Here are a couple of interesting projects/movements I just ran across. These are both great examples of how people can organize and use their collective power to modify industry.
Slow Food is a movement designed to counter fast food and hi-impact susperscaling of food production. SciFi futurist Bruce Sterling has a great write-up of Slow Food in Metropolis. From the article:
Its criteria are strict: (a) Is the product nonglobalized or, better yet, inherently nonglobalizable? (b) Is it artisanally made (so thereâ€™s no possibility of any industrial economies of scale)? (c) Is it high-quality (the consumer â€œwowâ€ factor)? (d) Is it sustainably produced? (Not only is this politically pleasing, but it swiftly eliminates competition from most multinationals.) (e) Is this product likely to disappear from the planet otherwise? (Biodiversity must be served!)
Carrot Mob is another democratizing and locally-empowering group that “organizes consumers to make purchases, rewarding companies who make environmentally friendly choices”. From their website:
On Saturday, March 29th, at 1pm, come to K & D Market… and buy whatever you want. Buy a lot. We’re going to be tracking everyone’s purchases and then calculating how much revenue we brought to the store. K & D has committed to spending 22% of all the revenue we bring in on energy-saving measures identified by an SF Energy Watch audit, in order to make their store more environmentally friendly! This was the result of a bidding war, which they won, prevailing as the store most committed to environmental improvement among its competitors.
This movement of group financial empowerment is going to see a lot of traction as communities (local and networked) leverage mobile and social tools to become more organized around shared interests. FWIW, Andrea and I were discussing how groups might gather funds under political/ecological/social platforms that candidates could then pledge for (IE democratizing PAC’s). See also Larry Lessig’s newest reform project Change Congress.