Beautiful trailer for Aatsinki, a film that documents one year in the life of reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland. 

When problems find people, amazing things can happen.
— Ken Banks on his new book, “The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator.” Support his Kickstarter campaign to bring this collection of amazing social innovator stories through final production & promotion. 

Documenting the “Rise of the Reluctant Innovator” by Ken Banks (PopTech 2012)

This publication will fill a much-needed gap in the social innovation/social entrepreneurship market, one which is currently dominated by books which - often at no fault of their own - give the impression that meaningful change is only possible if you’re an MBA, or a geek, or have money or influence, or a carefully laid out five-year master plan, or all five. By highlighting the stories of ten ordinary yet remarkable individuals, and the impact their work is collectively having on hundreds of millions of people around the world, “Rise of the Reluctant Innovator” will show us that anything is possible, planning isn’t everything, and that anyone anywhere can change their world for the better.

Neat! PopTech 2012 speakers Jay Silver of MaKey MaKey (whose talk we just posted) and Claressa Shields (featured in the documentary T-REX) are highlighted in Kickstarter’s Best of 2012

The Social Cure: A revelatory examination of the future of HIV/AIDS and how current networking technology empowers us to affect change.

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Crowd Funding For Musicians Isn’t The Future; It’s The Present

By now, everyone’s heard of Kickstarter, the website that lets people with an idea or project ask other people to contribute toward realizing it. It’s called crowd funding, and this summer’s big success story was musician Amanda Palmer. She raised more than $1 million to produce her new album. But crowd funding doesn’t work for every musician every time.

Internet-based crowd funding works sort of like a bake sale. You pay a little bit more than that cupcake’s market value, and when your friends ask where you got it, you tell them the gym needs a new roof and the 11th grade is raising money to fix it. Album sales are less than half what they were 10 years ago. Your local musician needs a new roof.

The piece includes insight from 2010 Science Fellow Sinan Aral, whose specialty is influence and susceptibility (or what we call social contagion) in social networks.

"Typically in talks I ask people to raise their hand if they follow Ashton Kutcher on Twitter or know who Ashton Kutcher is," Aral says. "Everyone raises their hand. I have them put their hands down and then I ask, ‘Who in the room has ever done anything Ashton Kutcher asked them to do?’ And typically one sheepish person will raise their hand."

The Solar Pocket Factory is a great project that fits right in with the theme of our recent Edition, Small is Beautiful: The micro-everything revolution.

What if you could have electricity anywhere there was sunlight? What if the charge on your phone could last for weeks, the poorest, most remote homes in the world could have electric home lighting, and adding a USB charge outlet was as simple as slapping a sticker onto a sunlit wall? All of these are becoming possible thanks to microsolar: small solar panels that are small and cheap enough to go anywhere.

We’ve spent every cent we can scrounge building a Solar Pocket Factory, a small, automated machine that can make solar panels anywhere in the world, at a pace and quality that beats a sprawling factory. 



My energetic climate buddy Ben Jervey created a kickstarter! It’s an education themed project aimed to help folks understand where electricity comes from. Of course, it includes the impacts on the environment and tools to help fix the system. Donate a few bucks, reblog if you can. And follow askjerves:

So, here goes: yet another Kickstarter plea. I’m working on this pretty big project with the incredible folks at Focus the Nation, and we need dough to turn a basic Energy 101 primer into a kickass interactive e-version. 

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate to ask for anything (even clicks, let alone money), but I really, sincerely think this is a really important project. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever worked on, and I think that The Watt? An Energy 101 primer could be a super useful tool for climate and clean energy advocates. 

The basic mission here is to combat energy illiteracy. The basic reason is that you can’t advocate for something you don’t understand. 

So, please, if you care a lick about one of the biggest most fundamental challenges of our time, throw a few ducats our way. Promise to make it as awesome as possible. 

Thanks, Mike! Though I should say, it’s not just electricity. Energy in all forms. Watch the vid, which I think does a bang up job of explaining the scale of the project. 

Nice! We spy a few videos from our Energy Disruptors series, too.

Grow More Food & Fight Climate Change: Black Revolution

Black Revolution is a soilless growth media for plants containing biochar, coconut husk and compost. Biochar is a charcoal soil amendment made from waste that improves nutrient retention, offsets CO2 and has the potential to help feed our growing planet. Black Revolution is the world’s first carbon-negative replacement for soil made entirely from waste. It’s lighter than traditional soil, so it works great in rooftop or urban environments. The potting soil and chemical fertilizer industries are traditionally some of the most environmentally destructive in the world. Chemical fertilizers require massive amounts of fossil fuels and pollute our rivers and streams. Potting soils contain peat moss and vermiculite: non-renewable resources mined from endangered areas around the world.

2009 PopTech Fellow Jason Aramburu launched re:char in 2005 to develop low-cost technologies that fight climate change while improving the quality of degraded soils. re:char’s systems convert agricultural waste into renewable fuel and into biochar, sequestering atmospheric carbon and improving soil quality.

LowLine: An Underground Park on NYC’s Lower East Side on Kickstarter

What is the LowLine?

We want to transform transform an abandoned trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of Manhattan into the world’s first underground park.  It will be a new kind of public space, using solar technology for natural illumination, and cutting edge design to capture and highlight a very special industrial space.

What we need to do next

Now we need to build a full-scale installation— a “mini LowLine”— so people can see this with their own eyes.  And we need $100,000 to build it.  This tech demo will be an invaluable tool in helping convince our community, potential funders, the City, and the MTA that this idea can work. It will also help us refine the technology so we get it perfect once it’s time to build the real thing. We’re planning on installing the mockup in the Essex Street Market, an indoor public space in our neighborhood.

In addition to raising this money, we’re also beginning the feasibility study that will help build the economic case for the park, and will put us on even better footing with the MTA, the City, and our neighbors. We’re also busy doing outreach to business owners and residents to find out what our neighbors would like to see in this new space.

We hope you’ll support our effort to build a new kind of park.