Category Archives: Stewardship

Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swaps During Covid

Rope between street trees hangs free clothing, box holds other free items

Many of us are downsizing and de-cluttering. Some because we have the time on our hands and it’s enjoyable, some preparing to move to a smaller place, some because kids/families are growing and we don’t need/fit the items anymore.

At this same time, many of the places we usually drop off our de-cluttering donations are not accepting donations at this time, and indoor Free Swapping activities are mostly on hold. Where can we put all our de-cluttered stuff?

How about a Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swap? For an example, we live in a walkable neighborhood where there is lots of foot traffic. I’ve strung a line between our street trees and have been hanging up clothes I no longer need/use love, with a ‘free’ sign. I also have a large cardboard box in the parking strip with a ‘free’ sign. It’s fun to watch neighbors walk by and look through the goodies, and see the joy on their faces as they take things they can use/repurpose. If you are in a more rural area, having a ‘free neighborhood swap’ might do the same thing by having families bring items they have decluttered to a central location.

My husband and I go on evening walks through our neighborhood. I’ve noticed that more neighbors have started putting out ‘free’ boxes in their parking strips now. Some have hung clothes from the branches of their trees. Others have laid items out on their front lawns with free sign and arrow. It makes walks through the neighborhood feel like a scavenger hunt! It also keeps usable items out of the landfill, and occasionally allows some social distancing neighborhood visits.

Right now it’s beautiful, sunny, warm weather. However, when it gets rainy, cardboard free boxes and clothes hanging in trees won’t work. But this fun activity can last longer if we bring in the items if rain is in the forecast, and put them back out when it’s sunny. As long as neighbors are walking their dogs, walking in the neighborhood, then this will work. When we are in our homes keeping dry and warm will be the time to pack in the idea. Maybe by then there will be a Covid vaccine and we can begin inside free swaps again?

Many of us have appreciated the added free frugal entertainment of Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swaps during this strange time, having something simple we can do together that combines community building, de-cluttering, and treasure hunting fun.

For more details on Free Swapping, check out the Swap Positive blog.

Barb Hughes

Innovative New Green House Grows Food In The Desert

A new type of green house that uses cardboard and sea water, grows healthy food in the desert…and it’s affordable.

Encourage Gun Ownership, Teach Empathy, Implement Resource Matching

A few practical steps to create a safer, happier, more productive community (both by community building and workforce building):

 

  1. Ban sale of assault rifles to civilians – however encourage and reward responsible gun ownership by treating gun ownership, registration, training, etc. the same way we treat the responsibility and privilege of car ownership. Also suggest/encourage concerned citizens to join the NRA so they can influence from the inside empathic and sensible accountability and responsibility of gun ownership and handling.

 

    2. Teach/include practical empathy classes in all classroom curriculum – not only would this be FUN, it would be helpful for student mental health by allowing them to see the humanity in those smaller and weaker…thus help them appreciate and be empathic to their own vulnerability and value:     

 

  1. Create a job dating game where job seekers of all ages, sexes, and abilities could input their transferable skills and passions as well as their past job experience and education. Business could input the transferable skills and passions needed for their particular job openings – including the ‘worst’ things about their jobs and the ‘benefits’ of the jobs. Because one person’s worst job is the next person’s best job – you could match what the employer and employee both want from the relationship. Since this game would be blind to age, sex, race, etc. it would naturally help diversify a workforce. This dating game would focus on passion, for example: the person who loved playing in the mud as a kid would get matched up to outdoor jobs with real mud, science jobs working with goey stuff, baking jobs working with dough, manufacturing jobs working with chemicals and more…so the future employee gets to choose from a wide variety of interesting and diverse jobs/career paths, while the employer gets someone passionate about their industry (an industry the prospective employee may have never thought to apply to). (Idea by Barb Hughes)

 

  1. Create a resource matching game. Non-profit organizations, government organizations, businesses, housing, universities, police, realtors, churches, individuals, etc. input what resources they have to offer. Individuals looking for a new house, apartment to rent, stores that deliver organic food, Tool libraries that loan out items for temporary use, non-profits or senior centers who can loan a wheelchair or crutches short term, local government agencies, schools that have a program in the field they want to study (and scholarships/bank financing), – the resources to match are endless. The difference between a resource matching game and just using google, is the individual playing the game can enter in their yearly income or explain they temporarily need resources for free. This allows non-profits and helping organizations to step in to assist people. It also allows individuals to offer to help – such as a hair stylist may input into the game that he/she is willing to give free haircuts to someone who is below the poverty line, or looking for a new job, or just got out of prison, or just graduated from college. It allows people and organizations to play a game to ‘match up’ what they have to offer, both for profit and for community building. And it allows the person playing the game to play both sides of the game – as a resource provider and a resource receiver. (Idea by Barb Hughes) Other ideas at https://betterideasnow.com/

Three Simple Ideas To Solve Our Biggest Problems

Reading Bill Nye’s book Everything All At Once, I’m inspired to share three of my ideas that would immediately change the world for the better using simple, doable processes that would solve multiple problems simultaneously. These three ideas would partner business, government, nonprofits, and community members to work together for good:

1. A job matching game focused on employee passions and transferable skills that matches the best employee to your business with the least amount of work and the most mutual satisfaction. Businesses that offer living wages, benefits, and respect their employees will be included…and job seekers of all abilities, education, and background can play.

2. A resources matching game that helps solve the multiple challenges of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and personal hopelessness. This game would be open for ALL to play so that there is no stigma.

3. A free sharing model that has worked for 12+ years that combines bringing new customers into businesses, community building, keeping items out of landfills, and free fun for all players.

I want access to partner with those who have the connections and resources to bring these ideas into reality (actually the third idea I’ve already created into reality at https://swappositive.wordpress.com/about , but need a bigger team to expand it).

These three ideas are practical and doable. I want to join a successful team to help create and implement these ideas in the spirit of the Bill Nye lifestyle philosophy. Please contact me at barbtalks22@gmail.com.

Respecting Workers Means Better Business

This article from the Portland Business Journal says the greatest number of undocumented workers are employed in leisure and hospitality, followed by the construction sector and professional/business services, but the biggest hit on the overall economy by deporting undocumented workers would be in manufacturing.

The article states, “How could these sectors move forward following mass deportations? It’s difficult to say, but employers may be left in the lurch as native-born American workers increasingly turn away from low-skill, labor-intensive jobs.” A farm industry study released in 2013 indicated American workers were not compelled to take up farm labor positions even during high unemployment.

Let’s break that down.

Most farms are not inside a big city, where most workers reside. So if a farm wants to hire workers, they need to hire local, or provide enough money for workers to move to the area and pay for housing and relocation costs.

Labeling farm, manufacturing, and hospitality work ‘low skill’ by pundits shows disrespect for the work. For example farm work needs to be taught and learned, just like any other job. Cherries need to be picked with the stem intact because they stay fresher longer thus can be sold for more money. There are techniques how to effectively and efficiently pick fruit – it is a skill. So job training of workers is important. When is the last time you saw a class on how to pick fruit? How about the physics and science safety of ladder placement?

“Americans turn away from labor-intensive jobs” is also a half-truth. Some people LIKE the idea of getting paid to work out. Some people LIKE to work outside and not be trapped in a stuffy office. But they haven’t been given the opportunity to learn, and have been told that this type of work is beneath them. (So – eating good food, being outside in the fresh air, and being paid to exercise is beneath you?  Some people would LOVE to do those things and get paid!)

Americans have also been led to believe that physical labor, farm labor, manufacturing, and hospitality labor is paid at a starvation wage. Business and industry can change this image by advertising and paying living wages, as well as providing benefits, training and/or mentoring to make these jobs attractive to quality workers of all ages.

So how do you get Americans to apply for jobs in agriculture, construction, hospitality, professional, business, and manufacturing?

  1. Respect the job
  2. Provide training
  3. Pay a living wage (where the worker can afford a home, food, transportation, etc.).
  4. Offer to relocate city workers if your job site is out in the middle of nowhere.

Business: you can’t get something for nothing. Pay your employees a living wage and respect them and the job they were hired to do.

Educators: we need food and plumbers, as well as teachers and doctors. Encourage kids to explore.

Everyone: don’t talk down a job and treat workers badly… and then expect people to seek out that job.

And finally, ponder this:  What does it say about all of us when we label certain necessary jobs only fit for “undocumented” workers? Why do we disrespect these necessary jobs AND the people who do them gratefully and well?  How can we take responsibility and provide leadership?

By Barb Hughes

Bank helps customers find jobs and love

A bank has found a unique way to help their customers create more wealth financially and socially, thus creating more money for customers to invest in houses, finance new business, and more.  An ingenious ‘love story’ idea mix where both business and customer are enriched.

Lender retains customers by finding them jobs and life partners

“Updating my resume. Plz kill me.”

“I’ve been playing with my Jobs Dating App idea. Here’s a conversation I had a few days ago on facebook when a friend mentioned they are begrudgingly looking for a new job.  I changed the names (other than my own) to protect privacy, and did light editing for clarification :

______________________________________________________________

Carl:  Updating my resume. Plz kill me.

Lynn: I did update mine recently and it suuuuuucked

Carl: Few things make me feel like more of a loser / impostor / slacker / etc.

Jeanie: I feel your pain. Doing that myself. Oh, and the job search itself. If I get so bored just reading a job description, how can I possibly imagine actually working there! Egads.

Carl: Right? Or finding the perfect job that you know you’ll love but realizing you’re not qualified. 

Jeanie: Right? Because somehow when it’s time to hire, all of a sudden HR and hiring managers seems to think that if you haven’t done that exact thing already, you can’t possibly be acceptable. You know, because once we start looking for a job, it’s impossible for us to ever learn a new thing ever again.

Carl: EXACTLY

Jeanie: I once got a rejection letter to my resume submission that actually said, “…you’re not a perfect fit.” Perfect. Who the hell would ever be a PERFECT fit? Except for the person who previously had the job but even that person would not be PERFECT because if they were, they’d still be in the job. Ugh.

Carl: No such thing as perfect. Sorry you’re job hunting, too.

Barb Hughes: I want to be on a team to design a job dating app. Where you fill out all the things you think are FUN, and then the algorithms find jobs that have similar things to what you like. It would make job-hunting entertaining, and bring up all kinds of new jobs that we’d never have thought to apply for. It would also be a great game for grade school, middle, and high school kids to get an idea of what current jobs out there they would actually be compatible for, so they can take classes that feed that interest…I mean they’ve already listed things they like to do (or want to try doing) so what better way to choose a career path?

Jeanie: Great idea! Except that I don’t think there’s a big market for someone who excels at reading books, binge watching Madame Secretary, snorkeling and frosting cupcakes. 😉

Barb Hughes:  Jeanie HA! That would be where the questions would be broken down and crafted in such a way that they would apply to job interests. For example, binge watching could be a transferable skill of “able to sit for long periods of time staring at a screen totally focused on watching something I find interesting.” Other questions would ferret out what those interests are.

Carl: ^^^Going through surveillance footage like those poor guys on legal dramas. 🙂

Barb Hughes: Frosting Cupcakes might be listed under several categories (depending on which actually brings you joy) such as ‘creating masterpieces with food, clay, or art’ or ‘repetitive hand motions that create a product such as knitting, frosting cupcakes, or painting’.

Barb Hughes: And then if a business has similar activities, such as assembling widgets,  bread making, painting clay figurines, etc. you might be paired up with possible jobs in anything from manufacturing to pharmacy work to watch repair. See how much fun this would be? Jobs you never would have thought of would be offered as possibilities of transferable skills to the things you ACTUALLY enjoy doing.

Barb Hughes: Carl, concerning surveillance footage – my daughter has a friend who would get in trouble as a kid for sneaking around listening in on people…and now he works as head security at a department store and gets to watch people on security cameras and then confront them. He loves his job.

Carl: I’ve made peace with the reality that not all jobs must be work one loves. That whole “do what you love and the money will follow” is nonsense. Someone has to do unpleasant jobs and that’s okay.

Jeanie: Carl I actually agree. I’m totally fine working at a job I’m not “passionate” about, as long as it’s fairly decent and the pay is sufficient. There was this great article I came across a few years ago about how the idea of “following your passion” is overrated. I’ll see if I can find it–you may like it.

Jeanie: I think that whole passion following thing has created a lot of disappointed young people. But maybe Barb can crack the code…

Barb Hughes: I would also like to add in – for the business offering the job – for them to fill out what benefits they offer. Free clothes (radio stations have lots of promotional t-shirts and stuff that they give to staff -radio outfitted me for awhile there; and  I’ve heard people at Nordstrom et all have nice employee discounts on clothes). Free Food (when I worked at a restaurant you could have one free meal each shift you worked; at New Seasons Market they offer employees 20% off everything in the store AND they give you free food through the blue slip program). Businesses would also fill out what kinds of health care they offered, if they give out free bus passes/pay for a car or your gas money etc. So not only would the prospective employee fill out the game to match, but the employer would fill out what that actual job does and what perks the company offers, so you get a *real* match. I’d also like google maps included in the game so you can see which jobs are closest to you via walk/bike/public transportation/driving/work from home so you can choose a short commute if you want (saving the city in gridlock and pollution).  I’ve been working on gamified questions, but of course this would take a lot more input and  research as well (which I enjoy doing).

Jeanie:  Barb these are all great ideas! Maybe you should develop the app!

Barb Hughes: Jeanie I’m looking into how to do that!

Barb Hughes:  I think gamifying it in a way that hasn’t been done before would at least give options we don’t currently have. I mean, it seems like all jobs ask for is what degree/how much college you have, and if you’ve done *that* particular job before. And  how many jobs are not even around anymore (book binder? radio disc jockey? all the things people over 40 went to college for?) It really doesn’t make sense to NOT have companies look for transferable skills, and what actions/opportunities brings an employee individual joy…and then for those same companies to offer to pay for any upgraded training an employee might need. Not only are there community colleges and tech/trade schools available for company paid training, there are also tons of free online classes, as well as free classes through public libraries, so an employer may not even have to PAY to train the employee…just give them a website and paid time to learn. And since the employee has already listed their interests, they will be thrilled that you are investing in them so they can invest in the company.

_____________________________________________________________

I’m interested in being on a team to develop this web app.  Please contact me at urbanfarmer pdx1 (at)  yahoo . com  and include what organization, skill, or financial backing you would contribute to make this job dating web app a reality.

By Barb Hughes

Job Matching Of The Future

People are scared because the future is unknown and moving so quickly.   They feel economically left behind. We could start to turn this paradigm on it’s head and take out the fear, take out the us/them thinking, by applying the following ideas and principles.

  1. We need an easier way for people to find living wage jobs.  I propose apps/websites/videos that gamify matching people’s skills and loves with today’s jobs, found in one easy to use place.  A combination of aptitude tests like Strong Interest Inventory, online games to find your emotional likes (similar to facebook games), and list any degrees, certifications, and skills you might have (including how many pounds you can lift, if you like to drive a vehicle, etc.)  These games need to be accessible online, searchable, and shareable on social media so they are easy to use.
  2. The ruling class needs a new game, too, because “who can make the most money and have the most toys” is old, stale and boring. Gamify the 1% and ruling class to see who’s employees/businesses/towns/states can create the best new ways to provide and process clean water, whole fresh food techniques, ways to improve health, etc. – and then implement those ideas through living wage jobs found on easily accessible apps/games that can be found on websites/facebook pages so people in all areas of the US can find out about them (see #1).
  3. B Corps are a new way to do business, with a people/profit/planet focus, thus creating a cradle to cradle loop which is more fun, cost effective, and a better (and cheaper) use of resources for business.
  4. And we need new training/education – sponsored by the industry/new industries, ruling class, and 1%ers themselves, as well as government and possibly other creative inputs – to give people hands-on training in the new job skills needed. Putting people to work in living wage jobs by matching their interests, skills, ability, and vision, will unite us socially by allowing us all the dignity of feeling a productive member of society and making life better for ourselves, our families, our communities…plus we’ll be creating goods and services right here in America that we can use ourselves and export for profit. We’ll all be part of a team again – with the ruling class actually leading the way to sustainability and honor, by simplifying and gamifying the process of creating new industries, jobs, and opportunities for all, no matter where you live or what your current skill set.

Let’s replace fear with practical fun and hard work.   I’d like to be on a working team to bring America together using simple, practical solutions to equip all Americans – city/country, colored/white, male/female, ruling class/working class, etc. – with successful tools/skills.  I have some templates to help get this started.  Contact me if interested.

Barb Hughes, Better Ideas Now blog founder

Telsa Unveils Solar Roof Shingles

Tesla is coming out with a solar roof that is compatible with their updated battery that can then charge their car. The cost of the roof is supposedly comparable to the cost of a roof plus your current electricity bill. Telsa has recently purchased Solar City as it’s distribution channel.  I look forward to see how this technology unfolds.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-31/no-one-saw-tesla-s-solar-roof-coming

Pop Up Tent With Solar Power

Great camping idea:  pop-up tents that are easy to use, lightweight, have solar panels to charge phones and provide LED lighting at night.

Combination Bike-Stroller

Bike-Stroller: convenient for parent and child as a bike riding to and from, and as a stroller when you get to your location. Great exercise, and so practical!

Edible Cutlery

Don’t throw away your disposable silverware – eat it!  This innovative ‘silverware’ is a food item that is baked, and comes in various flavors to go with whatever you are eating – sweet, savory, etc.  Disposable environmentally destructive plastic was ‘innovative’ in it’s day, but we’ve learned now that it’s harmful to the planet and to our health.  With todays technology and understanding we can do better!  (Plus the edible cutlery is nutritious and delicious according to those who’ve tried it.) What a great new business model.

 

The above story is from The Better India a news source featuring innovation for positive and practical change. I’ve just discovered it and bookmarked it.  Good stuff!

Affordable Housing for Seniors and Young Adults

Finland leads the way with another innovative idea: seniors and young adults enjoy affordable housing  – and an enriching community experience.

Four Steps To Economic Recovery

The news is full of articles trying to figure out a way to save America:  how to bring back the middle class, create jobs, help stop the disparity between the few rich at the top and the majority falling (or fearful of falling) toward poverty, and what to do about increasing homelessness and food insecurity.  American society seems gripped in fear, as many young people wrestle with college debt and little or no living wage work prospects.  Middle managers in their 40’s/50’s/60’s have been downsized/laid off, and haunt monthly job fairs featuring door-t0-door commission sales work (to try to reach those who don’t want to open their doors to strangers and/or don’t have money/need to purchase their products anyway).  An undergirding of fear is sweeping our nation just under the surface for those of wealth (and those hanging on by their fingernails to their wealth), a daily reality for many more.

The conversation is here.  People are awake and aware that this growing soup of problems are encroaching on us as a society, not just ‘the fringe others’.  This involves all of us.  Some of us who have not yet lost our job/home/health respond with self-protective denial.  Some of us in frustration and fear blame the ‘other’.  Some of us become clinically depressed and use pain medication/drink/drugs to hide.

I believe there is a practical way to turn this poverty of economy and spirit around. Here’s my idea outline for a Four Step Plan To Economic Recovery:

  1.  Living wage jobs provided by the very corporations and businesses that have taken living wage jobs away, as well as innovative business models such as B-Corporations and worker cooperatives that balance wages, community building, and benefits with profits.
  2. Mortgage companies/banks/developers et all to sell/rent housing that is affordable to wages earned in area said housing/businesses reside.  Seed Seattle is an example of an organization creating partnerships and inspiring investments in affordable housing, arts, and economic development.
  3. Medical health care that actually provides health benefit – not high priced/high deductible insurance that doesn’t cover any type of actual care.
  4. Education tied with industry jobs, so instead of graduating with a 4 year degree and $30,000-$200,000 of debt and no income/job in sight, the education/training is included in most businesses/jobs as part of the training package of said business/job. This would also be helpful for those re-entering the workforce and those who’s jobs have changed/no longer exist.

These four steps would in practical ways help turn the economy around with innovative business and industry leading the way by creating living wage jobs and incorporating training and benefits back into the business model.  Add to that affordable housing, fanning innovation, creating community building opportunities, rebuilding a middle class and giving tangible tools to bring disenfranchised into the middle class, and the result would be uplifting all of American society for a better future.

Barb Hughes 2013    Barb Hughes

Gravity Light – free energy source powered by gravity

This light source powered by gravity produces clean, free energy for lighting. No sun or batteries needed. No breathing kerosene fumes, no danger of damage by fires, only safe, clean, off-grid energy.

Tiny Banks – A return to traditional banking (Plus, how to start your own bank!)

Tired of the hassles of big banks? Dave Fishwick brought banking back to its roots:  local banks for local people, by the community for the community.

If you’re interested in making a positive difference in your community, Dave Fishwick shows you how to open your own bank:

One photographer is changing the world

imgresHumans of New York is a facebook site started as a photography project by Brandon in 2010, shortly after being fired from his finance job.  Brandon started HONY to create a catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, setting out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. Somewhere along the way, he began to interview his subjects in addition to photographing them, and alongside their portraits, would include quotes and short stories from their lives.

The facebook site now has over 11 million followers, and has recently turned a corner from an art site to creating social impact in a major way, with the photo and story of a boy named Vidal, from the HONY facebook page:

“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

Vidal’s simple comment sent photographer Brandon to Mott Hall Bridges Academy to meet Ms. Lopez.  Which then led to learning more about the school, and what they needed from Ms. Lopez and her team.  Which led to an indiegogo campaign to send the 6th grade class to visit Harvard.  Which led to thousands of people in the comments sections of these posts and follow up posts offering to help not only the kids in this school, but the kids in neighboring schools and kids in schools around the world.

And the story isn’t done yet.  Brandon keeps taking photos of kids, teachers, administrators – hearing their stories, giving them names and voices and a platform for positive change.  And people all over the world are responding with strength and encouragement and resources and networking.  See a video here.

One photographer is changing the world.  One face, one story at a time.

Transport and purify water at the same time

The Midomo Water Purifier transports and purifies water at the same time.

A Rational Response to Homelessness

Utah is tackling the homeless problem.  Their plan is already saving taxpayer money AND is improving the economy, plus they are on track to eliminate homelessness by 2015.

Utopia for those with Dementia

The Netherlands has a unique eldercare community built specifically for dementia patients, called Dementia Village.  Dementia Village is a safe 4 acre indoor/outdoor community where residents can enjoy the seasons, visit a restaurant, drink a cup of tea, get their hair done, go shopping, and are free to go wherever they want (within the save indoor/outdoor village with a ratio of 2 staff per resident).

This 4 acre complex is home to 23 housing units with 7 different ‘lifestyle themes’, the goal being to create a space where each resident can enjoy life and feel welcome.  On a physical level people here require fewer medications, eat better, live longer.  On a mental level they also seem to experience more joy.

Thanks to CNN’s World’s Untold Stories for this video.