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.
Cultural diplomacy is a domain of diplomacy concerned with establishing, developing and sustaining relations with foreign states by way of culture, art and education...
Its interesting how powerful corporations and governments view culture. More proof that the NGO/nonprofit world should too. I'd still like to find some way to measure the power (some cultural diplomacy references described it as a soft power), and learn better how to harness it.
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.
OK Go & Bonerama on David Letterman Tonight
Long story short - great things come out of these retreats. Recently, two of our participants collaborated on a benefit album that was just released called You Are Not Alone.
They will be performing live tonight on David Letterman. OK Go is from D.C. & Bonerama is from New Orleans -- they are both hugely popular and talented - and they are performing a track from the benefit album ( available on iTunes now) tonight on David Letterman.
We have come to love New Orleans and are so grateful to have the chance to do this work. Due to artists efforts specifically around New Orleans - we have raised enough money to get a very important musician, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, a new home in the musicians village built by Habitat for Humanity as well as support the incredible organization Sweet Home New Orleans, a group that works hard to bring musicians home to New Orleans.
We've learned a lot from New Orleans and her people but one thing that is most apparent is that without the musicians and their music there wouldn't be a New Orleans and without New Orleans -- well we can't even imagine that.
Read more here:
Oh - and if you couldn't stay up that late you can watch it here.
Connecting with Communities is more important than pushing messages
In a new report, the research firm paints a grim view of the current state of advertising, which it believes is in "a world of hurt" because consumers are tuning out the messages the industry is predicated on producing. Instead, it believes shops need to be organized around communities, not disciplines. What it is calling "the connected agency" would not only know certain communities but also be active members of these groups. Pushing messages would give way to encouraging voluntary engagement, and ongoing conversations would replace time-based campaigns.
If we aren't connecting with communities, we're not going to further our missions. Period.
Online Communities, Real Life Communities, and Social Change
The study found that participation in online community membership has particularly dramatic effects on participation in social causes. Three-quarters of online community members said they use the Internet to participate in communities related to social causes, with 40 percent saying that they use the Internet at least monthly to participate in such communities. Eighty-seven percent of online community members are participating in social causes that are new to them since their involvement in online communities began.
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