Monday, December 3, 2012

Inspiration: Obtanium Eletrical Generators

2012-11-28 "Self-Taught African Teen Turns Trash into Electricity" by Kristina Chew from "Care2"
Necessity can be the mother of invention as the case of 16-year-old Kelvin Doe amply illustrates [].
Using things he’d found in trash bins or around his house in Sierra Leone in western Africa, Doe started making batteries and generators when he was 13 years old [].
The generator not only provides electricity for his house — which otherwise would get power about once a week — and for his neighbors to charge their mobile phones, it also powers Doe’s own FM radio station, outfitted with a recycled CD player and antenna and a music mixer.
For his innovation and invention, Doe was invited to be part of a “Meet the Young Makers” panel at the 2012 World Maker Faire this past September [].
He has also become the youngest person ever to be part of the “Visiting Practioner’s Program” at M.I.T.; students at M.I.T. and Harvard, and the President of Harvard, have heard Doe talk about his inventions.
Doe’s ingenuity was discovered thanks to a program called Innovate Salone [], a national “innovation challenge” for high school students in Sierra Leone sponsored by an international nonprofit, Global Minimum [].
Students were asked to devise solutions to problems in their everyday lives. 300 submitted applications; ideas included new agricultural programs and ways to provide quality education through the radio.
David Sengah, a Sierra Leonean who studied biomedical engineering at Harvard and is now pursuing a Ph.D. at M.I.T., helped put together Innovate Salone. At the M.I.T. Media Lab, he is developing the “next generation of prosthetic sockets and wearable mechanical interfaces.” His own experience of Sierra Leone’s needs has fueled his work. But it has also made him aware that, when he brings his prostheses to his country, it is crucial that people there be able to use and maintain them, without the technologies available at M.I.T.
In other words, technology is great and wondrous but its recipients need to be able to use it on their own, with the materials they have readily at hand.
Doe’s batteries — made by combining acid, soda and metal in a tin cup, letting the mixture dry and wrapping tape around the cup — exemplify this goal. He made a generator from a rusty voltage stabilizer found in the trash. These creations would be the stuff of science fair projects here in the U.S.; in Doe’s case, they have play a vital role in his community and not only by providing electricity. For his homemade FM station, Doe has friends (average age 12) serve as reporters and station managers, to interview soccer game spectators and keep a calendar of requests for his DJ services.
If you’re not impressed yet (not to mention inspired to see what you can make yourself!), you can listen to Doe in a video produced by’s THINKR YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Products made in the Bay Area

Sonoma Valley

Landmade Bath Salts and Soaps
sold at [], which also sells a variety of locally made products.

School Garden Company
263 Cleveland Ave Petaluma CA 94952

Pure Touch Theraputics
3715 Santa Rosa Ave Ste A10, Santa Rosa, CA 95407
800-442-PURE (7873)

San Francisco

SF Made
Katie Sofis [] [415-987-7004]

SFMade is a California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, established in 2010 and headquartered in San Francisco. It is the only organization of its kind focused on building San Francisco’s economic base by developing the local manufacturing sector.
SFMade’s mission is to build and support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco,  that sustains companies producing locally-made products, encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce.

Other sovereign economics projects

Stardust Localizing

Transition USA

Equal Distribution
Equal-Distribution is dedicated to bringing hand-crafted products to the global market that are conscious, understanding that we are the creators of our realities with our thoughts, our words and our deeds.
 All items are shipped by the individual artisans, so please allow 28 days for delivery. If you are not 100% satisfied please return our products unused and we will refund your payments promptly.
 More clothing, music, instruments, art, foods and general healing products are going be added to our catalog.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sonoma Valley

2006-11-07 Election - Sonoma County, CA  
Measure F
County of Sonoma
Open Space, Clean Water and Farmland Protection Measure - 2/3 Approval Required
Pass: 126,570 / 75.7% Yes votes ...... 40,528 / 24.3% No votes
To preserve natural lands from development; protect working farms and ranches; protect drinking water sources; improve water quality in lakes, rivers and streams; create and improve parks and trails; and preserve the coastline and beaches, shall the current quarter-cent sales tax, funding the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, be continued for twenty years, and bonds authorized to finance projects, with required independent audits and citizen oversight without increasing taxes?

Sonoma County Electric Vehicle Charging Stations [link], revised 2014-06

Community Currencies

California changes law to allow for expansion of alternative monetary systems [link]
** Davis Dollars [link]

Davis Dollars

Accepted at []

2010-10-20 "Buy-local currency minted" by Cheyenne Cary from "The Davis Enterprise"
In a push to make Davis a more self-supporting community, Nicholas Barry and his teammates at Davis Dollars have started minting a cash alternative.
As of April, Davis Dollars had printed 10,000 of the colorful buy-local bills, and now the group aims to bring its community currency project into the next phase of circulation.
“One of the central ideas of Davis Dollars is to get local people to interact and exchange more,” said Barry, a 2007 UC Davis graduate and Davis Dollars founder.
“The big benefit of community currency is that it encourages spending locally, so that money can move around many more times before leaving.”
Barry’s brainchild has been on the scene for a while — outreach efforts for Davis Dollars have been in motion since last year.
Now, the Davis Dollars project features a new Craiglist-like website ( where users can find all the goods and services that Davisites have listed as “provided” or “wanted” for Davis Dollars. Items up for trade include composting lessons, craft supplies and, of course, bike repair.
Website visitors also can search for local businesses that accept the new legal tender. Davis Dollars users can buy a new amplifier at Watermelon Music or get a plant at Redwood Barn Nursery. With DDs in hand, they can pick up some chain lube at Apex Cycles or have a pro help fix a jumpy gear at the Bike Forth Collective.
Theoretically, anyway. As of now, only about 100 Davis Dollars have been sold into circulation and scarcely a handful of transactions have taken place. There are options, though; as of press time, 31 services are listed for sale and five businesses are confirmed supporters.
“Not many people have Davis Dollars yet, but this is something that will take time,” Barry said. “To make a community currency self-sustaining, we have to reach a critical mass.”
One of Davis Dollars’ first supporters was Watermelon Music, and store owner Jeff Simons endorses the DD mission as a buy-local kind of guy.
“When we met with Davis Dollars, they said they needed to reach a critical mass of retailers, and we signed on as a supporter,” Simons said. “It’s not that we think that we’re going to make any more money, but we benefit in the grand scheme. If the Davis downtown succeeds as a whole, then it’s better for everyone in town.”
One of the more appealing aspects of community currency, said Simons, is that it’s proved to be recession-proof. However, some issues remain for retailers. Taxes are problematic, as the IRS still would require reported income, regardless of what currency it’s in. Additionally, for stores like Watermelon Music, national vendors wouldn’t accept local bills.
Simons said he looks forward to “getting the full scoop” as the Davis Dollars movement evolves past its fact-finding phase.
Barry and his cohorts hope to have more Davis businesses sign on to give the paper bills more legitimacy. At a recent meeting in Shields Library, Davis Dollars interns brainstormed ideas for the currency’s expansion. Several interns enthusiastically described how Davis Dollars is modeled after Berkshares, a successful community currency in Berkshire, Mass.
When asked about his feelings regarding a barter economy, Barry said that DD’s overall mission is facilitating intra-community trade. Whether such trade is in DDs, barter or even U.S. dollars, Barry said, is secondary. DDs (or any currency) would work to fill in the gaps in a barter system and resolve imperfect matches; for example, if a carpenter wants payment in fresh chicken eggs, but no one selling eggs needs carpentry work. In the far-off future, Barry said he could even see Davis Dollars evolving into an online time bank, with no paper component at all.
DD advocates have approached the Davis Downtown Business Association and their idea got a warm reception, but the DDBA chose not to officially endorse Davis Dollars. DDBA Director Joy Cohan said this is because the association endorses only proposals that will benefit all, and not just some, of its members.
“We’re not yet ready to embrace Davis Dollars, although we support any organization committed to furthering the concept of spending locally,” Cohan said. “While it might make a lot of sense for some businesses in our membership, it wouldn’t make sense for some others.”
Smaller, simpler businesses could really benefit from Davis Dollars, Cohan said, but chain stores are unlikely to ever use them. Cohan said the DDBA board of directors also had some concerns about administrative details, such as whether Davis Dollars are counterfeit-proof.
Already in place is the downtown Davis gift card, which, like Davis Dollars, exchanges U.S. dollars for local currency and, unlike Davis Dollars, is accepted at more than 200 downtown businesses. According to Barry, the card isn’t competition.
“The gift cards are more of what I like to see,” he said. “There’s plenty of room in Davis for people to encourage spending locally.”
As of yet, Davis Dollars is a microscopic organization. All Davis Dollars come from Barry and crew, and DDs are sold online at a rate of $9.50 U.S. for 10 DDs. Each DD is worth exactly $1 U.S. at participating businesses. Individual consumers cannot exchange DDs for U.S. currency, but businesses can redeem DDs for old-fashioned U.S. dollars at a rate of 10 DDs for $9 U.S. Businesses seeking to trade in DDs therefore would be taking a 10 percent cut off the top. The discounted rates are designed to encourage the use of local currency, but may end up discouraging low-margin businesses from using DDs at all.
But they’re not giving up hope. The people behind Davis Dollars believe Davis is an ideal town for a community currency, not only for its closely-knit and economically strong populace, but also because of the social consciousness that has townies supporting community currency on principle.
“People who live long-term in college towns do so because they value relationships,” said Kristin Stoneking, one of the Davis Empowerment and Community Organization’s four board members. “And that’s one more example of our base values: to create community and help people connect.”
Three weeks ago, Davis Dollars activists incorporated as the Davis Empowerment and Community Organization. DECO is a public benefit nonprofit and members are applying for federal tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(4).
Barry hopes that DECO will become the home base of other community commerce projects. If programs like Davis Dollars can get off the ground, DECO may well help incubate new community groups in the years to come.