Streetbank Neighborhood Sharing


Introducing Streetbank: a new tool for rethinking resources by Rob Hopkins for introduces Sam Stephens, the founder of Streetbank and tells the story of this sharing initiative.

Streetbank is a non-profit website that takes into inventory the skills and items neighbors are willing to share with each other.

It started in Sam’s neighborhood when he borrowed a pint of milk, but in the UK Streetbank has grown a “community of over 34,000 people sharing their things and skills”. There are other communities that have been using Streetbank in other positive ways, like to donate laptops to children and getting together to clean up an elderly lady’s garden.

Sam Stephen says, “We find that once we start talking to our neighbors, you realize that there are things that you have and ways that you can help other people that that you didn’t realize.  Through local connections and small scale actions, we’re seeing positive changes to communities and it’s exciting.”

The small actions we take every day are very powerful because over time they form our habits and our character. Neighborhood sharing seems like a great idea, but I suppose something like Streetbank works best when you live in a supportive and open-minded neighborhood.

Building relationships with our neighbors the old analogue way of talking in person is always a good place to start, but once you are already friendly then Streetbank seems like a great way to keep information organized and easily accessible for everyone in the neighborhood.

Does your neighborhood or community participate in any kind of sharing? If not, can you share any ideas you might have to encourage sharing in your neighborhood?



Bhaskar Save, Gandhi of Natural Farming

“When a tree sapling planted by a farmer is still young and tender, it needs some attention. But as it matures, it can look after itself, and then it looks after the farmer.” - Bhaskar Save
“When a tree sapling planted by a farmer is still young and tender, it needs some attention. But as it matures, it can look after itself, and then it looks after the farmer.” – Bhaskar Save

Bhaskar Save’s farm is a food forest that provides a net supply of energy, water and fertility to the local eco-system. In a letter to the Prime minister Save writes, “In this vast nation, does any government agricultural department or university have a single farm run on modern methods, which is a net supplier of water, energy and fertility to the local eco-system, rather than a net consumer? But where there is undisturbed synergy of Nature, this is a reality! By all criteria of ecological audit, my farm has only a positive contribution to the health of the environment. Economically too, I get a manifold higher income than ‘modern’ farmers.”

Bhaskar Save says that nature already produces an abundant yield by itself, and that man is arrogant to try to increase that yield in a synthetic way. All man has to do, according to Save, is help ensure the conditions necessary for the best yield.

He believes that things people usually consider undesirable like ants, termites and weeds have their place in this type of natural orchard/farming that eventually matures to virtually take care of itself. Inside the farm’s gate there is a sign that reads: “Co-operation is the fundamental Law of Nature.”

Micro-organisms as well as earthworms, ants, and termites help with “conditioning of the soil and in recycling plant nutrients” while “weeds moderate the temperature of the earth…maintaining suitable conditions for soil organisms.” Excessive weeds are also a sign to the farmer that something is off with their crops and that they may be “hurting the earth and her creatures”.

Here is a summary of Save’s 4 fundamental principles of natural farming:

1. All living creatures have an equal right to live

2. Everything in Nature is useful and serves a purpose

3. Farming is dharma, a sacred path serving Nature and fellow creatures

4. Perennial fertility regeneration: humans take 5 to 15 % of the plants’ biomass yeild and leave 85 to 95 % to renew the soils fertility.

According to Save “Non-violence, the essential mark of cultural and spiritual evolution, is only possible through natural farming”. If we continue to produce food using the current standards of industrial farming isn’t it hypocritical to call ourselves evolved? Industrialized farming depletes the soil, kills micro-organisms, and requires an excessive use of harmful chemicals to produce.

Since the model of natural farming requires time to mature, and there are no immidiate gains, I picture individual farms using it to feed people locally, rather than it being used by corporations. It helps me envision farms like works of art, each farmer an artist intimate with his soil, plants, and animals. I think Ghandi was right when he said “complete self-reliance at the village level” is the basis for a good life.

Do you think that it is possible to use this model of farming to feed a whole country or the world?

From the article Bhaskar Save, the Gandhi of Natural Farming by Bharat Mansata on

Benjamin Franklin and Haters

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin and Haters in the same title caught my attention, but I kept reading the article by Maria Popova on BrainPickings discussing David McRaney’s book You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself because it starts by questioning how we experience reality.

“We now know that there is no way you can ever know an “objective” reality, and we know that you can never know how much of subjective reality is a fabrication, because you never experience anything other than the output of your mind. Everything that’s ever happened to you has happened inside your skull.”

The article discusses The Benjamin Franklin effect. It explains that when we are kind to a person, without any extrinsic or obvious reward for being kind, we must justify it to our selves, so we convince ourselves that we must like that person. The article calls this creating an intrinsic reward for our actions.

“This is why volunteering feels good and unpaid interns work so hard.”

This effect was named after Benjamin Franklin because he was prolific at turning haters into friends by tricking the people that disliked him into doing him some kindness. The hater, wanting to solve his cognitive dissonance would then have to convince himself that he must have liked Franklin all along.

According to the Franklin effect we like people we are nice to.

Do you think that you end up liking people you are nice to, or are you just nice to people you like?