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July 16, 2007


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Jeremy Gregg

Thank you for bringing light to this, Phil. I believe that the answer to your final question is certainly a yes -- let's begin today!

What can be done about it?


Thank you, Jeremy. As you know, giving is one element is a larger ecosystem. Some want us to concentrate on an element or two in isolation, leaving the bigger picture for them to manipulate from behind the screen. I would like to think that some giving would be directed to exposing and correcting systemic ills and those who make a living advancing them for private gain.


One option is to route around. If the government defines words like organic in ways pleasing to industry, and we still have the need to know which products and services are being produced in accord with our values we may need to produce our own information sources. The Internet makes in possible and we need to build some infrastructure to peer-produce the information and make it available online. Our friends at GrassCommons.org are working on exacly that problem as we are working at STC to make it easier to build the infrastructure by expanding the gift-economy space around open source software production.

It seems we still have a bit of a disconnect between the people working on specific elements and even the big picture of public messaging and policy debates, and potential funders of these initiatives. I'm still trying to understand your process and the expectations of how what you and Tracy are working on WRT donor conversations about values.

Those of us working on issues would like to engage donors, not as a walking checkbook but as citizens working on elements and/or the big picture, but we still don't see how it can connect. At STC many conversation are around the Gift Economy, what it is and how to make it bigger, how to have it support us on all levels. In the ethical space of a Gift Economy we have no intention to beg for donations, we are already clear that we are engaged in giving at a large scale in the production of open source software as our gift to the world. In that spirit the act of giving is not a financial transaction even when it involves money, it is a bond to community. We simply invite all to participate in the same spirit.

One more note on this subject specifically. When I brought this up during an STC conversation last night, it was pointed out that Congress has even made it illegal to label products with respect to genetic modification and such. That seems to be a flat out restriction of speech. What would happen if we put such product information on a web-site in an effort to route around such restrictions (un-Constitutional or not)? What if we created a certifying body for organic labelling that established a public identity (a brand of sorts) so that the consumer can identify "truly" organic products? I can imagine these actions creating the need for access to some legal resources, and this would also be a great place for philanthropists to step forward with some resources.

When will the progressive philanthropic community start to connect with the larger networks who are already moving forward with our without resources? We want to connect these communities and don't know how. The conversations in this space are the closest thing I have seen, yet there is still a disconnect. What is still missing?


Blogged you request. Perhaps someone will comment. I hope so.


I have been a little too close to this issue this year and will speak with you more offlist. Here are a few good resources to get you started, along with a strong recommendation to spend some time on the FDA site and POST COMMENTS about new restrictions that are not for your health.

http://fallenfruit.org (maps and projects related to eating local fruit from public trees)


http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/ (activists for health safety in US and beyond with WTO/Codex)

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