Wednesday, May 19, 2021

#139 / Social Inventions


As I walk around Santa Cruz, I still visit that "little free library" I wrote about back in February of last year, and which I have referred to since. During one of my recent visits, as I opened up the door and browsed, I found a copy of 500 Ways to Change the World, the cover of which is illustrated above. Since my first time use of this helpful sidewalk book box, I notice that something has changed. Now, the books exposed for adoption are stamped with this advisory: "NEVER FOR SALE - ALWAYS FOR FREE, Little Free Library, 332 S. Branciforte Ave." 
Since I have never thought it completely appropriate to bother the residents of this generous household, to tell the people who live there how much I have appreciated their "little free library," let me express my gratitude here. Since the people responsible are now providing the exact address in their frontispiece rubber stamp, I assume that you, too, would be welcome to browse the selection, just remembering the thought that those who take should also give back!
As for that book, with its 500 ideas on how to change the world, I was interested in what one reader said, by way of a review, on the website (which is where I scavenged the picture above). In response to a review by "Chris," who proclaimed the book "a bit cheesy and not what I would consider a 'real' read," Diane Moore said, "it's still a pretty good book. I thought that it was going to be about 'going green,' and 500 ways to do it. But, the book is more about changing the world through 'social inventions.'"
What I liked about Diane's review was the fact that she highlighted the idea that the best way to change the world (and boy do we need to do that) might not be through some sort of "technological" solution, but by way of what could be called "social innovation." I think that's right. We do live in a "political world," which means that our social (and ultimately "political" choices) are what will really make the difference. 

You might try to find this book yourself, or buy it, to get the full list of those 500 suggested "social inventions." For those without such immediate access, here are just a few of those suggestions, to whet your appetite. "Talking To Strangers" isn't officially listed, but that could be added, I think, as suggestion #501, to go along with suggestions like these: 
#6 - Respond to senior citizens' requests for foster families. 
#96 - Give tenants vacuum cleaners and vocational classes. 
#278 - Employ an internal activist to generate goodwill. 
#498 - Meet your global neighbors online. 

Image Credits:
(1) -
(2) - Gary A. Patton, personal photograph

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