Consumers.  When did we the people become so thoroughly downgraded in our primary societal role?  I explored this state of affairs one recent fourth of July.  The CEO of Patagonia captured the spirit of my angst more succinctly at the 2013 GreenBiz Forum with his admonition to transform “from consumers to citizens”, thus re-instating our always and proper role.

Today we spotlight entrepreneurs creating new tools to help restore this simple ethos, in a world challenged by oft-mysterious consumable offerings.   Farmigo CEO Benzi Ronen describes the innovative social platform he's created to connect communities of consumers with communities of local and sustainable farmers.   Adventure Capitalist Megan Joy Havrda highlights PowerfulMe, a potent shopping tool developed by one of her clients to empower rushed shoppers in making sustainable and conscientious choices.  

Consumer product providers themselves are “getting” this growing need and opportunity to engage mindfully with their communities.  Suzanne Shelton’s marketing and PR firm facilitates this interaction through multi-brand collaborative campaigns like WastingWaterIsWierd. Meet “Rip the Drip” yourself and be forever changed.

This call to citizenship is the subject of a recent book by former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  Citizenville urges a new and innovative relationship with government.   As if in response, the citizen engagement theme appeared again and again in Sustainable Silicon Valley’s (SSV) recent ideation campaign, the Showcase of Solutions for Planetary Sustainability (culminating in a May 23 event at NASA/Ames).   The Showcase Finalists list is alive with platform concepts designed to engage consumers and communities in collaborative acts of sustainability. One idea making the Finalist list was developed by two creative colleagues and myself in a “sustainable design workshop” held by SSV shortly after Superstorm Sandy.  Mission: Resiliency utilizes a “mission”-oriented gamification platform to help communities prepare collaboratively for both sudden and gradual disruption.  A similarly-spirited and popular idea, the Cool City Challenge focuses on creating City-wide competitions based on the The Low-Carbon Diet.   

Clearly, a hunger is upon us.  Let’s feed this appetite for citizen engagement, and enthusiasticaly claim our role as Citizens again.

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Sue Lebeck 

  Cool Block Platform Director

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