Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Imagine Green Future (IGF) Project Glossary

"We are connected inexorably to one another. We are all part of an interconnected whole, and any energy we spend putting up walls is swimming upstream against nature, and is going to cost us in stress, pain and the quality of our lives. It is non-judgmental respect or "unconditional love" for all employees that allows organizations to make major strides in fulfilling their vision. For those who insist on clinging to traditional ways of looking at the world, change will continue to come so fast and in such unexpected forms that the future will no longer be a desirable place. But for those who are willing to move ahead with conscious awareness of the natural laws of change, the future offers unparalleled opportunity to reshape our lives, our organizations, and our world, into what we want."
~George Land, Breakpoint & Beyond - Mastering the Future Today

A Glossary to assist your understanding of IGF as a comprehensive vehicle for social and economic transformation.


Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps are unlike traditional businesses because they:
Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards;
Meet higher legal accountability standards;
Build business constituency for good business

Breakpoint & Beyond - Mastering the Future Today
by George Land

The survival and success of a business depends on its ability to adapt to its changing environment. How can we equip ourselves and our organizations to deal with the world that is transforming right before our very eyes? The key is to understand the NEW rules of change. Today`s change is not just more rapid, more complex, more turbulent, and more unpredictable. Today`s change is unlike any encountered before. The surprising fact is that change itself has changed! By looking to our greatest teacher, Mother Nature, we can understand the natural change process. The ceaseless process of change takes on unique characteristics at different points in time. The rules governing change shift dramatically and almost without notice. These "Breakpoint" shifts follow the same master pattern whether they occur within a single atom, one`s personal life, or an entire organization.

Bridge People
Daniel Jacob

My Dear Friends:

Now. Now is the timing. We have said it before, and we are saying it once again. And now your expanding consciousness is also beginning to speak these words--like a mantra, over and over, so that the rest of your slumbering planet will have their message amplified. It is all here, it is all now, and it is all YOU.

Your own human vehicle at this time is your way of enjoying this wonderful transition from being something to being everything. And the only change needed is in your perception. It's all around you. It always was. We have shown this, in our transmission entitled "Levels of Self." Surrounding your First Person symbol of physical being, there are fragments of yourself playing out, in detail, very important components of your inner world. This enables you to see them clearly, and understand yourself more completely. All you need are the eyes to notice it.

You are forming an Astral Bridge between the you that exists here, and your manifold alternative "selves" that exist in countless other dimensions and contexts of reality. The way you live your life, which often runs so counter to the way you are told to live it, is your own means of building this portal--your own way of actually BEING this portal. The guilt and shame that sometimes visits you, because you do not "measure up" or "conform" to the ways of this world, is simply grist for the mill of your own inner process of fermentation and alchemical change. The more you push yourself, the more the "other side" of your transforming being will dig in. When one "side" of you finally lets go, they all do.

Cause marketing From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cause marketing or cause-related marketing refers to a type of marketing involving the cooperative efforts of a "for profit" business and a non-profit organization for mutual benefit. The term is sometimes used more broadly and generally to refer to any type of marketing effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations. Cause marketing differs from corporate giving (philanthropy) as the latter generally involves a specific donation that is tax deductible, while cause marketing is a marketing relationship generally not based on a donation.

Counter-Economics From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Counter-economics is a term originally used by Samuel Edward Konkin III and J. Neil Schulman, radical libertarian activists and theorists. Konkin defined it as "the study and/or practice of all peaceful human action which is forbidden by the State." The term is short for "counter-establishment economics". Counter-economics was integrated by Schulman into Konkin's doctrine of agorism, to form what they call a revolutionary variant of market anarchism.

The term counter-economics is also used in a separate but arguably compatible sense to refer to addressing social justice and sustainability concerns in a market context, although one more generally counter-establishment rather than explicitly illegal. In both senses, it can include non-monetary forms of exchange, such as a barter economy or a gift economy.

Distributed generation
Distributed generation, also called on-site generation, dispersed generation, embedded generation, decentralized generation, decentralized energy or distributed energy, generates electricity from many small energy sources. Currently, industrial countries generate most of their electricity in large centralized facilities, such as fossil fuel (coal, gas powered) nuclear or hydropower plants. These plants have excellent economies of scale, but usually transmit electricity long distances and negatively affect the environment.

Economic Democracy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Economic democracy is a socioeconomic philosophy that suggests an expansion of decision-making power from a small minority of corporate shareholders to a larger majority of public stakeholders. While there is no single definition or approach, all theories and real-world examples of economic democracy are based on a core set of fundamental assumptions.

Proponents generally agree that modern economic conditions tend to hinder or prevent society from earning enough income to purchase its output production. Centralized corporate monopoly of common resources typically forces conditions of artificial scarcity upon the greater majority, resulting in socio-economic imbalances that restrict workers from access to economic opportunity and diminish consumer purchasing power.

As either a component of larger socioeconomic ideologies or as a stand-alone theory, economic democracy promotes universal access to common resources that are typically privatized by corporate capitalism or centralized by state socialism. Assuming full political rights cannot be won without full economic rights, economic democracy suggests alternative models and reform agendas for solving problems of economic instability and deficiency of effective demand. As an alternative model, both market and non-market theories of economic democracy have been proposed. As a reform agenda, supporting theories and real-world examples include democratic cooperatives, fair trade, social credit, and the regionalization of food production and currency.

Economic Secession From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wendell Berry described “economic secession” in his 1991 essay Conservation and Local Economy:

"If we are serious about reducing government and the burdens of government, then we need to do so by returning economic self-determination to the people… we must do it by fostering economic democracy. For example, as much as possible of the food that is consumed locally ought to be locally produced on small farms, and then processed in small, non-polluting plants that are locally owned. We must do everything possible to provide to ordinary citizens the opportunity to own a small, usable share of the country. …I acknowledge that to advocate such reforms is to advocate a kind of secession - not a secession of armed violence but a quiet secession by which people find the practical means and the strength of spirit to remove themselves from an economy that is exploiting them and destroying their homeland".

Emergence From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

Green chemistry From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Green chemistry, also called sustainable chemistry, is a philosophy of chemical research and engineering that encourages the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances.[1] Whereas environmental chemistry is the chemistry of the natural environment, and of pollutant chemicals in nature, green chemistry seeks to reduce and prevent pollutionat its source. In 1990 the Pollution Prevention Act was passed in the United States. This act helped create a modus operandi for dealing with pollution in an original and innovative way. It aims to avoid problems before they happen

Humanistic Economics From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Humanistic economics is a school of economic theory identified with E. F. Schumacher. Proponents argue for "humanity-first" economic theories as opposed to the ideas in mainstream economic theory which they see as putting financial gain before people.

"Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation of man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations; as long as you have not shown it to be uneconomic you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper."
~E. F. Schumacher

Humanistic economics has been defined as "a perspective that leans heavily on humanistic psychology, moral philosophy, humanistic sociology, and last but not least, on common sense. In more formal terms, contemporary humanistic economics seeks to both describe, analyze and critically assess prevailing socio-economic institutions and policies, and provide normative (value) guidelines on how to improve them in terms of human (not merely "economic") welfare. Basic human needs, human rights, human dignity, human equality, freedom, economic democracy and economic sustainability provide the framework".

Humanistic economics focuses on human economic activity as being social and altruistically constructed, not just individualistically and selfishly derived. The importance of the ethical individual living within a vibrant local community, not merely as a lone wolf nor as a consumer of mass culture and production on a global scale, is often stressed. The importance of accounting for externalities (items not always put on the economic balance sheet like pollution or loss of biodiversity) are other key concepts.

Inclusive Democracy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fotopoulos describes inclusive democracy as “a new conception of democracy, which, using as a starting point the classical definition of it, expresses democracy in terms of direct political democracy, economic democracy (beyond the confines of the market economy and state planning), as well as democracy in the social realm and ecological democracy. In short, inclusive democracy is a form of social organisation which re-integrates society with economy, polity and nature. The concept of inclusive democracy is derived from a synthesis of two major historical traditions, the classical democratic and the socialist, although it also encompasses radical green, feminist, and liberation movements in the South”.

Starting point of the ID project is that the world, at the beginning of the new millennium, faces a multi-dimensional crisis (economic, ecological, social, cultural and political), which is shown to be caused by the concentration of power in the hands of various elites. This is interpreted to be the outcome of the establishment, in the last few centuries, of the system of market economy (in the Polanyian sense), Representative democracy, and the related forms of hierarchical structure. Therefore, an inclusive democracy is seen not simply as a utopia, but perhaps as the only way out of the crisis, based on the equal distribution of power at all levels.

In this conception of democracy, the public realm includes not just the political realm, as is usual in the republican or democratic project (Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriadis, Murray Bookchin et al.), but also the economic, ‘social’ and ecological realms. The political realm is the sphere of political decision-making, the area in which political power is exercised. The economic realm is the sphere of economic decision-making, the area in which economic power is exercised with respect to the broad economic choices that any scarcity society has to make. The social realm is the sphere of decision-making in the workplace, the education place and any other economic or cultural institution which is a constituent element of a democratic society. The public realm could be extended to include the "ecological realm", which may be defined as the sphere of the relations between society and nature. Therefore, the public realm, in contrast to the private realm, includes any area of human activity in which decisions can be made collectively and democratically.

According to these four realms, we may distinguish between four main constituent elements of an inclusive democracy: the political, the economic, 'democracy in the social realm' and the ecological. The first three elements form the institutional framework, which aims at the equal distribution of political, economic and social power respectively. In this sense, these elements define a system, which aims at the effective elimination of the domination of human being over human being. Similarly, ecological democracy is defined as the institutional framework, which aims to eliminate any human attempt to dominate the natural world, in other words, the system, which aims to reintegrate humans and nature.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Industrial and Organizational Psychology (also known as industrial-organizational psychology, I-O psychology, work psychology, organizational psychology, work and organizational psychology, occupational psychology, personnel psychology or talent assessment) applies psychology to organizations and the workplace. (In December 2009, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology plans a vote to either retain its name or to change it to the Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP) to eliminate the word "Industrial". Any such change might cause many American researchers, practitioners and educational programs in I-O psychology to change over to the new name to describe their field.) "Industrial-organizational psychologists contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance and well-being of its people. An I-O psychologist researches and identifies how behaviors and attitudes can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, and feedback systems.

L3C: A More Creative Capitalism By Jim Witkin | January 15th, 2009
During his 2007 Harvard commencement address, Bill Gates, now the world’s best funded philanthropist, called on the graduates to invent “a more creative capitalism” where “we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities.”

It doesn’t take a Harvard grad (or Harvard dropout like Gates) to understand that traditional market forces mostly work against the notion of a socially beneficial enterprise (one that seeks social returns first and financial second). Existing for-profit corporate structures demand a higher financial return than a social enterprise can usually deliver; while non-profit organizations have limited access to capital and a tax-exempt format that limits a strong profit orientation. If the social enterprise field is to evolve and grow, what’s needed is a hybrid of the two forms, a structure that supports a “low profit corporation.”

Enter the L3C (low-profit, limited liability company), a new corporate structure designed to attract a wide range of investment sources thereby improving the viability of social ventures. In April 2008, Vermont became the first state to recognize the L3C as a legal corporate structure. Similar legislation is pending in Georgia, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina. But if the L3C seems like the right choice for your social enterprise, you don’t have to wait! L3Cs formed in Vermont can be used in any state.

Libertarianism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Libertarianism is a political theory that advocates the maximization of individual liberty in thought and action and the minimization or even abolition of the state. Libertarians embrace viewpoints across a political spectrum, ranging from pro-property to anti-property (sometimes phrased as "right" versus "left"), from minarchist to openly anarchist.

All schools of libertarianism declare a strong advocacy for the rights to life and liberty, though there is disagreement on the subject of private property. Some sources indicate that the term "libertarian" outside of the US, generally refers to anti-authoritarian anti-capitalist ideologies. However, some American and English sources claim that the most commonly known formulation of libertarianism supports free market capitalism which in contrast to libertarian socialism does not limit property to active personal use; advocating instead for private ownership of the means of production. Other features of right-libertarianism include minimal government regulation of that property, minimal taxation, and rejection of the welfare state, all within the context of the rule of law.

Some call the pro-property view propertarian, and some pro-property libertarians believe a "propertarian philosophy" is a weak basis for libertarian morality. A number of countries have libertarian parties which run candidates for political office. Anarchist communist Joseph Déjacque, main author of the first libertarian journal Le Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social in New York, which ran between 1858 and 1861, was also the first person to describe himself as a libertarian.

Libertarian socialists, unlike right-wing libertarians, oppose structures of authority and hierarchy in personal relations and the larger social order. This extends beyond the state, to authoritarian gender relations and the social relation they call "wage slavery". These libertarians believe in the abolition of property not intended for active personal use and may be called non-propertarian or anti-propertarian. Anti-authoritarianism, in their view, entails a society where worker self-management is easy to pursue as a choice. This requires dismantling the boss-authority concomitant with private ownership of workplaces, in favor of participatory worker and community controlled associations.

Liberty From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Liberty is the concept of ideological and political philosophy that identifies the condition to which an individual has the right to behave according to one's own personal responsibility and free will. The conception of liberty is influenced by ideals concerning the social contract as well as arguments that are concerned with the state of nature.

Individualist and classical liberal conceptions of liberty relate to the freedom of the individual from outside compulsion or coercion and this is defined as negative liberty.Social liberal conceptions of liberty relate freedom to social structure and agency and this is defined as positive liberty. In feudal times, a liberty was an area of allodial land in which regalian rights had been waived.

The Philosophy of Liberty
Maslow's hierarchy of needs From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.[2] Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, all of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow studied what he called exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people, writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy."[3] Maslow studied the healthiest 1% of the college student population.[4] Maslow's theory was fully expressed in his 1954 book Motivation and Personality.[5]'s_hierarchy_of_needs

Moral Development and Moral Education: An Overview
Moral education is becoming an increasingly popular topic in the fields of psychology and education. Media reports of increased violent juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and suicide have caused many to declare a moral crisis in our nation. While not all of these social concerns are moral in nature, and most have complex origins, there is a growing trend towards linking the solutions to these and related social problems to the teaching of moral and social values in our public schools.

However, considerations of the role schools can and should play in the moral development of youth are themselves the subject of controversy. All too often debate on this topic is reduced to posturing reflecting personal views rather than informed opinion. Fortunately, systematic research and scholarship on moral development has been going on for most of this century, and educators wishing to attend to issues of moral development and education may make use of what has been learned through that work.

Network Effect From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In economics and business, a network effect (also called network externality or demand-side economies of scale) is the effect that one user of a good orservice has on the value of that product to other people. When network effect is present, the value of a product or service increases as more people use it. The classic example is the telephone. The more people own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner. This creates a positive externalitybecause a user may purchase their phone without intending to create value for other users, but does so in any case. Online social networks work in the same way, with sites like Twitter and Facebook being more useful the more users join.

The expression "network effect" is applied most commonly to positive network externalities as in the case of the telephone. Negative network externalities can also occur, where more users make a product less valuable, but are more commonly referred to as "congestion" (as in traffic congestion or network congestion). Over time, positive network effects can create a bandwagon effect as the network becomes more valuable and more people join, in a positive feedback loop.

Public Sphere From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The public sphere is an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. It is "a discursive space in which individuals and groups congregate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment."[1] The public sphere can be seen as "a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk"[2] and "a realm of social life in which public opinion can be formed".[3]

The public sphere mediates between the "private sphere" and the "Sphere of Public Authority",[4] "The private sphere comprised civil society in the narrower sense, that is to say, the realm of commodity exchange and of social labor."[5] Whereas the "Sphere of Public Authority" dealt with the State, or realm of the police, and the ruling class,[5] the public sphere crossed over both these realms and "Through the vehicle of public opinion it put the state in touch with the needs of society."[6] "This area is conceptually distinct from the state: it [is] a site for the production and circulation of discourses that can in principle be critical of the state."[7] The public sphere 'is also distinct from the official economy; it is not an arena of market relations but rather one of discursive relations, a theater for debating and deliberating rather than for buying and selling."[7] These distinctions between "state apparatuses, economic markets, and democratic associations...are essential to democratic theory."[8] The people themselves came to see the public sphere as a regulatory institution against the authority of the state.[9] The study of the public sphere centers on the idea of participatory democracy, and how public opinion becomes political action.

The basic belief in public sphere theory is that political action is steered by the public sphere, and that the only legitimate governments are those that listen to the public sphere.[10] "Democratic governance rests on the capacity of and opportunity for citizens to engage in enlightened debate".[11] Much of the debate over the public sphere involves what is the basic theoretical structure of the public sphere, how information is deliberated in the public sphere, and what influence the public sphere has over society.

Maslow loosely defined self-actualization as "the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc. " (Motivation and Personality, p. 150). Self-actualization is not a static state. It is an ongoing process in which one's capacities are fully, creatively, and joyfully utilized. "I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away. The average man is a full human being with dampened and inhibited powers and capacities" (Dominance, self-esteem, self-actualization, p. 91).

Most commonly, self-actualizing people see life clearly. They are less emotional and more objective, less likely to allow hopes, fears, or ego defenses to distort their observations. Maslow found that all self-actualizing people are dedicated to a vocation or a cause. Two requirements for growth are commitment to something greater than oneself and success at one's chosen tasks. Major characteristics of self-actualizing people include creativity, spontaneity, courage, and hard work.

Social Ecology From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The philosophy's "social" component comes from its position that nearly all of the world's ecological problems arise from deep-seated social problems. Conversely, social ecologists maintain, present ecological problems cannot be clearly understood, much less resolved, without resolutely dealing with problems within society. They argue that apart from those produced by natural catastrophes, the most serious ecological dislocations of the 20th and 21st centuries have as their cause economic, ethnic, cultural, and gender conflicts, among many others.

Social ecology is associated with the ideas and works of Murray Bookchin, who had written on such matters from the 1950s until his death, and, from the 1960s, had combined these issues with revolutionary social anarchism. His works include Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Toward an Ecological Society, The Ecology of Freedom, and a host of others.

Social ecology locates the roots of the ecological crisis firmly in relations of domination between people. The domination of nature is seen as a product of domination within society, but this domination only reaches crisis proportions under capitalism.

In the words of Bookchin:
The notion that man must dominate nature emerges directly from the domination of man by man… But it was not until organic community relation … dissolved into market relationships that the planet itself was reduced to a resource for exploitation. This centuries-long tendency finds its most exacerbating development in modern capitalism. Owing to its inherently competitive nature, bourgeois society not only pits humans against each other, it also pits the mass of humanity against the natural world. Just as men are converted into commodities, so every aspect of nature is converted into a commodity, a resource to be manufactured and merchandised wantonly. … The plundering of the human spirit by the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by capital
—Bookchin, Murray, Post Scarcity Anarchism, p.24–25

Beginning in 1995, Bookchin became increasingly critical of anarchism, and in 1999 took a decisive stand against anarchist ideology. He had come to recognize social ecology as a genuinely new form oflibertarian socialism, and positioned its politics firmly in the framework of communalism. Since the founding of Social Ecology, its evolution has been considerable. Now it is involved in research and instruction and “Is informed by and contributes to knowledge in the social, behavioral, legal, environmental, and health sciences. Social Ecology faculty apply scientific methods to the study of a wide array of recurring social, behavioral, and environmental problems. Among issues of long-standing interest in the School are crime and justice in society, social influences on human development over the life cycle, and the effects of the physical environment on health and human behavior. While the field of ecology focuses on the relationships between organisms and their environments, social ecology is concerned with the relationships between human populations and their environments.

Social Enterprise
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A social enterprise is an organization that applies capitalistic strategies to achieving philanthropic goals. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit.

Many commercial enterprises would consider themselves to have social objectives, but commitment to these objectives is fundamentally motivated by the perception that such commitment will ultimately make the enterprise more financially valuable. Social enterprises differ in that, inversely, they do not aim to offer any benefit to their investors, except where they believe that doing so will ultimately further their capacity to realise their philanthropic goals.

Many entrepreneurs, whilst running a profit focussed enterprise that they own, will make charitable gestures through the enterprise, expecting to make a loss in the process. However unless the social aim is the primary purpose of the company this is not considered to be social enterprise. The term is more specific, meaning 'doing charity by doing trade', rather than 'doing charity while doing trade'. Another example is an uncorporation, which may pursue social responsibility goals that conflict with traditional corporate shareholder primacy, or may donate most of its profits to charity.

Social Entrepreneurship From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Social entrepreneurship is the work of social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create and manage a venture to achieve social change (a social venture). Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals. However, whilst social entrepreneurs are most commonly associated with the voluntary and not-for-profit sectors [1], this need not necessarily be incompatible with making a profit. Social entrepreneurship practiced with a world view or international context is called international social entrepreneurship.[2] See also Corporate Social Entrepreneurship.

Take-Back Programs
Take-back programs give manufacturers the physical responsibility for products and/or packaging at the end of their useful lives. By accepting used products, manufacturers can acquire low-cost feedstock for new manufacture or remanufacture, and offer a value-added service to the buyer.

Most take-back programs in the U.S. are voluntary, while legislation in many European countries require manufacturers take responsibility for waste costs incurred by products and packaging.

Transformation Theory From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Transformation theory, first explained by Dr. George Land [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] (also George Ainsworth Land and George T. Lock Land) (1927-) is a description of the structure of change in natural systems. Land's research, detailed in his seminal book Grow or Die [6] ), illustrates change as a series of interlocking S-curves, each interspersed with two breakpoints. Breakpoints are the moments in time when the rules of survival change.

Transition Towns From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Transition Towns (also known as Transition network or Transition Movement) is a brand for environmental and social movements “founded (in part) upon the principles of permaculture” [1], based originally on Bill Mollison’s seminal Permaculture, a Designers Manual published in 1988. The Transition Towns brand of permaculture uses David Holmgren’s 2003 book, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. [2] These techniques were included in a student project overseen by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. The term transition town was coined by Louise Rooney[3] and Catherine Dunne. Following its start in Kinsale, Ireland it then spread to Totnes, England where Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande developed the concept during 2005 and 2006.[4] The aim of this community project is to equip communities for the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil. The Transition Towns movement is an example of socioeconomic localisation.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cause Consumer Behavior

2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study
More than 9-in-10 moms want the opportunity to buy a product benefiting a cause


BOSTON (September 15, 2010) – Forty-one percent of Americans say they have purchased a product in the past year because it was associated with a social or environmental cause (41%), a two-fold increase since Cone first began measuring in 1993 (20%). But even as their purchasing power grows, consumer appetite for socially conscious shopping has yet to be satiated. A full 83 percent of consumers want more of the products, services and retailers they use to benefit causes, according to the new 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study, the nation’s only 17-year benchmark of cause marketing attitudes and behaviors.

Recession Didn’t Alter Expectations

The nation’s ongoing economic woes have not deterred Americans’ social sentiment, nor their expectations that companies will benefit society. Eighty-one percent said companies should financially support causes at the same level or higher during an economic downturn. It appears business rose to this challenge – nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers believe companies responded well to social and environmental issues during the recession.

Americans’ enthusiasm for cause marketing also emerged from the turmoil fully intact and continues to strongly influence their purchase decisions:
88% say it is acceptable for companies to involve a cause or issue in their marketing;
85% have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about; and,
80% are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause.
Not only are consumers willing to switch among similar brands, they are also willing to step outside their comfort zones. When it supports a cause:
61% of Americans say they would be willing to try a new brand or one unfamiliar to them;
46% would try a generic or private-label brand; and,
Nearly one-in-five consumers (19%) would be willing to purchase a more expensive brand.

“When price and quality are equal, we know most consumers will choose the product benefiting the cause,” explains Alison DaSilva, executive vice president at Cone. “But cause alignment can have an even bigger influence on consumer choice, pushing them to experiment with something different and unfamiliar. Cause branding is a prime opportunity for companies to extend beyond their traditional market and increase exposure to potential new consumers.”

Moms and Millennials: Most Cause-Conscious Consumers
By all measures, moms lead the way as the demographic most amenable to cause marketing. In fact, moms virtually demand the opportunity to shop with a cause in mind. A staggering 95 percent find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88% average), and 92 percent want to buy a product supporting a cause (vs. 81% average). They are also more likely to switch brands (93% vs. 80% average), so it is hardly surprising that moms purchased more cause-related products in the past year than any other demographic (61% vs. 41% average).

Millennials (18-24 years old) are close on moms’ heels as they also shop with an eye toward the greater good. Ninety-four percent find cause marketing acceptable (vs. 88% average) and more than half (53%) have bought a product benefiting a cause this year (vs. 41% average).

A company’s support of social or environmental issues is also likely to influence this group’s decisions outside the store, including where to work (87% vs. 69% average) and where to invest (79% vs. 59% average).

Engage Consumers Beyond the Vote
At a time when consumer voting campaigns have emerged as the cause marketing tactic du jour, a majority (61%) of consumers say they would prefer to see a company make a long-term commitment to a focused issue rather than determining themselves which issue the company supports in the short-term. This does not suggest they do not want to be engaged, however. Buying a cause-related product (81%) continues to be the leading way consumers want to support a company’s efforts, but they also seek other higher-touch opportunities, such as lending their voices through ideas or feedback (75%) and volunteerism (72%).

“Putting the charitable dollars in the hands of consumers has, no doubt, been the standout cause strategy of the last two years. But although these campaigns are notable, they are not building long-lasting brand equity,” explains DaSilva. “They are big and bold today, but in one year, or five or 10, they won’t have clearly defined what the company stands for, and it may be hard to gauge social impact. This will require greater focus and more meaningful consumer engagement beyond the click of a button.”

Dual-Role of Employees
Consumers are the primary audience for most companies’ cause branding programs, but businesses should be wary of overlooking employees as a key participant in their efforts. Sixty-nine percent of Americans consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. The correlation does not end once they are employed. Employees who are involved in their company’s cause efforts are much more likely to feel a sense of pride and loyalty toward their employer:
93% say they are proud of their company’s values (vs. 68% for those who are not involved); and,
92% say they feel a strong sense of loyalty to their company (vs. 61% for those who are not involved).

Employees may translate their experiences and knowledge as participants to their role as front-line ambassadors for a company’s cause efforts. Seventy percent of consumers say a knowledgeable employee may drive their purchases or donations. And when consumers do not receive the details they need to make an informed cause-related purchase, whether through employees, on-pack messaging or other channels, 34 percent will either choose another brand or walk away.

Issues Stand Test of Time
Even as businesses face a set of complex new issues, consumers remain steadfast in their expectations of what companies should address. They continue to want companies to prioritize support of issues close to home, in local communities (46%) and in the U.S. (37%), but they are gradually recognizing the need for companies to address issues globally, as well (17%).

The leading causes consumers want companies to support include:

Economic development – 77%
Health and disease – 77%
Hunger – 76%
Education – 75%
Access to clean water – 74%
Disaster relief – 73%
Environment – 73%

Americans may feel some of these issues personally, but they also recognize the impact a company can have when it supports a business-aligned issue. They are equally likely to say that a company should consider supporting an issue that is important in the communities where it does business (91%), as well as one that is aligned with its business practices (91%).

“Cause branding is standing the test of time, but leadership companies must continue to innovate to ensure their programs offer an original consumer experience, tackle tough emerging issues and make bold new commitments,” says DaSilva. “Those that are most successful and meeting the competing needs of many stakeholders are aligning issues with the business for mutual benefit and integrating these efforts into a larger corporate responsibility strategy for maximum impact.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Industrial Evolution

Bill McDonough has the wild idea he can eliminate waste. Surprise! Business is listening
Bloomberg Businessweek, APRIL 8, 2002
Michelle Conlin and Paul Raeburn

Fabric You Can Eat

Steelcase subsidiary Designtex wanted to make an ecologically safe fabric and hired environmental designers McDonough and Braungart to tackle the effort. Highlights of the project:

-- 60 chemical companies were invited to join the project. All declined except for one, Ciba-Geigy.

-- Ciba-Geigy's 4,500 dye formulas were evaluated for heavy metals, toxins, and carcinogens.

-- 16 passed the test--enough to make the fabric.

-- Under the new manufacturing process, which turns the textile mill into a water filter, the effluent is safe enough to drink.

-- Fabric trimmings, which before were labeled hazardous waste, are now used as mulch.

-- McDonough and Braungart are opening the new manufacturing secrets to any company that wants them.

Data: Susan Lyons, William McDonough & Partners, and Michael Braungart

Fabrics you can eat. Buildings that generate more energy than they consume. Factory with wastewater clean enough to drink. Even toxic-free products that, instead of ending up as poison in a landfill, decompose as nutrients into the soil. No more waste. No more recycling. And no more regulation.

Such a world is the vision of environmental designer William McDonough. You might think he's half a bubble off level--until you realize that he's working with powerhouses like Ford (F ), BP (BP ), DuPont (DD ), Steelcase (SCS ), Nike (NKE ), and BASF (BF ), the world's largest producer of chemicals, to make it happen. And in the process, he's actually helping them produce substantial savings. "This is not environmental philanthropy," Ford Motor Co. CEO William Clay Ford Jr. said in 1999 when he hired McDonough to lead the $2 billion renovation of the Ford Rouge plant outside Detroit. "It's sound business."

Over the past 15 years, McDonough, former dean at the University of Virginia's architecture school, and his business partner Michael Braungart, a top European chemist and a founder of Germany's Green Party, have been busy launching what they call a new industrial revolution. The problem that has long obsessed them: How do you manufacture products safely that are of comparable quality as the original stuff without stifling productivity or cutting profits? Their solutions--which have already had some remarkable success--are fast turning front man McDonough, 51, into one of Corporate America's leading gurus of green growth. His and Braungart's ideas are sure to spark even more debate with the publication this month of their new book, Cradle to Cradle.

Indeed, there's a growing awareness among CEOs of the unsustainability of manufacturing as it's done today, using so many potentially dangerous chemicals and producing so much toxic waste. Nearly every item you use--from the car you drive to the computer you surf with to the CD player you use at the gym--contains chemicals that often haven't been tested for human safety. When these substances first hit the manufacturing plant, they are labeled as hazardous. But once they turn into consumer products, the warnings disappear. The average mass-produced water bottle or polyester shirt, for example, contains small amounts of antimony--a toxic heavy metal known to cause cancer. A pair of shoes has rubber soles that are loaded with lead. You can throw the shoes away. But their environmental footprints can last decades.

Sure, no one has been killed by a sneaker. But McDonough and Braungart have been devising manufacturing processes in which factories don't contribute to greenhouse gases and consumer products don't emit carcinogenic compounds. Says Peter J. Pestillo, chairman of auto-parts maker Visteon Corp. (VC ): "Bill is getting us to believe that if we start early enough, we can avoid environmental problems altogether rather than correcting them little by little."

What's more, Cradle to Cradle, the duo's manifesto on their eco-effective strategies, will hit the stores just as momentum grows behind critical new regulation in Europe. Two years ago, the European Union passed "end-of-life" legislation, which requires auto makers to recycle or reuse at least 80% of their old cars by 2006. But end-of-life rules won't stop with autos and are already aimed at computers and electrical gear. "Any idea which takes hold in Europe is less than a generation away from taking hold here," says Pestillo, who is working with McDonough on a toxin-free car interior.

Pressure, too, is growing on executives to find alternatives to the standard industry practice of pumping toxic waste into the air, junking valuable materials in landfills, and complying with thousands of complex regulations. McDonough believes companies can innovate their way out of regulation. He has been so persuasive that Ford, who is trying to remake the auto company his great-grandfather founded into a model of sustainable business, has put him in charge of transforming the carmaker's hulking Rouge plant. McDonough is attempting to turn this icon of dirty manufacturing into a showcase clean factory, flooded with natural light, topped with a grass roof, and surrounded by reconstructed wetlands that keep storm water from going into the public system. These wetlands alone will save the company up to $35 million. "It's not about doing things that don't make economic sense," says Timothy O'Brien, Ford's vice-president for real estate. "These things are saving us money. We're already at work on establishing Bill's guidelines in the rest of our real estate portfolio."

McDonough and Braungart have also helped develop a material for Nike sneakers whose soles safely biodegrade into soil. Already on the market are Nikes that are virtually free of PVC and volatile organic chemicals. The pair have also helped BASF devise the concept for a new nylon that's infinitely recyclable. And for Steelcase Inc., they have created a fabric with the company's Designtex Inc. subsidiary that is so free of toxins that you can eat it (table). Lufthansa is now putting the fabric on the seats of its planes.

One of McDonough's first achievements was in Zeeland, Mich., where he built a nearly transparent factory for Herman Miller Inc. that is bathed in sunlight and whose solar heating-and-cooling system helps cut energy costs by 30%. McDonough says productivity at the factory is up 24%, enabling the company to increase annual sales by $60 million a year with the same number of employees. And the factory only cost $15 million to build. Herman Miller is taking McDonough's ideas one step further this year by implementing a protocol whereby its engineers will be required to use materials in new furniture that have either very low or zero toxicity.

Certainly, the movement toward sustainable business practices is just beginning. And there are plenty of companies that genuinely work at changing but merely wind up replacing one harmful practice with another. The obstacles to moving toward McDonough's methods are monumental. Experts note it's often difficult to determine up front the business case for doing such things. Often, it requires companies to make a leap of faith that changing will not only be good for the environment but actually save them money. And of course, many attempts can and do fail. "It's absolutely legitimate skepticism," says Sloan School of Management professor Peter Senge. Still, given the world's depleting resources and the specter of regulation, Senge believes it's not a matter of if companies will turn more in this direction, but when. "There's a growing awareness that we are on a path that can't continue. Do we really think a billion and a half Chinese are going to generate a ton of waste every two weeks like Americans do? It will never happen. There's no place to put it."

McDonough's system tackles these problems by creating two manufacturing loops. In the first, carcinogens are designed out of the process in favor of safe ingredients that can become biological nutrients. The second loop allows the use of potentially harmful substances--what McDonough calls "technical nutrients." But in contrast with current practices, McDonough designs systems that allow these technical nutrients to be disassembled or reused indefinitely--so they never enter the ecosystem. Taking nature as the inspiration for his operating system, waste becomes food--either literally for the soil in the first loop, or figuratively for new products in the second.

As it functions today, says McDonough, industry is based on a linear, cradle-to-grave model that creates unnecessary waste. In fact, 90% of materials extracted for durable goods become garbage almost immediately. By completely remaking the industrial process--from the way factories are built to the choice of materials--McDonough is showing companies how to reinvent production from "cradle to cradle." By following nature's laws, growth can be good, McDonough believes. A system centered on depletion and pollution can be transformed into one based on regeneration and nutrition. "I don't care if you drive around in a car visible from the moon," says McDonough. "If it's all made of reusable materials and tires that become safe food for worms, and it is powered by solar energy--then hey, no problem."

Until recently, the reigning solution to environmental ills has been recycling, but McDonough believes doing less of a bad thing doesn't make it good. Recycled products are still full of toxic chemicals. "We feel good when we recycle plastic bottles containing heavy metals and carcinogens into clothes," says McDonough. "But guess what--you're still wearing cancer."

That's not to mention another downside: Recycling still creates waste. McDonough calls it "downcycling"--that is, turning waste into a different product of lower quality. But that product, too, eventually winds up in a landfill. It all adds up to a costly way of doing business. Complying with federal environmental regulations alone eats up an estimated 2.6% of gross domestic product, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

A few companies are already escaping some regulation by using McDonough's loop. BASF, for example, has designed a carpet called Savant that the company will take back and make into new carpet when you're done with it---with a guarantee that it won't be tossed into a landfill. (Note: Here in America, Ray Anderson's Interface carpet company uses the same business model) In McDonough parlance, the carpet is a "product of service." Explains Ian Wolstenholme, BASF's sales and marketing manager for carpets: "It's like an ice cube. We can freeze and unfreeze it as many times as we like." And the carpet has the added advantage of giving BASF a potentially lifelong link to customers.

Perhaps part of McDonough's success with CEOs is that he doesn't bash them. He has the more charitable view that most executives, like technophobes at the birth of the Internet, suffer from environmental illiteracy. Patagonia Inc. Chairman Yvon Chouinard recalls that he didn't know that the polyester the outdoor outfitter used in its clothing contained antimony until McDonough told him so in their first meeting three years ago. Chouinard thought he had been doing the noble thing by avoiding cotton, which is full of pesticides. "Society is going along sort of ignorant of the damage we're doing, so it takes somebody like McDonough, who is asking the questions and seeking the answers, to offer people the choice," Chouinard says. Patagonia is now developing clothing with a new, antimony-free polyester.

Chouinard and others credit McDonough with fusing two seemingly opposing world views--environmentalism and capitalism. As a person, he's also a seeming contradiction--preppy and crunchy at the same time. At a recent opening of a documentary about his and Braungart's work, The Next Industrial Revolution, McDonough ascended the stage at New York's Guggenheim Museum like a Zen master in a bow tie, staring in silence at the crowd for several minutes before speaking. When he does speak, his sentences often sound like haikus. "What do you want to grow?" asks McDonough. "Health or sickness? Stupidity or intelligence? Do you want to love children for all time or destroy them?"

For years, many environmentalists thought the answer to that question was to restrain growth by scolding people about their wasteful ways. But even as they did so, it seemed as if SUVs and subdivisions just kept proliferating. If McDonough is right, conspicuous consumption may even one day turn out to be politically correct.

By Michelle Conlin and Paul Raeburn in New York

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Humanitarian Design

Humanitarian Design or Neocolonialism?
BY: FAST COMPANY STAFF, October 1, 2010

"Fast Company's Bruce Nussbaum raised some controversial questions in a trio of posts -- and readers had a lot to say. We sample the debate.

A few months ago, I went to hear a talk by Idiom Design, one of India's top design consultancies. At the end of a great presentation, a twentysomething woman from the Acumen Fund rushed to the front and said in the proudest, most optimistic, breathless way that Acumen was teaming up with Ideo and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to design better ways of delivering safe drinking water to Indian villagers. To my surprise -- and hers -- Indian businessman Kishore Biyani, the key investor in Idiom, complained that there was a better, Indian way of solving the problem.

So what's going on? Is the new humanitarian design coming out of the U.S. and Europe perceived as colonialism? Are American and European designers presuming too much in their attempts to do good?

I remember the contretemps over One Laptop Per Child, an incredibly ambitious project sponsored by good guys -- the MIT Media Lab, Pentagram, Continuum, and Fuseproject. Yet OLPC failed in its initial plan to drop millions of inexpensive computers into villages, hook kids directly to the Web, and, in effect, get them to educate themselves. The Indian establishment locked out OLPC precisely because it perceived the effort as inappropriate technological colonialism that cut out those responsible for education in the country: policymakers, teachers, curriculum builders, parents.

Young designers want to do humanitarian design globally. But now that the movement is gathering speed, we should take a moment to ask whether American and European designers are collaborating with the right partners, learning from the best local people, and being as sensitive as they might to the colonial legacies of these countries. Might Indian, Brazilian, and African designers have important design lessons to teach Western designers?

And finally, why are we doing humanitarian design only in Asia and Africa and not on Native American reservations or in rural areas of the U.S., where standards of education, water, and health match the very worst overseas?

People are doing humanitarian design on Native American reservations in the United States. Heather Fleming and Tyler Valiquette of Catapult Design, for example, are doing phenomenal work with the Navajo Nation.

Sarah Rich | Board Member | Project H

As a Pakistani (currently residing in Canada), I can tell you that the efforts of gen-Y American and European do-gooders are overshadowed by actions of corporations, the military, and politicians of the same nations. To most Asians and Africans, it seems like the Westerners cause destruction at the same time some of them come bearing gifts.

Abdullah Ahmed | Co-owner | Steam Walker

I'm a Brazilian designer working in Europe for a North American design consultancy. If I was going to be really sensitive about this, I'd say any discussion that puts together Indian, Brazilian, and African designers is infused by imperialistic language. India is a country with more than 20 different languages; Brazil is a Western country colonized by European nations with African and Middle Eastern immigrants; and Africa has so many unique problems that it is almost impossible to compare it with anything else.

Fabricio Dore | Designer | Ideo

Post Two

My questions about sensitivity to culture and local elites are based on having seen Asian designers, businesspeople, and officials reacting negatively at conferences to what they perceived as Western intrusion. The question for a Western designer is how to react.

I first learned about the unintended consequences of good intentions as a reading tutor for a Head Start program when I was in high school in the '60s. My supervisor said that some parents and community groups opposed Head Start because it undermined "black English," and, in effect, African-American culture. Later, I heard that some Hispanic community groups on the West Coast felt the same way. In recent years, I have heard that some Native American organizations opposed Head Start too. Do I think we should have ended Head Start? Not at all. But acknowledging and engaging the historic legacy might have improved the programs and helped more kids.

I was surprised again when I taught third-grade science to kids in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer. Indirectly, I heard that some teachers were angry with me. Why was a 20-year-old American with a couple of months' training teaching Filipino children when there were more experienced Filipino teachers available? The real problem was not bad teachers, but politics. You needed good political connections to move ahead, and many young teachers didn't have them. I began using my power as the "outside American" to help advance good Filipino science teachers.

I discovered yet another example of unintended consequences three years ago, at a design conference in India where I got an earful on how anti-Indian One Laptop Per Child was. The intellectuals, designers, businesspeople, and government officials at that meeting didn't think [MIT Media Lab cofounder] Seymour Papert's work applied to India's rural-village culture. As a consequence, few OLPC screens can be found in India (or China) today. Is that a tragedy? Perhaps.

I don't know how to scale the significance of such negative reactions to humanitarian design. I do know that as a journalist, educator, and fellow-traveling humanitarian designer, I am sensitive to what happens on the periphery. It may be that we should ignore those voices of protest -- after all, what are they doing for the poor in their own countries? But we should be aware that they are saying something that should influence our work.

Bruce Nussbaum's overgeneralization of the recent revival of the humanitarian-design movement floats somewhere between misguided and ridiculous. Picking just four recent projects we've been working on, the folks involved in the building process are from South Africa, Romania, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, the Navajo community, Kenya, Uganda, and the U.S. Let's not fall into the trap of who's best and who's not when we have BP filling our oceans with oil, large hidden corporations taking major reconstruction contracts, and poor government policy forcing inadequate housing to remain the status quo. If you want to take on an imperialist empire, you're going to have to shoot a little higher than pro bono designers. Admiral Ackbar, it's a trap!

Cameron Sinclair | Cofounder and Chief Eternal Optimist |Architecture for Humanity |

I would not mind involvement of designers from anywhere so long as they come with an open mind, share their learning with/from grassroots learners, and give credit where it is due. The problem arises when some so-called do-gooders raise huge funds, pay fat salaries, and use the partnership with local communities to legitimize their greed.

Anil Gupta | Professor |Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

In the Peace Corps in Botswana, I learned how to carry water on my head and noticed how heavy the bucket was. I learned how to pound sorghum into flour and felt the ache in my back. As a designer, I came to understand the importance of technologies that can transport water or grind grain. A new generation of designers has learned that "parachuted" solutions don't work. Many of the best products out there are developed in close partnership with the communities that need them. Along the way, the capacity of these communities is built up, as merchants expand their stock, farmers are trained in maintenance and installation, and produce yields are increased.

Does do-gooder design amount to cultural colonialism? I believe the answer is yes and no. Yes, because if OLPC moves ahead after failing to properly research the needs of the market, one must question the motives behind those forces brought to bear upon this project. No, because we can't fault the young, naive, and plain ol' quixotic for going out there and trying to do good. But this does not mean that their motives are not rooted in a certain hubris.

T.J. Thomas | Principal | Studio Murmur

C.K. Prahalad [author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid] suggested that there was tremendous opportunity to develop products and services for the world's lowest income earners that would fulfill unmet needs. These consumers at the bottom of the pyramid are also producers, so some of the most beneficial humanitarian designs focus on improving customer productivity.

Lars Hasselblad Torres | Administrator | MIT IDEASGlobal Challenge |

Post Three

Should the Americans and Europeans who do humanitarian design care if they are perceived as neo-imperialists by the elites in whose countries they are working? This gets to the heart of a key issue for many designers who are trying to help the poor in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. When you're far from home, in other people's cultures, whom should you listen to? Whom should you respect, and when should you speak truth to power?

Let's take a clear example where the locals may be the bad guys. CNBC World ran a piece on the Acumen Fund's work helping small-scale merchants in Nairobi's Toi Market get financing. Acumen, working with local microfinance institution Jamii Bora, persuaded banks to come up with capital for these merchants. It was a big undertaking that helped many people raise their standards of living.

Then a contested presidential election led to ethnic rioting. The Toi Market was burned down by thugs of one ethnic group, who killed dozens of people. Acumen then had to decide whether to recapitalize the merchants. It did. Even more important, Jamii Bora integrated the thugs into the market community by financing their efforts to build houses and start businesses. Now the ethnic groups are working together to build a better future -- thanks to Acumen and Jamii Bora.

But what do you do when the locals are good guys who simply don't want you in their country for historic reasons? What do you do if they are highly educated, speak your language, go to the same conferences, belong to the same "global elite culture," and still don't want you proposing solutions to their country's problems -- just because? Do you ignore them, work around them, argue that your mission is of a higher order than nationalism? Do you ask what they are doing to help the poor in their country?

And finally, what do you do when those local elites who question your presence are design elites -- just like you?

If the local elites have issues with outsiders providing solutions to their impoverished, then let them create innovative designs that are cheaper and more efficient than the ones that the Westerners are coming up with. The end goal is to help, and if they think they can do it better, then let's see it.

Todd Warren Qualitative Intern | Mindwave Research

So is it imperialism? The answer is yes, whether we like it or not. It is imperialism because there is a not-so-subtle imposition of an ideological stance that "design can save the world," a claim that really isn't all that robust in the first place. If design really wants to change the world, then design must figure out how to give these people real political power. Until then, it's some very expensive Band-Aids. These are not hammer-and-nail problems. They are political-influence problems. Ignore these questions at your peril. They persist, whether your recycled-materials playground is a success or not.

Gong Szeto | Blogger |

What do you do when the local elites don't want you proposing solutions to their country's problems? To me the answer is simple: Bypass the elite roadblock and go directly to the "consumers" who have the problem. Listen to their needs and design a low-cost solution. If the item designed is successful, the elites tend to jump on board. A beautiful example of this method would be the treadle pump, which is now used by millions of people in Asia.

Paul Ruben Polak | Founder | International Development Enterprises and D-Rev: Design for the Other 90%

Designers often think that since they are in a profession based on empathy, it comes automatically, and so they fail to spend time understanding the people and context they work in. This is not limited to an East-West, North-South debate. It happens all too often with us in the emerging markets as well, where our urban-educated lenses blind us to what happens on the ground.

Jacob Mathew Cofounder | Idiom Design and Consulting

Jacob Mathew hit the nail on the head when he exhorts designers not just to listen to the people they work with, but to live and collaborate with them. It's like an extreme form of team building: Learning to work with absolute strangers is effective only when you take the time to understand where they are coming from -- a LOT of time. If you really believe in your cause, then you must be able to discard your own preconceptions. These are both hard things to do as an outsider. They aren't easy to do for "local design elites" either. But people manage to do it, and shining examples of persevering designers are many in India.

Avinash Rajagopal | Blogger |