration, finances and claims. PEACH is overseen by a body comprised of one representative of each participating community
Another reason for its success may be that all members are all sustainable, income-sharing communities or at least communities that take primary responsibility for their members' health care, meaning that members intend to care for each other when ill. They also tend to live healthier lifestyles, exercising more than the average person, usually living in cleaner and less stressful than average rural environments and eating homegrown, organic food. Schaub noted that the emotional support alone probably leads to less illness. All these factors might make this a special case not applicable to regular folks. Mainstream people might get chronically ill too much, file too many claims and sink the fund if the premiums stayed as low as PEACH's. Low premiums are the equalizer for living a healthier but less economically profitable life, a factor generally not calculated into conventional health insurance other than for nonsmokers.
Member communities are also taught how to negotiate medical bills with providers to lower costs. Schaub stated that, "Hospitals charge uninsured people 50% more than they charge insurance companies for the same bills simply because they can negotiate." I learned first hand this reality of discriminatory pricing against the uninsured when working in a hospital billing department at a hospital in Irvine, CA.
Corporate health insurance companies have been known to deny valid claims. PEACH on the other hand, in its 23 years of insuring, has paid every claim in full (except one vasectomy reversal), which has only been approximately one per year, currently serving 200 people in eight communities. One member I overheard was able to use a PEACH claim to buy an infrared sauna to treat her Lyme disease, an alternative treatment that is gaining popularity in alternative medicine, but would never be covered by conventional health insurance. This kind of choice is crucial to managing chronic illness, which conventional medicine often has few answers for. All treatments including herbs, however, must be prescribed by some kind of licensed health care provider, which reins in high experimental costs.
According to Schaub, “The biggest challenge for PEACH is knowing how much claims will increase with a covered population that approaches a more typical demographic age mix, compounded by health care costs that are spiraling out of control.” They have considered reaching out to new communities that don't income-share for sustainability through more members, but there is hesitation about trust and liability for communities that may lead a more unhealthy, and less interdependent and caring lifestyle. Their first step was branching out to nearby Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, which has a health care coop that manages health care for members, but they've put further membership outreach to communities that don't income-share on hold for now.
I was surprised to learn that even my partner's employee-owned, yet conventional engineering company in Kansas is self-insured up to a certain claim level, leading me to believe it's not just an ideological choice, but a good business decision. According to CNN’s analysis of the Fortune 500, “The star of 2009 is undoubtedly health care. The sector's earnings jumped to an all-time high of $92 billion. Health-care earnings rose by $23 billion, or 33%...from two groups, one surprising - medical insurers - and the other more predictable, pharmaceuticals.”
Health insurance companies are clearly skimming a lot of wealth off the top. If groups self-insured, that wealth could instead be reinvested back into their communities in the form of loans, preventative medicine education, clinics, healthy food access and more. Add in some community-based mutual aid and you might just have a winning venture for a healthier future. To start your own community health program, read Shareable's Healthy Rebellion post.
Let's talk about laundry!
It seems to me that those collapse-conscious folks who don't ignore the topic of laundry either anticipate a grueling regime of boiling clothes with homemade lye soap, beating clothes on a rock in a stream, or else getting used to living in filth and squalor. Hard as it is to believe for folks who grew up with the convenience of automatic washers and dryers and listening to tales of the bad old days of starch and lye, wringer washers, and/or boiling vats, there is a completely different, totally reasonable tradition of clothes washing that I've observed during the time that I've been in Vietnam.
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