at be+cause, we think a lot about culture as a powerful vehicle and arena for change. It is also something we like to create--from producing the Tibetan Freedom Concerts to starting a clothing line to assisting other culture makers in their efforts to create positive social change. Being part of a lab (our parent company is C3 Lab), we like to innovate and experiment. This blog is where you can see it happen.
Aspiration + American culture.
Nike ads like this one, the mass movement that is Oprah, the Barak Obama campaign of hope, and even in a weird way some reality TV shows like Cribs and that awful one about people having plastic surgery to look like a celebrity, tap into the aspirational culture of America. The Statue of Liberty herself says:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
The country was founded on the dream of a better life. The American Dream. The idea that any one can come to America and make it. It is part of our culture, and it is the most well-received frame for communications at the moment.
Unfortunately, nonprofits often position themselves in opposition to the problems of the world. This negative frame is sometimes what we fall into and other times what we choose. But what if we started to frame our issues in ways that encourage collective imagining of the world we want to live in. I was talking last night with a colleague, and we began to wonder what it would look like if we transitioned our framing...
Imagine what we as a nation could do with universal health care. With the best education system in the world. With a green economy.
People like to be on a winning team. When we approach our issues with a long list of all of the horrible things happening, its hard to motivate people. Michael Shellenberger, who talks and writes a lot about basing communications efforts in our values, once said in a presentation that when we talk about all of the negative effects of climate change, people don't naturally come together to find a solution. They actually deny its existence. Instead, he calls for "an agenda to excite the imagination".
The organization that does this the most may be the Opportunity Agenda. I think our communication efforts need to move in this direction.
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