Raphie Frank :: business artivist

All Alone is All We Will One Day Once Have Been: A Generation X Response to Thomas Friedman’s “Generation Q”

Jace Cavacini
The Lonely Puppet by Jace Cavacini (Highly Functioning Autistic: Asperger’s Syndrome)

At least one of the anthems of my generation is “All Apologies” by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame. The refrain which repeats over and over again in the collective mind of our generation is “All alone is all we are. All alone is all we are…”

My dream is that in the not so distant future, we will be able to update that riff by giving it a happier, more hopeful ending. To do that, however, is going to take a little work, and a little working together in a process I call “social cogeneration,” because only by working together will we be able to stand together and tell the world:

No, Kurt got it wrong. All alone is all we will one day once have been.

All Alone is All We Will One Day Once Have Been
A Generation X Response to Thomas Friedman’s “Generation Q”

As a leading edge member of Generation X, a generation I affectionately refer to as the generation trapped between idealism and despair, told by our parents we could do anything we dreamed of doing, then told “no” every time we tried, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on Thomas Friedman’s October 10, 2007 column, Generation Q, in which he termed the current crop of college students the “Quiet Generation.”

It’s not so much that Mr. Friedman got it “wrong,” but that he could have gotten it more right. The younger generation — also known to marketers and within popular culture as “Generation Y,” denoting those born between 1981 and 1995 — is indeed quiet now, but this does not mean they will be quiet later because they are also very much the “Quick” Generation, brought up in the age of Information Explosion, Internet learning by association and Social Software.

Fractal, “object oriented,” relational thinkers in the mold of noted technologist Ray Kurzweil, a self-described “patternist,” they “get” things, intuitively, in a Malcolm Gladwell “Blink” of an eye, even before they have language by which to frame those thoughts and, sadly, one of the lessons they have learned, perhaps a bit too fast, is that nobody is listening.

In my view, many members of Generation Q are not so much “quiet” as frustrated and, possibly, even a bit depressed.

I don’t know this in theory, but in practice, in anecdotal, but all too tangible, form, because for the better part of the past three years I have spent thousands of hours interviewing and talking to and corresponding with, not just members of Gen Q, but with people of all ages, across all economic and geographical and race divides.

I communicate with these people here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and on the streets of Manhattan, and on social software sites such as Flickr and Friendster, real life “participatory action research” by an aspiring professional human being who has made more than his fair share of mistakes. I tell these people stories — mostly in private, but also sometimes in public — stories about being a bit too “different,” about being a right-handed, right-brained thinker trying to follow a path with heart in a left brained world and not wanting anyone to know because I know what happens to those who dare to dream with the heart of a ten year old child…

They get trampled.
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December 12, 2007 Posted by | Art, Non-Partisan Activism, Philosophy, Sociology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter to Mattijn re: Art, Money & Morality

Boojummy Business Artivism Grand Vision
The artist the devil and the manager by Mattijn Franssen

An interesting question I have to ask you Mattijn. Are you AGAINST making money? I will tell you my feeling and I know it is not “healthy,” but it is the way I am and I believe you will perhaps identify with me on this. For me, I can only make money and feel good about it if I am doing something I believe can make the world a better place.

Money as exchange for spirit bothers me greatly because it makes the world less, not more insofar as the terms of exchange are not in accordance with the lessons I was taught as a child such as: a) do what you love b) it is better to give than receive c) do unto others as you would have them do unto you d) love thyself e) try your hardest; and so on…

However, I also do not like to give and not receive, which is what has been a common occurrence for me in my life and it can make one angry and bitter, something I have had to fight against, believe me, for most of my life.

Do you see how people become paralyzed? They neither create for fear of being taken advantage of, nor do they make money because they are morally opposed to the terms of the exchange. Such people are in metaphorical “purgatory,” trapped in the rut of inaction, what Hegel termed the “dead end of possibility.” To act or not act is to fail, but in no action remains at least the proverbial pipe dream.

Do you know that line “I could have been a contender?” from “On the Waterfront”? These are the words of such a person, a person who didn’t try. But for people like me and you, Mattijn — and tell me if I am wrong — it is, or can be far, far worse. We live in a form of hell — because we see the light so many others do not and have no choice but to follow it — like Robert Johnson to the devil, and it is lonely, very very lonely. I know all about it. It is a place no one can lead you, so few will follow, but there is rarely a dearth of those who will readily attack.
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May 4, 2007 Posted by | Art, Business, Philosophy | Leave a comment

Pressure is Aggression to the Monkey in the Man

Foundry no. 2 by egg theorem. UPDATE: Dedicated by Raphie on 4/13/2007 to the Man Without a Country,” Kurt Vonnegut (RIP)

Related Posts:
Unlocked Bondage
Introducing “Trickle Up Economics” aka the “One Song”
Would We See Graffiti Bearing the Word WATER in our Part of the World?
Silencing Those Who Speak of Those Who Are Not Silent
Riven Hearts (aka “Why I Write and Why I Fight”)

Pressure is aggression

These words, come to me direct from the keyboard of talented Flickr photographer, writer and thinker, Mariana Tomas, kind of got me thinking in an eggs on the ceiling, blown gasket or “Let them eat cake” manner. See, I sent Mariana an email earlier today asking about something we are working on together, a book of aphorisms for the 21st Century Quantum Age called Life at the Speed of Phi, and she replied in a way only the artist might understand, that, more or less, she needed to get the time feng shui right.

What she meant by that — and the specific phrasing is mine, not hers — is that she didn’t want to pressure herself, pressure, she wrote, being “a form of aggression,” which I certainly understood in a “monkey on the back” kind of way, because I know a thing or two about monkeys, not unlike maybe that fellow in the photo up above might. Heck, sometimes, Type “A” dreamer that I am, it seems like I’ve got a whole zoo-full of monkeys hanging out on a few jungle gyms in different parts of my mind just licking their lips and waiting to pounce the first chance they get.

Anyway, as I said, it got me thinking. Just for “fun” apply that symbolic “monkey on the back” pressure we put on ourselves to entire country populations being told what to do by other countries or by their own governments. Apply that logic to people and peoples shut out of the American Dream in whatever language it is they dream. Apply it to folks who feel their choices have been taken away and their hopes for the future dashed. I bet they might just feel there’s a monkey or two hop-scotch tumbling about all over them and it might kind of irritate them.

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April 6, 2007 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics | 5 Comments

The New Demand Economy : Watch out for Latinland

Coastal Fog by Daryl Furr.

Imagine if CNN admitted it’s liberal dovish leanings? And Fox its, hawkish Conservative ones? Now THAT would be refreshing. They won’t, likely. It’d be bad for business, right?

For now.

But it’s only a matter of time before corporations — considered “individuals” before the law — declare political affiliations. Adam Smith will demand it from his grave because, you see, diffused rule by Corporation in a globalized economy is already upon us. We just don’t know it yet. But Warren Buffet does. It’s why he has willed most of his fortune to Microsoft maven Bill Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More on that another time — let’s just say my guess is that accountability and directed purpose, not possible in an Open Source Society has something to do with it — but the point is this:

The Rulers of the 21st century are no longer just the Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers and their minions, but the Boards of Directors and top corporate executives, meaning our votes will come in the form of the soap with which we wash, the toothpaste with which we brush and the sheets upon which we sleep.

Communist-style command economies were quite the rage in the 20th century. Perhaps the 21st century will usher in the age of the Demand Economy, because that’s how capitalism works, folks. If we demand, they will supply. A People United and all… ?

Speaking of which, I’ll throw sand in the eyes of anyone who tells me I ought not to be proud as heck to live in the United States of Saudi Arabia. Oops… I meant America. Just call it oil on the brain. But you know we’re in trouble when them furriners are even getting on to our money. I took a look at a dollar bill today. Know what it said?


Tell your friends, folks. I’ve never even heard of Latinland. This is BIG.

April 5, 2007 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philanthropy, Philosophy, Politics | Leave a comment

A Blog to Watch :: The Long Goodbye

Sometimes, the headlines say it all…

April 2, 2007 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics | Leave a comment

Trickle Up Economics, Conscious Capitalism & Co-Generation

The Magic Forest by Mattijn Frannsen

RELATED WRITINGS (by Raphie Frank)
Pressure is Aggression to the Monkey in the Man
Introducing “Trickle Up Economics” (aka “The One Song”)
Sophinette asks: Is Bono Fooling Us All? My response? NO!
The New Demand Economy : Watch out for Latinland
The Mathematics of Opportunity
Synchronicities of the Happily Converging Road
What’s Wrong With Profit?

Dear [friend]

I thought to bring to your attention the below news related to Zaadz, a very well meaning, New Age inflected, but anything but unambitious Social Software Network…

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey invests in Zaadz, a Social Network With a Purpose
Posted on Mar 28th, 2007

I believe Mackey’s investment of social venture capital is one to take seriously as part of a much greater trend. Yet to come clearly into public focus, there is a full-scale grass roots entrepreneurial movement underway, and it goes by such names as “Conscious Capitalism,” and “Death By Smiley Face” although I just call it “Trickle Up Economics” aka “Tomorrow’s Economy of Heart Today.”

Supported by Philanthropreneurs such as Mackey and Pierre Omidyar, “Trickle Up Economics” is emerging amidst a Millennial convergence of political, social, economic and natural forces working of a piece to both unite and divide us. On the one hand, via free trade economic policies, the connective power of technology and 9/11 propelled decentralization trends in financial markets, we are becoming more and more one interdependent global organism.

On the other hand, perhaps a function to some extent of the resulting rapid-fire collision of cultures, the Global Mind is also in increasingly polarized conflict as worldwide reserves of renewable energy dwindle, climate change threatens to displace vast populations, policies of Preemptive Warfare frog-march pariah nations into increasingly defensive postures and the Neo-Gilded Age gap between haves and have-nots emerges into crystal clarity.

Within this Global environment, the “multiple revenue stream, outsourced” economic model brought in with the Digital Age by such New Economy stalwarts as Monster, Inc. (formerly TMP Worldwide) is “adapt or die” morphing into it’s much needed psychic / spiritual twin in a manner that might make Carl Jung and Carlos Castaneda sigh with relief, “Finally! They’re starting to figure it out!”

Perhaps feeling a bit left out of all those Alan Greenspan celebrated productivity gains amidst dramatic decreases in job security in the industrialized nations, a low premium placed on loyalty to employees on the part of increasingly megalithic trans-global corporations with diffuse power and little accountability, along with the recognition that not even once sacrosanct pension funds are safe, many socially conscious enterprising individuals are taking matters into their own hands, but with a distinctly Native American twist.

These people, and I humbly count myself amongst their ranks, are working to figure out ways to use the entire animal called US, all of US. They understand on an intuitive level that we are but small parts of an entirety consisting of countless parts on both sides of the “zero point” called human consciousness and that the the many parts of the self and the many parts of the other are connected not by choice, but by necessity and that if we do not serve one its just desserts we cannot serve the other.

The trend is just beginning. It’s called Co-Generation and Gen-X and Gen-Y, working together are going to lead the way into Generation XY. The elephant of many parts is emerging into the light and the lion is just beginning to roar.

I wanted to let you know, because before we’re through, we’re going to make it baaad to be good and we’re going to do our darndest to make it pay in every which way for ALL those who give a damn and try to do a thing or two about it.

But you gotta pay to play and that means serving the pie too and not just eating it.

Your friend,

Raphie Frank
Business Artivist
Poet of the Possible

For Further Reading:

A Christmas Story for Marla Ruzicka (RIP)

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philanthropy, Philosophy, Politics | 1 Comment

Unlocked Bondage

kumbukumbu ya historia ya watumwa
kumbukumbu ya historia ya watumwa (Swahili: memory of the slaves), taken by Farl, Philippines)

That picture up there above gives a whole new meaning to the term “The ties that bind.” How about just replacing that aphorism with a phrase that cuts straight to the chase : “The chains that enslave”? Note the statue on the right? The chain is real, as is the sense of bondage, but there is no lock on it. The tension of the pull on the chain itself “serves” just as effectively to preclude movement.

Now. Think for just a moment. Who is “more” free? The slave on the left or the slave on the right? Wait before answering! It’s a bit of a trick question!

The woman (?) on the right can move neither forward nor backwards. She will suffocate. The man on the left, however, can simply take a step forward to free the woman.

So why does he not?

Well, what’s in it for him? She can just run away and leave him there all by himself! He may be AFRAID to be left alone, fearful of being taken advantage of, or maybe he too was once in a similar state and no one took that step for him.

The answer? Trust and faith and communication. She must ASK him to step forward or he must simply do so with hope and belief. And there is one more key to the puzzle. ACCOUNTABILITY.

This is the value of the “third” person in our little allegory. You and me and all of us. WE are the third eye and that is why photos such as this are so absolutely critical. We must show so that others can SEE. And we must speak so that others can HEAR. And we must ACT so that others may BELIEVE. To extend Hugo Ball, to be forgiven his merely three dimensional tendency — ball = sphere, after all…

The word and image and action are one.

As belly dancers are fond of conceptualizing it as they work their eternal bodies, we are nought but spheres of spirit moving through spheres of time…

Add in space to make it matter, and light to draw connections and you’ve Einstein, Jung and Hegel all. Pull the string to spin and curve it all around and you’ve got the triple spiral dialectic we call the Mind of God, the Celestial Dance, Islands in the Stream or the One Song called the Uni Verso called the Universe.

I say to that man on the left , “Step forward! I am free and I am watching. If you free her and she abandons you, I will be ready to show that picture also to the world. If she helps you, I will show that too so that others may have an example to follow.”

It’s not just that picture that matters. But what comes next… Observation, after all, changes the observed. Make no mistake. We learn from others’ inaction and silence far, far more than from their words and actions.

September 5, 2006 Posted by | Film, Philosophy, Photography, Politics, Storytelling | 3 Comments

Giving A Damn :: Back To the Future

off to another dimension” courtesy of Mattijn

So far ahead of the curve I’m right back where I began on the upside down side of the flip side. Yup, it’s true, I was just as big a dumma$$ almost 20 years ago…


from the Vassar Quarterly, Summer 1988
For 36 consecutive hours last September, Vassar students, students from other colleges, and people from the Poughkeepsie community raised money for local social services by playing Ultimate Frisbee — a competitive version of the usually laconic toss-and-catch-game — on the lawn of in front of Noyes. Money was raised from pledges and the sale of T-shirts and Frisbees. Hundreds participated, with President Frances Fergusson throwing out the first Frisbee. Proceeds — $6500 — went to the support of the Gannett House, a temporary shelter for Dutchess County homeless, and to Hunger Action.

The idea, says Steve Frank [aka Raphie Frank] ’89, marathon organizer and Ultimate Frisbee team member, arose on the playing field. “It was a good way of using something I already did to a good purpose.” Mr. Frank, who was subsequently appointed to the newly established President’s Advisory on Public Service, seems to blend a Sixtie’s ideal of social activism with an Eighties sense of aggressive management.

“I don’t believe in paying penance for being lucky or intelligent,” he says. “You can’t appeal to just people’s altruistic instincts. I want to create win/win situations. People have to get something out of volunteering. If Philaletheis puts on a play at Greenhaven,” he says by way of example, “the prisoners get culture, and for the performers, it’s another audience. That has nothing to do with volunteering. The volunteering aspect will be a side thing, but it may be that’s what a person gets most out of. That’s what happened to me with the Frisbee marathon.”


As for Mattijn’s picture up there, I say The Vortex spiral that takes you to another dimension can be a GOOD thing if it’s taking you back to the right side of the looking glass…

Visit Mattijn.com

July 4, 2006 Posted by | Philosophy, Politics | 1 Comment

The Evolving Principles of Business Artivism

Crazy-ons” courtesy of Patrick Lee

formerly known as “The Evolving Principles of Boojummy”

  1. Create win-win scenarios where everyone gets what they need and feels good and no one feels taken advantage of.
  2. Recognize that we can’t just sit on our a$$es and do nothing if we want to have any right to complain about the respective states of our existence
  3. Embrace the ego because if you’re not getting what you need, you’re not going to be able to give others what they need. Accept that altruism and egotism are not incompatible concepts.
  4. It’s OKAY to make money doing something you love. And it sure as hell ought to be okay making money making the world a better place. And it’s okay for those who work harder and contribute more to society to make more, not less, money than others.
  5. Change happens ONE PERSON AT A TIME. It starts with the self and spreads outwards like rippling water. But as the one becomes the few and the few become the many, the waves increasingly intersect and create “nodes” of connection and understanding.
  6. No one person is the be all and end all within the interdependent business artivist system. Some people, however, akin to Malcolm Gladwell’s conception of the connector and the maven, have a greater grasp on big picture issues and that grasp should be respected, but never go unchallenged. The goal of the teacher is to have the student surpass him or her.
  7. Power abhors a vacuum. If humanistically oriented “spirit first” leaders (aka “poets of the possible”) don’t aspire to wield influence, then materially-oriented “money first” leaders will because their rules-based institutional structures are based upon a well-considered rational understanding of human nature that has proven itself successful time and again through recorded history. As such, the “rules of the game” are stacked in their favor because they have past precedent to argue their case. Many people with spiritually-inclined constitutions are co-opted into the “system” simply because there are no other viable alternatives.
  8. We can do just fine by ourselves, but we can do better together than apart. In the increasingly networked world of Intrenet 2.0, collaboration and sharing are to be considered a competitive advantage.
  9. Flexibility and adaptibility are key. Changing opinions and approaches resulting from growth, learning and changing circumstances “on the ground” are never to be considered evidence of a disingenuous initial position. Precisely because of this amorphous nature of the artivist network, the cultivation of permission-based networks centered upon trust, transparency, honesty and openness are key ingredients to business, as well as personal, success.
  10. Business is personal. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. The idea that it is not is just a “believeable fiction” we tell ourselves to ease those nagging guilts we feel when we screw others over. As social entrepreneurial and good corporate citizen models suggest, psychic benefit in lieu of monetary gain can provide for increased efficiency and yield superior profits, both psychic and monetary, going forward.
  11. Receive an ounce of kindness? Try to pass on two and it will even out in the end. If you don’t know what I mean, try being the guy who collects the money at the end of a group dinner…
  12. It’s okay to press the back button. Mistakes get made. We only ask good faith and for network participants and/or allies to take immediate ownership and accountability for past error. Mistakes made in good faith are not “evil.” Failure to re-assess past positions upon presentation of new information, or failure to allow for the presentation of new evidence (aka “communication shutdown”), however, will not be passively accepted, but persistently challenged, until a better story that better fits facts can be presented.
  13. Let’s be human beings… There is no room in business artivism for either petty jealousy or preening egoism. Those who succeed are to be considered guides and facilitators for those who helped promote them to success. Gifts of knowledge and/or venture risk capital are to be considered a duty. In return, the giver may reasonably expect a return on investment in the form of monetary or social equity. Returns on investment in the form of physical or emotional equity, however, are to be assiduously avoided whereever possible (you can’t shut off feeling after all…) lest they exploit well known inequalities embedded within the the very structure of unequal power distributions.
  14. Those who create work should benefit from the widespread dissemination of that work. We consider intellectual and creative copyright, especially in the digital age, a moral mandate.
  15. Business artivism is OPT-OUT at any time. If you’re not getting what you need, go someplace where you have a better chance to get it. But you can’t just take it all with you and neglect those who helped you along the way. Well… you can, but don’t expect us to sit still for it. We’ll fight for our own not to get the short end of the stick and even keep the door open for you to come back if and when the time is right.

The aforementioned principles 1 through 15 apply on personal, business and political levels all. And all dialectically feed back and influence the other levels. Personal and political are no less related than quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. Societal norms are simply Newtonian constructions of the mind.

related writings:
:: What is Business Artivism?
:: Steal This Business Concept!
:: Introducing “Trickle Up” Economics
:: What the hell is “boojummy”?

related flickr groups:
:: Business Artivist
:: WorldZight
:: Boojummy

dedicated to my very much still living parents, Charles R. Frank Jr. and Susan Niehaus; to my grandfathers, Charles R. Frank Sr. & Jules Backman; my grandmothers, Mary Frank, Grace Backman, and Lucille Krane-Frank; to my siblings, both imagined and unimagined; and to my step- and spiritual- parents on all the many, many sides of my 21st century family.

July 4, 2006 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philosophy | 2 Comments

Introducing “Trickle Up Economics” (aka “The One Song”)

Come on Pino We’re Going Home” courtesy of the absurdly talented Mattijn

RELATED WRITINGS (by Raphie Frank)
Pressure is Aggression to the Monkey in the Man
Trickle Up Economics, Conscious Capitalism & Co-Generation
Sophinette asks: Is Bono Fooling Us All? My response? NO!
The New Demand Economy : Watch out for Latinland
The Mathematics of Opportunity
Synchronicities of the Happily Converging Road
What’s Wrong With Profit?


Dear Ana,

It is not this person or that person that is sick but the entire way of the world. WE NEED BETTER OPTIONS and through business artivism I believe we can offer those options to people, not to everyone, but at least to some and that can have a dramatic effect on policy the world over, especially in a global economy trending ever and ever closer toward “diffused” rule by corporation .

Understand that and you’ll understand why I am embracing a a profit motive with respect to my business artivist approach. You see, Ana, profit motive provides a much-needed incentive for people to “do the right thing.”. The “average” person (we are ALL unique!) is so harried and scrambling just to earn a living wage that he or she has no time to think. Those who think and see the injustice all around often say “screw money!”

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July 2, 2006 Posted by | Business, Economics, Philosophy, Politics | 2 Comments

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