When I moved to LA out of college (many years ago), I would always pick up a magazine called The Recycler. The Recycler was a used-stuff magazine localized by proximity in a vast and complicated City of Los Angeles. I bought my motorcycle, skies, concert tickets, furniture, and tools – all at incredible savings.
After a while, I began to notice that most of my friends – the people who I rode with, skied with, went to concerts with, and shared hobbies with – were in some indirect way connected through The Recycler. I soon began to strategically use The Recycler to buy, sell and trade stuff for the sole purpose of meeting interesting people. I was finding parties, events, and communities that I would never have been exposed to otherwise. When the Aerospace industry crashed, I turned to my community for employment. It flat out worked and I experienced a remarkable transition into … etc.
My new favorite social networking concept is from Micki Krimmel, CEO of NeighborGoods, LLC. I had the pleasure of meeting Micki at the Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco. NeighborGoods is a brilliantly simple concept where people in a neighborhood can list items that they are willing to lend or rent to others. This application is scaled to a highly localized community in our social landscape otherwise scaled to the automobile, commercial centers, and the Global Internet itself.
The Social Media Imperative
It has long been my contention of Social Media that nothing happens until the rubber meets the road; where people get together to actually produce something. In fact, the ‘corporation’ is an example of a hyper-local environment. It is also my prediction that as financial constraints sever the ties of traditional corporate structures, many of the functions of corporations and government are shifting to social media.
For this reason, applications such as NeighbborGoods will serve – no, they must serve – a greater role in unifying communities. I know this sounds really clinical, but Micki’s work is supported by urban theory luminaries such as Jane Jacobs, Richard Florida, and Robert Putnam.
GNP: Gross Neighborhood Product
The problem is that outside the construct of a corporation, there is no accounting system for the social value that strong neighborhoods produce. There is no measure in America’s gross domestic product for the value generated by unified communities. There is no line item on the balance sheet of industrial and corporate concerns for active, diverse, and well-balanced communities.
Yet, tangential evidence abounds.
There are plenty of data that suggest that vibrant and unified communities attract active and productive people. Companies locate jobs to productive communities. Home prices are more stable in these communities. Crime and delinquency is reduced. Silicon Valley itself is cited as a perfect mixture of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital in it’s communities. The best way to decrease the size of government, create jobs and create wealth is to unify neighborhoods.
Use it or lose it
While the dollar-denominated monetization of NeighborGoods may appear modest, however, the true social value that NeighborGoods brings into a community is off the charts.
Every municipality, chamber of commerce, economic development agency or anyone claiming to politically liberate or conserve anything in America should be looking at solutions designed and developed by visionary social entrepreneurs and community leaders like Micki Krimmel and NeighborGoods.