The Helping Friendly Plan
Our philosophy is simple - we recognize the universal truth that communities are formed through shared experiences, and valuable shared experiences form valuable communities. The quality of the experiences we share determines the quality of the connections we make. Have you ever connected with someone over a book before? How did that turn out?
When society stops sharing valuable experiences, it begins to decay. Books will always be a great source for valuable shared experiences, but only if people read them.
Ironically, in the age of the “smartphone”, the threat of Idiocracy is becoming real. We want to stem that tide by helping change the way people feel about reading. Values determine behavior, so if we want people to read more, we need to help them see the value in doing so. We need to get creative and find ways to make reading more attractive, accessible, and communal. We need to make reading cool again.
To accomplish this mission, we used our wits and our imagination, and we came up with an original design for a new kind of library, as well as a strategy to raise the free public book exchange movement to the level of an art-form in three phases. Positioning ourselves at the confluence of the ‘Placemaking’ and the ’Little Free Library’ movements we present:
The Helping Friendly Book Stand
On a physical level, ‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ are free public book exchanges where communities can ‘Pass The Knowledge’ and share their favorite books. On a metaphysical level, ‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ are the symbolic tip of Pallas Athena’s Spear of Illuminated Wisdom (for those who know their Greek Goddesses). How can we really fight fake news? By reading more books and developing our critical thinking.
The purpose of ‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ is to ignite the imagination and illuminate the curiosity of anyone that engages with it. They are mental pollination stations. When people read, their imaginations become enriched, their conversations and relationships become enriched, and their communities and neighborhoods become enriched in a beautiful ripple effect. Everything is connected. Reading, and socially supported reading in particular, elevates social vitality as it builds conscious, connected community in the process. As above, so below. As within, so without.
‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ create “street-level” opportunities for meaningful connections to occur between friends and strangers alike, which in turn leads to more conscious, connected communities.
Imagine this scenario - two strangers are waiting in line for a concert at Granada Theater, their relationship is one thing. Now imagine the same two strangers are waiting in line for a concert at Granada Theater when they see a ‘Helping Friendly Book Stand’ and discover they’ve read the same book. They spend a few minutes talking about it in line, and now their relationship is something different. Suddenly they’re not quite as strange to each other because they realize they’ve read the same book. They have a valuable shared experience, and just like that, a meaningful “street-level” connection is made.
This is just one example, but in it we can see the alchemical potential for ‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ to transform simple, mundane daily experiences, like standing in a line in Dallas, into something much more golden, much more conscious and connected. Flash forward to the next time they go to a concert at Granada Theater and they remember to bring a book for the ‘Helping Friendly Book Stand’. Now we have cross-pollination.
‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ are different from all the other free public book exchanges because they’re a part of something more, which is the Helping Friendly Quest for the Secrets to Eternal Joy and Never Ending Splendor itself. Each ‘Helping Friendly Book Stand’ is a beacon, an invitation and a nudge to dig a little deeper with the light of your curiosity to discover a community of seekers already engaged on an adventure of the mind and spirit together. Discover the #SEJNES.
Great societies evolve from great conversations, and we want to help inspire the kind of thoughtful conversations that pull fresh, productive thought patterns into waking life.
The Plan for a Helping Friendly Forest
Conceptual models are great, so think of it like this: ‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ are like trees. Even though we can’t observe a tree transmuting poisonous carbon-dioxide into life-supporting oxygen with our senses, we know it’s happening. ‘Helping Friendly Book Stands’ do something very similar. Like the air we breathe, libraries and books support everything in the most fundamental way.
When you plant a tree by itself it has a certain degree of influence, but when you plant enough trees, at a certain point they become a forest, and a forest has a much greater degree of influence, it transcends and includes. A forest truly is something greater than the sum of all its parts. A forest has its own ecosystem.
Phase I of The Helping Friendly Plan to elevate the public conversation is to reach that transformational tipping point by funding and installing one ‘Helping Friendly Book Stand’ for every book we’ve read on the Quest so far, which is currently 28, about to be 29 on June 5th.
Phase II of The Plan is to create a “Helping Friendly Book Stand Kit” that we can ship that will allow us to keep growing into other cities like Austin, Aspen, and beyond.
Phase III of The Plan, which is our true aim, is to reach the point where we have the resources, the connections, and the public and private support to commission artists to create one-of-a-kind, large scale, outdoor urban art sculptures that also function as free public book exchanges. We want to use art to reframe the way people think about reading. To plant this Vision squarely in your mind, the aspirational goal for Phase III is to create something in Dallas at least as iconic as the famous Cloud Gate “Bean” Sculpture in Chicago, but that also functions as a mysterious, free public book exchange.