Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New York CSR and Green Products

Last night at the June New York CSR Social, Jeff Dubin of Green Meridian discussed conventional wisdom around green products and consumers.

The presentation turned into an interactive discussion where individuals debated on whether conventional ideas surrounding consumers choices are correct. Jeff's data came from his syndicated January 2010 research study explores women's purchasing of green household cleaners and personal care products.

The study, "Sustainability in the Mainstream: Moving Green Household Cleaner & Personal Care Products to Center Stage" is available on Jeff's website.

One of the key points that came out of the discussion is that stereotypes about green purchasing don't always hold. For example, while it normally believed that wealthy liberals are more likely to buy green products, Jeff's research showed that is not actually the case. Household income doesn't necessarily have much to do with buying green, nor do political preferences.

The New York CSR Meetup comes together about once a month to discuss issues surrounding sustainability. They are also in the process of starting up a book club to further discuss issues surrounding corporate social responsibility.

Friday, June 25, 2010

SOCAP10 Coast to Coast

Last night I attended SOCAP10 Coast to Coast.  The event brought together a diverse group on individuals - including consultants, investors, students, teachers, and non-profit leaders - interested in the intersection between money and meaning. It was also part of the lead up to the SOCAP10 conference in San Francisco this coming October.  SOCAP10 bring together the world’s leading social investors, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and thought-leaders to discuss the future of social enterprise.

Last night's event was co-hosted by Acumen for NY. The Acumen Fund is a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. They to prove that small amounts of philanthropic capital, combined with large doses of business acumen, can build thriving enterprises that serve vast numbers of the poor with investments focused on delivering affordable, critical goods and services – like health, water, housing and energy – through innovative, market-oriented approaches.

Acumen Fund also hosts an online community where individuals can share what they are doing solve social, environmental, and economic problems.

One of the main points that came out of last night, was that even if you do not have an idea for a social enterprise to solve the world's problems, your expertise are still needed for those who do have good ideas.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 Amsterdam GRI Conference

The 2010 GRI Conference took place in Amsterdam from May 26 - 28. The conference hosted a number of speakers discussing transparency and sustainability reporting. On the conference's website, you can download videos, photos, and presentations from the conference.

Presentations from the conference are also available on Slideshare at www.slideshare.net/globalreporting.

he Global Reporting Initiative has pioneered the development of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework and is committed to its continuous improvement and application worldwide. This framework sets out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance. To learn more about the Global Reporting Initiative visit their website at www.globalreporting.org or visit their LinkedIn group.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The EyeWriter Initiative

A couple of weeks ago I attended Ignite NYC IX where I heard a short presentation from Zach Lieberman.  This particular Ignite event was part of Internet Week and featured a number of speakers talking on new technologies that have been developed.

Zach spoke primarily on the EyeWriter Initiative that he helped develop. The EyeWriter Initiative is a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus and custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to draw using only their eyes.

Members of the Initiative teamed-up with a LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist, named Tony Quan, aka TEMPTONE. Tony was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, a disease which has left him almost completely physically paralyzed… except for his eyes. The international team is working together to create a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that will allow ALS patients to draw using just their eyes. The long-term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art.

“Art is a tool of empowerment and social change, and I consider myself blessed to be able to create and use my work to promote health reform, bring awareness about ALS and help others.”

– Tony Quan, aka TemptOne

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hands Across the Sand - June 26

Hands Across the Sand is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations. This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry.

The movement started in Florida. On Saturday, February 13, 2010, a statewide gathering against offshore oil drilling occurred. Thousands of Floridians representing 60 towns and cities and over 90 beaches joined hands to protest the efforts by the Florida Legislature and the US Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling in the near and off shores of Florida. Florida’s Hands Across The Sand event was the largest gathering in the history of Florida united against oil drilling.

Hands Across the Sand is now international. Any person in any country may plan events on their website. This is a peaceful gathering of the people of the world.

Planning an event is as simple as this:

  • Go to your beach on June 26 at 11 AM in your time zone.
  • Form lines in the sand and at 12:00, join hands.

The image is powerful, the message is simple. NO to Offshore Oil Drilling, YES to Clean Energy.

Add this to your Google Calendar.

Friday, June 11, 2010

#ThePromise Conference at Internet Week New York

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the #promise conference as part of Internet Week New York. The day long conference hosted a variety of speakers from large corporations such as Pepsico, MTV, and GE to internet start ups and non-profit organizations.

The goal of the conference was to explore the ways in which people are using the internet and social media to engage people in conversations to create change.

The first part of the day featured speakers from Pepsico, Timberland, and GE. Pepsico spoke primarily on their recycling campaign, while GE spoke on their healthymagination campaign. Both of these speakers seemed like a giant commercial and I was a little nervous, that the entire day was going to pan out into a big greenwashing conference, but fortunately the rest of the day was a bit more enlightening. One of the good things that did come out of the morning talks was that all the corporations recognized that the reason corporate social responsibility exists is that individuals are influencing corporations to create change and become more responsible for their actions.

One of the gifts that we got when we signed into the conference was a copy of Douglas Rushkoff's book, Life, Inc. One of the panel sessions sat down with Rushkoff to discuss his book and the concept of how the world became a corporation and how we can now take it back. Rushkoff stressed that the best business is business that does something good. The doing good is profitable, maybe not at the rate that investment bankers like, but in terms of overall sustainability.

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back

The overall theme of the day is how the internet is changing the way that corporations talk with both their employees and the public. It is no longer about consumers, but about people. This entire conversation reminded me of a talk on social media that I attended as part of West Coast Green last October. One of the books they recommended at West Coast Green was The Cluetrain Manifesto. The Cluetrain Manifesto first came out in 1999 - way before Facebook, Twitter, and all the social media tools we use today. Even back then they recognized the role of chat rooms and news board to force corporations to change.

The Cluetrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition

One of the questions that came up in yesterday's conversations was, "What if BP had embraced social networks when the well first exploded? Would it have turned the world into problem solvers?" I think that even without BP embracing social networks, the world has used them to voice their disgust and pose their own solutions to the problem.

Some of the charities that were present yesterday included charity: water and Crowdrise. charity: water used Twitter last year to organize twestivals around the world to raise money - one of the first efforts of it's kind. Crowdrise is the creation of actor Edward Norton. Yesterday, Edward Norton talked about the creation of Crowdrise as a tool to bring networks together for fundraising. One of the points he brought up was that he hoped that Crowdrise would allow people to share what they were doing in a way that defined them. 

The final speaker was Ville Tikka from Nokia. The role of mobile phones around the world has an amazing amount of potential. Places where computers are scarce, mobile phone prevail. Villa talked about the five issues which had the most potential for tackling social problems - health, learning, livelihoods, advocacy, and resilience. More information about the innovations that are taking place can be found at http://change-connections.com/.

Overall, the speakers who presented at #promise were varied and interesting, unfortunately I do not have the space to go into them all.  There was a live feed of the conference which may be made available later. The #promise conference provided an interesting venue for people to talk about corporate social responsibility and social media and engagement.