“You should write a book!” Well, I am
Working with Ruth and Trudy, we are authoring the Anti-Fragile Playbook, which is a step-by-step guide for those seeking to deliver a self-funded economic revival that addresses the root causes of generational poverty and trauma.
I’ve authored playbooks in the past, in both the military (an endeavor which earned me an Air Force Commendation Medal and Unit Airman of the Year in 1996), and in private enterprise (which earned me “Sales Impact Player of the Year” from a security company called Tripwire.
And working with fellow activists like Jim Gray, Peter Whitley, Miki Vuckovich, Mark Waters, and many others negotiated a playbook’s creation, which resulted in a three-way collaboration between the The Skatepark Project (formerly known as the Tony Hawk Foundation), the International Association of Skateboard Companies (aka “the skateboard industry”), and the non-profit I was running at the time: Skaters for Public Skateparks.
After going through two printings in the mid 2000’s, that particular playbook is currently available on-line.
The playbook we are currently writing is a little different: we aren’t going to release it until we’ve used it on ourselves, and delivered a referenceable community (a “living laboratory”) that people can review as they consider how they might take what they’ve learned and improve upon the results.
“The rising tide lifts all boats.”
The “living laboratory” for this playbook is the Tannehill Marketville Collective, which is located in Austin, Texas, and represents ordinary citizens who aspire to calibrate their economic footprint to the Tannehill watershed, so they may someday provide incentives for landowners to feed the fungi that lives underground, which feeds the soil, feeds the plants, and therefore helps improve the quality of our own watershed.
Our current endeavors are deeply informed by our respective experiences, including Ruth’s introduction of a “Community Renaissance Marketplace,” which leveraged a commercial kitchen to incubate about 90 Austin-area small businesses, and earned Ruth a feature of ABC World News Tonight about a decade ago, as discussed in this podcast.
The way Ruth puts it: with the addition of “S.L.O.W Tech” (sustainable Local Organic Work plus tech), a person can launch a virtual “Community Renaissance Marketplace” without having to rely upon the expense and overhead of an actual facility (discussed in this podcast episode).
The Anti-Fragile Playbook’s backbone is the 214 CALM — the Community Activation and Launch Methodology, which is a version of a methodology I’ve used as an activist since the 1980’s, guiding activists and community activators from a state of outrage to stewardship, through step-by-step action.
As an investment into a true spirit of authenticity, Ruth and I have recorded periodic “podcast” dispatches, sharing our progress, discussing our respective backgrounds, and interviewing fellow collaborators, such as M. Renee Orth (of the The Stone Soup Collective — Darlington SC), Tanya Golden (of Golden Tradition Saffron), Chris Cain (formerly of Alternatives Federal Credit Union), with more to come.
In our latest podcast (published 20 May, 2022) Ruth and I introduce what will likely become our second season: an “anti-fragile” model for land ownership, which (by design) would be one that delivers greater benefit to the landowner relative to how bad the economy becomes.
The podcast is available on Apple iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and is concurrently streaming via Activate Media (a solid group of activists out of the Boston area).
Additionally, Ruth and I have carried our message to other channels, including an interview on (professional skateboarder) Jim Gray’s podcast where I shared our vision with fellow skateboarders and skate activists in a discussion that was hilariously interrupted by a couple of Austin PD.
At the heart of our endeavors is community, which includes the sharing of meals, the load-balancing of hardships, and plenty of laughter.
We are authentically living the creation of the Anti-Fragile Playbook even as the world goes through dramatic changes, and we change in response.
One important point that often blows people’s minds: and almost none of this endeavor has been made possible through an infusion of money. Almost all progress has been the result of an investment in what Ruth describes as “soft capital,” which are the forms of gift economy which often have more value than actual money.
For example, the economic portion of the Anti-Fragile Playbook is facilitated through the use of technology that’s provided by my company: 214 Alpha, almost all of which was either paid for by us, or built “for free” by engineers that I have known for decades.
Our current app runs on Apple iOS, Google Android, PC desktop, and “IoT,” or the “Internet of things,” enabling us to deploy technology to support smart meters, smart appliances, etc.
The app supports all the functions necessary for self-governance, including:
- Digital identity (no fake accounts)
- Chat-based communications and a commerce-oriented social feed
- Commerce, through the use of an exclusive marketplace
- Banking, where people can get a community loan with only their reputation as collateral
- Reputation, which rewards social good, as well as forgiveness and redemption
- Arbitration, for conflict resolution
And the app is “private label” which means that it’s released to the respective app stores under the name of the customer community, and we remain behind the scenes, anonymous and unseen, so to speak.
This video (from last summer) gives a peek into how the app looks “behind the scenes.”
How does it work? This brief video introduces the micro-economy.
And this video introduces the economics that makes it all possible.
You notice that I waited till last to talk about technology? It’s because the technology is the least important part of this whole deal.
The people are what matter, and while we’d sure love to be your vendor, it’s possible that we aren’t a *fit* because we maintain extremely high standards of ethics, and will only work with those whose values align to our own.
Our values are posted on our web site, and are considered bizarre by those who believe the world needs to be run a certain way.
I turn most customers away because they aren’t a fit, and not everyone likes that. Most people believe that money buys them entrance into any exclusive circle.
They are wrong.
Periodically someone will say “we’ll do it ourselves,” and I talk them through precisely how they can make that happen, because I’m not trying to become a billionaire; there’s such a thing as being so drown in riches that you forget the wealth of community.
For my part: I’m doing what I can to make sure people can stay in their homes and continue feeding their children while reclaiming their agency and their dignity on their terms. I can’t speak for Ruth and Trudy, but from what I’ve witnessed from them so far, they are at least as committed as I am to this endeavor.
And to that end, I should note that also central to the model is the intentional inclusion of contributors that are “8–80 years old,” which in our case includes my children as well as Trudy’s dad: a PhD horticulturalist in his 90’s who early in his career was deployed to the Royal Family of Jordan to help them optimize the growth of citrus.
Indeed, in the brief video I discuss how inexpensive and low-tech tools can be used to secure the engagement of such a broad range of contributors.
As illustrated in the opening photo, it’s important for my 12 year old to review the book as it progresses, so too are insights provided by my twins as they sandwich “Miss Ruth” on the couch each evening and shower her with deserved love and affection.
That’s the part of the story that I wish everyone could manifest for themselves, because it’s not technology that’s going to save the day, nor is it “money,” technically speaking.
We genuinely want y’all to find that place within your respective communities where you can nuzzle down and get most cozy, so you are best-able to step boldly into seizing agency and reclaiming your dignity.
Ain’t nobody going to swoop in and rescue you without you losing a part of who you are inside. You’re going to have to do this one yourself, ideally with the love and support of a small trusted circle of family and friends.