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Tipping Point
Sep 11, 2006

Seven friends in Portland decided to bet they could change the world with $15.  It ended up costing $65.  That was for the hinges, to build their community tea-house.  (This weekend at a national co-housing conference I listened to the creator of this project. There is an LGBT connection here*)

These young architects realized a problem - that our American cities are almost all laid out on a grid pattern. As a result, American cities have 15 to 35 times less public space than European cities.  With $65 these friends created a tipping point.

Ten years ago they created a removable tea-house with ten beautiful rooms. They located it on an open space in a neighborhood, and opened it for potluck and tea for ten friday nights in a row. The first week 8 came, then 25, then 100.  On the  last night over 1,000 people were drawn to the tea-house, sitting on lawns, sharing their potlucks, getting to know neighbors, and reclaiming what the speaker called, "our birthright for connection and community with other people." 

Ten years later City Repair (www.cityrepair.org) has empowered local citizens to reclaim over 75 Portland city intersections as public space.  Cars now drive over painted intersection art. Benches, lemonade stands, mini-libraries, sculpture, and more have been created by the neighborhoods to reclaim these corners as places of meeting and hospitality.   The city planning commission has bought into the idea.  Studies are showing that people walk more, they're healthier, they're happier.  $65 dollars.  A great idea.  The right time. People have been talking about these issues since the 1960's.

As for LGBT Equality, I keep looking for the Tipping Point, when the hunger for equality becomes a deep need, and when the spark arrives that lights the fire for national change.  That's why I rode my unicycle, to add energy toward this change.  I've seen personal tipping points where people develop strong commitments to equality. I've had my own tipping point.  Who knows when or how the national tipping point will come. 

If you're interested in great stories and learning the 4 types of people that make for tipping-point changes, read Malcolm Gladwell's book, THE TIPPING POINT: How Small Changes Can Make A Big Difference.

*So...why were Anne and I at the national co-housing conference in Seattle this weekend? Because we're involved in the formation of an intentional co-housing community on a fourth-generation family farm here in our town of Chelan.  You can read about the farm, the market, the CSA, and the vision for the cohousing and learning center communities of Sunshine Farm.

With eyes open for the sparks that create change,
Blessings for the day,

Lars



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