Tsunami on the Prairie

As the adage goes, if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it’ll jump out. But if you put that same frog in a pot of room temperature water and gradually heat the water, the frog will stay in the pot until it’s cooked. As the current disaster in Houston plays out, the response we’ll see will be like the “frog in the boiling pot.” There’s no disputing those affected by the hurricane have major problems, but they’re acting even as you’re reading this to put things back together.

I live in Montana, a rural state. We are facing demographic issues that are the textbook definition of “the frog in the room-temperature water” (actually more warm now) and the burner is on. Minor statistical changes from year to year receive little more than a note in the back third of an article in the newspaper. But what these statistics tell us is irrefutable. Rural populations are skewing older and for the most part people are living longer. And with living longer comes more health issues, especially chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart conditions. Combine that with fact the overall population of rural America (all ages) is not increasing. In other words, there is and will be more people who will need care – and fewer people to do the caring.

If those demographic realities weren’t enough, we have the actions (or should I say lack of actions) by governmental entities in rural states. Most rural states are run by politicians hell-bent on low taxes and not spending money. Their older constituents increasingly have more needs and their representatives are more concerned with maintaining an ideology that placates the most vocal (and often extreme) members of their party. Too often these unmet needs result in despair, depression and isolation. Being old and geographically spread out is a bad combination and a prescription for mental maladies. In fact isolation is now the number one health issue in America amongst the elderly. And it’ll get worse if we don’t confront it head on. What rural America is seeing is an increase in demand for the exact services that are being cut and de-prioritized.

Even if state and local governments aren’t going to provide adequate assistance for this increasing needy segment of the population – at least it wouldn’t it be prudent to help create the environments required to attract the young people needed to assist the elderly – regardless of their ability to pay? Not only do they provide the bulk of caregivers (along with those of diverse ethnic backgrounds), the civic amenities young people value are the exact ones that benefit an aging population, whether they support them or not. For example: farmers markets and ample produce championed by Millennials are crucial to well-being later in age: and parks and common areas provide the activities and stimuli needed to counter both physical and cognitive decline.

Unfortunately most governments in rural towns and cities don’t make attracting Millennials (and immigrants) a priority. In fact, often their actions have the opposite affect. In Billings, Montana, where I live – the city government refuses to pass a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) to protect the rights of gay people. Gay rights are probably the number one issue for Millennials, regardless of their own sexual preference. It shows a community values inclusion. “We’re all different in some way and if the community we lives in hates one person for their difference, who’s to say tomorrow they won’t hate me for mine.”  Any city who chooses to go down this path of discrimination (regardless of the bogus rationalization) will do so at their own peril … all while their “old people” will have no one to take care of them. Not only will new young talent not want to move in … the top talent that was raised there will be lining up for tickets on the first bus out of town. What will be left is a community of hate and exclusion, with the few outliers who haven’t or can’t leave, being pushed into the shadows to scavenge any civic crumbs left by the so-called city leaders. Welcome to the slow-burn of a dystopia in the making.

What I described above is a Perfect Storm facing rural communities throughout America; thus the title of this piece, “Tsunami on the Prairie.” Not all is dire though. We can still get out of the pot before it’s too late. But our biggest obstacle is ourselves, led by those we’ve put in positions of power and influence: those we too often rely on to map our futures. Much like the road to recovery for any addict, step one is acknowledging that’s there’s a problem. Rural America, and I speak specifically to where I live, can’t afford to ignore the ominous clouds rolling in. These clouds and what they bring won’t just pass over. They’ll keep coming until there’s little left.

Abandon small town

Once we accept our demographic destiny and that fact our political malfeasance can’t continue – we can begin the battle. It’s a battle that will require all hands in the community to work together, regardless of ideology or political affiliation. It’ll require we focus on inclusion and the embrace of outliers, those different than us. We don’t know where the next Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Jennifer Lawrence or Chance the Rapper will come from. But chances are they’ll be the ones who were disenfranchised and looked at with indifference. These are the people who will have the ideas we need and drive to put them in play. As Albert Einstein famously said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” And much of the time this same thinking comes from the same people we too often rely on. To face this Perfect Storm, your community will need new ideas and new people to rise in the heat of battle.

Working from the title of this piece, we can change one word to describe our game plan, “Well-being on the Prairie.” The basis of this initiative is to improve the human condition of our community. The plight of the elderly in rural areas may be the impetus for this … but the benefits of it will be seen by all regardless of age or any other demographic characteristic. The following road map is not meant to be catch-all solution – but rather a template for you and your community to create your own map. I don’t know where you want to go, how far down the road you are or what lies up ahead. Only you and your neighbors know that. I’m just giving you some ideas how to draw the map.


“Well-being on the Prairie”

A lot of my direction in life now comes from my previous experiences as a headhunter. Over fifteen I entered the lives of hundreds if not thousands of employment candidates of various professions, as well as their families. I heard about their dreams and goals … as well as the hurdles they’d overcome to get to where they are. From these stories I helped them map out their journeys professionally – and personally. Centered in Los Angeles at the time, the sheer diversity of people and experiences I was exposed to was invigorating. I learned the lessons of journeys from all over the world and used them to help others on their journeys. And at the center of these recruiting efforts was the database I created that archived these people and their stories.

As we develop “Well-being on the Prairie,” we too will start with a database, one that will contain the people of your community – you and your neighbors. Some you know, but most will be strangers. It won’t easy putting this together (no matter how comprehensive) – but without it, our other efforts will mean little. The raw gems and hidden talent in your community is exactly that – hidden. These people are not the ones that hold the directors’ seats in your community, whether they be on the symphony or the hospital boards. To face this Perfect Storm, your community will need new ideas and new people to rise in the heat of battle.

The Norwegians have a word, dugnad – that 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. Dugnadsare organized in neighborhoods, at summer homes, marinas, even at schools and especially places of work. It can be summed up as a time of coming together and contributing. In America one can see these dugnads as being small businesses or what I call Front Porches. This network of local merchants, their employees and their patrons are the people who want to change the status quo; people who want to pull the best from those around them and make it the future … not just look for differences. These Front Porches, while now probably just local hangouts, will be become hubs of civic engagement and volunteerism.

In addition to the customers of participating Merchants, your talent pool should also include the rosters of local non-profit organizations (NGOs) that have expressed their desire to be part of the solution. Of course these contacts will be included only after an opt-in permission process.

The cornerstone tenet of “Well-being on the Prairie” is the abolishment of silos, figuratively speaking. We can keep the ones with grain and corn in them – but not the ones that keep people and ideas isolated. This silo breaking of myopic exclusionary thinking has to also extend to healthcare providers and schools. It’s time healthcare providers realize the community is part of the solution to health and well-being. And our schools (public, private and colleges) are tasked with readying our community’s future talent pool. Why aren’t they connecting the elderly with their student creating an invaluable experience for both of them? It’s time to hold them all accountable. Their silos of the status quo must fall.

Indians have an expression called jugaad – meaning an innovative fix using few resources. While this thinking may conjure up the enterprising street merchant, the meaning is often used to signify the creativity needed to make existing things work or to create new things with meager resources. The definition of our resources today is no longer those that we have been given or directly control, but those around us we can access (e.g. the sharing economy). But this only works if we have the mindset to see it that way, and the resourcefulness to access it. It’s imperative the our rural communities adopt this thinking … especially when it comes to human resources.

The Front Porch’s primary role is to identify community Solutions projects, whether they be in response to needs or opportunities. These Solutions are designed to help your community pick up the slack and mend its societal safety net as well as lead it into the future. They can range from organizing a cleanup effort, to fixing a playground, to even spearheading a high school mentoring or apprentice program. And most of all – these Solutions can be directed towards helping the elderly.

Imagine creating a program – call it: “I’m Not Alone Anymore.” This program, based out of a local business or Front Porch, would assist an elderly person with not only their physical needs but also provide emotional support by giving them an avenue back into the community. Even if just means a weekly visit for a cup of coffee … these people will no long be feel isolated … or alone.

Helpers (customers and employees) will organize through community network of Front Porches (local businesses). The first step will be to identify the elderly (Clients) needing that little extra help (physically or just emotionally). They can be found directly or through referrals. Each Client will be entered into a central database that Helpers will have access to. The database will include information such as contact information, medicines, favorite foods and activities, and anything else that can be used by the Helper to improve the lives of the Client. Also included will be contact activity data; date of last visit, schedule date of next visit and relevant information concerning these dates. The database will also provide an informed point of reference for anyone that might have to step in for the primary Helper should they not be able to visit. 

At the core of “I’m Not Alone Anymore.” is Community 3.0‘s bleedingEDGE Engagement Platform. Think of the bleedingEDGE as the Amazon of community engagement – a database of community members that breaks down silos and connects your community’s resources … most of all its people. This will be accomplished via the 1-to-1 communication functionality of the bleedingEDGE platform. Imagine all components of your community: small businesses, healthcare providers and other well-meaning organizations, all acting in concert to improve the collective human condition of your community, especially for the elderly. With this increased engagement additional relationships will be created helping to combat the deadly isolation that has infected our communities, rural and urban alike.

Imagine the bleedingEDGE platform as a virtual assistant that gathers possible ways you could engage with your body, your mind and socially with your community. And imagine if these were automatically sorted, prioritized and messaged you accordingly. These messages could be advice from your doctor, or notifications from your neighborhood small businesses alerting you of volunteer opportunities. Your notifications would be your conduit to engaging with the environment around you. And a big part of this engagement would be directed towards helping your most needy neighbors … in many cases the elderly. Consider you and your fellow community members seamstresses who have taken it upon themselves to mend your social safety net.

For a more in-depth discussion of how the bleedingEDGE Engagement Platform and the health concepts of Salutogenesis can significantly improve the well-being of your community see the Melvin Initiative.

What if we designed our communities around the idea of maximizing engagement. The more engaged our residents are … the more empowered they would be. They would feel more in control of their health and their futures. Imagine if a chance to engage, whether it was physical, mental or social was just around the corner. And what if opportunities to help others realize the same were part of the fabric our daily lives. What if our physical security and well-being was not dependent on government assistance or the whims of a fickle market driven economy. What if our neighborhood was our safety net, a safety net that knew best in our time of need. And what if the streets of our community became melting pots of serendipity – places where curiosity was bred and benevolence was the norm. And what if engagement, well-being and self-efficacy was how a community measured itself, not obtuse economic activity often distorted through the one-dimensional filter of irrelevant statistics.

From this hands-on street-level altruism will come your community’s vision – a Vision Map of sorts. You and your neighbors will see directly what’s needed and what works, rather than blindly following a plan cobbled together by elected officials who may or may not be qualified vote on such a plan – let alone construct one. From devising and implementing Solutions, your community will find out who the true leaders are – not just the ego-driven politicians. You will see who is tirelessly mission-driven and able inspire those around them to be the same. You’ll see expertise and imagination come from the least likely places. You’ll build your community’s talent pool, rather than continually leaning on the same people time after time, board member after board member.

Consider this map a guide of sorts for an evolved society … the society I call Community 3.0. To achieve this evolution I suggest you adopt six tenets and engrain them in your community’s personality. These tenets will be your basis for a new societal framework:

  • Inclusive and empathetic: The basis of any community is its human capital. Every member of the community is unique and adds to fabric of the community. Everyone has something to offer and everyone should be heard – no matter their age or social standing. It’s up to us as neighbors to find that offering and help nurture it.
  • Stimulating and mentally healthy: Engagement leads to cerebral development and critical thinking. These are the basis of a healthy sustainable community. Sitting idly by and leaning on the crutches of ideology only serves to exclude and limit the potential of the collective.
  • Physically healthy: Without our physical health, nothing else really matter. And no matter how much individual effort is undertaken, we all have to interact with our physical environment. If our environments are toxic, they will undermine all else. It is the responsibility of the community to provide serendipitous opportunities that will enhance and persuade us to live healthy and stay physical fit.
  • Socially serendipitous: Our communities in themselves must be opportunities for spontaneous engagement. It’s these unexpected encounters with aquantinances and strangers alike that stretch our minds and jump-start our creative processes. Whenever possible all components of our community must encourage these engagements.
  • Sustainable: By definition, sustainability enables continued existence. In order for a community to sustain itself, its people need to be environmental stewards and make decisions not for just today, but for generations in the future. Feeding a community’s talent pipeline is not a luxury … it’s mandatory.
  • Economically balance: All too often a community evaluates itself solely through economic revenue numbers. The more money that flows into a community the better, so it goes. But a more accurate assessment is to look at the disbursement and equality of this revenue amongst its residents and whether it stays in the community. Corporate chain and box store benefit few except those residing in the ivory towers of Wall Street.

None of this is revelationary. This is not a magic pill that will make everything and everyone in your community better. What this is a wake up call. We’ve laid out your clothes and turned on the coffee pot. And maybe we’ve even started your car and got it warm for you. But it’s up to you to get to work and make it happen. Too often we stare at our cable news channels obsessing over the government and who we should or should have votes for. We expect the government to heal whatever ails us. You’d think we’re locked in medieval times living a serf-like existence dependent on the scraps our lords in the towers above toss out to us. Instead I offer an alternative – one of collective self-determination, altruism and a self-transcendent focus on our neighbors.

Ironically some of the most independent people in the country, people who are used to back-breaking work in the cruelest of weather have no qualms complaining the government isn’t giving them enough. I see it and hear it everyday. It’s easy to affix blame when we see others prosper in comparison to us (whatever that reason may be). And much of the blame is directed towards those on the coasts. Whether or not rural areas are short-changed is not the issue; even though statitistics show it’s probably the latter. But still we have to blame someone. But for those of us who live in small or rural communities – the luxury of blame isn’t an option. Neither is circling the wagons and focusing on how far back our rural lineage goes. You’d think the generationally deeper our rural roots go – supposedly the more worthy we are of living here. It’s this thinking (if you call it that) that hastens the demise of the very communities we so ardently aim the protect. 

Our real enemy, the tsunami of demographics and governmental malfeasance rural America faces, is banking on the fact that we will continue think outsiders and the ideas they bring are the demons coming the change our idyllic lifestyle firmly rooted in the past. We must prove this storm wrong … or we will perish in our myopic naiveté.

Chris for Syracuse Game Plan

This plan will be continually updated … 

Stage One: signatures

  • “Sharing the Vision:”
    • Create a “Vision for Syracuse” page that can posted and shared online (assuming you haven’t already.
      • Convey your vision in a story. The first page of the Community 3.0 website here gives you a little idea on how I approached it. You want to leave the vision open for imagination as much as possible. Everyone will have their own idea of what the community should be. Keep the focus as micro as possible. Even though you’re running for mayor of Syracuse, you’re really going to be a mayor of a community constituting of neighborhoods. Keep the vision as close to home as possible.
      • Bullet point the tactics you want to use (i.e peacemaking, biking, pop-ups, etc.). This is the place for input from the residents (especially the connectors Alliance – see “Building the Alliance” below).
    • Post online and share via social media outlets
  • “Building the Alliance”
    • Identify 10 to 15 connectors (from Malcolm Gladwell)
    • Share the “vision” by using ‘we’ rather than I. 
    • Create defined goals for each connector using deadlines:
      • 1200 total signatures by evening Sunday, June 11
      • Individual goals for each connector. Discuss their plan to achieve goals. Create a plan together, even meeting other members of their team if possible.
      • Collect signature petitions partially the way through (example 40 at a time)
      • Everything is about sense of urgency – not daily, but hourly
    • Create “triadic relationships” that work for you on their own.
    • If possible hold an organizing meeting for your connectors to build momentum to the Sunday deadline and beyond to the election. The goal should be to gather input from them also (especially in the initial stages of the campaign). You want this election to be about them, their businesses and their futures. The more vested interest they have – the more they’re going to work with you. It will also provided you with an incredible team to work with when you implement “the vision.”
  • “Gathering the Signatures”
    • Get the petition out in the hands of your connectors (10 to 15) by end of day on Tuesday, June 6 – including having strategy meetings with each.
    • Make daily (or least every other day) progress calls on signature gathering efforts. Make sure there’s at least a “set call” within 24 hours to make sure they have set up their team. Set the bar high on for timing.
    • Social media activity:
      • Make as interactive as possible.
      • use #hashtags 
      • Solicit input for the community vision (see “Building the Alliance”
      • Call for signature gathering volunteers and referrals
      • Announce informal pop-up gathering at your connectors places (show the love). Refer them to connectors to sign the petition
      • Always push the message out there for post-election activity. To not get the signatures isn’t even a thought.

Stage Two: the campaign (to be continued)

Stage Three: implementing “The Vision” via bottom-up Front Porch civic engagement

Community 3.0 Blog


I invite you to start by delving into my ideas in the series, On the Road to Your Community’s Perfect World,” This is how I believe we can create better, more inclusive, unique communities that can become the solution to our society’s pressing issues. Consider each week’s post a Mile Marker (MM), a cerebral off-ramp from the highway of your daily routine, taking a you little further down this road to a better version of society.

Building Community Through Sustainable Student Engagement


“Creating communities for the future created by those of the future”

That seems like common sense. Shouldn’t those who will live in the future have a say in what is looks like? Pathetically so, seldom do they. On the contrary, the future normally is designed by those near or at retirement age often mirroring what the past was like seen through their rose-colored glasses. Young people, especially those not yet of voting age, seldom get a say in the matter. Minors are looked at more as pieces of property with few rights rather as than active civic participants with voices to be heard.

Everywhere communities systematically lose their “best and brightest” as they graduate and go off to college. This is especially problematic in rural areas. Communities can only hope they will return or they can recruit other communities’ “best and brightest” to fill their pipeline. Communities attempt to…

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“Let’s Clean Up the World!”

When I started the Community 3.0 project a few years my goals was to synthesize community civic empowerment with organic small business development. In doing that I proposed the concept of turning locally owned businesses into a concept I termed “Front Porches.” A Front Porch was a hub for informal community gatherings designed to promote civic engagement through volunteerism. I created examples of twenty projects, or Solutions, a Front Porch could create to serve its community. These projects included both solving the problems that had fallen through the cracks or taking advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.

The Solution that always seemed to gravitate to the front of my consciousness was“cleaning up the community.” Clean up efforts also seemed to be the one thing everyone could coalesce upon. No one wants their neighborhoods littered with unsightly garbage. Plus before anything else can be done – you need a clean slate … a platform to build on, literally and figuratively.

Do you ever walk past that vacant lot and wonder what could be … what could be if someone did something, anything. If someone just cleaned it up, that would be a start. But then, who knows what we could make it. And maybe if this vacant lot became something – something beautiful, then maybe it would catch on. In 1982, James Wilson and George Kelling wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly titled “Broken Windows.” Here’s an example from the article:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.

This article became the basis on the “Broken Windows Theory.” In 1994 Bill Bratton became the New York City Police Commissioner under Rudy Giuliani.  A cornerstone of Bratton’s reign was the implementation of the  “Broken Windows” philosophy in New York. A portion of the police budget was put towards the clean-up of neighborhood in high-risk crime areas, including repairing broken windows in abandoned buildings. Bratton even went so far as to repaint subway cars each night if they had been “tagged” during operation that day. Every car left the terminal the next morning “clean.”

“Help Me … I’m Dirty” is Community 3.0‘s version of implementing the“Broken Windows” philosophy through its network of Front Porches. Its premise is that a when a community has a clean environment, free from debris, vandalism and of course broken windows … it has a much higher likelihood of staying that way. It’s a start to all other things a community can do to better itself and help its residents to realize their “Perfect Worlds.”

Lets Do It WOrld logo

Let’s Do It! World

A couple of months ago I was tagged on a Facebook post by David Wilson,Do NGOs Still Have a Right to Exist?“ The topic of the post centered around the lack of scrutiny we put on no-profits and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on where and how they spend the money we give them. Seldom is there any public discussion on the effectiveness of the strategic and tactically operations.

I decided to comment; but little did I know that comment turned into one of those moments of serendipity that may prove to be a pivotal point in my life. As I was writing, another comment one popped up right in front me. Rather than finishing mine, I stopped and decided to read the comment that appeared first. That comment was from you Kadi Henk from the Estonia based NGO, Let’s Do It! World.” Kadi is their Director of Partnerships, and one of the core members of the organization.

Let’s Do It! World is a civic-led mass movement that began in Estonia in 2008 when 50,000 people united together to clean up the entire country in just five hours. Since then, Let’s Do It! has spread this model—one country in one day—around the world. To date, 112 countries and 14 million people have joined us to clean up illegal waste.

On September 8, 2018, World Cleanup Day, people in 150 countries will stand up against the global trash problem, making it the biggest positive civic action the world has seen. Imagine a powerful “green wave” starting in Japan and ending in Hawaii with hundred of millions of people taking positive action together on the very same day.

Let’s Do It! World has never been only about cleaning up waste. We also aim to unite the global community, raise awareness and implement true change to achieve our final goal– a clean and healthy planet.

Kadi’s response was articulate, and considering the topic of the post – very elegantly non-defensive. Personally, I don’t think I could have articulated the way she did without “throwing out some attitude.” Without even finishing my comment, which meant I had to open another Facebook tab – I had to find out who you Kadi was. And once I did, I sent a “friend” request. Within minutes you not only accepted, but ask for a LinkedIn “connection” and messaged me requesting we talk about collaboration possibilities. We did a few days later … and now I’m spearheading the efforts in the United States for Let’s Do It! World.

Be a Shepherd

It’s time for us all to assume a new role, a new place for us in our communities and in the world. It’s not enough to just agree the status quo isn’t working and move on expecting someone else will fix it. We must assume the responsibility ourselves. We must be the guides. In his brilliant piece from 2011, “From Patterns of Emergent Cities: 1. The Founder,” Seb Paquet gives us, those who must be the shepherds, a philosophical guide to what we must provide those in our communities.

A departure: an escape route from the old and tired, into an open space with few constraints;

A sense of possibility— the promise of a new freedom he has had a glimpse of, but has not yet experienced;

Mystery, adventure, and challenge— an experience; danger, even!

An opportunity to contribute his unique talents towards creating something meaningful that, in his eyes, deserves to exist;

And finally, the chance to design a new ‘home’, a new life for ourselves and others.

This departure from “the old and tired” of the our current civic malaise must be replaced not with just new faces; because the problems lie much deeper than just “who.” The problems stem from decades of systemic decay of an institution never designed to solve all that ail the 300,000,000 of us alone in the Unite States. The foundation of all society (both here and abroad) must rest on the underpinnings of direct civic participation and “sweat equity.” And by participation I mean volunteerism – whether that “sweat equity” be manual labor, expertise or organization.

Now is the time … and a perfect place to start is cleaning up our communities by joining me in the Let’s Do It! World effort. Even though Let’s Do It! is a worldwide ambition, my focus is here in the United States. America is big place, in all context, so please help me. We have a little over two years to put this together … but in a country of over 330 million people – there’s no time to waste. Our goal is to clean every neighborhood and community in the country. And while doing this I intend to create a platform to build on. Imagine this platform as a network of Front Porches and the clean up will be just the start. Because once we have the platform and network of grassroots civic empowerment – reliance on government dysfunction and juvenile political squabbling will be a memory.

I’m looking for individuals that are ready to transform their respective neighborhoods, cities, and the world by taking on the following roles. Roles correspond to geographic locales or as I call them – Nodes.

Each Census defined Micropolitan area (ranging between 15,000 and 150,000 and averaging about 50,000) will be a designated Node and will have a project leader or Community Empowerment Concierge (CEC) coordinating the efforts. Census defined Metropolitan Areas, being larger, will be Node segmented per 150,000 people, sub-divided by county (or further if necessary).


Think of the Director as the one casts the production, only the production is a multi-community engagement platform. I’m looking for five Directors. Each Director will be responsible for identify and recruiting leaders(CECs) for each community Node. Once these CECs are in place the Directors will be responsible for training and overseeing their efforts. The Director positions are core members of Community 3.0 and their input on all matters is not only welcomed … but expected.

Community Empowerment Concierge (CEC)

A CEC is the local leader. Each designated Node (approximately 3000 nationwide) will be led by a CEC. He or she is the catalyst, or concierge to community and neighborhood engagement. Their main role is set up and organize Front Porches, normally in the community’s locally owned businesses, but not exclusively. Once set up, these Front Porches will act as launching pads community direct action volunteer projects, or Solutions. The CEC will also assist these Merchant Front Porch in installing the 3.0 Contributor Experience Platform. The platform is Community 3.0‘s proprietary 1-to-1 marketing and loyalty program designed specifically for locally owned small and medium-sized  businesses.

Once set up, the CEC will be the one to keep “stoking the fire” of civic altruistic momentum. The first order of business will be community clean-up organized in conjunction with the worldwide efforts of Let’s Do It! World.

James Rizzi - Summer in the City

Leave person, every place and everything better off from you being there

We will discuss how compensation works for both the Director and CEC position upon contact. However, involvement in this project of societal evolution should not be determined by monetary compensation alone. We are looking for people who are cause driven and want to make the world a better place. However cliché that might sound, it’s imperative. The motto that underpins everything we do is: “Leave person, every place and everything better off from you being there.” You must want to be part of something that is only as big as the people involved and at the same time is only limited by our imaginations. You have to want to create something that can change society from the ground up … with you being one of the underpinning cornerstones. It’s this network and foundation that we build that will support not only the Let’s Do It! World project, but many other altruistic ones … possibly even one you are currently working on. Community 3.0 is a platform for everyone’s contribution and a vehicle to realize dreams and aspiration.

I ask for your help. Who do you think would be interested in this opportunity – colleague, a friend, a family member or even a student? Do you happen to know anyone who’s cramped in his or her job – someone who’s great but hasn’t been given the opportunity to do great work? Someone who’s stuck in a situation that feels like a job instead of a career? We need someone with drive and willingness to learn, and above all … a commitment to making things better.

And as I mentioned above – join me and, Make every person, every place and everything better off from you being there. This would be a great way to do it.


Please direct your referrals, ideas and questions to clayforsberg@gmail.com.

The Millennials Rising “Anti-Congress”


.The “Anti-Congress” is the assembly venue for “Millennial Rising.” It consists of the fifty members of “Millennials Rising” as well as Alliance members of the Community 3.0. On occasion a Community 3.0 Front Porch (Merchant), general Members and community media representatives will be allowed to sit in. But as a whole the meetings are closed. Gathering of the entire “Anti-Congress” will occur every month. Specific spin-off meetings will happen when needed depending on project load.

The purpose of “the “Anti-Congress” is to give the youth opportunity to bring in a different perspective to the issues of the community all not just the older generations. These younger generations will debate and present issues relevant to not only them but also the community as a whole. “Millennials Rising” members will present the world from through their eyes. And with the assistance of the Community 3.0 member Merchants, these issues will be addressed.

The assembly will be run by an elected “Millennials Rising” leader. The person will also set the agenda of the meeting. Meeting agenda will consist of the following:

  • current project status
  • future project brainstorming
  • acknowledgements
  • general current event discussion

Project details will be tracked and discussed when the “Anti-Congress” in the Coffee Shop” Google+ forum.

The attitude of the “Millennials Rising” and in turn the tone of the “Anti-Congress” will be pragmatic. The goal is action, not bureaucracy. “Millennials Rising” needs no government backing aside from specific project approval or permitting. As with Community 3.0 as a whole, our purpose is to accomplish the things that government and the other dysfunctional institutions either can’t or won’t. 

“Breeding Orion” … Build Don’t Tear Down


With the rise of Bernie Sanders, the socialist anti-capitalist rhetoric has surfaced again in the political arena. Only now it appears like it’s gaining traction. Sanders’ campaign, which in the past would be nothing more than an idealistic third-party run, has been a legitimate threat to the coronation of America’s first female president. Excuse my sarcasm but considering the Clinton legacy, it seems appropriate.

Screams of inequality and Sanders’ promises of universal healthcare and free college education for all has mobilized legions of young, male and female alike. I agree we have inequality. My #Occupy shirt has been worn so much it’s as much a part of me as my glasses and my morning yogurt. Still I don’t blindly follow campaign promises.

Ocupy shirt

We Must focus On The “How” … Not Just The “What”

My concern with Sanders stems from I believe in the “how” as much if not more than the

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Creating Successful Chaos Within a Well-Ordered Failure


“Our challenge is not bringing order to successful chaos but creating successful chaos within a well-ordered failure.” ~ Charles Marohn, ‘Strong Towns’

Collaboration, peer-to-peer participation and bottom-up empowerment all sounds good. And in theory … it is. The more democratic the process, the more responsive it should be. But responsiveness doesn’t necessarily translate into results. In the last piece, “Herding Cats,” organization of the masses by the masses can be exactly like that, “herding cats.” The key to any collective effort is having a defined mission that is generally agreed upon and then putting its implementation into play using a set process. In the case of Community 3.0 that mission is the physical, cerebral and spiritual well-being of your community.

Nurturing well-being by creating avenues and conduits for engagement is the road to this mission’s success. And hopefully through these efforts,the inherent benevolence of the members of your…

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The Art of Collaboration


“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Building the Front Porch: “The Where”

Establish the tone personality of your Front Porch. What causes will it focus on (i.e. education and mentoring, elderly outreach, civic cleanup, etc.). Name your Front Porch and even create a logo and a graphic identity. The more tangible it becomes … the more likely you’ll cement your participation after the initial wave of emotional momentum. By establishing at least a skeleton of focus, tangential time wasting should be held at a minimum – further reducing the potential for conflict and disengagement.

Your Front Porch must have Solutionist tone. Indians have an expression called jugaad – meaning an innovative fix using few resources. Look at everything and everyone as a resource that can be maximized. If there’s something you need that you don’t have in-house, don’t just buy it – barter for it if possible. Your Front Porch is bound to have something someone else or another Front Porch needs.

Your Front Porches can meet in various places. Being a host (whether at someone’s home or garage or at a local business) further inks levels of participation. “Switching things up” also builds out various locales and further integration of the neighborhood via serendipitous encounters. Front Porches are not physical locations but rather groupings of people brought together for a specific common goal.

Make your meeting times variable also. Not everyone who wants to participate has the same time demands on their schedule. Meetings at your Front Porch can be formally set or even spur of the moment. Imagine a “spur of the moment” Front Porch designed for a time-sensitive mini project or Quest. Notifications can be triggered by text or even location beacons if the Quest is location sensitive. Working and thinking at unconventional times of the day can also spur creativity – breaking one of the “sameness” of their normal time routine.


The Facilitator

“The chair is a position at centre of flows not a person – meritocracy falsely privileges the person.” Indy Johar

“Witness the paradox in decentralized organizations. As they become more decentralized, the CEO or ‘top’ leader exerts less and less formal authority in developing strategy, and managing its people and operations. However, simultaneously they have to play a vital, centralized role in ‘holding the space’ to ensure its progressive, decentralized practices do not regress back to a more traditional organizational model. Further, there appears to be clear evidence that the CEO in all the progressive organizations are highly visionary leaders and play a key role in setting the vision at the highest level. These organizations are ecosystems like rain forests, where ‘there is no single tree in charge of the whole forest.’ But clearly, the role of the founder or CEO is quite unlike any other, and the task of holding the space is vital for the health of the entire system. So in fact a decentralized organization isn’t truly decentralized.” (Resolving the awkward Paradox)

“Listening to the group, reflecting back and clarifying the tasks that are emerging is an act of service; and a skill that can be honed. Some people naturally have a knack for it. Scoping and assigning work, however, is just one of many important tasks— delegating doesn’t make you superior. Delegating also doesn’t always need to be done by the same person at all times. Those who have the capacity to manage task delegation need a break from it sometimes, so they can focus on the details level too.” (No Boss Does Not Mean No Leadership)

“In the absence of leadership, hidden hierarchies will emerge based on personal relationships, charisma and persuasiveness, and various flavors of privilege from wider social dynamics. A leadership vacuum results in ineffectiveness, interpersonal conflict, disempowerment, and burnout.” (No Boss Does Not Mean No Leadership)


Building the Team: “The Who”

“While most people believe that “the more brainpower in the room, the better;” there is much scientific proof emerging that the exact opposite is true. In fact, throwing more people at a problem is one of the most common productivity traps that we fall into. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos coined a “two pizza rule.” If a team couldn’t be fed with two pizzas, it was too big. People in smaller teams are far more productive. As group size rises, all sorts of issues spring up and individual performance levels diminish. The larger the team, the more relationships accumulate and the costs of coordinating these relationships sky-rocket.” (Small teams perform better

“Some of my most memorable projects included people with diverse skills who consistently complemented each other. Having people with skills and strengths that compliment each other reduces conflict, competition and motivates the team. For example, if you have someone who is strong in ideation or problem solving, you can complement that person with someone who is strong in execution or operations. A coherent team will build on each other’s strengths and cover for any weaknesses.” (Small teams perform better

The bleedingEDGE Experience Platform is the conduit connecting the Front Porch (merchant), the Contributor (customer) and their community. This “experience platform” is the communications vehicle for the Smooth Space described in the piece Jeet Kune Do, Rhizomes and the Community 3.0 Philosophy.” Tailored for specific situations and events –  each communication is customized to the Front Porch, personalized to each current customer or Contributor and sent via direct mail, email or even text – depending on the preference of the recipient. Everything is specifically timed to maximize its response and effectiveness. The goal of the platform is to solidify the loyalty bond between Front Porch and Contributor. Think of it like your community’s own customized Artificial Intelligence.

Collaboration isn’t a static endeavor. Not only are the relationships formed and the activities that result from it dynamic, so should be the individuals that operate within these collaborations. The Front Porch must be a vehicle for personal growth also. Attention must be paid to establishing and maintaining tolerance and empathy for fellow members of the group. Collaboration should be oriented towards more than just the accomplishment of the task … but also learning how to collaborate better. By developing individual skills, the group as a whole will prosper (as well as the 3.0 network).


Selecting the Solution: “The What”

Once the group (Front Porch) agrees on the project or Solution it wishes to undertake – execution can take place. Each Front Porch will have their own method of project selection however; and the method can change at will also. The process actually won’t normally be formal, since project opportunities can just pop up and generally agreed upon quickly. Create a narrative here, not so much rules – but just a feeling. 

Each gathering, formal or ad hoc, should incorporate a Menu of Conversation. The menu will often roll over from one gathering to the next. The gatherings are meant to be fluid, except for a rough pre-determined agenda items that may be time sensitive. By default, the “menu” can be set by either the leader of the group (Front Porch) or by the owner of the location where the meeting is being held – or anyone else designated by the Front Porch. The “menu” can even be set on a rotating basis. The goal should be not to centralize too much power (however formal or not) in the hands of a few. Diversity of thought, especially the initiation of ideas breeds renewed emotional momentum. The “Chalkboard” (what’s on the “menu”) reflects periodic (or ongoing) issue(s) or problem(s) to solve. Gatherings don’t have to include the items in conversation, but rather they’re always there marinating. Some items may represent macro issues, or tactical sub-plots. Situational or environmental changes within the group or even the community may dictate which items take priority at any given time.

Make effort to not get stuck in the trap of the “first bad idea.” Often what appears to be the right thing to do or the obvious way of doing it, is often just what’s always been done. Think twice before jumping and committing the precious resources of your Front Porch. Introducing outside influences to your Front Porch may give you a different perspective, especially if the Solution your group is pursuing focuses on a different demographic than that of those implementing it. For example: people who are financially secure will look at a problem through a different lens than those who are not sure where the next meal is coming from, or where they will spend the night, or if they will get work the next day that covers basic expenses. A good start is to incorporate demographic maps in your decision-making.

But before you give … think! How can I really make a difference in someone’s life this year? What can I do that extends past just the quarters, the bells and the Christmas dinner? “Walk that mile in someone’s shoes.” Talk to people outside your element, people you’d never associate with. Take a bus. Take a bus anywhere – especially to an area you’d never think about going to, and talk to people you’d never think about talking to. What would make their life a little more tolerable? Find out what would make their “Perfect World” a little closer. “Grow some empathy!” (Before you give … “Walk a mile in their shoes!”)

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. These example represent solutions to many common needs every community face. By no means is the roster comprehensive; but it’s a start.

Community 3.0 Solutions:


The Collaboration: “The How”

Once Solution for a collaboration is chosen, the process is essentially just a series of additive contributions. How these additions are made, which ones are allowed and when the process is completed is “The Art of Collaboration.”

“Aboriginal Australians had/have long-lasting oral narratives told to whole tribes. The story was ‘kept true’ by telling it in front of everyone (not have each player read it alone in their own time). You progress in your understanding of the intended meaning by asking the right questions and being referred to the next level of knowledge custodian.” (Neil Davidson)

The Minneapolis-based rap collective Doomtree is a case study in collaboration; going against a history in the genre where many would rather kill their peers than work them. For the record (literally and figuratively), this has changed in recent years – but still Doomtree is different. The five rappers who collaborate with the crew’s two DJs are forward-thinking in that they view the idea of hip-hop as a collaborative enterprise; and it is evident in the group’s work. To accomplish their desired result, they religiously abide by four axioms:

  • Check your ego: Most of the members have been in situations where rap is considered a competition. In fact Eminen’s famed psuedo-biopic, “Nine Mile” was all about how he used a rap competition to rise above his sordid upbringing. But in the end, as troupe member Sims says: “We’re a band … there’s no killing anyone else here.”
  • Get to where you need to get: This sounds mundane, but if everyone can’t get together – you can’t collaborate. And by getting together, you commit to it. It says this matters and “I’m prepared and willing to take the time.” In Doomtree’s case, “We end up driving a few hours from home, out of cell-phone service, like a cloistered jury or something,” Dessa says.
  • “Let’s get this done:” Once they’ve set up shop themselves, Doomtree doesn’t do a lot of waiting around. Once one of them throws out a good idea, whether it be a beat, a verse or rhyme – they run with it. Not having to be the one who starts it is liberating. “I don’t have to have a verse, or I can make my verse a little bridge. It’s freeing in a way,” Sims says. “I find it really fun—it allows me to be more playful and take more risks, because if they don’t work, I don’t care.”
  • Trust the collaboration: Trusting yourself and your collaborators, to know how to run with a creative instinct is a gift that comes with the freedom that this sort of process brings. And it’s something that is easiest to find when you’re not looking over your shoulder, or trying to hoard all of the elements you think you need to be great.

Would you rate yourself as a good collaborator?

  • Do you understand the unique value you bring to a project? Do others agree?
  • Do you resist documenting that unique value to stay unique?
  • Do you share expertise when asked without trying to take over or reinvent the entire project?
  • Do you get yourself up to speed before you contribute and try to understand why things are done that way?
  • Do you get the job done or go the extra mile to ensure it’s as good as it can be?
  • Do you work to build good relationships with other team members?
  • Do you adapt to other collaborators’ way of working or do you demand they adapt to you?
  • Do you clearly communicate when the project will be done and keep people updated?
  • Do you clearly identify everything you need in advance or drop challenges on others at the last minute?
  • Do you claim your time is more valuable than anyone else’s?
  • Do you notice and uncover when other collaborators are uncomfortable?
  • Do you listen and embrace feedback or do you resist and deny it?
  • Do you give unsolicited opinions before checking if they’re wanted?
  • Do you leave projects when you’re no longer needed?
  • Do you compromise your point of view when necessary for a team to complete a project?
  • Do you make other collaborators feel better about their work or do you bring them down to demonstrate your superiority?

Not everyone must participate all the time (initial project selection, additions and execution). And even if they do participate, the level of intensity will vary according to the project (depending on resources available and enthusiasm). Don’t cluster collaboration members by activity levels. And contribution should not depend on rank or status. “Immediate or situational rank” should be dependent on ones expertise on the issue current at hand. If the parameters which the initial draft are acceptable to a ‘contributor’ then they can input and join in: An example of this is documented in the piece “Everything Can Change Except Values” about the dynamics at Apple. In the 3.0 case, the base tenets must stay in place. If a potential ‘contributor’ can’t abide with the tenets established by the Front Porch (in accordance to those set by Community 3.0), then they will have to move on.

Create a Serendipity portal (web page) that allows a Member to virtually walk around town and experience different action opportunities prodding them to leave the house. View it kind of like entering portal of secret door in a video game. Every Front Porch will have offer a different opportunity. Everyone is always welcome; bridging the societal chasms. The Serendipity portal should be set up like a menu (not like a meeting). Even though the collaborative activities will occur physically at the Front Porch, that doesn’t mean virtual collaboration shouldn’t be done also. On the contrary, social media and virtual community gathering tools are invaluable.


“Herding cats” … 

I hate to deviate from my normal utopian outlook, but I can’t stress enough that a transition to a participatory society won’t be easy. America’s founding fathers proclaimed democracy is a messy endeavor. And one where “the people” actually do the work will be even more so.

However well intended collaborations are to represent equality of views, they almost inevitably end in creating bottlenecks among top contributors. Often little gets done without getting run past these informal leaders. Special effort must be made so the most active and overburdened collaborators know how to filter and prioritize tasks and requests. They have to know it’s alright to say no (or to allocate only half the time requested). And maybe best of all, encourage them to make an introduction to someone else when the request doesn’t draw on their own unique contributions. (insight gained from Collaboration Overload)

Another obstacle is the fact that the “deep thinking” needed to bring a project to fruition is a solitary task can further contribute to the inefficiency of the process. Collaborators need to know when to collaborate and when to remove themselves from “the party” and burrow down and get cerebral.

And then we have the collaboration “time drain.” More collaborations mean more meetings. And more meetings mean more time spent in meetings and less time actually doing the work. Even though the social aspect of collaborative efforts is important, having meetings for the sake of having meetings shouldn’t be the default action. Just because it’s a collaboration … doesn’t mean it automatically needs a meeting. Make the time together worth everyone’s time. Collaborations should be synergistic … not antagonistic.

Not everyone flourishes under a system self-determination though. Gabriela Krupa illustrates this on her experience with Holacracy:

“I caught myself in a paradox: I’m happy to have leeway in my work and be able to do things as I see fit, but at the same time I would appreciate someone who could point me in the right direction: ‘this is right, just continue that way’ or ‘change direction, you can do better.’ I caught myself looking for confirmation that my choices and actions were right, wanted, or useful for my colleagues.” Just because open or flat organization don’t have a formal management structure, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t set up informal mentoring arrangements. In fact making a concerted effort to mentor in the informal settings can work much better than formal hierarchical management relationships.”

“Even if we abandon the idea of a static centralized hub, we can nonetheless still see it as creating a centralizing force. Those who volunteer to be delegates get the opportunity to form bonds with people across the city and in different campaigns, that those who choose to operate only in the local groups would miss out on. This can have the effect of increasing the communication power of those dedicated individuals, without it translating into greater power throughout the whole network.” (Imagining social movements)

In the end, collaboration is nothing more than communication. How do we create the foundation for collaborative, civil conversations, moderator participation, appreciate everyone’s contribution and reduce the influence of charismatic people (or get their help leveling the playing field) – should be the ultimate goal of the Front Porch and specifically that of the group moderator. (Mazzi Partners)


Execution: “Rubber to the Road”

It’s not enough not identify a problem and figure out the solution, that solution has to be implemented. Community 3.0‘s Front Porch Solution formula provides a guide for this. But above all Community 3.0 is about “resource maximization.” Or as the Indians call it, jugaad: “making do with very little.”

Solution template: 

  • objective
  • target market and marketing strategy to reach them
  • resources needed
  • resources currently at hand
  • resources yet to get and where are they going to come from
  • agenda / timetable (including drop dead date)
Solution Guidelines:
  • every Solution is compose of multiple components – and should be considered a project on their own with its own endpoint
  • make each Solution component small enough to get a handle on (i.e. tutoring for a single school)
  • multiple Front Porches (Merchants) can work on a common Solution and components allocated accordingly
  • practice “resource maximization” – barter, trade as much as possible (include multiple participant trades)
  • layout agenda for each Solution (including components) including resource requests (labor, materials, etc.)
  • Solutions will tracked and manged through the Community 3.0 Google+ Coffee House group for the specific Node (city or town)
  • Community 3.0 will support Merchant Solution projects with 1:1 marketing efforts as part of the Community 3.0 Contributor Experience Platform
  • involve collaborators in determining projects based on strengths of the Front Porch (Merchant and Member) – access information through the Community 3.0 “Helper” data base

“Front Porches”


Graham Nash (the Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) has described Cass Elliot (the Mamas and Papas) as “the Gertrude Stein of Laurel Canyon”—that she had a “salon” similar to the one at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris in the 1920s. Cass brought her friends from the music and movie worlds together. She was a conversationalist and a storyteller who could hold forth on anything and everything, and according to Stephen Stills “you could always go over there. But call first.” (An Oral History of Laurel Canyon)

Growing up in North Dakota, I did what many other kids in North Dakota do during the summer – worked on a farm. It seemed everyone had connections to farming somehow. If I wasn’t golfing with my best friend Jerry, I was at the farm cultivating, picking rock or harvesting.

Late August was the time to bring in the crops…

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