top of page

Universal Gardens: Re-visioning a Vibrant Commons

Updated: Apr 8

A tree with a colorful bouquet of blossoms and a root system veined in gold
Spring Tree

A collector from Europe ordered a print of this painting and it was lost in the mail. The customer had already received her replacement when the artwork was found at a small post office in France. I was trying to have the piece rerouted back to me in Santa Cruz through UPS who’d recently announced it was eliminating 12,000 jobs over the first half of 2024.  


It took two hours negotiating through a maze of unyielding bots that were not ready to be unleashed into the world. I can see human interface as a service becoming a thing. It was both a relief and a privilege to finally get through to a human who resolved the issue in two minutes.

This week I hosted a guest who had decided to switch careers and return to school to get his masters so he could work as a therapist. He was from Portland and studying online through University of Kentucky. He seemed to enjoy the program. While on spring break he divided his time between surfing and work on a paper about success models for addressing homeless youth in Portland.  He said, the data favored giving directly for the most effective youth outcomes. Plus, it strengthened local economies.


Some entrepreneurs and technologists suggest every board meeting, every dinner conversation, every—one should be talking about UBI, (universal basic income) to temper the disruption as companies race to adopt AI to reduce headcount…


My guest and I agreed there was plenty of opportunity for transformation. I offered up the library system as low hanging fruit. It’s already an established distribution network with a vetted and sadly underutilized infrastructure. Our libraries could be transformed from ghost towns to vibrant community hubs where people check out gardening and home improvement equipment and have access to other services that help build strong communities.


My guest chimed in with good ideas like having classes at the library, gardening for instance.


Universal Gardens: Re-visioning a Vibrant Commons

I shared one of my dreams for “the re-design." I'd love to see every neighborhood hamlet have a community garden where anyone could access fresh, healthy food. Imagine mini Golden Gate Parks with gardens of food .


Faith that there would always be food, would not only solve for a fundamental rung on the hierarchy of needs, universal gardens could transform and beautify our communities. By nourishing a healthier population, we could trim 50 billion or more from the healthcare budget. Universal gardens would also support the declining bird and pollinator populations and the general insecticide we’ve waged on the insect kingdom.


Best of all, I’ll bet everyone would feel better.






bottom of page