The Norwegians have a word dugnad can best be described as a type of civic and communal mindset where people get together and volunteer to fix, clean, paint or tidy things up for the betterment of their community. Dugnads are organized in neighborhoods, blocks of flats, at summer homes, marinas, mountain cabins even at schools and especially places of work. It can be summed up as a time of coming together and contributing.
Recently the World Economic Forum released a study ranking countries on their ability to convert economic growth into well-being for their citizens. Norway came out on top. While there are many reasons for this, I’m sure no small one is their focus on community engagement in the form of dugnads.
Community 3.0 connects local businesses to its customers by solving their community’s problems directly. These are our version of the Norwegian dugnad. I call these participating businesses, Front Porches. They are hubs of civic involvement and volunteerism. Imagine a social hub where like-minded can come together under no condition of hierarchy or pre-determined authority to just do good for the community we all live in.
A community’s Front Porches give it its personality; and a big part of this personality are its businesses. How a community wishes to be seen, felt and portrayed is dependent a large part on how it supports its business ecosystem.
The key to making all this happen is not through existing channels and the status quo – but rather through a network of outliers. Outliers have always been the ones to make change, to innovate and move society to the next level. But the answer is not to tear down. The solution is creating a new system, a new society, that runs parallel to the existing one … “a society within a society.” This new society will be the ones of ideas and inclusion, not one of maintaining the existing power structure. This new society of outliers is us, Community 3.0. By uniting ourselves and those around us – we will be able to create a community that is inclusive and built for and by everyone … not just those tasked with protecting the status quo and those embedded in it.
This “society within society” built around its Front Porches is the agenda and purpose of Community 3.0.
An integral part of the Front Porch network is the bleedingEDGE Experience Platform. The platform is the marketing conduit that connects the Front Porch (Merchant), the customer and their community. It is Community 3.0’s loyalty vehicle designed to help create the customer experiences and memories that will give local businesses the competitive advantage.
Solutions and Community Well-being
Each business or Front Porch on the network will sponsor Solutions as part of their involvement in the Community 3.0 network. These Solutions are designed to fix the problems and take advantage of the opportunities in your community that too often are left unaddressed by our traditional institutions. They can range from organizing a cleanup effort, to fixing a playground, to even spearheading a high school mentoring or apprentice program. And by being a Member, you can get involved with whatever Solution fits your strengths and fits your desires. Community 3.0 transforms our businesses into ones that you would be ashamed NOT to do business with … something no box store or chain store can compete with.
Fundamental to Community 3.0 is concept of individual and collective community well-being. Our goal as a society should be to improve the human condition of all the populace. The Front Porch network and volunteer Solutions they organize are a big part of this. But we don’t stop there. Imagine if you had a virtual assistant that gathered possible ways you could engage with your body, your mind and socially with your community. And imagine if these were sorted, prioritized and through messaging motivated you accordingly. These messages could be based on advice from your doctor, your relationships with your neighborhood small businesses or even alerting you of volunteer opportunities. Your notifications, whether they be via text or email, would be your conduit to engaging with the environment around you.
Step one to becoming part of the Community 3.0 network is to create your own virtual engagement assistant. This assistant, or bot, we call Melvin. Fundamental to becoming part of the Community 3.0 network is identifying with the pursuit of well-being. Melvin is your vehicle to well-being and physical, mental and social fitness. Consider it your well-being bot. What you call your version of Melvin is completely up to you. And what it, he or she looks like is also up to you. Regardless of the form or identity your Melvin takes, it’ll be what connects you to your community to help the you navigate the road to engagement, self-efficacy, empowerment and well-being.
Below are several possible Solution options your Front Porch can use to improve your community. These are only a few of the potential ways you can make an impact though. You are limited only by your imagination.
- “Label the Town” ~ Community “places of interest” labeling
- “Pretty Pictures on the Wall” ~ Amateur art showings
- “Is it Art” ~ Vacant area art projects: art, music, theatrical
- “Showing our Stuff” ~ Street fairs
- “Recess Time” ~ Playground restoration
- “Help Me … I’m Dirty” ~ Public and private space clean-up
- “Stop and Smell the Roses” ~ Public and private space beautification
- “Fixing the Neighborhood” ~ Neighborhood renewal and repair
- “Hey … We Need Some Help Over Here” ~ “On-demand” help services
- “Apollo 13 … Please Come Home” ~ Community “Resource Maximization”
- “Pop-up Community” ~ Vacant building resource maximization
- “I’m Not Alone Anymore” ~ Elderly and shut-in well-being assistance
- “Get Out of the House” ~ Adult athletic and intelligence leagues
- “Love Comes From the Ground” ~ Community gardens and farmers market
- “Play Ball” ~ Youth sports and intelligence leagues
- “Getting Up to Speed” ~ Student tutoring
- “This is What I Think … ” ~ Youth writing project
- “Making the Transition” ~ Apprenticeships and school transition assistance
- “Leadership 2020 Anti-Congress” ~ Student assembly
Think of a synergistic mixing bowl of opportunity; obliquitous, indirect, organic relationship building. Now imagine organizing a set of gatherings where this serendipity is on the menu. While there’s no guarantee your group will change the world – increasing that chance through proximity of diverse thought and motivation sure increases its chance. For arguments sake let’s call your gathering, Serendipity. Serendipity could be a petri dish for how to solve your community’s civic and social problems directly rather than through government. It would be the platform for inclusion and experimental benevolence.