The NEXT Global Economy

I’m headed off to New York City tomorrow to speak at the NYC Maker Faire.

Why?  If you haven’t been to a Maker Faire before, it’s worth a trip to see one (they are all over the place).  Besides being a fun, family friendly experience, it’s a celebration of inventors, tinkerers, artisans, and artists.

It’s a place where they show you what they created and if you are lucky, you get to experience a bit of their passion for what they do.  Not only that, it’s THE place where you can get a glimpse at what the NEXT global economy will look like:

  • human-scale,
  • passionate,
  • networked,
  • innovative, and
  • beneficial (to the communities they are part of).

This is a new economy that will make it possible for adaptive, resilient communities that get the formula right, to become the stars of the global economy — at the very same time the financial, media and government middlemen that held them back are flailing and failing.

In fact, you can see the signs of this new global economy, emerging everywhere.

For example, here’s a tiny company called Form Labs that cut out classic venture capital and pitched their innovative product directly to customers on Kickstarter.  They’ve pre-sold over $700,000 of their amazing 3D printers in the first two days of the promotion.  I suspect they will sell millions.  What’s interesting about this isn’t only how inventors can go straight to customers, it’s that this printer is a breakthrough device.  A professional quality device at a price an individual or small shop can afford.

What does a Maker Faire look like?

The intrepid Joe Carr just sent me some photos of his recent trip to Pittsburgh mini Maker Faire (I featured his photos of the Detroit Maker Faire a couple of months ago).  Here are some of the inventions I thought were cool:

Joe Schneider’s (an accomplished machinist) hot are engines. The heat of his hand is enough to power a tiny sterling engine that spins the disk.   He doesn’t have a web site, which is a shame.  Why?  Connecting people like Joe to the world so they can turn their passions into an income stream is a key feature of successful resilient communities.

Inventor Brian Stott’s creations using a 3D printer, including a pretty amazing pair of fully articulated robotic hands.

A wind turbine made out of found materials that is anchored by a standard trailer hitch.

Here’s a custom-built, small-scale version of a rotocaster.  This is cool because rotocasting allows you to make hollow items, which can save a ton on material (they spin slowly to push heated material to the outside).  Usually these machines are big and expensive.


IMPORTANT NOTE:  How do you invest in this new economy?  Invest in growing and raising food inside the community where you live.  In the rainwater harvesting business and the local biomass industry.  Invest in the makerspaces and active/participatory co-working spaces and the inventors and creators that flock to them.  These are all going to be invaluable when the value of global assets shrink.


ANOTHER sighting of Resilient Disobedience:  Yarn Bombing

It’s called “yarn bombing.”  The Pittsburgh Fiber Arts Guild (they support: basketry, beading, book arts, embroidery, crochet, felting, knitting, jewelry, mixed media, quilting, paper art, rug hooking, sculpture, surface design, stitchery, wearables and weaving)

Yarn bombing is a version of graffiti:  a yarn art project in a public space to get people thinking about learning traditional skills.  Here’s a stunning example:

They are getting pretty ambitious with their next Yarn Bomb.  They plan to knit a major Pittsburgh bridge (although that is going to take permission).


Resiliently Yours,




PS:  I’ve got the first issue of the premium resilient communities newsletter done, in draft form.  I’m working through some improvements based on advice from my editors.  Onward!

PPS:  I’ll be giving my talk on Resilient Communities at 11:30 AM on Saturday in the main tent.  I’ve also been told it will be live streamed if you are interested.   Better yet, if you are in the area, please stop by and say hi.


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  • Marcus Wynne

    Resilient disobedience is good. I like the Yarn Bomb, have a soft spot for Monkey-Wrenchers (not technically RD, but close in spirit), and prize the RD offshoots I see: black/grey marketing in organic foods, guerrilla gardening ala Johnny Appleseed, except with hardy varieties of veggies in foreclosed home yards, unmaintained parks, etc.

    Henry David Thoreau was a Resilient Community maker:

    “Walden” is still a good read today, too.

  • BW

    I like that term: Resilient Disobedience

    We will be needing that in the future, in a variety of circumstances. You could have a section in your newsletter devoted to just that very concept. Kind of like another side to “Guerrilla Warrior”.

  • Caspar Hübinger

    If that amazing Joe Schneider guy actually *wants* a website and you’re in contact with him, please point him my way. I’m a WordPress expert and I’ll be glad to help him get started. (No commercial strings attached.)

    • John Robb

      Thanks Caspar.

  • Plug Nickel Outfit

    The wind turbine on the trailer hitch – I assume it’s designed to generate electricity while the vehicle is stationary? Seems if left in place while the vehicle was moving that the drag or resistance would outweigh any real gains – unless my meager understanding of thermodynamics is flawed…?

  • kunkmiester

    We need METAL. Plastic is nice, but useless for a ton of stuff I’d like to be able to print out.

    Has anyone gotten anywhere on machines that can make more than laser sintered pot metal?

    • John Robb

      It’s coming. JR

  • Wheelman

    Just saw this new article and was kind of impressed that people were starting to see the need for resilience and robustness in planning big projects, instead of “optimal” results based on assumptions that may not come true. Here’s a snippet:

    “An optimal solution is cost-effective, if you get it right (obviously). But strategies aiming for optimality are brittle. If you optimize for one thing and run into another, you risk degradation or collapse (or, like Ho Chi Minh City, just wasting a buttload of money). Robust decisions and investments often cost more in the short- to mid-term; the extra money is effectively spent as insurance against unforeseen outcomes. A robust solution retains its integrity in a wide array of circumstances.”

    Keep up the good work :)

  • Dustin

    Hey John… will you post a video of your presentation? Can’t wait to see it. Thanks.