Create an outline for a soap opera series that teaches people about climate change

ChatGPT Sez:

Title: “Shifting Tides”


I. Introduction A. Introduce the setting: A picturesque coastal town called Harmony Bay. B. Present the main characters and their relationships. C. Establish the central themes of the series: Love, betrayal, and the impact of climate change.

II. Love and Rivalries A. Introduce the protagonist, Emma, a passionate environmental activist. B. Emma’s complicated romantic relationships: her ex-boyfriend, Ethan, and her childhood friend, Mia. C. Ethan, torn between his love for Emma and his loyalty to his family’s oil business. D. Mia’s role as a marine biologist and her growing affection for Emma.

III. Environmental Challenges A. Develop a subplot involving rising sea levels and coastal erosion. B. Show the devastating effects on the town and its residents. C. Highlight the conflicts between Harmony Bay’s tourism industry and the need to protect the environment. D. Emma’s tireless efforts to rally the community to take action against climate change.

IV. Family Secrets A. Uncover a secret: Emma’s family has been hiding their involvement in harmful industrial practices. B. Emma’s internal struggle as she balances her love for her family and her commitment to the environment. C. Introduce Emma’s estranged cousin, David, who has been working to expose the family’s secrets.

V. Community Unity A. Emma’s journey to unite the townspeople and create a sustainable action plan. B. Explore the conflicts, resistance, and prejudices within the community. C. Highlight the importance of collaboration, education, and compromise in addressing climate change.

VI. Personal Sacrifices A. Ethan’s gradual realization of the consequences of his family’s actions and his decision to support Emma’s cause. B. Emma’s ultimate decision to break free from her family’s legacy, despite the personal sacrifices involved. C. The impact of their choices on their relationships with Mia, friends, and the Harmony Bay community.

VII. Global Perspective A. Introduce an international climate summit that Emma attends to represent Harmony Bay. B. Emma’s interactions with other activists, scientists, and policymakers from around the world. C. Highlight the urgency of the global climate crisis and the interconnectedness of communities worldwide.

VIII. Redemption and Hope A. Emma’s efforts leading to positive changes in Harmony Bay’s environmental policies. B. Show the town’s resilience and adaptability in the face of climate challenges. C. Explore the characters’ personal growth and newfound hope for a sustainable future.

IX. Conclusion A. Resolve the romantic tensions and conflicts between Emma, Ethan, and Mia. B. Demonstrate the ongoing commitment of the characters to environmental protection. C. End with a call to action, encouraging viewers to take steps to address climate change in their own lives.

Note: Throughout the series, intersperse educational segments, such as informative conversations, news updates, or brief documentaries, to provide viewers with scientific knowledge and practical solutions related to climate change.

Title: Breaking the Spell: A Journey from MAGA to Prosperity

Outline for a 10-part MAGA De-programming Television Series:

Episode 1: The Awakening

  • Introduce characters who were once deeply involved in the MAGA world.
  • Explore their personal journeys and how they became enamored with the movement.
  • Present the initial signs of doubts and cracks in their beliefs.

Episode 2: Understanding the MAGA Phenomenon

  • Dive into the history and rise of the MAGA movement, exploring its appeal to different demographics.
  • Analyze the psychological and emotional aspects that draw people into this world.

Episode 3: The Power of Media and Echo Chambers

  • Examine the role of media, social media, and echo chambers in reinforcing MAGA beliefs.
  • Discuss the importance of critical thinking and media literacy.

Episode 4: Empathy and Listening

  • Highlight the significance of empathy and listening in understanding those with opposing viewpoints.
  • Show how engaging in constructive conversations can break down barriers.

Episode 5: Healing from Polarization

  • Address the negative impact of political polarization on society and relationships.
  • Present tools and techniques for healing and bridging divides.

Episode 6: Fact-Checking and Critical Analysis

  • Teach viewers how to fact-check information and recognize misinformation.
  • Showcase the importance of critical analysis in forming balanced opinions.

Episode 7: Unraveling Conspiracy Theories

  • Explore common conspiracy theories associated with the MAGA movement.
  • Provide evidence-based debunking and encourage a rational approach to information.

Episode 8: Finding Common Ground

  • Follow characters as they engage in constructive dialogues with others of differing beliefs.
  • Show the power of finding common ground and shared values.

Episode 9: Embracing Positive Change

  • Highlight success stories of individuals who left the MAGA world and embraced positive change.
  • Showcase how they found purpose and fulfillment outside the movement.

Episode 10: A Prosperous Future

  • Depict characters’ journeys toward leading thriving lives full of love and prosperity.
  • Offer a hopeful vision for a united society where diverse perspectives are respected.

Throughout the series, experts in psychology, sociology, media studies, and political science can provide insights and strategies for de-programming from the MAGA world. Additionally, real-life testimonies from former MAGA supporters who successfully transitioned to a more open-minded worldview can be included to add authenticity and inspiration. The goal of the series is to encourage viewers to question their beliefs, foster empathy, and promote critical thinking, ultimately guiding them towards a more inclusive and prosperous future.


My Chess History and Love of Chess

I first started playing chess when I was just a lad. My Dad taught me the moves and I quickly caught up to him. I’ve continued to play over the years and I think this is one of the passions that helped me make it through the pandemic over the last couple of years.  I wanted to share some of my thoughts about chess and why it’s such a fantastic game and some of my history with it. 

After playing chess as a child, I ended up playing many games with a mentor I had in my early teen years. Lee and I would play games while listening to the latest records he collected – Bruce Springsteen, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, and lots of our folk heroes of the day. These included David Bromberg, John Hartford, and Steve Goodman – three artists which were also touring a lot in the area during those times. This combination of sitting with a friend and playing chess and listening to great music continues in my life to this day.

I eventually moved to New York City and studied from 1980-1984 at NYU in Greenwich Village. The main park in the Village is Washington Square Park. This park is known for many things – it was a place for music and good times in the 60s and when I got there that vibe continued. Washington Square Park also hosts a wonderful corner with many built-in chess boards and seating for dozens of games. The area also boasted a number of chess stores where one could buy a board and pieces but also rent time at a table and easily find opponents (almost always men) to challenge to a game. This was especially useful during winter months and at night, though I also remember playing chess in the park at night in warmer weather times. Between the park and these shops (one was open 24 hours if I remember correctly), I spent a fair amount of my free time during my college days playing chess. I noticed I didn’t see too many other students on these boards.

The scene in Washington Square Park around the chess boards has always been fun. There’s a lot of kibitzing that goes on and some people play for money, though it’s usually just a dollar or two. I probably got my tuchas handed to me more than I won in those days, but it was a free and fun way to pass the time and keep my mind sharp. I love seeing how many of the videos of people playing trash-talking chess sharks in parks take place in New York City. It’s a great way for me to relive the scenes of my youth and every once in a while I think I see someone I’ve played with. But those guys were mostly older than me and are probably not the ones featured in the videos.

I’m also a musician, so I’m used to challenging my mind with that different language, too. Chess adds one more layer to my active mind. I wish I were better at other languages – I’ve tried learning many and I hardly know enough to order a cup of coffee in most. OK, that’s not completely true – I can do more with German, but in Spanish, my speaking is pretty limited unless I’m in a Spanish-speaking country for a while. Then it picks back up.

Back to chess and current times. About a year before the pandemic hit us I had been playing chess against a friend who beat me most of the time. He started telling me about how he was learning from better players online via videos they would do – playing while annotating their games. I got pretty into this and found myself watching more than I was playing. But I think it was important that I spent this time researching the game and learning some information about opening moves (also known as openings). At this point, I’m still watching these games, but luckily I’ve gone to playing more than watching.

During the pandemic, I signed up with and have been playing there almost exclusively since. I still play over-the-board games, too, but I have about 11 games going at one time on – feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to connect with me and play. I’m there under my own name so I’m not hard to find and challenge! Some of my favorite games right now online are with my 2 nephews who are on the East Coast. This has become a way I keep in touch with them and it’s also been interesting to see them develop as players.

When the Queen’s Gambit came out I rushed to watch it and I figured that would lead to a lot more chess playing in the world. That may have happened. It’s a strange universe, the chess world. I enjoy playing the most, but watching people who are advanced in the game is certainly interesting, too.

I encourage you to learn how to play chess. It’s fairly easy to learn and it will help you stay sharp as you age. And who knows, maybe one day we can hang out and play together!

Have a great one, Albert



Corvallis Oak Prairie, Oregon 10.13.22 

I don’t think I’ve ever written about money, but since I tend to have thoughts about just about everything, I figured I’d give it a try. I think from my earliest times as a child I knew a thing or two about money. Partly, I knew that it was something that could help you get things you wanted to get. My parents gave me an allowance from a young age and eventually, my allowance was tied to things like mowing the lawn. It’s kind of humorous that now I spend hours during my week trying to figure out how to get rid of lawns, but that’s another story that, if you’re a regular reader, you know all about!

Eventually, I started making money of my own. My Dad, Richard Kaufman, 86 now, and living in Jenkintown, PA with my Mom (81), had a small computer business in the 70s. One of the clients he had was a group of doctors (pediatricians that I went to see as a kid, actually) and they needed help with their computer billing. So, every month my Dad would come home with computer-generated bills which we’d have to rip apart (they were on computer-fed paper which was perforated), and then we’d take them and stuff them into envelopes. We’d get $3/box and also free pizza and soda. This effort needed to be done once a month and he brought my brother and sister into the mix, too. This went on for years. It was dull work, but we did it for the money and I’m sure it helped my Dad out, too. Now that I think back on it, I realize at the time I really was only doing it for the money. But I realize that it was a huge help to my Dad who would have had to pay someone real wages to do this work if we hadn’t done it!

This work led to me selling things I would make – candles – door to door. I also tried selling seeds for Burpee door-to-door, but that didn’t last long. Eventually, I had my first job as a newspaper delivery boy in Junior High. I remember my first morning of waking up at 4:30 am to find a stack of papers on our doorstep and then I went around our suburban Lawrence neighborhood by foot to deliver the papers. I remember throwing up that first morning. I’m not sure why. Then, there was going around from door to door to collect payment for the paper. I think I did that weekly – and that led to some fun tips over the years and also a chance to see into the houses that were around me in my neighborhood. I really could have used a better calculator during those times to make sense of what I was taking in, though doing it the way I did probably helped my math skills.

After that job, I went on to work at Arthur Treacher Fish & Chips. That experience could probably be written up in a small book. My main work was to drop frozen triangles of fish and rounder frozen chicken fillets into a large vat of boiling oil – without getting my hands burned. I also lived nearby and somehow ended up being the one to close up at night. That job led to a sweet gig at Sam Goody’s where I was the guitar/amp/instrument/effects pedals salesperson. This was probably one of the best jobs I’ve ever held. I spent my time tuning decent instruments and learning what the different effects pedals did. Had I played my cards right I’ve always thought I could have been a part of a band that went somewhere – or been a musician who would tour, but of course, life had other ideas for me in mind. I watch people like Jackson Brown or Bruce Springsteen play and I am just 10 years younger than them. I know if I’d focused I probably could at least be backing them up if not leading a band of my own 🙂  But instead…

I went on to have jobs like – working on a kibbutz in the Negev Desert in Israel with milking cows (feeding them, milking them, driving a tractor, etc.)

Working in NYC at a place called Lox, Stock, and Bagels during my freshman year at NYU. I’ve actually worked at 3 different bagel places, but this one was for the longest time. Another short book there – this place was across from Madison Square Garden where I ended up seeing many a Grateful Dead show and a few hockey games!

I’ve had a job for 6 months as a rodman in a surveying crew. Another 6 months after that – this was 1986 – as a data miner (a bit before computers came into fashion – so we were on the phones) at Peterson’s Guides for Graduate Schools. Then there have been years of temping in NYC for the investment banking and perfume worlds.  Now that I think of it, I did do a short piece about some of these positions and my thoughts on work. I wonder if other writers have that happen where they find themselves repeating their writing after a while.

Anyway, I love this topic and I’ll probably come back to it again as I’m trying to figure out money now at 61, too. I have enough at the moment, but I also feel limited to moving about the gameboard as I’d like to. I also know that having more money is an attractor to the opposite sex and I am in “wanting to date” mode. So, we’ll see if I take the dive into more money-making efforts. We’ll see!

Squash Blossom

Squash Blossom, Fall in Portland, Oregon 2022


Albert’s CTCT Reviews

CTCT Marketplace reviews:

Albert is an Email Expert!

by PeteL77 on 07/06/2014

If you’re looking for friendly, expert help with your Constant Contact and other marketing needs, look no further. Albert has taught me many email marketing tricks and shared the down-low on many of Constant Contact’s special features, including Surveys, Segmenting, and Template design. Albert is willing to sit down and literally walk you through everything, step by step, at your own pace, and on your own time requirements. Highly recommended Constant Contact Expert!


Constant Contact is great!

by Downtown Boise Association on 07/21/2020

We use Constant Contact for all public and membership newsletters, surveys, and contact databases. Never any issues!


Grateful for working with Albert!

by SteveH730 on 07/10/2020

Albert has been a wonderful coach, advisor, and all-around champion for our organization for several years. He brings energy and enthusiasm to all of his work and provides thoughtful and encouraging advice when we need it most. We have been lucky to work with Albert over the years and recommend him highly for his creativity, excellent skills in marketing, and commitment to the community. Thanks, Albert!


Conversation With Albert

by LarryJ345 on 06/28/2020

As an entrepreneur I get to work, study, and teach all types of people oftentimes our personalities don’t match but sometimes they do. That’s the case with Albert he has a sort of soft-spoken way he shares information with his clients that allows them to relax and absorb his message. I had the privilege of interviewing Albert on one of my Zoom Interviews and since that time we’ve been able to share content back and forth in emails and I continue to learn from his many years of experience and wisdom.


A true marketing professional and coach

by US_Archive on 08/21/2019

Albert is a master at keeping things simple and understandable. I’m just getting going again with Constant Contact and his advice has been well taken. He has also helped to make me feel more comfortable about including some of my personal feelings about climate change, Puget Sound, etc., into my business messages. Why not…


CC demystified: Albert knows Constant Contact like the back of his hand

by kymbo1 on 07/30/2019

I’ve worked with Albert for over 4 years attending workshops, one on one with CC, and in a few different PDX communities. He has a very calming presence that is critical in learning something new and techy. Albert has helped me see how easy it is to use CC and he is very patient and empathetic with me, as I struggle with dyslexia as well. Thanks, Albert. I look forward to another session with you soon. Kim Gordon Cumbo


Working with Albert Kaufman

by MarkB952 on 01/23/2019

I’ve worked with Albert for years and he’s a great resource, teacher, and go-to guy for not only Constant Contact emails but for social media strategies in general. From a workshop on email marketing I attended in his living room years ago to the larger workshops he leads now, Albert always has helpful tips and shortcuts to take you to the next level, wherever you are. I highly recommend Albert…


Wow, what a jewel!

by Parrish_Books on 11/14/2018

I sent an email asking if I could hire Albert to help me with the newsletter I always struggle to create. I was prepared to pay for his time but he immediately jumped in and got me headed in the right direction with a free consultation I was not expecting. (I was wrapping a book order when he responded so quickly so I dropped everything and listened to what he had to say. And I am glad I did.) I think I am going to finagle some of his time to make other improvements in our business approach to media. Whatever he charges will be more than worth it. Thanks, Albert.


Charles Baldwin

by charlesb680 on 09/04/2018

Albert is the reason we subscribe to Constant Contact. He is a knowledgeable professional in all facets of online communication. He listens well, is able to pinpoint problems and recommend solutions, is always available when a need arises, and he is creative. I cannot think of enough superlatives to describe this man. Find time to meet him and he will not disappoint.


Terrific coach and champion

by SteveH730 on 09/04/2018

We have been blessed to work with Albert Kaufman as our email marketing coach and promoter. He has coached me over the years to produce newsletters with a growing readership and reminded me of features and new products that we could use to strengthen our message. Plus, he’s a real champion for our mission and programs. Special thanks to Albert for all his support and encouragement!



by JenniferG27 on 09/01/2018

Albert was super fast and helpful! He gave us some great ideas for getting more opens and clicks and they worked. When we need email help, we call Albert!


genuinely helpful

by PaulL488 on 08/30/2018

Albert has always generously offered his support and insight in a way that is truly helpful to someone like me, who is not overly fluent in computer matters. Albert has an expanded sense of vision, in that he is very interested in supporting people and projects that will benefit the greater good.


Love working with Albert Kaufman

by StephenH067 on 08/22/2016

Albert is an excellent advisor on email marketing, surveys, and broader communications strategies. He listens well, provides sound advice, and genuinely cares about our success. He also provides recommendations on how we can enhance our outreach and communications, and he is willing to provide hands-on support. It’s been a true privilege working with Albert! Thanks! Steve Higgs SAGE Executive Director


Excellent Marketing Coach

by NigelL83 on 08/05/2016

Albert listened to my story when I first contacted him with great interest and has helped me understand the basics of email marketing. We are about to launch our first campaign. I could not have a better guide to assist me. Thanks, Albert.


Countless Helpful Suggestions!

by SteveB9336 on 08/04/2016

“I first met Albert at the Oregon Country Fair in 2015, and he immediately had some useful suggestions as to how to make my newsletters more small-screen friendly, and more appealing in general. Since that time, he has offered countless helpful suggestions that have led to more compelling communications and a happier and more vital list. He also reinforced the benefits of my own humorous “Daily Laughsitive” feature by doing one of his own, Song A Day. Steve Bhaerman Author, comedian


So helpful

by KellyA060 on 04/02/2021

I’ve been a Constant Contact customer for nine years and have been very pleased with all the services. I needed to take my marketing to the next level and I’m a one-woman show and not super tech savvy so tend to hesitate when it comes to learning how to navigate new things. I scheduled a consult with Albert and it was so helpful! Very hands-on and I not only better understand the systems I wanted to start using but also got several great little nuggets that he showed me. Really appreciate this service!


Finances and Debt

Finances and DebtDragon

I got turned onto The 4-hour Work Week years ago. It helped guide me in so many ways and I spent a year closely listening to Tim Ferris as he began an amazing podcast series which has since gone on to be the #1 business podcast many years running, I believe. Tim spent all this time interviewing many people who run the companies we all use every day. This podcast shares all sorts of ideas, but one that regularly comes up is reducing debt and ways to do that.

Really, the key thing I’ve learned is to try to avoid getting into debt in the first place. But if that’s not possible then reducing your debt takes precedence over other things. If you consider the interest one pays for keeping credit card debt you can see that that can quickly add up over time and can definitely weigh on you in many ways. A way I was able to pay off my college and grad school student loans was by taking a job in the high-tech sector for a couple of years. It was boring work, but it paid very well. Once I had my loans paid off I moved away from that sector mostly. I realize this is not possible for everyone, but if you do have debt figuring out ways to reduce and eliminate it will help you out greatly. I’ll never forget the day I paid off my loans and the smile that crept over my face when I realized I was done with the monthly payments.

I wonder if that’s partly why I’ve been unwilling to start down the road to home ownership. Or, home moanership as I hear it referred to, often. I do think I’ll own a home at some point, but up till now the goal as evaded me. I was actually close, once – during the time I was working for those high-tech companies. I qualified for a $400,000 loan, but I was pretty sure my time in Seattle was coming to a close. Had I bought a house then it probably would have doubled in value in the last 20 years, but what can you do?

Back to debt and finances. Another wonderful resource in this area is Mr. Money Mustache. His tagline is “Early Retirement through Badassery”, and he really walks his talk. I think I’ve learned more about life and how to live a good one from Mr. Money Mustache than any other source. I recommend signing up for his newsletter. It comes out very infrequently, but often has something interesting and different to say about living in our society. One of his main themes is about how to live a high-quality life through things like – killing your commute; what kind of car or truck to buy; the types of phones and phone plans that are out there and his encouragement for us all to learn to repair what we own vs. paying someone else to do it or buying new things.

So, what are your thoughts about debt and finances? If you’ve got anything to add please leave a comment below – especially if you have any great stories when it comes to this topic. I’ve learned a lot over the years from peoples’ comments on my writing and I hope that continues as long as I live.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the day!


Albert Kaufman, 7.19.21


Building Neighborhood Resiliency

Stronger Neighborhoods

This is a list of items from a post I started in 2016 on Building Neighborhood Resiliency. If you have more resources, please send them along. Thanks.

Building Neighborhood Resiliency

As the snow is here – in Australia it looks warm and sunny 🙂 I just got this newsletter from an Australian group called Good Hoods. (2022 – not sure they still exist)

Here’s what they wrote:

“Dear Albert, During the recent Discovery Tour around Australia we met some great people and heard about amazing initiatives working to build community connection and resilience. We now have a network of passionate resilience experts, including yourself, and together we believe we can create a nation that is ready for anything. Following the tour, we have been thinking through how we can continue to help people connect and come together. We know that resilience is a process and something that grows over time. One of the first steps we all can take is to connect with others so we feel a sense of belonging. That’s why we are launching Good ‘Hoods – a new initiative to help create connections and a sense of pride in where you live. We want to connect people who want to work together to create more resilient communities, and share initiatives so the good continues to grow. We have shared some of the great initiatives from the tour that you may want to replicate in your community, see a sneak peek below:

Street BBQ: there’s nothing like a good BBQ to bring people together. We’re encouraging our people to say that first hello to their neighbors this summer, and we want to share the resources with you too. To help get you to get started we’re giving the first 200 to register their own street BBQ a $50 supermarket voucher. These first resources are based on what we heard would be helpful.

Sincerely, Jacki Johnson
Group Executive People,
Performance and Reputation Insurance Australia Group

SNEAK PEEK One of the great initiatives we heard about. Learn about this and others on the Good ‘Hoods website. In 2010 and 2012, floods devastated Uranquinty. So a local group, Progress Association, worked with the NSW SES to devise a disaster response plan to minimize damage from future floods. Find out more.


Interesting, I just found this collection of recently collated resources on this topic, today.

Related, this just in. Nick Licata was an incredible member of the Seattle City Council.

This comes from Jim Diers, who used to be the head of the Dept. of Neighborhoods in Seattle and who’s gone on to do great work & writing…


Jim Diers Community Builder

A fundamental principle of community organizing is to start where the people are. The closer you engage people to where they live, the more likely they are to get involved. You should be able to get successively larger turnouts for gatherings at the neighborhood, city, state, and national levels, but the percentage of the population engaged will most likely be the highest at the street, block, building, or floor level. Why? Because the farther the action is from where someone lives, the more likely they are to expect others to take responsibility. If it’s on their street, however, who will step up if they don’t? Logistics like transportation and child care are so much easier. And, their participation will generate peer pressure for the rest of the neighbors to join in. Most importantly, neighbors are likely to enjoy immediate and ongoing benefits from their participation due to the small scale and the relationships that are built with people who are so accessible. There’s no need to expend energy on bylaws, minutes, treasurer’s reports, nominating committees, and Roberts Rules of Order; the focus is on community.

The Opzoomeren Movement

I recently witnessed the potential of block organizing in Rotterdam where the Opzoomeren movement has taken hold. It started in 1994 when the residents of Opzoomer Street got fed up waiting for the local government to address problems of crime and blight. They came to realize that there was much that the neighbors themselves could do, and they decided to take action. Today, about 1600 streets are following their example. Neighbors come together to do whatever is most important to them whether that is caring for latchkey children and housebound elders, planting trees and gardens, or organizing street parties. Because half of Rotterdam’s population is immigrants, neighbors are often engaged in teaching one another Dutch. On many of the streets, neighbors have gathered to discuss how they can best support one another. They develop a code of conduct that is prominently displayed on a large sign. No two signs are the same although there are some frequent themes.

A typical sign reads 1. We say hello and welcome new neighbors. 2. We take part in all kinds of street activities. 3. We help each other with childcare. 4. We keep our neighborhood clean and safe.

Each May, all of the streets celebrate Opzoomeren Day. In order to be recognized as part of the movement, a street must undertake at least four events or projects each year. An Opzoomeren bus is available for neighbors to use as a pop-up café, gallery, workshop site, or whatever.

The Limitation of Block/Neighborhood Watch Programs

Of course, street-level organizing is not a new idea. Practically everywhere I go, there are long-standing crime prevention groups known as block or neighborhood watch. Seattle has had one of the most successful block-watch programs. First organized in 1972, the Police Department now claims that approximately 3000 blocks, or 30% of the city, are participating. In August of each year, about 1400 block parties are held in observance of National Night Out Against Crime. The shortcoming of the program, however, is its singular focus on crime. Neighbors typically get engaged when it is too late – after there have been house break-ins or other safety issues. They call the Police Department for support and are taught how to install security systems and watch out for strangers. After that initial meeting, the group often becomes dormant until there is another crime wave. Police departments typically fail to understand that the safest blocks are the ones that focus not on safety but on building community. Rather than simply teach people how to be secure in their homes and watch for strangers, residents should be encouraged to get out of their homes and connect with neighbors on a regular basis. It is much more sustainable for people to engage with one another around their wide range of interests rather than the police department’s narrow public safety agenda. That’s another key aspect of starting where the people are.

In recognition of this, New Zealand’s program has morphed from neighborhood watch to Neighborhood Support. Neighbors Provide Mutual Support There is so much that neighbors can do to connect with one another and provide mutual support. Emergency planning is one such activity. Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel told me that one of the most important lessons from their devastating earthquakes was the importance of neighbors knowing one another. With limited emergency workers and many impassable roads, most Christchurch residents were totally dependent on the skills, resources, and care of their neighbors in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes. I now live on Vashon Island, Washington which is highly susceptible to earthquakes. Over 200 groups of five to fifteen households each have self-organized in this rural community in order to develop and implement emergency plans. Frequent power outages and other winter storm damage provide ample opportunity to practice mutual support. On our street, for example, some neighbors used their chainsaws to remove downed trees while others prepared a kind of stone soup; the ingredients came from everyone’s thawing freezers and the stew was prepared and served in a warm house equipped with a generator.

Fortunately, we didn’t need the skills and knowledge of the physician who is also part of our group. There are so many other ways in which neighbors can support one another on a daily basis. On some streets, elders have buddies who check on them each day and provide the transportation and maintenance that enables them to stay in their homes. And, for young parents, there are babysitting cooperatives. Neighbors share their expertise with one another whether that involves technology, recycling, gardening, auto mechanics, or whatever. I visited a street in Garland, Texas where many of the neighbors worked in the construction trades – there was at least one carpenter, plumber, electrician, bricklayer, and roofer. They conducted regular work parties to help one another with their house projects. Those who lacked the skills to help with construction prepared lunch or supervised the children. A couple of the neighbors had built bars in their back yards so that everyone could socialize after a day of work.

The Value of Bumping Places

Gathering spaces are essential to building community. I like to call them bumping places because the best way to build relationships is to have places where neighbors can bump into one another on a regular basis. The closer those bumping places are to where you live, the more likely it is that you will continually bump into the same people. There are many opportunities to create bumping places on a street. A vacant lot or underutilized yard can be converted into a community garden or pocket park. A little free library combined with a bench becomes an instant bumping place.

In the Taiwan village of Tugo, residents have turned their front yards into small parks with tables that are shared with their neighbors. I met a man in Matsudo, Japan who had given up his valuable private parking place in order to redevelop it as a community gathering place complete with seating, fountain, and artwork created by the children of the neighborhood. In the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, neighbors converted their intersection into what they call Share-It Square, a most unusual bumping place. They painted a large mural in the intersection in order to slow traffic and provide a sense of place. Then, at each corner, they built a cob structure including a bench, a community bulletin board, a children’s playhouse, and a place where people can deposit and retrieve all sorts of free items. There is also a stand for a thermos of hot tea that entices neighbors to sip and talk together.

The Share-It Square neighbors didn’t seek the city’s permission before they painted the intersection, because they knew they wouldn’t get it. The project has been so successful, though, that the City of Portland now permits similar projects in other neighborhoods. And, the idea of painting intersections has spread around the world from the Cathedral neighborhood in Sioux Falls to the Riccarton neighborhood of Christchurch.

Connecting Neighbors through Events

Events are another way to connect neighbors at the street level. On the Fourth of July in Tacoma, Washington, residents are encouraged to barbeque in their front yards as a way of welcoming neighbors to join them. In other places, neighbors are invited to watch movies projected onto the side of someone’s house. Several rural communities in Australia have festivals in which all of the households along the road are encouraged to create unique scarecrows out of straw; neighbors walk the road together enjoying one another’s creativity. In Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario, there are several neighborhoods in which the houses have large front porches. They hold annual concerts featuring a band on each porch. Neighbors are invited to sit on the lawn and enjoy the music. I attended one such event that featured 44 bands with very different styles of music playing on 22 porches over the course of an afternoon.

Building Blocks for Larger Civic Action

Street-level organizing can produce the building blocks needed for larger civic action. Some neighborhood associations develop a broad base of participation by having their board members elected from each street. The street representative’s job is to ensure good two-way communication and to mobilize their constituency as needed. The City of Redmond, Washington used this decentralized approach to maximize public input into policy decisions. Rather than rely solely on the testimony of the “usual suspects” who attend public hearings, they produced videos on key issues under consideration. Those videos were made available for house meetings at the block level and the ensuing discussions engaged people who would never think of speaking in the city council chambers. Feedback from the house meetings helped inform decision-making by elected officials.

Oftentimes, the best way to build a campaign is house by house and block by block. For example, on the issue of climate change, neighbors can be given a menu of actions for reducing their family’s carbon footprint. Each action is worth a certain number of points. If the family can demonstrate sufficient points, they are given a yard sign identifying them as a green household. When green signs start spreading up and down the street, everyone is more likely to want to get on board. Similar approaches have been utilized in creating drug-free, nuclear-free, and hate-free zones. One of the best things about block organizing and one of the greatest challenges is that the neighbors often have more differences (e.g. race, culture, age, religion, politics, career) than are likely to be found in other types of communities that are organized around a common identity or interest. Some local places celebrate the unity of their diversity through common signage.

The residents of the Croft Place apartments in Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood did that as each family painted a placard hung above their door featuring their name and representing their culture. Similarly, on a street in Taiwan’s Taoyuan City, each household has a placard depicting the kind of work that their family does. In Roombeek, a suburb of Enschede in the Netherlands, houses on one street each have a display case showcasing what is special about the family that lives there. Agencies as Facilitators of Local Connections Street organizing works best when it starts with the interests of the residents themselves, but there is a role that outside agencies can play in helping to foster connections. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, for example, a community development corporation trained interested residents on how to build a block organization. Upon completion of the training, the participants were given vouchers to acquire the ingredients for three dinners that they hosted for their neighbors. Over dinner, they discussed their dreams, challenges and gifts and developed plans for supporting one another. The resulting block organizations also proved to be a good vehicle for voter registration and turnout.

In Portland, Oregon, a non-profit called City Repair provides a mobile bumping place known as the T-Horse. When the converted van arrives on a street, gigantic wings are installed on either side of the T-Horse to provide protection from sun or rain. Inside the van, they make tea and serve it to the neighbors who sit on cushions under the wings and get to know one another.

Many cities make it very difficult to organize street parties due to the time and expense involved in acquiring the required food handling and street closure permits. But some local governments, like Airdrie and Grande Prairie, Alberta and Burlington, Ontario, realize that they have an interest in building community. They make the regulatory process as simple as possible and even supply block party toolkits that include equipment and/or money to help with the event. The City of Seattle has a Small Sparks fund which facilitates residents who feel isolated to connect with their neighbors. For example, one mother and her child with disabilities used the money to purchase a wagon that they pulled door to door as a magazine exchange. Another individual noticed that all of the falling apples on her street were attracting rats, so she purchased a press and invited her neighbors to help make cider. A lonely senior in a high-rise apartment invited the neighbors in the surrounding houses to the community room on the top floor where they had a great time folding paper airplanes and tossing them out the window.

Many cities throughout the world sponsor a Neighbor Day as a way to encourage and celebrate caring neighbors. Among other things, the City of Seattle organizes a contest for students to depict pictures of caring neighbors. The winning entry gets printed on the cover of a greeting card and the inside message simply says, “Thank you, neighbor!” Thousands of people utilize these cards as an excuse to visit their neighbors and let them know that they are appreciated.

Building community in dense, high-rise housing can be challenging, but again, agencies can play a role in facilitating connections. Over 80 percent of Singapore’s population lives in multi-story buildings constructed and managed by the Housing Development Board (HDB). HDB has made community building a priority. They include community gathering spaces in their developments and make funds available to support community-driven place-making projects. An annual Buildathon trains practitioners on how to work in ways that are community-led, and a Community Week recognizes good neighbors and exemplary community projects.

A promising, relatively new tool for block organizing is the Abundant Community Initiative being implemented by the City of Edmonton and other municipalities. Utilizing a strengths-based approach, Block Connectors are recruited and trained to have conversations that uncover the gifts, needs, passions, and dreams of their neighbors. The information and relationships that emerge through this process lead to the formation of interest and activity groups, skills exchanges, and a vision for the neighborhood. The work is done under the auspices of the local community leagues and helps them to be more deeply rooted in each of their neighborhoods. Thus, neighborhood associations and agencies alike are learning that a top-down approach to citizen engagement doesn’t work. If you really want to get broad and inclusive participation, you need to start where people are – as close to their home and their heart as possible. Of course, starting where people are, also entails starting with their language and culture and with their pre-existing networks, but those are topics for future blogs.

Albert: “I love this paragraph: “Police departments typically fail to understand that the safest blocks are the ones that focus not on safety but on building community. Rather than simply teach people how to be secure in their homes and watch for strangers, residents should be encouraged to get out of their homes and connect with neighbors on a regular basis. It is much more sustainable for people to engage with one another around their wide range of interests rather than the police department’s narrow public safety agenda. That’s another key aspect of starting where the people are. In recognition of this, New Zealand’s program has morphed from neighborhood watch to Neighborhood Support.”
This fellow from Eugene passed away last April 2016. It’s good to read about people who spent their lives making a difference in their communities. “Wilde says, “Most of his background and activism centered around community resilience. How can our communities be as strong and resilient as possible? How are we operating within our communities to make it accessible and equitable for all its members?”
this one just in from the UK. Good to know there is good change happening in the world. “Across the country, community-owned pubs are hosting activities like massage, lullabies for babies and financial advice. Could this model save Britain’s locals?”
This looks like an interesting conference in this vein. I’m glad to know things like this are happening. I am curious if anything like it is happening closer to home. And, if not…. hmmmm
I’ve been thinking about ways we can recover from Eagle Creek and other wildfires. One way to do that and make some friends at the same time is to plant trees. Here’s the latest news from Friends of Trees.
Here’s a new Permaculture resource: Andrew Millison: I am sharing a free open-source textbook I wrote for my Advanced Permaculture Design for Climate Resilience course. This book is essentially about climate classification systems, climate change projections, finding analogous climates to your own around the world, and how to design for resilience from extreme climate and weather events. Please feel free to check it out and I hope it can be helpful to you! Here’s the table of contents: Part 1: Climate Assessment Climate Climate Classification Systems The Climate Analogue Tool Climate Analogue Examples Climate Change Projections Climate Change Analogue Examples Part 2: Design Strategies for Climate Resilience Drought, Heat, and Erratic Rainfall Wildfire Tropical Cyclone Effects Sea Level Rise and Flooding
Introducing the Eco-School Network We’re thrilled to launch the Eco-School Network as a nonprofit that equips parents and students in Northwest Oregon to lead the change toward sustainability. After incubation through the Center for Earth Leadership, our stellar parent leaders now engage 25,000 students/per year in preserving a healthy environment for all through school gardens, waste reduction, and walk and bike-to-school programs.
We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community: Our book is part of an emerging “gift culture” worldview. It is a manual for designing a personal community based on the gifts that each person brings. Focusing on non-residential, place-based, and committed community, we present tools to support and fortify the longing of the human heart for intimate, conscious connection. Indiegogo happening till end of today!–2#/
I’m not exactly sure where to file this. And, what we as a neighborhood could collectively do to stem the impact of climate change. Drive smaller cars? Stop driving altogether? Leave trees standing? Stop using gas-powered leaf blowers? Walk more. Bike more. Take the bus more. Stop ordering from Amazon. Buy local. Buy nothing. Anyway, this article got me thinking.
Here’s an article on why kids playing outside is a good thing.
A new world record was set by India planting millions of trees in one day. I wonder if Oregon could beat this record? “1.5 Million Volunteers Plant 66 Million Trees in 12 Hours, Breaking Guinness World Record”
—————- – thanks to my neighbor, Jamie, for this reference. There is no one coming to save us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Our lives and our cities are shaped by the forces of global capital, which can only produce social oppression and ecological destruction. To address these persistent issues, we’re building resilient networks of cooperation – block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood – to determine the conditions of our existence together.
an interesting documentary. Added to my watchlist.
This seems a good place for this. Improving our emotional health will build our community. And lead to better health for ourselves, too.
———————– The 100 things challenge | Dave Bruno | TEDxClaremontColleges Dave is the author of The 100 Thing Challenge, a book that documents his challenge to live with less than 100 personal items for a year. Dave challenges our conceptualization of The American Dream and asks us what is truly necessary to live a fulfilled and happy life. – I found this after reading The Art of Non-Conformity (great book!)
Thanks, Greta!

I’m not sure exactly where this one goes, but it’s such a sweet way to connect with your neighbors.

Here’s something that’s happening on this topic in SF.

This article just got shared on LinkedIn. Seems relevant today and going forward. HOW TO BE EXPERIENTIAL DURING A TIME OF ISOLATION

This looks very useful right now.

Staying Safe and Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Friends of the UCLA Longevity Center, I hope that all of you are safe and healthy during the challenging coronavirus pandemic. The Longevity Center has transitioned the Senior Scholars program to online learning, while all other educational programs have been temporarily suspended as we look to the feasibility of moving to offer our programs online using video conferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom). With the uncertainty and evolving impact of COVID-19, it is natural to experience anxiety, and like any emotion, anxiety can spread from person to person. Moreover, many of us are following current recommendations for social distancing, which will limit the community’s spread of the virus but also presents its own challenges with isolation and loneliness. You may wish to keep in mind some of the following tips to reduce the mental health risks during this incredibly challenging time:

Be cautious about unreliable sources of misinformation in the media. Rumors and distortions increase stress and anxiety levels. Turn to trusted sources of information so you can remain up-to-date on emerging situations. Anyone overwhelmed with emotions should contact a mental health professional for assistance. Our UCLA clinics have rapidly shifted to telepsychiatry to respect social distancing efforts and continue to deliver mental health care. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be unnecessarily upsetting so taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, especially on social media, will help to reduce illness worries.

For those who are sheltering in place, keep in mind that it can lead to isolation and loneliness, which increases the risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. To overcome isolation, stay in touch with friends and family by phone, or even better, use social media and videoconferencing platforms (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Facetime). Keep to your daily routine as much as possible. If you are telecommuting for work, be sure to take your usual lunch break and maintain your daily habits. Try to remain positive. Just as anxiety can spread from person to person, so can optimism and a positive outlook. Rather than focus on worse-case scenarios, keep in mind what you are grateful about during these trying times. If you are feeling anxious, take deep breaths, stretch, do some yoga, or meditate. Try to eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid excessive alcohol use. Staying physically active is important. Below are some resources you may find helpful, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting new exercises, which may need to be modified if too difficult.

Chair Exercises:
Gentle Chair Exercises: Sitting Only
Gentle Chair Exercises: Sitting and Standing:

For the latest information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) please check the following resources. Talk about your concerns with people you trust: sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the true risk to yourself and people you care about will reduce your anxiety. Follow CDC recommendations to help prevent the spread of symptoms through social distancing; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and surfaces, and washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. With our Longevity Center memory and healthy lifestyle classes temporarily suspended, check out some of the computer programs and websites for improving memory and other cognitive abilities, including Dakim Brain Fitness ( or 310-566-1350), Posit Science and Brain HQ ( or 866-599-6463), and Lumosity ( If you haven’t already, consider reading about how to keep your brain and body healthy as you age. I have written several books (e.g., 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain, The Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Program, The Small Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease) and there are many other excellent books on these topics (e.g., Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer, Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being by Andrew Weil).

You may benefit from relaxation practices that could help reduce levels of stress. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center ( provides education and support for people interested in learning methods to pay attention to present moment experiences with openness. Several apps that provide meditation can be downloaded to a smartphone as well (e.g., UCLA Mindful, Insight Timer, Calm, Insight LA).

To keep your mind stimulated, take a virtual field trip by visiting zoos, museums, mars, and more online and check out some of these webcams for an adventure from home: National Park Service: Hawai’i volcanoes Iceland: Hekla: Borcay Beach, Philippines: Philippine coral reef cam: Venice Italy: Northern Lights: Nagasaki Harbor: Audubon Society Animal/wildlife cams and Zen cams Africa: Puffin cam: Bald Eagle: Zen: NASA Space Station Cam: Zen: Tropical Reef Cam For more information from trusted resources visit: UCLA Health COVID-19 updates Los Angeles County Department of Public Health California Department of Public Health The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Health Organization Sincerely, Gary W. Small, M.D. Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging Professor of Psychiatry & BioBehavioral Sciences Director, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry Director, UCLA Longevity Center

5.18.2020 Albert: Something that keeps occurring to me – perhaps it’s occurring to you, too – is that just about everyone who you see right now is probably a nearby neighbor. We don’t have a lot of people from out of the area – Airbnb, out-of-town guests. Yet people hardly take a moment to say hello. I think there might be some value in slowing down a bit and noticing who is passing you by. I understand that it’s not the easiest time to meet your neighbors, but it’s not impossible. One value to know who lives around you is that they might end up becoming a friend. I haven’t thought this all the way through, but I have a feeling that if we were all to take a little more time to notice who is around us it could be a good way to strengthen the neighborhood. Perhaps this idea deserves its own thread. For now, I’ll leave it here.