“Apollo 13 … Please Come Home”

In my societal commentary,”Orion … A Feline Metaphor for Hybrid Governance,” I proposed a hybrid type of governance as alternative to our current political malaise and civic ineptitude. At the center of this hybrid is the Community 3.0 Front Porch civic network. A Front Porch can be the local pub down the street or the coffee-house you get your morning the espresso from. It can be Bill’s garage where everyone hangs out to watch Sunday football games. It can even be your kitchen table. What happens on the Front Porch is what matters … not what it looks like or where it is.

The Front Porch’s purpose is to identify Solutions, whether they be in response of needs or opportunities. These Solutions are designed to help your community pick up the slack and mend its societal safety net. They can range from organizing a cleanup effort, to fixing a playground, to even spearheading a high school mentoring or apprentice program.

To get a more full understanding of the Community 3.0 Front Porch concept, please read the post, “Front Porches.

As a part of the Community 3.0 platform we’ve put together a roster of several examples of what can come of collaborations in your community’s Front Porches. Imagine, take direct action … and this could be your community.

One of these examples is “Apollo 13 … Please Come Home.”

Apollo 13 2

Community Centered “On-demand” Resource Network


Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

The astronauts of Apollo 13 had to do what they had to with limited resources to survive … none of which were designed for the task at hand. But all the same, they made it work and gave us one of the great examples American ingenuity. It’s now time for this ingenuity to come home.

Thirty years ago, right after college, I spent a lot of time with an old friend of mine in North Dakota, Terry Summers. Terry managed a barter exchange in Bismarck. The exchange ran on barter points, and Terry was paid entirely with barter points, no cash, no checks – just points usable only at companies on the barter exchange. The exchange was fairly widespread and for a lot of things, barter was sufficient.

There were restaurants and grocery stores on the exchange so food was no problem. Gas could be bartered, so Terry and I could get around. He even bartered his apartment. But there were things that couldn’t be bartered, utilities being one. Plus what happens if you want to leave town for a weekend. That was a problem.

Whenever Terry and I got together, it was all about “conversion.” Terry had to convert his points to cash whenever he could. We’d eat only at restaurants on the exchange and I’d pay Terry my share in cash. I’d fill up my car at a gas station on the exchange using Terry’s points and I’d pay him cash. It was a constant pursuit of “conversion.” I liked it. It kept the synaptic connections popping. Things you took for granted … you couldn’t.

Imagine if a community operated like Terry did or like the Apollo 13 astronauts had to; take what have, the resources at your disposal and nothing else … and make it work. You have to, because you have no other option. Creativity would be your greatest strength.

Jugaad (Indian)– meaning an innovative fix using few resources

Instead of hiring a contractor to fix a playground, you enlist parents to volunteer. Instead of using paid city employees, employees your community often can’t afford – you gather a group high school students to pick up trash and plant flowers in a vacant public lot (and give them credit for their community service).  Instead of hiring a teacher’s aid to students get up to speed, you organize a group of retirees to pitch in and to help.

Every community has an abundance of resources. To identify and uncover these resources, is the trick. A top-notch web designer could be sitting in a high school English class. An unemployed electrician could be at home just be waiting for an opportunity to help his community rather spend another day sitting on the couch watching soap operas. A neighborhood card club might want to deliver homemade food to a shut-in rather play that hundredth hand of bridge. This is “Resource Maximization.”

Community 3.0 connects Merchants to its Contributors (customers) to solve its community’s problems directly. We’re using our local businesses to bring back the concept of the Front Porch civic gathering concept. The Front Porch allows us to reclaim the priorities of our neighborhoods and our communities. It allows us to organize and take action directly, not wait on the sidelines while traditional institutions may or may not act.

“Apollo 13 … Please Come Home” is Community 3.0‘s way of unleashing these resources.  Along with the sister initiatives “The Exchange Pro,” “Pop-up Community” and “I’m Not Alone Anymore”Community 3.0 aims to pull everything it can out of what your has to offer.

In order to maximize what a community has to offer, we need to know what resources it has – or more specifically, what each one of its residents can bring to the table. We do this through the Community 3.0 Member data base. As part of the network sign-up process, each prospective is asked … well, “what they bring to the table,” or their skills, expertise, experiences, passions, etc.

Building the Community 3.0 network

“Karma Kards” is Community 3.0‘s way of spreading goodwill. We all encounter people in our daily routine that we just want to go over and give big hug to. These are the people who are especially nice at the restaurant you went to for lunch, the people who give up their seat on a bus for someone not as able. The list of what these “positive people” do is limited only by the size of their hearts. These are the people who are the backbone of your community.

These people will also be the backbone of Community 3.0 and its efforts to empower and revitalize the communities of America  and beyond. This is where “Karma Kards” come in. Imagine if every time you ran across one of these people, instead of just giving them a compliment or an acknowledgement – you gave them physical proof of their goodness and positive vibes. “Karma Kards” are this proof. The size of business card, these cards tell them they are “wonderful.”

Also included on the cards are the website address so they can sign up as a Member of the Community 3.0 network. For these are exactly the people we want as “Community Empowerment Ambassadors.” After they sign up, these new ambassadors can then pass on the card to someone else they deem worthy. And then … on and on and on. And if one of the recipients wishes to be ambitious and spread the goodwill even further, there will be a web URL they can log on to and order ten additional cards – free of charge.

These days, times are difficult for a lot people and in turn, a lot of communities. A lot of people are having a hard time. Inequality is at levels not seen in decades. Local municipalities are strapped and it’s only going to get worse with austerity being en vogue. Anything not deemed as critical services have, or will be, cut to the bone. The community safety net is torn and the proverbial seamstress has been sent packing.

Now is the time to take an example from heroes of Apollo 13, take what we have, and be resourceful. It’s time for your community to come together – and instead waiting for help … help itself.


We ask you to be part our efforts to build the minds and bodies of those around us. The stronger, mentally and physically, we all are individually – the stronger our communities will be collectively. Help us create a foundation for which our communities can build on in their quest for self-sustainability and well-being. No matter what role you wish to play; whether it’s directly in your community or you’re someone who wants to lend your experience and expertise to us in devising network-wide programs … we welcome you.

To get a more full understanding of the Community 3.0 Front Porch concept, please read the post, Front Porches.Also please follow us on Twitter at @Community3_0, and check out the main 3.0 web site.

And when you’re ready – please comment below, tell us who you are and how you think you can better the 3.0 community.


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