New book, program offer solutions to national problems
By Amanda Raymond
KANNAPOLIS — Francis Koster is using a new book and summer program to show individuals that they have the power to improve their communities.
Koster released his book titled “Rescuing Your Local Economy – Success Stories for Sustainable Communities,” in March.
The book gives readers practical guidance on how to improve local economies through the use of examples and stories from communities around the country.
“Our country is faced with a number of challenges,” Koster said. “People tend to think that the solutions need to be national, but in fact most of them can be implemented locally.”
Koster has written two other books — “Discovering the New America – Where Local Communities are Solving National Problems” in November of 2013 and “Rescuing School Kids – America’s Success Stories” in December of 2015.
“The whole theme of these books is empowering human beings to solve the problem, both individually and collectively,” he said.
For example, in his newest book Koster writes about how different counties and cities have started their own gift card programs to stimulate sales at local businesses.
“If the Chamber of Commerce here created a Salisbury gift card, for the same $50 whoever got the gift card could shop at any store in Salisbury except Kmart, Walmart and Best Buy,” he said.
Koster received his doctorate degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. He studied the psychology around why leaders don’t listen to warnings.
Koster said telling people about problems without also suggesting solutions throws people into a state of denial.
“What I learned was that if I tell you something awful that could happen, but I don’t tell you personally how to fix it, personally how to take care of your family, it scares you and so you repress it,” he said.
Instead of just presenting problems, Koster gives multiple examples of how communities have solved problems.
Koster also lectures and gives presentations at different conferences.
He said he is taking a break from writing to focus on a new environmental activism project.
Koster is in the process of developing a national program that would provide low cost scientific environmental testing devices to individuals. There would be lending libraries set up for the devices and individuals would be able to upload their data to a website.
The website would also include videos on how to use the devices, state regulation information and how to hold press conferences to broadcast findings.
“The press conference could be everywhere from, ‘We looked at the water from Lake Norman and we found it to be clean,’ to ‘We looked at the air around a school and we found it to be contaminated, but there’s no law against it,’” Koster said.
Koster is recruiting college students to work on the project this summer in an office in Kannapolis. Koster is inviting students interested in pollution detection equipment, website development, research and creation of videos, lectures and presentations for the website.
Koster said the work is not about criticizing the government; it is about empowering people.
“What I want is for people to realize that our laws and our regulatory system have not kept up and that now citizens can protect themselves and their families by working as a community,” he said.
The program will be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.
Koster said he is partnering with other environmentalist website creators to share information both ways. He wants the website to feel welcoming to those who might not think of themselves as environmentalists but are interested in public health.
People also do not need to be in politics to get involved.
“Most social change happens because citizens step up,” Koster said.
Students interested in the summer program can contact Koster at 904-616-8024 or email@example.com.
Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.
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