“The Gratitude Code. Interview with Kindista.org Founders Nicholas Eamon Walker & Benjamin Crandall” by Willi Paul, Planetshifter.com Magazine
“Kindista is all about getting more of our needs met through sharing. The more resources you offer to your community, the more you will inspire others to offer what they have to you. Get creative! You can offer skills, tutoring, clothing, household items, food, or the temporary use of vehicles, tools, work space, or housing. Anything you have that is underutilized, or that might be useful or appreciated by someone else. If you're still not sure what to you have to share, try looking through the requests on Kindista to see what kinds of things would be useful to others in your community. Remember, posting an offer doesn't create an obligation to give anything; you can always say no when someone asks for what you've offered.” (From Kindista member email)
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Is Kindista an "online community?"
Kindista is a tool for community building. While people can meet and connect for the first time on Kindista, the intention of the site is to facilitate interactions that take place offline. Many existing communities are unaware of the wealth of resources and services available within them. Kindista helps to reveal this wealth. Through sharing, new and existing communities develop deeper bonds woven with ties of gratitude.
What values are you trying to replace and why?
We are trying to encourage the values of gratitude and openness. Expressing gratitude for what we have is the most powerful antidote to the fear of not having enough. Effectively facing that fear enables us to openly and honestly see and reveal what we have and what we need. This openness enables others to see us, care for us, and feel gratitude for what we share with them. Kindista helps us to realize the wealth and connection latent in community when we shed fear and get to work on what we can do for each other and for the world.
How are you different?
At the heart of Kindista is the act of witnessing gratitude. That makes us different in two ways: witnessing and gratitude. Kindista makes it very easy to see everything that is going on near you; everything on the site is tied to location, and you can instruct the site to give you an experience tailored to whatever you consider "local." The first thing you'll see when returning to Kindista is what's been going on nearby. We emphasize the display of gratitude people have been expressing for each other. We believe that gratitude is the best antidote to fear and one of the keys to unlocking generosity and connectedness in our communities.
Kindista is compatible: it works great on computers, tablets, and smartphones. It also works well with screen readers and other
assistive access devices. We built a truly "open access" website without compromising on design.
Kindista has a novel technical architecture that enables us to give a highly localized experience to each person without compromising on the speed of the site. It's also quite easy for us to adjust the site and add new functionality. Part of this is the sheer magic of working with the Common Lisp programming language, and part of it comes from having an architecture based on 15 years of experience building high-performance custom software and interactive websites. We do all of our own design and development, and we place a strong emphasis on the quality of experience people have when interacting with Kindista.
Can an offer also be / include a request?
Offers and requests cannot be combined on Kindista. The intention behind this is to liberate people from the limitations of planning how they will get their needs met. When we clearly state what we have to offer and what we need it frees up our community to provide for us in ways that we could not predict or plan for.
What barter or social media sites influenced the early vision of Kindista?
Our idealistic inspiration came largely from Charles Eisenstein's book Sacred Economics, a wonderfully thoughtful and thorough look at the past, present, and future of how we cooperate as a society.
We took some visual influence from Facebook and VK and then adapted that general layout into a simpler visual framework that accommodates mobile devices, assisted access devices (screen readers, etc.), and our visions of future functionality.
Are you utilizing Transition or permaculture principles? Examples?
Positive Visioning: Kindista is built on positive vision! We believe in a world where people experience rich and caring community and are able to focus their lives on sharing their greatest gifts in service of self, family, community, and the world as a whole.
Help People Access Good Information and Trust Them to Make Good Decisions: Kindista is all about providing information and helping people to make their own decisions. We show people the offers, the requests, and the gratitude, and encourage everyone to make their own decisions about how to share.
Inclusion and Openness: While Kindista is limited to people who are able to use any form of web browser, we do our best to make the site usable by older computers and alternative methods of access (screen readers, Braille, etc.). Nothing about Kindista requires owning a personal computer, so we think we're about as inclusive and open as we can get for a service that requires web access and literacy.
Enable Sharing and Networking: That's what we're all about!
Build Resilience: It shouldn't take a disaster for neighbors to figure out what resources and skills exist in their community. Kindista helps build strong, connected communities. We hope to continue introducing new tools that facilitate food networking, housing, and helping people figure out what skills are most needed by their community.
Inner and Outer Transition: Kindista is as much about a transition to an internal state of gratitude, openness, and trust as it is about an external transition to getting needs met through sharing. The internal and the external go hand-in-hand.
Observe and Interact: Kindista was designed based on observations of existing communities and methods of sharing (time banks and gift circles). We could see how much wealth is latent in the communities in which we participate, but the existing social tools were too time consuming to paint a complete picture--so we made Kindista!
Catch and store energy: People are able to contribute to their communities in many ways. Sometimes people are in a surplus state and sometimes people are in a state of need. Kindista captures and records the community's lifetime of gratitude for an individual that allows newcomers to see that while a person may be "needy" right now, they were generous in the past and likely to be generous again with a little bit of help.
Apply self regulation and accept feedback: The design of Kindista incorporates extensive feedback we received from an earlier beta version of the site. The current site has an interactive feedback forum that we use to drive improvements.
Design from patterns to details: The design of Kindista started with vision. From the vision, we imagined what actual activities people would conduct that would be the realization of that vision. Then we envisioned the tools necessary to conduct those activities, starting with a vision of the human experience of interacting with the tools. Once we had a complete vision of the human experience we started writing code. When the code doesn't line up with the reality of human experience, the code
Integrate rather than segregate: We have worked to bring together different organizations operating in the Eugene area. Recently we welcomed members of the Emerald Valley Time Exchange to Kindista, and we're looking to be of service to other communities and organizations in our region and beyond. Because Kindista is an open source project backed by a non-profit, we hope other projects devoted to nurturing a sharing economy will join forces with us!
Use small and slow solutions: We launched quietly in Eugene last year and have been spreading gradually through word of mouth. We might admit to an occasional desire for rapid growth or to roll out a whole bunch of new features, but at heart we're dedicated to slow and steady growth that allows us to respond consciously, at a truly human pace, to the needs of our growing community.
Use and value diversity: Kindista is all about creating an alternative economy. By facilitating sharing we believe we are adding to the diversity of ways people can interact with, meet, and get to know each other. The site also encourages people to make new connections outside of their normal social circles.
Use edges and value the marginal: As the sharing economy takes hold it seems to start primarily with small sharing. Sharing small, non-essential things helps people to build confidence in sharing as a way of life, helping them to feel safer and open to bigger and more generous sharing. We've seen this in-person with gift circles, and we can see now that the majority of offers and requests on Kindista are for smaller gifts. We respect this small sharing and see it as a beautiful and essential stage of growth for the sharing economy.
Creative use and response to change: Kindista is designed to adapt. We've already made some major revisions to the site that reflect how people actually use it, and we managed to do so in a way that preserved all of the information people had already put into the site. As we've continued the development of Kindista we have put a huge amount of effort into making the "engine" adaptable. It is our ongoing pleasure to make slight and subtle changes to the site that make it a more pleasant experience for the people who use it.
You state: "We encourage you to express gratitude for anyone that has shared something meaningful.” So, the site is powered by a "gratitude engine!?"
Kindista is powered by love, gratitude, sweat, tears, Common Lisp, and FreeBSD.
Is Kindista also about creating abundance?
Abundance already exists in many places. Kindista is about revealing abundance and overcoming the fears and communication challenges that prevent accessing and sharing abundance.
Is the ability to make a commitment online a big challenge?
We've surveyed a number of people who use Kindista and people almost always follow through on commitments made through the site. This may be a cultural phenomenon limited to Eugene, as other gift sharing sites have reported to us that they have very poor follow-through. We'll see what happens as the use of Kindista spreads to new areas!
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Bios of the Founders -
Nicholas "Eamon" Walker is an American computer programmer, inventor, and community organizer. As a teenager he tracked down and provided evidence against the hacker responsible for stealing Cisco's iOS source code and numerous military and government secrets (FBI Major Case 216). His inventions in the fields of digital film and human interface technology have earned him several US patents. In over 15 years of software development, he has authored peer-to-peer file-sharing services, a digital magazine publishing platform, numerous social web applications, and most recently co-authored the Kindista social network for local sharing. He has lectured internationally about software development and the Free (Open Source) Software movement. He lives in Eugene, OR.
Benjamin Crandall is a computer programmer, social entrepreneur, community organizer, musician, and martial artist. He founded CommonGoods Network, an Oregon 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and co-authored the Kindista social network for local resource sharing. He has a decade of experience with nonprofit finance and administration and has been studying macro-economic and financial markets since 2004. He has a degree in Jazz Saxophone from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music and occasionally performs sets of his original compositions in Eugene, Oregon. He has also been studying Yang Michuan T'ai Chi Ch'uan since 2001 and teaching the martial art since 2004 in Washington, DC and in Eugene.