Changing the Way We Write

writing-for-affecting-changeWe all want to see changes in society, from the underpaid Walmart employee to the overpaid CEO to the consumerist teenager who thinks he has to buy some new gadget. But what we rarely want to admit is that these kind of cultural changes require effort and time to change. These systems are set in place and have been ingrained into our culture for decades and they are hard to unlearn.

One thing that we can do in talking about such change is to speak the right language to the people we are trying to persuade. In our day-to-day way of speaking and writing, we need to talk in the languages and ideas of change that we would like to see in society.

In order to get a more equitable standard of living from the high-paid CEO to the low paid Walmart or McDonalds employee is to demand higher wages. One of the things to keep in mind while demanding higher wages is that according to economic theory and law, if you raise the price of an input to a product, the price of the final product will necessarily rise. So when you are writing letters to the editor in the paper about the necessity for higher wages for these employees, don’t mention anything about how this will raise prices for everyone. Just say, they need higher wages. You need to leave out any of the negative effects of raising wages in order to get this idea supported.

We can design support campaigns for these ideas by writing letters to the editor of local papers and state representative, telling them that we demand higher wages. Another thing you must keep in mind while writing these letters is to keep your ideas professional and succinct. You don’t want to come across as some crazy person, so be sure to use proper grammar and not to mix any words up. A particularly embarrassing mistake to make would be to misuse anytime or any time grammar when sending a letter to your state representative. These people deal with these two words all the time and you don’t want to give them any extra reasons for laughing at your letter. There are plenty of websites offering free beginners writing lessons where you can test yourself, so be sure to check those out before writing.

As we peaceably seek to change our society from a consumerist society to a communal society where everyone meets the needs of their neighbors and friends, one of the most important things to change is the language and the way we speak.

If we can speak in ways that sound appealing to a large enough audience we will soon start to see public support for our ideas and eventually they will come to pass. But it all starts with the initial design put in place to make the change you want to see in society. And remember, if you need to see examples using fare vs fair before your letter writing campaign, be sure to look those up. Let us know if you have any other ideas to help us see this change!

Pack Your Bag and Enjoy Nature

what should be in a bug out bagOne of the biggest problems that our society faces today is the rampant consumerist culture that is so incredibly pervasive in the mind of ordinary citizens. People think that need to keep buying things that they have absolutely no use for or they think that as soon as the latest and greatest gizmo gets released that they have to have it. This leads people to waiting and fighting in lines to buy a new cell phone or computer when they already have two sitting at their houses that work perfectly well.

The problem is that we have become more concerned about what we have than what we are and where we come from. How often do you hear about people just sitting back and enjoying the natural outdoors without talking about posting pictures of it on Instagram? I almost never do. We need to go back to a time when people cared for each other, for family, friends, and communities, not just the technologies that are in their pockets.

This weekend I reached a critical mass of sorts and had to get out in the great outdoors to experience nature first hand. I have been cooped up in the city doing work projects and traveling with my coworkers that I haven’t been able to get outside and truly take in everything that nature has to offer. That’s why first thing Friday after work I grabbed the ultimate bug out backpack list and got ready to hit the campsite. My bug out bag is a survival gear bag that I have assembled through the years for everything that I need to just get out of town and go into nature. It has food, water, shelter, anything that I need.

When you’re outdoors in the elements, taking in the beauty of mother earth, you really forget about all of the worries and meaningless troubles that we all face on a day-to-day basis. I mean, what good is the new iPhone when you can’t eat or drink? Luckily for me, my urban survival bag review has everything that I need for going out on a camping trip over the weekend.

My favorite part of camping trips is the nighttime. Getting a tent all set up and building a small little fire for warmth, then looking up at the stars. You don’t get views like that in the city—literally. In the city, there is so much light pollution, that you wouldn’t be able to see the starts if you wanted to. If it’s not too buggy out you can just lay there for hours looking into the night sky. It really is majestic.

My only regret is that I couldn’t stay out there longer. Unfortunately I have to be back at work on Monday, but hopefully in the next month or two I will be able to schedule a weeklong camping trip where I can get my fix of survival and outdoor adventure. I hope to a bunch of hiking, maybe some kayaking, and even make a fire by the riverside. That’s the beauty of nature! You can do whatever you want and the world is open for exploration. You just have to let it speak to you.

Changing Wall Street’s Accounting and Financial Transparency

accounts receivable adjusted trial balanceSince 2001, we as a country have seen the greed of Wall Street, stock brokers, investment bankers, and public company executives take advantage of the average, hard-working American who needs a mortgage or wants a stable retirement. We have come a long way from the early 2000s, but we haven’t come far enough. I think it’s important to remember what happened before we talk about the changes that need to occur.

In the 1990s, there were huge growths in the economy largely because the explosion of the Internet and all of the startup dot com companies that seemly came out of nowhere. People thought that the financial markets could never fail and they just kept investing. Wall Street executives caught on to this naive belief and began to come up with ways to take advantage of the consumers.

One of the most highly publicized cases of corporate fraud was Enron. This natural energy company seemed to increase profits year over year and eventually grew to the nation’s sixth largest company in earnings. The only problem was that all of these earnings were completely fake. Enron never actually made these profits and used a specific accounting treatment to hide the fact that it wasn’t actually meeting its investor expectations. One notable interview with Jeff Skilling revealed that the company couldn’t even produce a balance sheet to show investors how cash was flowing through the company.

This was because the profits consisted of numerous back door deals with subsidiaries where the parent company would take investors’ money and treat it as revenues while moving its debt to the books of the wholly owned companies. The parent corporation couldn’t control its Account Receivables management and eventually had to declare bankruptcy. It took about 16 years for Enron to attain nearly 50 billion dollars of assets and it took only 6 short weeks for the façade to be torn down and it to declare bankruptcy.

This is a prime example of how we need to change the financial markets and institutions in our country. The Occupy movement demonstrated that we, as average Americans, can stand up to this corporate greed and stop them from stealing our pensions and retirement funds.

Another example of financial markets failing happened in 2008 with the largest corporate bankruptcy in history. Lehman Brothers was one of the biggest banks in the world with assets in the hundreds of billions. Over time they became gambling larger and larger amounts of money on debt and equity-backed securities with no contingency plan if they failed. All of these accounting practices were quite evident if investors would have looked at their adjusted trial balance.

Once the housing market burst, so did most of Lehman Brothers’ investments. Unable to secure a Federal bailout, one of the world’s largest banks went out of business forcing millions of Americans to lose their investments and thousands of people to lose their jobs.

This kind of lost of wealth can’t happen again to the middle class. We need to stand up to the legislators and make sure they hold Wall Street accountable for these problems.

Shopping Local Helps Everyone

Shopping Local Helps Everyone

Dentists who do implants


One of the biggest changes that we need to see in society is the reemergence of support for the local community.

In today’s consumerist society people are too driven simply by the price of a good. The only thing that people value is whether or not you can give them the cheapest products, and this often comes at the expense of local jobs and careers.

Communities all across the country see big companies like Walmart come in and undercut local business’s prices. Sometimes they do this for years, slowly drying up all of the local mom-and-pap shops in an area, and once they are all gone, they raise the prices on those that are left. This is an unsustainable plan for a community and communities need to join with one another to support each other.

Whatever happened to the days of going to the local small-town hardware store to pick up some tools or a light bulb? Sure they may cost a little bit more than the supermarket and they aren’t as convenient to get to, but you know where the money is going. You know the store manager and you know his kids; they come over for dinner sometimes, and you know by shopping there you are helping him put his daughters through college. And you know what, paying a couple extra dollars for that is worth it.

And it’s not just jobs like the local hardware store that are in jeopardy by these big businesses. Even professional jobs are at stake. Consider your local small-town dentist. You used to go to the Chamber of Commerce or look up in the Yellow Pages where to get dental implants in Hartford Connecticut. But now even professional services like dental work, eye care, haircutting, and even banking are being done in these superstores. Asking your neighbor where the nearest dentist is in Michigan who does dental implant surgery near Auburn Hills might have just got a little more complicated because you find out that there are no more local dentists; the only dentist is town is the one at the superstore.

This is a fundamental problem in our society. Our consumerism has caused us to no longer be sustainable. We think that by shopping around for the best price we are actually helping ourselves or doing ourselves a favor, but this mentality ends up costing us our jobs and our communities. All of this needs to be a part of the discussion when it comes to fixing our society. We need to reinstall the idea of supporting your local community, taking pride in helping out our neighbors, and being a strong community activist.

So the next time you see a new mega Walmart or supercenter moving into your town, you should think twice before you support it. They may provide low-income families with jobs and access to affordable groceries and housing essentials but they end up costing the community its livelihood. Is it too much to ask for people just to pay a little bit more so that everyone can live comfortably?

Changing the World Thru Guitar Lessons

change the world with guitar lessonsAs you know, I am all about thinking of ways that we can change the world and make it a better place for us and future generations. Clean energy, renewable resources, and less destructive behaviors are only part of what can be done to change the world we live in. We not only need to sustain our earth, we also need to help each other in the process. Music is one of the best ways to touch someone else’s life and one of the best ways to change the heart of the world.

I often think about John Lennon’s Imagine. Look at all the people who were touched by that song. Music can soften people’s hearts and bring peace to many people in need. That is why I am so passionate about it and organizations that promote such great ideals.

The Give the Gift of Music campaign is sponsoring music stores that give free guitar lessons out to students in need. Could there be a better way to effect change in the world? I 100 percent support this cause. This will help inner city kids stay out of the streets and do something positive with their lives. Music is one way that everyone and anyone can be positive and create value. Just think about all of the popular musicians who have come out of poverty because of music. It’s amazing.

All kinds of celebrity musicians and guitarists are recording video training for students and young people to participate in and learn from. This is a great source for some of the best online guitar lessons that you could ask for. You will not only be getting training from some of the most talented musicians in the world like Ed Shehan, Michael Buble, and Taylor Swift, you will also be supporting a great cause.

Interactive guitar training isn’t always the easiest thing to follow, but these online lessons are made for beginners. Please go check them out.

This campaign is also supports music history education. Each training session will not only cover actually learning how to read music and how to play an instrument, it will also cover all kinds of music history topics from popular music culture to musical instrument history.

For example, the most widely used guitar in the world is the Fender electric guitar. Everyone can recognize its shape and most people can even recognize its sound. One class teaches the history of Fender as a company and shows students how to identify Telecaster serial Numbers by looking them up on a database.

Students will then be able to date the guitar and know a little about rock n’ roll history. This is such a cool campaign and project. I hope everyone gets involved in it in one-way or another. We can all change the world through music.

In the words of John Lennon, “you might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one… and the world will be as one.”

Renewable Energy Consumption: Earth’s Future

Renewable Energy Consumption: Earth’s Future

We should all use solar panels

As we begin designing for the future, we need to reevaluate every element of life and ask ourselves if we can make it better or if we are happy with the status quo. Are there parts of society that just don’t make sense? Are there things that can be designed differently to increase our quality of life?

Energy production is no different, and we should ask ourselves these very questions about our current energy production strategy. Currently we pay millions of dollars a year to fossil fuel companies in the form of tax breaks and subsidies while we provide no incentives to clean energy like wind and solar. These companies pump out billions of micrcocarbonic pollutants into our atmosphere every year, accelerating climate change and contributing to global warming.

Why is it that we are subsidizing outdated means of production that make our quality of life worse and our air dirtier? We should be encouraging companies to invest in green and other smart technologies that help the planet. When people are renovating historic homes, we should require them to install solar panels on the roofs. We should give tax credits to those people who want to install solar panels on their own homes to supplement their power supply because that is entrepreneurism. People who go out of their way to innovate, create new and better products, and install them at their own homes. That is how we will advance ourselves toward a cleaner and better planet Earth.

And the good news is that people all across the globe are doing just this. Many people in sun-soaked states all across American and Western Europe are choosing to install solar panels on their roofs to cut down on electricity costs and even make a bit of cash. When people install their solar panels on their roofs, the solar panels are creating energy whenever the sun is shining, but oftentimes, during the daytime of high sunlight you use very little electricity. This means that you are producing all of this electricity, but your not actually using any of it. Now what you can do is connect your solar panels to the grid and actually sell this electricity to the power company and make money!

So not only can you get free electricity from the sun with your solar panels you can also make cash by selling energy to the power companies to put back on the grid. In this sense, you’ll be an energy producer, albeit a clean one not some dirty coal one, and you’ll be providing families all across your community with the energy they need to keep their lights on.

This is why solar energy is clearly the best choice for the future of our planet. It is completely 100% green and it is 100% renewable. You just wait for the sun turn on and poof you have power!

The only way that we can increase rates of sustainable consumption while also increasing innovation is to give more people the reasons they need to invest in solar and other renewable technologies. If we can accomplish this, we will be able to give our kids a completely sustainable planet.

Reducing Paper Consumption

Reducing Paper Consumption

Green paper consumptions

It is great living in living in today’s modern society, and the future looks even brighter. We are almost universally seeing paper consumption across America rapidly decline. And why might you ask? Because businesses are investing in new technologies that make paper an irrelevant method of communication.

Gone are the days of widespread deforestation and endangering wildlife species to support an outdated logging and paper industry because today we have new technologies that make paper more and more obsolete.

Think about what positive changes the computer has brought about in our culture. At one point in time, in order to communicate with our loved ones the only option we had was to write them a letter. Businesses had to keep all of the files, receipts, invoices, etc., on paper. Students had to do all of their homework, problem solving, and essay writing on paper.

Today we do all of these things on our computers, without ever having to cut down a single tree! In this way, computers are helping us pave the way for Earth’s future of renewable energy. Plus, this doesn’t even go into the practical applications of having “virtual paper.” We don’t have to lug around briefcases full of documents anymore. We don’t have to carry big reams of paper into the office anymore. A paperless society is not only beneficial for our environment, it awfully convenient too.

These are exactly the kind of designs that we, as a society, should be focusing on: designs that create a better planet for everyone. We are slowly but surely starting to see businesses invest of new technologies that will bring about the same kinds of changes that the computer and the USB flash drive brought. Wind, solar, and hydroelectric technologies offer great promise for our entire planet and offer us a chance at sustainable living.

But for all of this praise, we should say that the computer has not been a universally positive on our society. Sure, it has eliminated most demand for paper and allowed us to communicate with our friends and families in ways we would have never before dreamed, but it has also contributed heavily to our consumerist society.

Now many people across the country simply cannot wait until the can get the new iPhone or the latest tablet PC. While the computer industry has helped us in so many ways, it has caused us to become unsustainable consumers in other ways.

What we need to do is design our tastes as consumers in a responsible and sustainable way that can be preserved in the long run. We need to realize that just because a new phone has come out that ours is not necessarily inferior and doesn’t need to be thrown out and replaced at the drop of a hat. Why not use it until it can’t be used anymore or donate it to a cause that provides phones for the less fortunate?

There is plenty or room for the computer industry to benefit society; we just need to make sure that the right designs are in place that allow their technologies to maximally contribute to society’s well being.

Converting Old Buildings Into Housing

Converting Old Buildings Into Housing

Consumerism Design for Change

A wonderful trend that we are seeing all across the country is the move to refurbish and renovate old downtown buildings and factories and convert them into livable spaces and restaurants. In city after city and town after town, old buildings that were once dilapidated and in shambles are now being restored.

Many of these projects have received widespread support from local historical societies and environmental groups, and some of them have even been privately financed.

Restoring these historic buildings is great for a number of reasons.

First, it helps preserve a community’s heritage. This is why historical societies fight to prevent the demolition of so many of these old buildings. What is more valuable to a community, a priceless historical building that has been in the community for ages or another modern strip mall building? Many of these buildings have been in communities for generations, hundreds and hundreds of years, so to tear them down, you are in a sense tearing down the history of the town. You are washing over everything that the town has come to be. Historical renovation projects allow the community to enjoy the historical buildings while having them also provide a useful service to the community.

Second, it is good for the environment. It is good for the environment to renovate old buildings because you then don’t have to build new ones. You are in a sense recycling the current building and putting it to use all over again.

Another benefit of restoring these old buildings is the clean up of pollution. Many of these old building were old factories that polluted heavily in the textile and manufacturing industries. Since many of these old factories and being replaced by new technologies, there pollutants are left there without ever getting cleaned up.

It is so widely recognized that restoring old buildings is beneficial to the community that many governments have offered tax credits to those wishing to do the work. For those interested in taking a old building, restoring it, and then using it for shops or housing, they can get a tax credit and save money. This is great because it provides communities who may not have the money to keep these buildings up to date with the resources they need. It helps out the small business owner who doesn’t want to see the local clock tower torn down or the local teacher who wants to see the pharmacy that her grandmother used to take her preserved.

And finally, keeping these buildings rids us of the idea that new is necessarily better. In our current consumerist society, we are programmed to think that just because something is old that it must also be inferior. Well, this is just not the case. Old and historical buildings offer plenty to the downtowns that they are in. For example, what kind of cultural significance does another strip mall or Starbucks offer a community? Oftentimes they will already have two or three, so it can’t offer that much! But a building full or history, full of culture, full of stories from generations of people, touches the lives in thousands. By keeping the historical buildings we are being responsible consumers because we aren’t just throwing things out because they are old.

Just brush off some of the dust and we have a great piece of art.