Zone 4

Tangible Assets, Close to Home

Here is where we are quite literally bringing it all home. Home is where the heart is, and it’s also one of the best areas for making profitable investments. Leveraging your own experience, energy, and sweat equity, along with money you have saved or borrowed, can pay big returns. Investment could be in one’s home, in home improvements such as adding an in-law or rental unit to your house, in energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, or for other ends, such as building the physical elements of household and community resilience. Converting financial assets into tangible assets is the distinctive feature of this zone, and at the same time, much of what you do in this basket offers intangible rewards such as pride of ownership and accomplishment.

Key areas of Zone 4 focus

  • Home/house/property
  • Local infrastructure/commons (parks, utilities, etc.)
  • Energy systems/choices
  • Local shopping & sharing



Growing Local Fertility: A Guide to Community Composting

This report by the Institute for Self Reliance profiles 31 successful programs that range from rural to urban. Programs highlighted are diverse, including community gardens, farms, schools and universities, demonstration sites, etc. Many are non-profit, and all focus on keeping their program as local as possible. The website also includes the results of a survey of community composters. Read the report.

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Share Everything: Why the Way We Consume Has Changed Forever

This essay appears in the ebook “City 2.0: The Habitat of the Future and How to Get There,” co-produced in partnership by The Atlantic Cities and TED Books. It explains why the sharing economy has risen meteorically since the recession of 2008, and how the online culture of sharing has led to sharing of goods and assets in the physical world, too. Read the essay.

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Growing Power: creating urban community food centers

Community Food Centers are local places where people can learn sustainable ways to grow, process, market and distribute food. One multi-pronged example is Growing Power, which has farms and related projects in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Madison. Their website describes the Milwaukee facility as “a wonderful space for hands-on activities, large-scale demonstration projects, and for growing a myriad of plants, vegetables, and herbs. In a space no larger than a small supermarket live some 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, and a livestock inventory of chickens, goats, and bees.” Visit the Growing Power website.

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Creating and using compost can create local jobs

This visual presentation by the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) includes new research showing how composting and compost use created new jobs in Maryland. When communities are able to convert yard trimmings and food scraps into compost, and then used locally, new jobs are created; 1400 new full-time jobs for every 1 million tons converted, according to the ILSR. See the presentation.

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Shareable: Sharing economy education and networking

This wide-ranging website features news and resources on a range of topics related to the sharing economy, including companies, links to dozens of city-based sharing networks, and renewed attention to the commons (our shared tangible assets). Visit website. It’s notable that the site includes some critiques of the sharing economy, including a post entitled “Owning is the New Sharing” that stresses the ways that cooperative ownership could be a more socially responsible option.

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Mosaic: A Leading Solar Energy Investment Platform

Oakland-based Mosaic uses crowdfunding campaigns and larger investments by accredited investors to fund clean energy projects. A new platform on Mosaic’s site focuses on growing renewable energy by giving people an opportunity to finance solar arrays on other people’s homes. Visit website.

(For now, crowdfunding options are only available in California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and New York; investors in other states must be accredited.)

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New American Dream Collaborative Communities Program

Center for a New American Dream offers a wealth of resources for building community engagement and resilience. A Community Action Kit consists of two downloadable action guides, Guide to Sharing and Guide to Going Local, as well as a great set of resources for growing a local food system. Each is geared toward helping people organize and implement locally-based projects, with concrete project ideas, step-by-step tips, video stories, and more. A linked series of webinars contains tips and ideas from people who have already completed successful projects. Center for a New American Dream also contains a wealth of other programs around the themes of “Beyond Consumerism” and “Redefining the Dream.” Visit website.

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