This has been on my mind for a while. Jo Confino’s blog today about communicating the reality of climate change might be best done not through facts and figures but by telling people – as artist Stephen Fairey suggests – ‘to stop being dicks.’ In other words if you don’t connect with people emotionally they won’t pay any attention. Or as Fairey says: “Sometimes the most powerful weapon against propaganda is absurdity, creating images that are funny.”
Looking from a start-up point-of-view it seems to me that there is some truth in this, not so much in ‘selling climate change’, but in getting people engaged in tackling abstract, distant (for most us) problems, the best approach is to try and get authentic emotional buy-in.
Thinking about the projects I’ve worked on over the last few years reflects this and why I continue to drawn to the storytelling, positive visioning, what-makes-me-care, approach to insurmountable problems over the ‘I’m going to drown you in a tsunami of data and then tell you buying a different detergent will solve the problem.’ No it won’t.
THNK: Creative Leadership school in Amsterdam. After being given a challenge (what do we do with big data, solve climate change, provide clean water for everyone etc…?) participants are encouraged to go on a ‘wild safari’ to gather inspiration, stories and facts about the subject before a ‘visioning’ phase of generating ideas concludes with the sentence: ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if…(big data ended malaria etc…)?’ before prototyping these ideas. By reframing a huge challenge as an amazing opportunity that matters personally a whole new raft of ideas surface.
Tribewanted: eco-tourism and community experiences. We’ve learnt by going slowly the ups and downs of building ‘sustainable’ communities. The open-minded spaces at Tribewanted projects free people up to think differently and creatively about big issues. The solar panels are really just the backdrop to what really matters: the cross-cultural living experience.
Escape the City: Inspiring frustrated corporates to ‘do something different’ is a brilliant way to get a talented resource (clever graduates) to move into careers they really care about. No wonder the community is 100,000 strong already.
Right to Dream: Africa needs more role models. A sporting leadership academy in Ghana recruits talented, young people and gives them a world-class education. The graduates with a golden ticket then spend their next 15 years ‘giving back’ credits to their community and country in the form of fundraising, business start-ups, and international representation. The future Black Stars (Ghana’s national team) will likely be loaded with talented, smart, leaders.
Projects I’m a fan of that aren’t writing strategies but doing…
Hunter Gather Cook: Adventures in Wild Food. I took my brother on this for his stag do. Going wild in the woods topped any embarrassing night out on the town.
Project Wild Thing: Taking on the small challenge of getting kids off their iPads and into nature because it’s more fun. See also Camp Kernow
Jamie’s Farm: (Not *that* Jamie) Sharing wonders like where the ‘egg’ comes from by getting city kids down on the farm, often for the first time.
Roost: on a mission to get people into trees by showcasing the amazing treehouses of the world.
Microadventures: No more time-money excuses for going on adventures – you can have one between 5pm and 9am. I tried this.