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SpaceShare Carpooling & Green Logistics December Newsletter

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This month...

  • Year in Review
  • Santa's Carbon-Neutral Sleigh
  • Live in the Philippines or Thailand, Work for SpaceShare
  • Enviro Tip: Junk Mail
  • Volunteer Project: Green Events Guide
  • An honest New Year's Review

Year in Review

It's been an amazing year, and also a tough year.

Some of the best news has come from events like EarthDance, where nearly 700 people signed up to carpool for a single event. We've seen incremental improvements across the board: some code improvements, a few web site changes, better systems for working with client events, more contacts, more press (like KPFA radio two weeks ago), more events and more users at each event.

This year is ending well, with repeat client events starting to line up carpool systems six months ahead of time instead of six weeks last year.

There's more good news on the horizon, with new tools for 2006. New designed systems let venues like Four Quarters InterFaith Sanctuary orchestrate carpools for a dozen or so events, all on one configuration. And our activist connection tools should see their first serious use, helping large gatherings refocus and relocalize their energies back into communities.

We're also facing some bottle-necks and challenges to continuing the project. I'll put the challenges at the bottom since, well, no one wants to read that, but if you are interested in the struggles that "walk the walk" ventures face, see the last article.

Santa's Carbon-Neutral Sleigh

Some of my favorite activists are big supporters of Buy Nothing Day and general efforts to minimize the over-consumption of this season. One gift that let's you buy less than nothing is TerraPass: you counter-balance the carbon dioxide your car (or someone else's) produces by funding a project to reduce greenhouse gasses somewhere else.

Live in the Philippines or Thailand, Work for SpaceShare

Activism aside, my dream job had long been to find a professional, challenging & worthwhile job, convince them to let me telecommute, then work from a tropical beach. SpaceShare is ready to grow beyond just a staff of one. We have enough work to do that we have to hire, especially people to research and call the events that we want to help green.

Marketing SpaceShare might be a great telecommute from home job for someone in transition, like a new parent who wants to stay with their child, where you need to stay part of the professional world, keep your resume active, save the planet, work flexibly and from home, and for all that can manage on a small paycheck.

Or, it might be a great job for an escape artist. Would you want to live on a tropical beach for a year, work a 30 hour week in a professional setting doing good work that will grow your resume, and have a little bit of savings when your travels are over?

Past volunteers are particularly welcome to check in and let me know if you are interested (I keep telling everyone that volunteers will get oversized karmic paybacks...) As are people with any real knowledge or advice about how we could go about "travel-sourcing" some of SpaceShare's phone and online work.

Enviro Tip: Stop Junk Mail

Stop paper junk mail: www.stopjunkmail.org (as recommended by Alameda County Green Business Program.)

A quick guide to the more complicated world of junk email: http://www.learningfountain.com/spamadrs.htm

One interesting experiment is to google your email address. Spammers use tools similar to the google search engine, so if google can find your address, so can spammers. It's a good idea to have a throw-away address to use when posting on the web.

Volunteer Project: Green Events Guide

SpaceShare may be talking to a thousand event organizers in a year. It's time to help them be green in many ways. This is a straightforward volunteer role that will help many events, researching and re-designing the "Green Events Guide." I'm hoping to get 2 or 3 people willing to make a 5 hour per week committment for a couple months. Together, you'll be able to make a real contribution - anyone looking for a green New Year's Resolution?

An honest New Year's Review

My personal philosophy to creating community and finding joy in paticipating in efforts to heal the earth isn't to get a charismatic leader up on stage to lead and to encourage people to be conscious, nor to think small and leave the main economy to corporations, but simply to find the place you can have the most effect and get to work.

Work with clients outside the environmental movement really has been going amazing well. When I first started SpaceShare, I thought this would be the most challenging part, taking a seed of an idea and seeing if it could sprout. I never intended to do this alone, always wanted other people to jump in with me. I expected that once the ideas were proven, showing that a few people could create tremendous environmental change, there would be support and the environmental community would get behind it. That hasn't begun to happen.

New Business Models & Living Wage Activism

As I've said for a year or two now, SpaceShare must be a three person company to survive. SpaceShare is a relatively low-budget operation that isn't going to attract investment capital, but if there were three or more of us, we'd all be able to make a decent living.

I've been asking everyone I know to connect me with potential partners to take on some of the risk and excitement, helping me reach out to the thousands of events across the country. I've invited my friends, I've tried to invite all the anarchists in Berkeley to come make this a collective, but no one has made the jump.


Lots of people on this list have contributed in small and moderate ways, and I truly appreciate it. Finding people to come join me in the center, even just so we'll able to process all the advice and suggestions generated here, finding people who take on parts of the project so I can get them off my plate has been much harder. SpaceShare was intended to follow a different model, instead of asking donors for money, it was intended as more of a "do it ourselves" model. In a sad experience for me, very few of the interns or volunteers who commit to a project show up, and the energy of always asking has worn me thin. I know that there have been people who really meant to volunteer that I failed to communicate with under the waves of offers by people who don't show up.

Another slow point for community building has been many of the largest Bay Area environmental organizations, who have collectively been some of the slowest groups to participate & contribute back, few ever remember to call SpaceShare when they have an event, and I don't have the resources to keep reminding them. Our national growth is going well, but local is slow.

SpaceShare can't be just me anymore, and the sad truth is, I've failed to bring in many other people besides friends, and volunteers have collectively used more of my time than they've contributed. I don't need to make much money, I don't mind working hard, but I can't do this alone, and have reached a personal limit energetically, where contributing to the world is no longer a joy.

There have been a few wonderful exceptions to this who have helped keep SpaceShare going, but not enough for a project of this size - the point isn't to show that it can be done, but to do it, to help thousands of events and colleges and churches, millions of people.

Future choices

This New Years I'll be giving some serious thought to the future of SpaceShare. The short version is a switch to more of a client-focus and standard business model, less a long-term focus on building a nationwide instant-carpool system. Below are the likely path-changes I'll be exploring for 2006.

Direction change options:

  1. Reducing non-exchange activism: SpaceShare has been building many free sites, from peace rallies to vegetarian events. It's long been the "policy" that these events are chosen by the volunteers - if you volunteer twenty hours, you can credit that to decide that a particular peace rally should have a free carpool system. I've been covering the slack and can't do it anymore, so unless other people contribute and assign their contributions to free sites, there won't be many built. Other "activist organization" projects, like the Greening Guide, will not be on my personal to-do list this year.
  2. SpaceShare may be going to convert to a more traditional business model. focused a bit more on the bottom line, switching from trying to write the next generation of carpool tools towards writing more commercial software for events. Building a nation-wide instant-carpool system is beyond my capacity without a couple more people.
  3. Another option is becoming a more traditional nonprofit and looking for grant money; I'm worried that if I spend my time doing this SpaceShare will fall apart in the meanwhile, but am considering a foray in this direction.
  4. SpaceShare is facing many of the same challenges as other US businesses. There are very few coops of any type in Berkeley, and now I have a better idea why. What feels like the strangest option but is looking quite likely: switching from a goal of forming a collective or partnership towards outsourcing some of the work overseas.
  5. Another possibility is to move operations to somewhere where the cost of living is more reasonable, where there are coops thriving. One surprising pattern I've noticed is that on the road, in places like Portland and Seattle, we've had great people show up just off Craigslists posts. My data sample is small, but the people we've worked with there have been much less flaky and actually show up. SpaceShare might be moving to Eugene or Portland: if you'd like to support a new home base for this project, or work for SpaceShare where you live, let me know.


If you feel ready to contribute a piece of the puzzle that can keep us growing, let me know soon, and help guide the new directions SpaceShare will be taking. I don't mean to list the shortcomings of the enviro movement as a whine, but rather as a call to action, to show what SpaceShare is facing and explore ways to strengthen the movement.

I certainly hope that SpaceShare doesn't become another great environmental idea that doesn't happen except at a token level. My skills and energy won't let me run the whole show: if more volunteers get serious, if a few people join as partners in the center of SpaceShare, if an angel investor makes a somewhat risky loan at low interest, we can continue to have the energy to grow over the "hump" of being too small to be financially sustainable, we can grow to where SpaceShare can contribute to the lives of the people doing the work rather than be a burden on one person.

So you'll either be hearing from me the smaller and safer goals for 2006 from the list above, or with luck be reading a newsletter someone else writes with better news!

Blessings & Choices,

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