The Hero Challenge: Planning & Conception


Lessons from the Hero Campaign

It’s taken a long time to discover the direction of this blog, each day I understand it a little bit more. – S. K Murghein, “Leaf”

My Mission this year is to take everything I’ve learned over the past few years and bring it altogether to off grid. For those who weren’t here during the original days of this blog, you might have noticed I cycled a lot between topics. Some months I focused on digital currency and sharing tips related to mindset; other months I focused on the digital economy I was trying to create to directly tackle income inequality and automation. On the other hand you might have also been around when Zenratstudios started out as a nonprofit game and book publishing company trying to show people there is more that meets the eye than ‘just a game and book publishing company’. There may have even been some who were there when I focused on sharing education; as an autodidact who has been committed to teaching myself as much as possible I’ve often wanted to share what I learned. In my day to day life I have stacks of 500 page thematic notebooks containing notes after notes of things I’ve learned over time; and a means to integrate it all together into a single system.

For a long time I believed I needed to have a lot of money to achieve independency from the grid while building a sustainable infrastructure; but then I came to realize that just like my philosophies on everything else you can start small and scale up. My motto has always been if you can’t take $1 and turn it into $5 and $5 and turn it into $50+ then you’re not going to take $600 and turn it into $50,000 or even more than that. This same philosophy works with everything you do, be it starting a small business or beginning something new. I realized recently that this holds true for everything, including the project I had to “save the world, one person at a time”.

Instead of trying to recruit people to work with me; I needed to spend more time working out exactly what I was doing, what I wanted to say and how. And I needed to do so in one page or less, once I could communicate to people without convoluted text. The next thing I needed to do was tackle why I had failed to hold and keep together a team in spite of others expressing interest in what I do. I blamed it on two things: Poor communication and Limited Resources to Barter.

The problem with running any organization is you end up having many mouths to feed. Your family as well as the people who want to join you but also need to earn a living too. You always need something to offer; be it a place to live, free food, financial resources or other. All I had was a vision and I struggled to express that right. Following the principals of Kaizen I began to realize my primary focus needed to be: Supporting and organizing myself, then gradually scaling up to include others. And only as much as one can manage.

The most beautiful realization I had was the realization that I didn’t need an army of people to support me right off the block; I needed to build something small, sustainable, and scalable for just me, use that to generate more income and scale up. Whatever I did had to be scalable and had to be something I could do with my family, so that we spent more time together than apart. It also had to be able to solve other people’s problems. Trading digital currency was off the table. The vast majority interested in what I was doing were only interested in getting rich quick schemes, they struggled to develop the zen mindset that I was teaching, and it took away from my family. It also was not inclusive or recommendable towards those who are in poverty or low-income situations the type of people I want to work with. Gardening, waste management and shelter production is my current solution; and I don’t need to have land to do it.….

I can lead by example.


My 1st challenge: Naming The Challenge


This is part of my challenge series. I’ve played with different ideas for what to call it. Zero Waste Challenge…no that doesn’t work because my mission is more than just Zero Waste. Gardening Challenge for the Lazy Gardener…nope that’s not it. Sustainability challenge? Well that’s a loaded term. What about Construction? Since I’ll be learning how to build teardrop trailers, tiny houses, and earthbag houses along the way.

I could call it the “Guardian Challenge” but no one would know what a Guardian is but me and my family; and then what if the term caught on and people began using it without realizing that the Guardian philosophy is a spiritual lifestyle that serves for the foundation of my life. The Hero Challenge on the other hand would be the appropriate term because it refers to anyone regardless of philosophy, spiritual or religious beliefs. The truth is all Guardian’s are actually “Heroes” who have dedicated their lifestyle and way of life to serving in a reciprocal self-supporting environment; so this blog series will be called “The Hero Challenge”.


My 2nd Challenge: Making Complex Communication a series of Unfolding Pictures that reveal over time the full plan

Be sustainable and self-sufficient – Learn skills – monetize skills – build an inclusive sustainable digital economy – create resources for those in need – show through pictures

My problem is that I struggle to communicate and express in vocabulary terms what I’m doing. So…I’m going to take pictures of my projects. I’m going to share them like pieces of puzzles on a map; and allow others interested in the journey to see how it all begins to unfold. How Education, Community, Governance, Philosophy and Economy all come together into a single center to form a whole utilizing Zero Waste Sustainability principals. The idea of how two communities with differing ways of lives Guardians, Heroes and Future Heroes can all interact together and even what that means.

I’m going to think of this blog like a game, a puzzle piece for others to solve and put together. I’ve written plenty of information about what I’m trying to do but it’s only a fraction and not as well written as it could be. At this point I’m going to document the journey as a blog or map. My goal is not to tell you what I’m doing, or to help explain how it all works but to show you in action in example; while also taking you on the journey of how I build it.

When in researching and planning mode pictures can be schematics, drawings, sketches; but when in building mode pictures define the process of unfolding objects.

I won’t purchase a new camera for this; I’ll just use my phone or old digital camera I have and take pictures of unfolding things that way.


My 3rd Challenge: Not being afraid to share changes in direction

In the past I would start and pursue projects and campaigns and then fail. But this time this is not a campaign but a personal challenge. One where I lead by example; and once I establish something, I can challenge others to do the same and work with me; I just have to show how it works. When I was trying to lead an organization I would often cycle between different learning projects… when people were following me that was hard; but not only am I not going to be afraid of cycling in my personal challenge; I’m going to also share projects and ideas that work and ones that fail; and how I address those challenges.

Here is an example.

My first plan this past month was to build a teardrop trailer out of cardboard lumber and mycelium insulation that I grew myself. The goal was to use it to store my bell tent and some plants to grow and travel around WWOOFing, work-exchanging, or utilizing camping to program and relax in nature. A semi-indefinite traveller. My main focus would have been continuing to learn how to program and growing plants. Needless to say the teardrop trailer was too small and it didn’t account for some other issues related to social anxiety and extreme climate.

My new plan is to finish building my garden, to be zero waste, and use the byproducts I create to sell and create buy-back programs or options for people to collect food waste and pay them for that waste the way one might pay for scrap metal. While I can’t do buy-backs and offer incentives for waste collection just yet (and where I live that requires a license), what I can do is build my garden and produce compost from my home and sell it on the roadside, at farmer’s markets, online, and in other places. I could also continue building my teardrop trailer and either use it for selling my produce, or I could sell the teardrop trailer.

My 4th Challenge: Making it all a Game That Others can Join

One idea is to integrate these plans into my Hero campaign itself offering people Hero points for whenever they purchase from me; offering ways for them to earn money back from those points; or if they share it with others. Maybe even free fruits and vegetables the more points the earn, and if they donate it to someone in need even more incentives. And perhaps even to include nominating a hero in this system itself. I could make it a game and insert little stories and puzzles or even challenges into each purchase (because as a game developer I really can’t help wanting to insert some game element into something). I can design it like an ARG (alternate reality game), except that there is no ‘alternate reality’ there’s just this reality, making our lives more fun. Even if people don’t know what it means they really don’t have to, that’s part of the cool part. Just like my original idea I can include the ability to level up and earn ranks and all sorts of fun features.

Part of the game is that you don’t have to understand me to play. It just has to feel fun and be rewarding.

So the Hero Challenge will definitely take the format of a personalized game with its own board and rule book and a means to recruit other players in day to day life. I’m confident there will be Guardians who have their own story to tell the one being played out in this blog; and Heroes the people they interact with.

I have to explore this idea some more; but the thing I need to remember is it’s ok to document the journey and make it a game, and to make part of the game the ability to say, you know what this isn’t working; and to share with others what I can do to fix it and how I tackled to fix it; not as an invite for judgment but as an example to one person’s solution for change.


My 5th Challenge: Sharing a new Mindset for What True Abundance Is (Minimalism and Value Creation)

I want to help build a system that isn’t dependent on money and system: the overall money traps our system creates. I want to create a refuge where people work together not from a place of wanting to live lavishly in a yacht, but where lavish and abundance is founded in a place of minimalism not consumerism. For me the Guardian Philosophy I designed was built to tackle this for myself; to do this I need to find a way to build an inclusive economy and scale up over time sure, but the biggest thing I need to do is tackle mindset by showing mindset. To me wealth comes from minimalism, it comes from investment in assets, and the most important asset is ‘yourself’. Learning skills and using them. Vocational training to me as I apply it is really just a fancy way of saying becoming an asset that can turn things around us into assets. Every asset requires investment and so instead of a consumerist ‘money’ mindset an investment asset, where what we receive isn’t always ‘money’ the middle-man but the things we want from money directly.

Shelter, Food, Water; and then using that money not to retire and sip martinis on some yacht somewhere or live in a lavish house – no that’s not wealth to me that’s poverty. It’s a person who needs material status to express their worth. To me true wealth manifests differently, it manifests in the societies we create and the scale of how those societies impact others. It manifests in so many ways that in this moment I can’t express… but my pictures in time will.

My 6th Challenge: Writing a blog post about the Hero Challenge and the rules of the game for myself

Because this one aint it :D.