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NPD Weekly: Issue 2

1. Cancer Shmancer

Well known actress Fran Drescher overcame ovarian cancer and has become an activist launching her website cancerschmancer.org to alert the world to the perils of cancer causing toxins in our home environment. With babies umbilical cords today containing almost 300 chemicals, many untested, its time to alert the world and act. Beyond the alert and action ideas, Fran has championed a bi-partiison bill in the US House of Representatives that would create a government seal for carcinogen-free products (HR 6601: The Carcinogen Label Act of 2012). The bill is not likely to pass due to the businesses who like Monsanto object to people knowing what’s in their food and all other products but indicates exactly what we the people must demand from manufacturers. All products should be held accountable before they go on the market rather than after they have caused many cancers and deaths. If the government does not pass this bill, lets hope some enterprising entrepreneur takes up the cause. To listen Cancer consultant Grace Gawler’s interview with Fran here, click here.

2. A Grain of Sand

In the midst of living our lives in high density communities and cities, most of us have dreamed of living on an island at one point in our lives and the vast majority of us may have or will visit an island sometime in our lives but fewer will move to one and far fewer will buy one and become its caretaker for over 100 giant land tortoises, planting 16,000 trees, creating miles of paths and generally enjoying their life for 34 years. This is the fascinating story of Brendon Grimshaw, the man who lived his dream and does so to this day. The film’s pace reflects life on the island which is spacious and peaceful and its cinematography beautifully captures the details of Brendon’s fascinating life. Few films provide the deep insights and sense of place A Grain of Sand does. I suggest you consider taking a one hour vacation from your busyness and travel to Moyenne Island in the Seychelles for an immersion in a different way of life. This film transports the viewer to an unusual place, its energy and sense of time and a consciousness that speaks in a different language than we are use to. It’s the language of a man at peace and in tune with himself and the natural world. A rare treat in todays hectic and disconnected world. Enjoy your magical journey.

Note: A few days ago, Brendon passed on and thankfully his legacy will live on as a gift to future generations through the designation of Moyenne Island as part of the Seychelle’s National Park system and this documentary. Brendon will inspire me for the rest of my life.

Watch below or click here to begin your vacation.

3. Birds of Paradise Project

While we are exploring the domain of nature. the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Geographic brought the Birds-of-Paradise Project to the public through a tabletop book, an exhibit and a documentary. Here is a link to the trailer which is amazing.

4. What’s the Future of the Sharing Economy?Craig Shapiro, FastCo.Exist

Businesses that connect users for the purposes of sharing housing, vehicles, services, and more are becoming increasingly popular. So popular, in fact, a business called the Collaborative Fund exists to invest solely in businesses with model based in collaboration. This business is truly on the cutting edge of the sharing economy, which, as it grows, is finding ways to solve problems and improve resource performance in unanticipated ways. Shapiro illustrates how, as the sharing economy makes its way into more and more industries, we will start to see how or if our current models of business, regulation, and governance keep pace.

5. Reality Check

The social media revolution has changed everything. If you are in business you need to know the latest facts and if not, you might find this video fascinating.

6. Fantastic Fungi:The Spirit of Good

Paul Stamets is a mycologist whose work with mushrooms is at the leading edge of the transformation of consciousness in our relationship with the earth. In this beautiful documentary clip, you’ll gain an insight into the mind of this amazing man whose life is 100% in service to the earth and the evolution of consciousness. I can’t wait to see the finished film from Louis Schwartzberg. Watch the clip below or click here.

7. Living on $1 a Day

Two college students decided to go to Guatemala to live among the poorest who like billions of others live on $1 a day. This is their story.  Click here or watch below

8. Undriving

There is a program in Seattle, WA that wants to teach you to become an “Undriver”. Using creative methods to brainstorm and implement different ways to cut down on driving trips, their mission is to challenge people to reduce car trips in any way, shape or form.

Over 70% of the newly licensed “undrivers” say they established a new pattern in commuting.

How about just getting in the habit of inviting your neighbor to join you on trips to the grocery store?

What a great change for the New Year!



100 Top Films for a Sustainable Paradigm

Filmsforaction.com recently released a list of the “The Top 100 Documentaries Inspiring the Shift to a Sustainable Paradigm”. The group urges people to “host film screenings, share these films with friends, buy and give copies to your elected officials and school faculty… and you will be laying the foundation for a local movement for mass societal, environmental, and economic change.” The Economics of Happiness, the film that we shared with readers as part of the EOH Conference we attended was #3 on the list, behind The Corporation and The Future of Food. Also on the list at #64 is Paradise With Side Effects (2004), the independent documentary about ISEC’s work in Ladakh. Please consider ordering and/or hosting a film series in your community or with friends. The shift begins with each of us.

Click here to access the top 100 documentaries.


Ode Events

Two upcoming live webcasts you may want to attend.

The Shaman’s Pharmacy with FOX News Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham

Read about Kilham in Ode
Take a spellbinding trip into the world of shamans and healers, whose medicines for body and mind promote healing and transformation, with the man The New York Times calls “part David Attenborough, part Indiana Jones.”

Date: March 8, 2012
Time: 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time)
Location: Online
Price: $10 online

Building a Sustainable Future with Gunter Pauli

The author of The Blue Economy will lead a dialogue on the upcoming chapter in the global economic narrative as revealed in his latest book.

Date: March 30, 2012
Time: 6:30pm PST
Location: Fort Mason, San Francisco and online
Price: $35 live, $10 online

If you would like more information on either or both of these events, click here.


The Trojan Horse of Love

Susan Davis is a visionary innovator of “conscious sustainability.” Her unique skills have benefited thousands of individuals and numerous communities around the world over the past 35 years. She has been a community activist, serial entrepreneur, banker, venture capitalist and financial innovator. She has served as Founding Organizer for 20 “KINS Innovation Networks” for social investing, solar, organics, women’s financial empowerment, microenterprise and more…all based on love, trust and generosity. Amazingly, her eight social investing networks have all demonstrated that these love-based qualities do result in returns of market rate or above.

In her free book, The Trojan Horse of Love, Susan shares her amazing life story, the ups and down of her catalyzing networks, the rewards and challenges she faced and the methodology each network improved on to create the current innovation model. KINS signifies that “we are all one” and her story includes suggestions for how to find the “kindred spirits” who share you vision and values. Susan believes KINS is now well-proven to be highly cost-effective, faster, with higher impact and more fun than other innovation methods. Her intention is to gift this method to the world through her book and website, CapitalMissions.com.

Susan is currently working on a new book that will bring the methodology into sharper focus but The Trojan Horse of Love is a great primer for anyone wanting to implement or study a more conscious method of innovation than is currently the norm.

To download Susan’s complimentary book, please visit



Having More by Owning Less

–by Maria Popova , Original Story

Inconspicuous consumption, or what lunching ladies have to do with social web karma.

Stuff. We all accumulate it and eventually form all kinds of emotional attachments to it. (Arguably, because the marketing machine of the 20th century has conditioned us to do so.) But digital platforms and cloud-based tools are making it increasingly easy to have all the things we want without actually owning them. Because, as Wired founder and notable futurist Kevin Kelly once put it, “access is better than ownership.” Here are seven services that help shrink your carbon footprint, lighten your economic load and generally liberate you from the shackles of stuff through the power of sharing.



The age of keeping up with the Jonses is over. The time of linking up with them has begin. NeighborGoods is a new platform that allows you to do just that, allowing you to borrow and lend from and to your neighbors rather than buying new stuff. (Remind us please, what happened to that fancy blender you bought and used only twice?) From lawnmowers to bikes to DVD’s, the LA-based startup dubs itself “the Craigslist for borrowing,” allowing you to both save and earn money.

Transparent user ratings, transaction histories and privacy controls make the sharing process simple and safe, while automated calendars and reminders ensure the safe return of loaned items.

Give NeighborGoods a shot by creating a sharing group for your apartment building, campus, office, or reading group — both your wallet and your social life will thank you.

UPDATE: Per the co-founder’s kind comment below, we should clarify that NeighborGoods also allows you to import your Twitter and Facebook friends from the get-go, so you have an instant group to share with.



Similarly to Neighborgoods, SnapGoods allows you to rent, borrow and lend within your community. SnapGoods takes things step further by expanding the notion of “community” not only to your local group — neighborhood, office or apartment building — but to your social graph across the web’s trusted corners. The site features full Facebook and Meetup integration, extending your social circle to the cloud.

You can browse the goods people in your area are lending or take a look at what they need and lend a hand (or a sewing machine, as may be the case) if you’ve got the goods.



Growing one’s own produce is every hipster-urbanite’s pipe dream. But the trouble with it is that you have to actually have a place to grow it. And while a pot of cherry tomatoes on in your fire escape is better than nothing, it’s hardly anything. Enter Landshare, a simple yet brilliant platform for connecting aspiring growers with landowners who have the space but don’t use it.

Though currently only available in the U.K., we do hope to see Landshare itself, or at least the concept behind it, spread worldwide soon.



swaptree is a simple yet brilliant platform for swapping your media possessions — from books to DVD’s to vinyl — once they’ve run its course in your life as you hunt for the next great thing. Since we first covered swaptree nearly three years ago, the site has facilitated some 1.6 million swaps, saving its users an estimated $10.3 million while reducing their collective carbon footprint by 9.3 million tons.

Inspired by the founders’ moms, whose lunch dates with girlfriends turned into book-swap clubs, swaptree makes sure that the only thing between you and the latest season of 24 is the price of postage.



Most of us are familiar with the concept of regifting. (No disrespect, but the disconnect between good friends and good taste is sometimes astounding.) Luckily, GiftFlow allows you to swap gifts you don’t want for ones other people don’t want but you do. The platform is based on a system of karmic reputation, where your profile shows all you’ve given and taken, building an implicit system of trust through transparency.

So go ahead, grandma. Hit us with your latest sweet but misguided gift. Chances are, there’s someone out there who’d kill for that kitschy music box.



We’re big proponents of bikesharing but, to this point, the concept has failed to transcend local implementations. While some cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Denver are fortunate enough to have thriving bikesharing programs, we’re yet to see a single service available across different locations. Until then, we’d have to settle for the next best sharing-based transportation solution: Zipcar, a 24/7, on-demand carsharing service that gives its members flexible access to thousands of cars across the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Zipcar has been around for quite some time years and most people are already familiar with it, so we won’t overelaborate, but suffice it to say the service is the most promising solution to reducing both traffic congestion and pollution in cities without reducing the actual number of drivers.



Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor. More than an Outkast lyric line, this is the inspiration behind share some sugar — a celebration of neighborliness through the sharing of goods and resources. Much like SnapGoods and NeighborGoods, the service lets you borrow, rent and share stuff within your neighborhood or group of friends

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For more on the culture of shared resources, do watch Rachel Botsman’s excellent TEDxSyndney talk. Her forthcoming book, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, hits bookstores in two weeks and is an absolute must-read.

UPDATE: Botsman’s book, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, is now out and landed promptly on our best books in business, life and mind shortlist for 2010.


This article is reprinted with permission of Maria Popova. She is a cultural curator and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and Design Observer, and is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings.