One of my favorite things about living at Twin Oaks is that all manner of interesting folks come to us to look for clever solutions they are chronicling to share with the world. Sometimes that is exotic mega media like Russia Today or the mainstream press like CNN. But more often it is cool micro media like the fine couple from the Within Reach Video project.
The Within Reach model was simple. Give up everything which would not fit on two bicycles and ride across the country visiting 100 communities, looking for best practices, video and write about them. They really liked Twin Oaks. This post is about another short video they did on the Muffin Man from Madison Wisconsin.
In case you are at Twin Oaks, or some other place which does not have great YouTube access, i will explain the brief version of this video. This charming guy bakes vegan muffins, hops on his bike with a trailer, rides around town and finds people who want to play, offers them a muffin IF they will agree to do one thing from this list:
10. Give hugs or high 5 to 10 people tomorrow who seem unhappy.
9. Go 3 days without using any money
8. Go 2 days without using Internet or Cell Phones
7. Put a treat into 3 peoples pockets
6. Write and mail 2 real letters
5. Take a new person on a walk, run or bike ride
4. Leaving 6 inspiring or hopeful notes on vehicles, homes, or pockets
3. Go 4 days without looking in a mirror
2. Perform music or sing for 3 strangers
1. Make your own gift exchange pay-it-forward list to make the world a better place.
What i think is going thru muffin eaters heads when they are choosing one obligation from this list is “Which of these choices is most accessible to me?” of course what some might be saying is “which of these is most fun or most transformative for me?”
And there is this interesting math that the muffin man has to do. How do we quantify and compare these different tasks, so that the number of real snail mail letters a muffin recipient receives is equally difficult/desirable to the number of hugs or high fives they offer someone who is unhappy.
And it is the last option on the list which is the memetic part. Make your own pay-it-forward list. This is where you get to think about the (presumably accessible) things which will make the world a better place. What would you like to see more of? What is the world missing?
This idea is 7 kinds of rich. What is the advantage (for example) of not looking in the mirror for 4 days? [This would be one of the easier ones for me.] How daring is it to perform music for strangers? How do people change if they are temporarily restricted from using money? Most of us send many emails a day, why is it so hard to go back to postal mail? And why do most of us think real snail mail is so desirable?