Farmers Market Marketing Series #3: Five Solid Ideas for Online Marketing

homestead-tomato-bean-coop-booth

There are two main ideas, outside of thoughts on social media (which are coming next in this series) that could make the biggest long term difference for you and your farm.

IDEA #1: Be Googleable.

If you have something you’re offering that people are searching for online, make sure that they can find you. Bottom line, have a website – there are plenty of free tools you can use that are incredibly easy to create your own site for free if money is an issue and you’re just getting started. The main ones are: Yola, Weebly, SquareSpace and Wix.

Also make sure you get yourself listed on google.

Note: If you have a website with a blog built into it (wordpress is the best for this) and you update it regularly this will help your ranking in google. It’s worth booking time with a local online marketing expert to have them assess your online profile and see how it can be tweaked. Best of all, you can likely pay them in a meal at your farm or basket of your finest wares.

Hannah Hamilton shares why this matters, “So often I visit a vendor at a farmers market only to go home, look for them all over the Internet and can’t find them.”

IDEA #2: Make a video of your farm.

Consider getting a 3-7 minute video done that tells the story of your farm in a beautiful, evocative and compelling way. It can speak to the deeper reasons that drove you to start it and that still drive you today. It can lift up the unique perspective and approach you bring to farming. Can you show people how you grow food, where your food is served and have well known locals speak about it?

Here’s a video from Meadow Creek Farm.

Here are five examples from Calgary’s Verge Permaculture:

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.

IDEA #3: Have an email list.

You might not send out emails that often. But, in this day and age, why not have it for the people who want to sign up and hear what’s going on for you? MailChimp.com is free up until you have 2000 people on your email list and so that likely means it will be free forever for you. Just a clipboard and pen out on your table where people can sign up. Even if you just got one email per week, that’s 50 emails in a year. That’s 50 people who want to hear more about your farm and business. Your email list, over time, can be a huge asset.

Shelly Juurlink suggests, “Start a “friends of the farm” electronic newsletter where they send out a quarterly blast on what’s happening on the farm.

You could let them know:

  • where you’ll be showing next
  • developments at the farm
  • what’s on sale
  • what’s thriving
  • what crops fails
  • recipes
  • what challenges you’re facing

Again, it goes back to story telling.

IDEA #4: Be an Advocate and Help Your Customers Be Advocates Too.

My guess is that locally and regionally there are issues that affect the land, water and economic viability of your farm (and all of the farms).

Being an active and vocal advocate on those issues will not only win you more attention and respect but also create a deeper bond between yourself and your customers as they feel, more deeply, that you’re both on the same team working for the same goal.

Simon Sinek gave a powerful TED talk about this notion that ‘people don’t but what you do, they buy why you do it’:

If you want some help in honing in on what your bigger why is, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

Let your customers know how they can take a stand on local issues affecting farmers. Give them petitions to sign, pre-written Facebook posts they can share, phone numbers they can call and rallies they can attend. Let them be a part of the solution. I promise you that they want to be.

You could have petitions you invite them to sign at your booth. You could mention it on social media or on your email list.

IDEA #5: Hire a Photographer & Graphic Designer.

Having beautiful photographs of your wares, yourself and your farm can go a long way.

Kelsey Falle suggests a way to save money in this, “Find a local graphic or web designer who will work on trade, and have them do business cards, flyers, website, social marketing, etc. I am a hoping to find a farmer in my area to do just this!

Trade them for produce or a big dinner at the farm.

For more thoughts online marketing for Farmer’s Markets, I recommend reading Adam Helweh’s piece on Online Marketing Tips from the Farmer’s Market which explores how lessons learned from the Farmer’s Market can apply to social media .

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers. 

Farmers Market Marketing Series #1: What This Series is and Why I’m Doing It.

farmer's marketHow this Farmer’s Market Series came to be…

Over the coming days, I’ll be releasing a series of blog posts full of marketing ideas for farmers.

I was recently asked to put together a workshop on marketing for farmers at Farmer’s Markets.

A volley of emails went back and forth that sounded mostly like me saying, “Are you sure you want me? I don’t really work with farmers… Ok. Wait. Are you really sure? I have no idea what I’d even say… You think my stuff would be relevant? Ok. I guess let’s do it then. But wait… can you put me in the afternoon after the other two presenters so I can hear what they say first? That works? Perfect… Are you sure?

But somehow it all came together.

And, in getting ready for these presentations, I decided to reach out to my colleagues and do some research to see if I can get my thinking together and share it here so I can get your feedback as well before the big day comes.

One thing is clear, as Bright Spark Media points out, the number of Farmer’s Markets is on the rise.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 4.16.28 PM


And since local food is on a meteoric rise over the past few years, it feels important that we take the maximum advantage of it. The more successful farmers are, the more people will want to get into farming, the more local food we’ll have, the less development we’ll have as farmers no longer want or need to sell off their land and the more genuine food security we will have.

So the importance of this all is clear.


Farmers-Market-Old-Strathcona-1024x607What’s also clear is that farming is impossibly hard work.

Deb Vail shared, “… don’t ask me how to work in the fields 70 plus hours a week, get produce ready for a 150 person CSA delivered to three locations and go to market once a week, do all the bookkeeping, write a newsletter once a week and raise a family with 5 kids without hurting yourself. Organic veggies and flowers are so underpriced… Long live the farmer who’s reward is being in Nature all day long. Peace upon our souls is the true measure of success.”

Jason Guille who runs Sunset Labs in Victoria said, “I’ve spent some time in that conversation.. in my experience, typically speaking, the common state you’re speaking into is one of buried in work, disinterest in marketing and overwhelm in computers/technology.”

As my dear friend Corin Raymond says, “Mercy this hustle.”

Ester Balekjian commiserated that she wished everyone who attended the Farmer’s Markets would learn a bit more of what it’s like to be on the other side of the booth – the etiquette of being a customer. “I don’t think the farmers need to do more work at marketing. It is the customers that are hooked on supermarket fare that need to be targeted and made seen the importance of local food and supporting farming locally. It breaks my heart how farmers at stalls get treated by customers that compare them to the service they get at supermarkets. These people don’t bat an eye spending $200-$300 at the supermarket and yet are seen taking every single free sample and walking around with one pear, an apple and a small bag of baby carrots in their bags….. and spend all their money at the baked goods stalls.”

So, if you’re a farmer, this series is for you.

But I know a secret…

Despite everything that was said above, I know you got into farming because it’s easy money. Nothing but profit. You may not think we know about the billions of dollars your making but a farmer in England leaked your secrets in this video.

Still, one can always make even more billions of dollars… So the following posts in this series are my ideas to help you do that.

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.

a blog post in which I discuss why the whole economy is toxic, destructive and suicidal and yet… marketing is needed to fix things?

[]This is a different sort of blog than I usually write  because it’s not just about marketing. It’s about the context that marketing happens inside of.
 
Namely, the economy.
 
Of course, most of us have some very justifiable issues with marketing. Some of us wonder if even the whole ‘conscious marketing’ thing is bullshit
 
But those issues are driven by something so much larger.
 
We live inside of an economy that David Korten coined as ‘The Suicide Economy’. For obvious reasons. If we let it, it will kill itself (and take a lot down with it as it goes). 
 
It’s an economy and culture that has led much of humanity to a point of a secret sort of self loathing. The sense that made, as William Gibson put it, ‘man is a bad animal’. Stephen Jenkinson illucidates on this brilliantly in the following video by Ian Mackenzie.
 
[]   
 
As David Orr so brilliantly put it, “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”
 
And most of us are fighting tooth and nail to create something more sane. Something more in alignment with what Judy Wicks of Phillidelphia’s White Dog Cafe expressed so beautifully when she said, 

“The Local Living Economies Movement is about: Maximizing relationships, not maximizing profits, Broad-based ownership and democracy, not concentrated wealth and power, Sharing, not hoarding, Life serving, not self-serving, Partnership, not domination, Cooperation based, not competition based, Win-win exchange, not win-loose exploitation, Creativity, not conformity, A living return, not the highest return, A living wage, not the minimum wage, A fair price, not the lowest price, “Being more, not having more”, Interconnectedness, not separation, Inclusion, not exclusiveness, Community and collective joy, not isolation and unhapppiness, Cultural diversity, not monoculture, Bio-diversity, not mono-crops, Family farms, not factory farms, Slow food, not fast food, Our bucks, not Starbucks, Our mart, not Wal-Mart, a Love of life, not love of money.”

In a similar way. this quote from The Necessary Revolution (shared with me by my colleague Julia) struck as right on theme for this theme of figuring out the deeper cause our business is about. It invites us to step back and consider the underlying cause of business itself:

“…the new generation of mission-based businesses builds on some very old ideas, ones that predate the Industrial Age. They seek, as an essential part of their purpose, to contribute to the health and well-being of living systems.  They reject the notion that the sole purpose of business is to make a profit and they regard the quality of relationships between members, suppliers, and customers as the true indicator of success.  In so doing, they are returning business to its origins.  The oldest Swedish word for business is narings liv, “nourishment for life.”  In ancient Chinese the concept is expressed by two symbols that translate as “life meaning.”   And the root of the English word company derives from the Latin com panis, “the sharing of bread”- the same root as that for the word companion.”  

Everywhere we look, we see the growth of this new Green Economy. But some of us wonder if it’s enough. Because, as it rises, so doesgreenwashing (in which corporations try to make normal things seem green instead of helping to make green things seem normal). But also because many of suspect that solar power and compact flourescent lightbulbs are not the complete solution we need. That we may need something more. Many of us are waking up to the reality that, even if we all did what Al Gore called for at the end of his powerful documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ it wouldn’t be anywhere near to enough.

Silently, some of us wonder to ourselves, ‘What if the Green Economy is a wonderful means, but a terrible ends?’

We see the Occupy Wallstreet movement and the new economy it’s calling on us to imagine. 

[] 

David Korten invites us to go even deeper than critiquing the economy but to question the very stories that have, for so long, underpinned it. And he invites us to consider what the economy might look like if it were inspired by a different set of stories. What if we shifted our stories from those of building empires (which never end well) to building and sustaining villages? What if instead of growing big and selling we could be small and enjoy the beauty in that? What if endless economic growth was not the drum we marched to but that love and justice were the drums we danced to? What if there were models of creating change that didn’t all rely on money?

What if indeed.

So, what does this all have to do with marketing?

So much really. 

The word marketing is full of such heavy connotations. But let’s say it in a different way.

We need to find a way to articulate the problems we face as a culture and the potential solutions with such a powerful eloquence and clarity that it awakens something in people. 

If people don’t know about the alternatives you offer the world, they, functionally, don’t exist. And we need people to know they exist. Desperately. The solutions are out there (e.g. holistic medicine, permaculture, solar power, local economies and currencies, slow food etc.) but what good are they if no one knows? And people finding out about things is another way of saying marketing. 

As Antoine de Saint Exupéry put it, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

And that’s marketing.

We need to educate people about what new things are possible that could be restorative to both the planet and ourselves. And that’s marketing.

We need to lift our rhetoric to a level of relevance and clarity than is unmistakable. 

We need to get people’s attention, help them understand if our particular solution is a fit and then make it sweet, gentle and easy to try it (because we know asking them to change everything overnight will never work). 

We need to find ways to not seduce people, but court them into living their fullest lives. Imagine if everyone in the world offering hopeful and positive solutions awoke tomorrow with this kind of irresistible eloquence that inspired the best that humanity has to offer. Imagine how many fewer people might find themselves on their deathbed full of regrets

We don’t just need more conscious marketing. We need a whole new economy. We need to reimagine the culture we live in. But, to get there, we need to be better marketers. 

Most of us get most of our money, directly or indirectly, from the Suicide Economy. We’d love to make all of our money from the more Conscious Economy and spend all of our money there… but most of us haven’t been able to do that. Most of us are, like this culture, in transition. Most of us are trying to make our little conscious venture financially sustainable.

And a mighty piece of whether or not we can pay the bills comes down to marketing. 

If you’re needing more help with finding the eloquence to express what you do I’d like to remind you of somethings.

My website is full of free things. There’s over three hours of free video. Five hundred blog posts. Case studies.

I have a 195 ebook that you should have gotten when you signed up for this email list but, in case you’ve lost it, you can download it here.

If you feel drawn to work with me one on one, you can find more info about that here.

Thanks for being on my list. I hope you get good things from it. 

warmest,
Tad

p.s. I’ll be in touch soon about some breakthroughs I’ve been having around this whole question of finding your niche, plus a contest around niching I think you’ll love.

p.p.s. On March 11th, I was the witness to a man taking his life by jumping off of Edmonton’s High Level Bridge. It was a deeply traumatic event from which I’m still recovering but recovering well with the help of a lot of good friends and support. I wrote a song about it and was able to go to the funeral and sing it to the family. It would mean a lot to me if you could share it with others. Yu can find the song and the story here: http://www.miguelitoslittlegreencar.com/blog/paying-tribute-tad/

 

Guest Post: The Top 10 Coolest Ways People Are Changing the Economy

shilpa

by Shilpa Jain of www.yesworld.org 

10. Impact Investing: What’s the point of funding good social justice and environmental change projects when your investments are tied up in the very companies and industries that are at the root of the problem?  Impact investors are helping companies and foundations bring their investments in line with their values, for BIG impact. 

9. Collaborative Consumption: What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine…?  At least that’s what new businesses like Air BnB, CarShare, SnapGoods, and others are propagating.  Rather than buying more or renting from a big company, borrow my [house][car][tools], etc.  You get the benefit of a lower rate or unique experience or test-drive, and I get a little cash in my pocket.

8. Time Banking: The age-old question of time vs. money is answered by these folks who are making time THE currency of choice.  Everyone’s hour is worth the same, whether it’s an hour spent accounting, babysitting, or gardening. Bank and spend hours, get your needs met, and in the process, get to know your own gifts and talents and those within your community.

7. Worker-Owned Business: Karl Marx’s dream come true – without the loss of spirit and community.  Gone are the days when CEOs sit in the corner office and workers toil on the ground. In these new businesses, the workers are the owners and they are making decisions together, to share in the profits and losses, and figure out ways to sustain or grow their businesses. 

6. Gift Economy: Beyond barter, this is the Pay It Forward movement. You receive a service or product as a gift from someone (often anonymously) and you contribute what you can to provide for the next person.  The Karma Cafés, where your meal is already paid for and your tip provides the meal for the next hungry soul, are leading the way with this model.

5. Freecycling: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… Another off-shoot of the gift economy, freecycling includes everything from Clothing Exchanges, to Crop Swaps, to Book Trades, to more! It’s Craig’s List to the next level.  By clearing out of what we don’t need or use, and getting it into the hands of those who could put it to good use, we decrease clutter, hoarding and consumerism, for great environmental, aesthetic and social justice impact.

4, Community Currency: Big banks always seem to need bailing out, and cash spent at corporations leaves the community almost instantly.  What if we had local money that served local businesses, circulated amongst the community, and celebrated the uniqueness of the places we live in?  Instead of disappearing into fictional derivatives, folks are generating script that serves to strengthen and uplift their neighborhoods and keeps the wealth flow at home.

3. Gross National Happiness: If GDP goes up with every typhoon, divorce, and war, clearly we need a new measure of success. Inspired by Bhutan, people are leading the charge for a new measure of personal, communal and national success — one that takes into account our health, well-being, safety, and, most of all, our happiness.

2. Small Is Beautiful: Tired of the isolation, anonymity, and lack of accountability, people are supporting the local and small movement: moving their money to small cooperative banks; frequenting local businesses; and buying food at farmers’ markets.  

1. Social Entrepreneurs: It’s time for the quadruple bottom line: purpose, people, planet and profit. New business makers are not settling for less than enterprises that rebuild the community, heal social relationships, feed their souls, and support their livelihoods. Great innovation is the result.

If you want to hang out with these top 10 movers and shakers who are growing this new economy, come to the Evolving + Emerging Economies Jam!  It will be held outside of San Francisco, CA, from April 3-7, 2013.  Hosted by a dynamic group of young changemakers working in this field, they are eager to JAM with you – to connect, deepen their learning, and figure out the coolest new synergies that are going to take this economy to the next level! 

Learn more and apply on-line at http://www.yesworld.org/connect/jams/eeejam2013/

 

EEE Invite

Joel Solomon: “The Unlikely Revolutionary”

I recently went to the Social Venture Institute hosted at the Hollyhock Center. It was an amazing event. And one of the people responsible for it happening is Joel Solomon. And I also met marketing genius Aaron Vidas. Imagine my delight to see this new, beautifully done video of Aaron interviewing Joel about the notion of social entrepreneurship.

 

if you don’t feel very successful today

If you’re not feeling particularly successful today, these words might sooth you.

In a world full of self help books and online courses exhorting us to be ‘successful’ I found this quote from this article by David Orr to be a healing balm. As Jiddu Krishnamurti put it, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” To be ‘successful’ in the global game of Monopoly and own Boardwalk and Park Place does not make the world better.

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful” people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.” – David Orr

plenitude: the new economics of true wealth

I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago and my friend Jackie told me about a new book she was reading called ‘True Wealth.’ (originally titled ‘Plenitude’) She gave me the basic run down and I loved the messaged.

So I emailed the author and she kindly sent me an excerpt to share with you. Thanks Juliet.

*

Excerpt from Chapter One

INTRODUCTION

Global capitalism shattered in 2008.

The financial system came frighteningly close to a total collapse and was saved only by government guarantees and massive injections of cash. An astounding $50 trillion of wealth was erased globally. Economic pain drove people into the streets around the world, from Iceland to Greece, Egypt to China.

Since then, the global economy has been rescued, but it hasn’t been fixed.

That will require fundamental changes.

Climate destabilization, economic meltdown, and the escalation of food and energy prices are warning signs from a highly stressed planet. Ecologists have defined a number of safe operating zones for the earth’s complex systems and are finding that human activities have already led us outside a number of them. But the mainstream conversation has been stalled by fatalism. We’re better at identifying what can’t be done than what we need to accomplish.

There is a way forward, and I call it plenitude.

The word calls attention to the inherent bounty of nature that we need to recover. It directs us to the chance to be rich in the things that matter to us most, and the wealth that is available in our relations with one another. Plenitude involves very different ways of living than those encouraged by the maxims that have dominated the discourse for the last twenty-five years. It puts ecological and social functioning at its core, but it is not a paradigm of sacrifice.

To the contrary, it involves a way of life that will yield more well-being than sticking to business as usual, which has led both the natural and economic environments into decline.

The version of plenitude that I describe here is addressed in large part to inhabitants of wealthy countries and wealthy inhabitants of poor ones. But most, although not all, of the principles of plenitude and the economics underlying it are also relevant for lower-income households in poor countries. In its general outlines, if not specifics, it’s a widely applicable vision of economic life.

Plenitude is also about transition. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

Creating a sustainable economy will take decades, and this is a strategy for prospering during that shift. The beauty of the approach is that it is available right now. It does not require waiting for the clean-tech paradigm to triumph. It doesn’t require getting government on board immediately.

Anyone can get started, and many are.

It was the right way to go before the economic collapse, in part because it predicted a worsening landscape. It makes even more sense in a period of slow growth or stagnation. As individuals take up the principles of plenitude, they are not merely adopting a private response to what is perforce a collective problem.

Rather, they are pioneers of the micro (individual-level) activity that is necessary to create the macro (system-wide) equilibrium, to correct an economy that is badly out of balance.

That balance won’t develop automatically. All large-scale transformation requires collective arrangements to succeed. We need environmental accounting, a mechanism to reduce carbon emissions, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. We need new labor-market policies. We need to reform our health care, education, and retirement security systems. But while we work for those changes, here’s a vision for a way to live that respects the awesome place we call earth and all who live upon it.

The Fundamentals of Plenitude

From the perspective of the individual, there are four principles of plenitude.

Principle #1: Work Less

The first is a new allocation of time. For decades, Americans have devoted an increasing fraction of their time and money to the market—working longer hours, filling leisure time with activities that require more income per unit of time, and buying, rather than making, more of what they consume.

It’s time to reverse this trend and diversify out of the market.

This doesn’t just mean the stock market, although its recent volatility suggests that’s one market to which this point applies in spades. Today’s smart strategy for many, if not most, households will be to begin a shift away from the formal and centralized sets of institutions and arrangements that are called the market. By “the market” I mean business-as-usual (BAU) economic activity.

BAU is a term that came out of the climate discourse to indicate what would happen if we didn’t address rising emissions. Here I use it to indicate the continuation of the current economic rules, practices, growth trajectory, and ecological consequences of production and consumption.

It especially refers to the large corporate entities that dominate the market and are heavily invested in it. For individuals, relying less on the market spreads risk and creates multiple sources of income and support, as well as new ways of procuring consumption goods.

Concretely, what this means is a moderation in hours of work. For time-stressed households with adequate incomes, it likely means making trade-offs of income for time.

Reclaiming time frees up resources to invest in ecologically restorative activities and creates the opportunity to replenish the human connections that were depleted in the boom years. Of course, millions have had an altered equation of time and money painfully thrust upon them through unemployment or other losses of income.

For that group, which already has a surfeit of time and not enough money, the advice involves moving forward with plans that are less centered on full-time employment in the BAU economy and more oriented to the emergent sustainability sector, which includes both businesses and the parallel economy developing amid the wreckage of the collapse.

This encompasses areas such as household food cultivation, home construction and renovation, and community initiatives such as barter and bulk buying.

Principle #2: Self Provision

This brings us to the second principle of plenitude, which is to diversify from the BAU market and “self-provision,” or make, grow, or do things for oneself. Indeed, the rationale for working fewer hours in the market is not only, or even primarily, about reducing stress in daily life (although that is certainly important). Recovering one’s time also makes self-provisioning possible and reveals a liberating truth: The less one has to buy, the less one is required to earn.

The downturn has accelerated what was already a robust rediscovery of doing for oneself among sustainability pioneers. Plenitude aspires to transform self-provisioning from a marginal craft movement into something economically significant. That requires raising the productivity of the hours spent in these activities. As I argue later in the book, new agricultural knowledge and the invention of small-scale smart machines make it possible to turn household provisioning into a high-productivity—and economically viable—use of time.

These ideas reverse the direction most households have taken in recent decades and contradict what modern economics preaches, which is that specialization, in one skill or one job, is efficient. Specialization may have made sense when the market was offering better returns. Even as wages stagnated, ultra-cheap consumer goods were hard to turn down. Today, in a world of ecological and economic uncertainty and distress, putting all one’s eggs in the basket of the capitalist market looks like a more dubious proposition.

Principle #3 – True Materialism

The third principle of plenitude is “true materialism,” an environmentally aware approach to consumption. In the United States, the speed of acquiring and discarding products accelerated dramatically before the crash. Consumers knew relatively little about where purchases came from and the ecological impacts of their production, use, and disposal. But many people do care, and want to lighten the footprint of their spending.

Perhaps surprisingly, the route to lower impact does not require putting on a hair shirt. Nor does it entail making consumption less important. Indeed, the plenitude consumer is likely passionate about consuming, and deliberate in the creation of a rich, materially bountiful life.

We don’t need to be less materialist, as the standard formulation would have it, but more so.

For it is only when we take the materiality of the world seriously that we can appreciate and preserve the resources on which spending depends. Living sustainably does mean we can’t reproduce a lifestyle of gas-guzzlers, expansive square footage per person, bottled water, and outsize paper consumption. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have fabulous clothes, low-impact electronic gadgetry, great local food, and a more leisurely mode of travel.

Plenitude means that you will actually have time to take the slow boat to China if that appeals.

Principle #4 – Build Community

The final principle is the need to restore investments in one another and our communities. While social bonds are not typically thought of in economic terms, these connections, which scholars call social capital, are a form of wealth that is every bit as important as money or material goods. Especially in times of distress, people survive and thrive by doing for one another. Interpersonal flows of money, goods, and labor are a parallel system of exchange and savings.

One casualty of an intense market orientation is that community has gotten thinner and human ties weaker. People haven’t had enough time to invest in social connection outside their primary families. By recovering hours, individuals are freed up to fortify their social networks.

These, then, are the individual principles of plenitude: work and spend less, create and connect more. In turn they yield ecological benefits—emit and degrade less—and human ones—enjoy and thrive more.

*

You can also enjoy a video of her lecture on Plenitude here:

 

 

Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts.

Her most recent book is Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth (The Penguin Press 2010). She is also author of the national best-seller, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books, 1992) and The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need (Basic Books, 1998). The Overworked American appeared on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe as well as the annual best books list for The New York Times, Business Week and other publications. The book is widely credited for influencing the national debate on work and family.  The Overspent American was also made into a video of the same name, by the Media Education Foundation (September 2003).

financial permaculture

If you’ve followed my work for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of permaculture. I think it’s a framework that might just be one of the more important things in the world right now.

What is permaculture? Permaculture is to gardening what yoga is to stretching in the morning. It’s one of the most beautiful and sophisticated perspectives on working with and healing the land that I’ve ever come across. Watch this video and I can promise you be more hopeful about the world by the end.

And my colleague Rob Avis just sent me a link to a conference about a conference that was held on financial permaculture.

Money (one of our world’s deepest wounds) + permaculture (one of our world’s greatest hopes) = something I think we can all get behind.

occupy wallstreet – the revolution is love

I just watched the most lucid and incredible video about the ways that spirituality and love meet economics and the current Occupy Movement.

In a blog post I wrote on November 18th, I said,

At its heart, the occupy movement questions how the richest 1% of the world became so rich and whether the systems that fostered that are truly just. Was it just because of hard work, ingenuity and positive thinking? The occupy movement questions that. Is the time of a CEO worth so hundreds of times more than the time of a factory worker? The occupy movement questions that.

And this all reminded me of a workshop I went to in the summer of 2010. It was called ‘The Compassionate Trickster” workshop. And it was led by Caroline Casey.

I first saw Caroline Casey speak at the Bioneers conference a number of years ago. Instantly, she became my favourite thing. Who was this woman? I’d never seen anyone more spontaneously artful in her language – improvised craftsmanship.

But it’s only now that I’m beginning to understand what she means by the Trickster.

And why it matters so much.

We live in a day and age of so much hidden, obscene devastation highlighted most recently by the devastation in the gulf of the United States. And the oil gushing out was bad enough – but it was made far worse by the cover ups, the lack of media access, the obfuscation. And this is one of the roles of the Trickster – to illumine that which is hidden. The word ‘obscene’ is perfect for so many of the troubles going on today as it translates into ‘off stage’. So many things we will never heal unless we look at them. So much hidden from the eyes of the public.

The Trickster is that mythic part of all of us that comes alive when times are most dire. Unlike Han Solo’s ‘never tell me the odds’, the Trickster thrives on the impossible. The Trickster finds the way out of no way by seeing through the false oppositions created by the ‘reality police’. Even more so – the Trickster sees that these ‘team a’ vs. ‘team b’ dynamics as part of what has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

The Trickster doesn’t take sides, but is on the side of Life.

The Trickster is not interested in giving people easy labels of ‘you’re a redneck’ or ‘you’re a heartless CEO’. What use is there in putting people into boxes and prisons?

 

“Clever men place the world into cages,

but the wise woman

ducks under the moon

and throws keys to the rowdy prisoners.”

– Hafiz

 

The Trickster transcends dualities like Republican/Democrat, Conservative or Liberal. And, while provocative, the Trickster is not interested in creating opposition – but inviting everyone to play. Not polarizing but liberating. Nothing is demonized – everything and everyone can be called forth into the service of life. It doesn’t see the world through the lense of, ‘do i like this? do i approve of this?’ That’s all irrelevant. It only wants to know – ‘how can this be used for the greater good?’

Radical collaboration.

Everything welcome. Everything useful.

 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

– African Proverb

 

And if it isn’t useful in its current form it can be thrown into Pluto’s Cauldron to be boiled back into what it wanted to be.

The Trickster knows that even the most toxic things on the Earth can be transformed into healing tonic. That every shadow has its light side. That impositions can be transformed into offerings, shame into remorse, constraining certainty into liberating mystery, punishment into restoration, celebrity culture into deep mythology, vengeance into accountability, triggered reaction into creative responses, unconscious rage into wrathful compassion, rape into ravishment, the addiction to purity into a deepening wholeness, seduction into magnetism and the conman into the Trickster.

The Trickster doesn’t just want you – it wants to fullest, most magnetic and charasmatic expression of you. It knows that there’s a right relationship or angle of approach between all things.

The Trickster knows that whatever we speak to in others we are animate. Whatever we speak to we invite to dance with us. Are we speaking to what is Tonic in others – or what is Toxic? Are we seeing and relating to the best in others? Or the worst?

There is no time or use for shaming, blaming or finger wagging. There’s no time for posturing – only the passionate and creative protection and upliftment of Life everywhere. There’s no time for the whining and complaining about how bad it is. There’s no time to be caught in instant reaction to the forces that destroy life – but rather the Trickster slows down to go fast and offers up infinitely creative responses because to walk around in reaction is to carry around a portable jail.

The Trickster is capable of seeing things from multiple lenses and holding multiple stories as true at the same moment – but then discerning which story to animate.

The Trickster is that force that wants to liberate ALL forces in the world for the uplifting and healing of Life.

Certainly the Trickster wants to see the abused and exploited protected and safe – but has no interested in punishing anyone. Because, while incarceration and punishment or ostracizing people might work for the moment – in the long term it does not. How many revolutions of hope have imposed far worse tyranny’s than were there to begin with?

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

The Trickster knows that the only long term answer – the only sustainable thing is that everyone is welcomed and everything finds its proper place. Like Sheherizad in 1001 Arabian nights knows – it’s not just enough to get rid of the tyrants (even the ones who have murdered their own hearts) – but to compost Tyranny itself. To change the hearts of the Tyrants. A radical sense of hospitality, equality and democracy is the only true answer to Tyranny.

The Trickster wants to see everyone liberated.

Let’s all get free.

Watch the video here.

my thoughts on occupy wallstreet (+ inspiring video)

Not all of us are activists.

Not all of us will be called to the front lines of social change, or to camp out for weeks, to lock down, sit in and march.

Some of us are working for healing the wounds that keep perpetuating the sick system we have.

Some of us are working to build alternatives to the failing ones that face us.

But some good souls, increasing in number, are called to move into action and resistance; to slow down the juggernaut of destruction, to hold back the tides of exploitation that threaten our planet and all of its creatures.

Enter: Occupy Wall Street.

Says their website . . .

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

It’s easy to mock this type of change. To say it’s disorganized, negative, pointless and impatient. All things which have been said about the women’s rights movement, the civil rights movement etc. Movements that were vital for the kind of society we have today. Movements that did so much to make our societies more just and sane. I say god bless everyone who’s willing to take action and put their bodies on the line for a more whole and loving world.

We can’t talk about marketing without talking about the marketplace. And we can’t talk about the marketplace without looking at the larger systems and structures behind it. And we can’t look at those long without begin to see deep, pervasive and troubling things with the way things are currently being done. We can’t talk about capital without exploring capitalism. Notions of using the ‘secret‘ manifesting money are fine but shouldn’t we also consider the ‘systems’ that are generating that money?

Take Gold for example.

It seems like everyone is investing in gold.

We are, in fact, seeing a planetary gold rush. And this is being touted by many as smart and wise investment. And I don’t doubt that, for the current system, it is. But shouldn’t we question the current system? I just got these words from a friend of mine in Calgary. She’d heard a fellow named Gates share them at an Occupy Calgary rally . . .

On CBC Radio the other day I heard a report about gold mines in South Africa. In parts of South Africa there are very very large gold mines owned by multinational corporations. The South African people work in these mines under terrible conditions, and can barely survive. This is the only option for survival for these people. Those who work in the mines are considered lucky, the rest die in poverty.

There are 750,000 cases of tuberculosis reported each year in this region. In South Africa, tuberculosis is a deadly disease. The people contract it from inhaling tiny particles of silicate in the mines, which they are not protected from. Forget HIV/AIDS, forget hunger, forget the other thousand reasons that African People die from by the thousands, millions year after year, decade after decade.

This one number alone is staggering.

This is all happening at a time when gold is in highest demand, it’s selling for more than it ever has before, a time where western currencies are being sold off in return for gold and other real assets. People are buying gold to protect their wealth which is threatened by the currencies of many nations losing value at something more than historical norms.

I argue that tremendous wealth of people in the west is directly and inextricably linked to tremendous poverty of people in other places, I contend that expendable wealth invested in gold is directly linked to this giant health and humanitarian crisis in South Africa.

And yet, we’re told to invest in gold. To stock up on it. But we are not told about the consequences. And none of the above even begins to scratch the impact that this kind of dirty gold has on the world and its peoples.

I’m with Joanna Macey when she says we need to honour all three levels of change: holding back the destruction, creating alternatives and shifting consciousness. That none of those levels have a monopoly of the ‘real’ work and they all need to work together more. Recently, I’ve seen a number of comments criticizing the Occupy movement for creating an ‘us vs. them’ mentality and duality and saying that what we really need to do is just occupy our hearts. I get it. We need to do that too. But, the notion that meditating is the only answer and that everything else is wrong (aside from itself being a dualistic notion) is precisely what Joanna Macey is pointing towards. We need to weave all efforts for change together.

And we deeply need those who will stand up to injustice – who will speak truth and be powerful.

At the heart of Occupy Movement is the notion that J.R.R. Tolkien was right. The core thesis of Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series was that the centralization of power was the problem. That the question was not ‘could we find someone nicer to rule Mordor?’ but that the ring and Mordor had to be destroyed. Again and again, a pattern establishes itself around the world – the happiest and healthiest cultures in the world are cultures where sharing and generosity are rewarded. The most violent and destructive cultures are those where wealth is hoarded and greed is rewarded.

There are two ways to live: ‘how can i get what i want?’ and ‘how can we all get our needs met?’ The former makes us miserable, the latter makes us happy.

This quote from Judy Wicks says it all. She’s the founder and proprietress of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia. She co-founded the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), a network of business groups in North America that create living economies in their regions.

“The Local Living Economies Movement is about: Maximizing relationships, not maximizing profits, Broad-based ownership and democracy, not concentrated wealth and power, Sharing, not hoarding, Life serving, not self-serving, Partnership, not domination, Cooperation based, not competition based, Win-win exchange, not win-loose exploitation, Creativity, not conformity, A living return, not the highest return, A living wage, not the minimum wage, A fair price, not the lowest price, “Being more, not having more”, Interconnectedness, not separation, Inclusion, not exclusiveness, Community and collective joy, not isolation and unhapppiness, Cultural diversity, not monoculture, Bio-diversity, not mono-crops, Family farms, not factory farms, Slow food, not fast food, Our bucks, not Starbucks, Our mart, not Wal-Mart, a Love of life, not love of money.”

At its heart, the occupy movement questions how the richest 1% of the world became so rich and whether the systems that fostered that are truly just. Was it just because of hard work, ingenuity and positive thinking? The occupy movement questions that. Is the time of a CEO worth so hundreds of times more than the time of a factory worker? The occupy movement questions that.

And those questions are important.

When thinking about why the top 1% are rich remember this: If success relied solely on hard work and ingenuity, most women in Africa would be millionaires, most migrant farm workers could have retired by age thirty and most chinese factory workers would be reading this blog from their 90 foot yacht off the small island they’d bought in Croatia.

The wealthiest man in the United States at the founding of the country? None other than George Washington (who was responsible for the slaughter and scattering of many indigenous communities). How much of the wealth of the wealthiest families in the United States had its roots in free access to stolen land and slave labour? More than you’d think. Much more than you’d care to want to believe.

I would submit that much of the personal growth and conscious wealth creation scene has become simply another expression of the Suicide Economy that is destroying so much that we hold dear. That elements of it have become a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a spiritual rationalization for greed and material acquisition. That is has become another rational to avoid living within the beauty of our limits.

And I think we should question that.

We don’t need to demonize people in order to name what we see happening and work to stop it.

This isn’t about punishing, it’s about stopping abuse but ultimately seeing those who are doing harm healed as well.

As we work to stop injustice my wishes are also to see . . .

. . . the scientists who create so many poisonous drugs, chemicals and weapons liberated from the constraints of chasing funding, adhering to a materialistic worldview and Scientific dogma so that they might turn their brilliance into the creation of ingenious solutions that heal the world and inspire our minds.

. . . the rich freed from the Golden Cage of wealth and the fear it creates, freed from the Hungry Ghosts who plague them with their endless hunger for ‘more’ and have their hearts filled with honey so that they can send hundreds of gold laden boats out to sea in the direction of the highest aspirations of humanity.

. . . the politicians freed from the need to be re-elected, approved of and the backroom deals with the devil they feel they must do so that we can see the rebirth of true Statesmanship turned towards the reweaving of the soul of our communities.

. . . men liberated from the shackles of patriarchy so that the genuine masculine can return, white people unlocked from the lies of racism so that their roots may go deep into the soil of their indigenous hearts,

. . . the masses liberated from their ignorance and the veil of lies that has been cast over them so that they can look up and see the sky clearly again.

. . . the police officers freed of the need to protect the property of the elite and able to become members of the community – a genuine force to serve and protect and restore wholeness in our communities rather than punish and exclude minor offenders. May the police be liberated to bring the beautiful strength and discipline they carry to hold accountable those who do the most harm to our communities rather than trying to punish those working to protect our communities. May they know so much love and support in their lives and feel such pride in and love of their role as community protectors that they would never tolerate abuses of power, brutality police violence against peaceful protestors or racism within their own ranks. May the day soon come where we those who work for justice can count on police protection rather than needing protection from the police.

May people be woken up to deep and immediate empathic experience of their impact on others, may we all know the true stories of where our food comes from, may the worst tyrant meet a woman who will change his heart, and may we all fall in love with a woman who will change our hearts – and may that woman be the Earth.

Like all movements, it struggles, at times, to get its message heard by the media – to clarify what it’s about. And I’ve never seen a better and more beautiful rendering of the heart of the message than my dear friend Drew Dellinger‘s video below. Drew is an extraordinary poet and spoken word artist whose work seeks to bridge the worlds of social justice and environmental sustainability.

 

 

If you’re moved – consider joining me in donating to the movement today.