Hi! My Name Is…

Chcka chka Slim Shady.

Urt. Wrong.

Not going there – I am going to give you one of my favorite ideas and make it the idea of the day today. What if…everyone had name tags? Imagine walking down the street and seeing that the nice woman holding the door open for you was named Julie. “Why thank you Julie!” Instead of “Ermpt…uh thank you miss” or the always pleasant no-eye-contact-I’ve-already-walked-past-you-but-I’ll-say-it-over-my-shoulder thank you. The bus driver you could call by name, the nice guy on the corner, the person bumping you on the train, the rude person on their phone in the train, the person who lets you into their lane with a pleasant wave. Imagine all these people were no longer strange faces in a crowd but instead they had a name and not a term of endearment or perhaps an expletive attached to them.

Sort of like the first day of Orientation at almost any institution – everyone feels like they belong because everyone has an awkward nametag and aside from bubble letters – you can’t make one of these (see below) look good. Also, instead of “Hey you – you get your ID over here!” you can say “Hi Tom, hi are you in line for your ID? The line is this way. :)”

I just imagine that the world would be such a better place and everyone would actually feel good about actually being able to humanize who they are talking to. So there is no “oh that lady is so nice” but instead “You know Jen down by the CVS, she’s always feeding the birds. She’s so nice!” or the “Ugh, some guy named Bill cut me off on the highway.” Both positive and negative interactions would be so much more fulfilling because you could tie an actual name to them.

I don’t know – something about it I think would be great and put a lot of people at ease. Then of course, some names could also bring about stereotypes and lead people to think certain things before someone even says a word…wait…don’t we already do that with clothes? hairstyles? shoes? maybe even what type of cell phone they have?!

Regardless, put me in a community where everyone has to wear a name tag (particularly since I’ve been awful at remembering names lately)and I’d be a happy guy.

Rock on,

Joe

What if we “checked out” clothes like books?

Today’s idea for the day…Clothes Libraries.
Or would they be libraries? Perhaps rent-a-centers? But we wouldn’t want to charge to check them out but simply charge if they come back late.

Here is what I am thinking, I’ve heard recently that when you donate clothes to an organization the clothes don’t actually make it to a clothes rack somewhere. Instead, the clothes are weighed for their cloth and material then the company receives money per pound of cloth/material. I’m not sure of the breakdown but I imagine this must be pennies on the dollar.

So what if, each community had a clothes library? People sign up giving all the appropriate information (just as you would for a library card) and then you can run about the “library” searching for the clothes you need for say, an important interview, or a night out, or something to survive a brutal winter storm.

I’ve participated in clothing drives and more significantly with a program called the “Midnight Run” (http://www.midnightrun.org/) where a group of students and I ran around Manhatten at midnight delivering clothes to the homeless. Our van was more or less a portable clothes library where our patrons would check out clothes (of course under no premise of returning them) but it is a moving and hands-on way to show what your own winter coat could do for someone who truly needs it.

So what if this population of homeless individuals did not have to rely on the deliver of a group of students in a van with a smörgåsbord of different sizes, styles, and for different seasons? What if they had a center that they could go and “check out” a suit for an interview, or “check out” a winter jacket for the season (or for the week)?

It would become a huge community closet. Perhaps the homeless could then work there, earning wage by washing the clothes, sewing loose buttons and tears, folding, storing, sorting, etc. So now they are getting clothes they need, supporting each other, and earning wages to put aside while they work towards a safer life.

You may ask, right and how will you hold them accountable for such a thing? How about this – the library provides them with a P.O. Box in the facility giving them an address to have mail sent to. Giving them ownership over something – so now this population won’t be ashamed to apply for a job because they don’t want to leave the address section/mailing address section of the application blank.

But what if they don’t return the clothes? Same as the library rules I am aware of, you can’t check out unless you return what you have.

There are other details to iron out sure but this isn’t a blog about creating proposals for ideas or to formulate strategic plans to make them happen. This is a blog for people to read and get inspired. I have an idea a day (well counting on 2 days so far) but what could you come up with if you took your time in the car getting to and from work (or the walk, or bike ride) and focused on solving a problem/issue in your community? Or perhaps thinking of something that someone else hasn’t yet?

Give it a shot. Maybe you are a Curious Commuter as well. 🙂

Rock on,
Joe

No commute today, just window gazing.

I didn’t have my normal 1-2 hours in the car this morning or afternoon due to a sore throat that hit me like a freight train overnight and prompted me to call in sick to rest and recover.

However, regardless of my lack of commute, I didn’t stop thinking about this blog and posting an idea to share with the handful of people who read this.

I’ve spent the majority of the day looking out the window and watching an Animal Planet show about the Arizona Humane Society. The show focuses on how dogs, cats, and just about any domesticated animal on the streets or neglectful homes are rescued (or not in one case) and treated to be adopted.

An interesting mix of activities that resulted in the following idea; what if communities went back to a more “tribal” layout/structure?

Now, I’m not a pro nor have I done any formal research behind this “tribal” community – I am going solely based off of the few things I have read and, honestly, some of the movies I’ve seen.

In this type of community, I imagine something of a “web” if you were looking at it from above. There is the center, the main place, the hub and from there a spider-web of paths/streets and homes.

The tribal community has a spiritual elder or some form of “alpha” male/female/couple that is sought after for approval, advice, and decision-making. That is not the structure I am going for, I am going more along the lines of “it takes a village to raise a child” type philosophy.

What happened to these small villages? These small, tight-knit, block-party throwing, lawn-mower sharing, car-pooling utopias? @Rkaplan13 and I often debate this and she believes that the downfall was the invention of garages. This allowed people to pull their car right into their homes, avoiding all contact that happened when walking from car to front door (and vice versa). I tend to agree.

My idea is having a community center that serves as a number of things. An athletic center, a library, a kitchen, a kennel, a garden, and a classroom – all in one spot. This structure would encourage a shared space for the community to meet, greet, and interact with each other.

An athletic center for coaches to teach the community teamwork, communication, perseverance, encouragement, and hardwork.

A library for members to remember that Google doesn’t have all the answers. To remind them that group work once happened around a table and not in a virtual world. And to share stories and read aloud to the younger members of the community and the elders because nothing beats reading a story with voices acted out and pictures to be shown.

A kitchen because it seems to be that in economic crisis, community needs to support one another and there is no better way to do that then to host potlucks for the community. Each household brings a dish and then you have a huge community dinner, once a month (or once a week for smaller communities). Also, cooking is one of the most memorable experiences that young people need to take part in. Tell me you don’t have a fond memory of making cookies with Grandma or having Dad show you how to flip a pancake…almost everyone does!

A kennel because if a household cannot care for the animal they thought they could, why should they have to give it up? Why not have the community take on the responsibility and share in the care for the animal. This also would provide the community with a volunteer opportunity that is right in the neighborhood. Who wouldn’t want to hire a young teenager who has volunteered and help run a kennel/shelter for a number of years? Working with animals requires patience, a positive attitude, and big lessons in responsibility. I don’t know anyone who couldn’t benefit from lessons in any of those areas.

A garden because it will bring the community together and share in the harvest. Growing your own spices, vegetables, and fruits to share with those around you will lead to growing friendships and a strong community bond. It also takes hardwork and a bit of skill – a skill that could prove to be useful in saving money in the future.

A classroom. Let’s face, what community couldn’t use a classroom to share ideas, give talks, provide workshops, and foster learning. If given the opportunity, or asked, how many people in your community have skills, hobbies, or professions that you would love to hear more and learn more about. I’m willing to bet quite a few.

That’s the idea for the day. Bring the community support back to the community. Create a venue where people can gather, share, learn, and grow all within walking distance or a short ride down the road from their homes.

Again, if I am mayor one day of a small town, this will happen (or atleast I’d try to make it happen).

Rock on and thanks for reading,
Joe