How to Maximize Your Impact and Thrive in Uncertain Times

Summary: A Skills Sharing Conference Aimed to Help Millennials Navigate the Uncertainties of Economic Life in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis
San Francisco, July 9, 2016

The near collapse of the world’s economy in 2008 and the deep disparity of the recovery since have reignited longstanding arguments about capitalism and its inherent capacity to simultaneously produce remarkable wealth and poverty. As it did during the Gilded Age, this paradox confronts the millennial generation of students and recent college graduates who must weigh the proposition of decades of student debt against the uncertain prospect of entering a marketplace that may not provide the means or opportunity to pay it.

This conference aims to help this generation navigate the uncertainties of economic life through skills sharing and other useful sessions that will introduce them to a wide array of professions that not only promise a modicum of economic stability but also afford the opportunity to get involved in an ongoing movement designed to correct the nation’s structural economic inequality problem through comprehensive reform.

We will expand upon last year’s coliving communities conference, which attracted 105 attendees, by inviting senior professionals in the fields of social entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, open source science & technology, assessment, GIS, political organizing, economics, and city planning. These professionals will advise conference attendees on how to plug their energies into policy reform, giving millennials and others insight into how they can find a vocation that enables them to make a living while contributing to the nation’s recovery. Those looking specifically to start, join, or manage a land trust or other intentional community will benefit from conference sessions on land markets, assessment practices, and how to navigate the local bureaucracies that stand between them and creating their ideal community. Similar conference tracks will be available in regards to other means of employment and social change.

The conference also will provide an opportunity for existing professionals to network and build connections across various fields of economic reform. This conference will act as a catalyst for a new generation of young professionals who desire to become involved in something larger than themselves. The central purpose of this conference is to provide millennials with the skills and information essential to sustain and guide that desire into meaningful careers that affect change.

Previous Conference: Community Gone Viral July 2014

On July 5th, 2014, over a hundred community activists met in San Francisco to discuss how to create more vibrant, prosperous, and sustainable communities using the principle of Earth Sharing. The day was filled with exciting games, delicious food, stimulating conversation, and great networking opportunities for those seeking to hack San Francisco’s housing crisis.

We’d like to express our deepest gratitude to Robert Schalkenbach Foundation for sponsoring the event, and the many volunteers who were instrumental in making it an overwhelming success!


Current models of real estate speculation, gentrification, and taxation aren’t working to create the prosperous, and green communities we want. An enormous opportunity for change exists when people organize to create communities from the bottom up. After the hard work of creating a community is complete, awareness of what is involved is fully internalized, and members grow comfortable, the passion to grow and spawn new communities often tempers. We’d like to discuss ways to avoid this, ways to create an ever flourishing ecosystem of communities.


There are many communities in the bay that embody sustainability, housing affordability, social inclusion, etc but there is not a funding mechanism which allows new communities to quickly and easily get started, and in turn spawn daughter communities. The purpose of this unconference is to explore the community models that exist, and to seek out new creative possibilities for making community go viral.


3-D printers are fascinating. Why? It’s not the printers per se, but all the cool stuff that pops out of them. Similarly, we’d like to create a community printer, a standardized and scalable funding model that allows diverse communities to quickly get started, remain successful, and then financially contribute to the creation of daughter communities.

Focus Question

What kind of real estate finance, holding, development entities, and taxation models support the large scale creation of prosperous and sustainable communities?


The organizing team was Jacob Shwartz-Lucas and David Giesen of Robert Schalkenbach Foundation in NYC, as well as Cohousing Coaches Raines Cohen and Betsy Morris of Cohousing California.

Affiliates included Open Door LLC/ Embassy Network,, SFImpact Hub, Cohousing California, and National Students of Cooperation (NASCO). Contact us if you’d like to be a named sponsor next year.

Participants included:

  • Cooperative housing and affordable housing developers
  • Social impact investors
  • Founders of cohousing, cooperatives, and ecovillages
  • Affordable housing and community land trusts
  • Public officials, planners, and policy-makers
  • Affordable housing advocates
  • Neighborhood housing preservation activists
  • Community members and seekers

If you’d like to attend, speak, co-sponsor, make a donation, volunteer, or somehow collaborate on the next Earth Sharing conference, please contact us!