Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bury Them with Their Cars

According to Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger, the hum purr screech vroom culture that built America is in danger. Liberals and godless tax-raisers have captured Washington, and they and their emissions standards think the only way they can save the planet is by sacrificing the country's heart.

Made me think of this song...



Strange country, this one. Strange and stubborn and, hopefully, evolving.

In Henninger's words...

This tension over how we live arrived before the world began standing on its head over global warming. The guys in the hemi-powered drones used to mock the granola and Birkenstock crowd. Look who's on top now.

I hope he's right.

For the Record

When you're doing something important, like launching a big project, or a new company, or running some sort of campaign designed to change things, keep a scrapbook. Not a note book, a tool for writing down facts. A scrapbook. Include photos and quotes and clippings and events. Two reasons. First, you'll be glad later (I still have scrapbooks from some of my previous projects) and more important, because it will remind you that you're doing something important and that time is precious.

That's Seth Godin, in a sidenote to a post about nostalgia.

I started this blog thinking it'd become something like a scrapbook, a catalog of thoughts and questions and stories connected to my first shot at starting something serious.

I wanted a scrapbook so I could look back at yesterday's mind and analyze.

I wanted it so friends and colleagues and advisors could see me starting to fly off the rails and yank me back.

I wanted it for my grandchildren, so they can meet the 26, 27, etc. year old me someday.

I wanted it because I thought I might spill out some words worth saving.

I wanted it because I wished I had everyone else's scrapbooks. For guidance. For ideas. For inspiration. For laughs.

And I wanted it because maybe I'm on the road to something huge, because it might be useful to the world someday to see the instant replay of someone that knows very little about doing anything gets his hands on a good idea and somehow takes it big.

Seventeen months in, I don't think More Perfect Market, in isolation, is a scrapbook. It's a pile of scraps, some for the book, some for somewhere else.

Selections from More Perfect Market plus The Carrot Project Blog plus a little Radical Transparency plus videos like today's that go on too long or for whatever other reason never make it out of Viddler, and I think there do exist the components of the beginnings of a scrapbook.

And it is good to know it's all safe on the internets. Reminds me, in moments of doubt and sleepiness, of how badly I want to give this project all I can, how much I'd love to make this little change in the world.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Film From The Farm

This is how McDonald's hamburgers are made.

That video is on the McDonald's site, which makes it marketing.

It feels far more transparent than I would have expected a video in its situation to be, which is great.

And it involves multi-staged industrial meat grinding and giant robotic arms lifting boxes and boxes of perfectly trimmed and frozen uniform patties, lifting boxes and packing them neatly for massive scale delivery to megamall food courts and highway service areas and school cafeterias, which, of course, is terrifying. And fascinating. And awe-inspiring. And then, when the fear mixes with the awe and fascination, even scarier.

And, when you click that link and watch the video, note the URL. Films from the farms. I'll definitely be checking back to see what else they post. I'm putting it on my calendar right now, in fact. Wednesday morning at 9am. Check films from the farms. Repeating weekly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Certainty and Trust

Certainty is a worry.

It's pretty much best friends with Closed-Mindedness.

But it's also really tight with Trust.

And hard to keep Passion around if Trust is getting antsy to leave the party.

...

The Certainty my sister and I started talking about last night was certainty about knowledge and certainty in discussion. And we didn't like it at all. "So much pleasure and excitement in constantly pursuing things," said Giuls.

But then we thought about the word in other contexts. Aren't we certain about our love for each other? Doesn't it take certainty about the rightness and potential positive impact of our work for us to commit to it?

We decided that Trust might be a better word for us.

But, still, this is tricky. Because I think I am and should be certain about some fundamental things. And I think I should also be scared of closing the mind.

So maybe what we want is Certainty in the moment? Given the information we have about the present situation, and given what that information and other information tells us about the likely future, we are certain, in this moment. Maybe?

Language. Not afraid to make the mind spin around and trip over itself.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Touch Test



A. By posting this video, I feel like I'm doing my part in keeping the crunchy toilet paper meme alive.

2. Gotta love Rolf Skar. I would never have expected a Greenpeace spokesman to have stayed so cool in a Fox News interview.

d. In Megyn's mind, she made Rolf's best point for him: far more important than protecting ancient forests is keeping scary-sounding chemicals off our bodies.

It always makes me feel a little sad to hear things like that, for I'm pretty sure Megyn is speaking for more than just her Fox News audience when she says it, and I wonder just how slippery the health-consciousness to envronmentalism slope really is.

My suspicion is not slippery enough. And I think those of us that have already been rolling down the mountain a while need to do a better job with our ice and banana peels.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Should

Should is a strange word. Someone told me recently never to use it, that speaking it was a form of settling, of giving up, of accepting an unnecessarily not-ideal situation. And I haven't been using it. Not much anyway.

But now I hear Umair Haque say this:

One of the big problems in the economy today is that we talk about what we can do, not what we should do, not what we ought to do. What we should do and what we ought to do very often are very different from what we can do. And when we think in terms of only what we can do, we limit ourselves from achieving what we should do in the first place.

[From in a video in response to the comments on his post on How to Save Newspapers (Or, Why the NYT Should Acquire Twitter).]

It makes me think of acts of futility, jobs that are way too big, and Ray Anderson, the recovering plunderer.

It makes me think we should acknowledge what we should do. Acknowledge it, and then try.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mythic Adventuring

In April, the NY Times Magazine asked former merry prankster acid tester Stewart Brand about his drug of choice these days...

"I’m stoned right now on two cups of coffee," he said. "I’m 70, and the easiest way to young-up your mind is to drink caffeine."

Every time I've had coffee since, which has been twice, maybe three times (the high is more than I can handle comfortably, usually), I've wondered about miracle drugs, wondered about Brand, and wondered why he's still considered (by the NY Times Magazine at least) an important character in the sustainability movement.

So, last night, I watched the first of his two TED Talks.

And, while it didn't really answer my question (How the heck is The Long Now Foundation going to help us treat our natural capital better?), it did feel relevant, somehow, accidentally, to everything.

Danny Hillis is one of Brand's Long Now co-conspirators, and he, Hillis, according to Brand, is interested in mythic adventures. And mythic adventures, according to Hillis (according to Brand), have seven stages...

Stage One is the manifestation or formulation of the image, the picture of the goal at the end of the journey.

Stage Two is the point of embarkation, the moment at which the image pushes a person to transition from ordinary existence to life as a pilgrim on a quest.

Stage Three is the labyrinth, the substance of the journeying, the series of challenges, many unexpected, many seemingly insurmountable. It's a rough place, the labyrinth, full of darkness and despair, but in there with the pilgrim is the draw, the beacon, the often distant but ever powerful motivating force.

Stage Four is the payoff, the accomplishment, the moment the dream becomes reality.

Stage Five is the secret payoff, that other thing that happens that no one could have predicted but everyone totally digs.

Stage Six is the return, the pilgrim's gradual reacclimation to the ordinary world.

And Stage Seven is identifying the memento, the humble little something that the pilgrim takes away.

Worth noting I think. And worth considering alongside Freedom's Plow.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Message in a Bottle

Belu is a carbon neutral bottled water company. They bottle in glass or compostable plastic-like corn. All their profits go to clean water projects.

And they're trying to put themselves out of business.

From the front page of their website, they link to Tap, a reusable bottle company slash activist organization that they helped start.

Tap's business is "carbon neutral, environmentally sensitive, ethically driven and as wholesome as a cup of strawberries." And its goal is to destroy the bottled water industry.

I think bad ass is the word I'm looking for. Or words I'm looking for, if you're counting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Freshly-Connected Community of Heavy-Duty Yearners

Most movements, most leadership that we're doing is about finding a group that's disconnected but already has a yearning, not persuading people to want something they don't have yet.

Seth Godin said that in his latest TED Talk.

I can't help but think of it in relation to The Carrot Project...

The Carrot Project is something people don't have yet.

It does, however, invite and, frankly, can't live without user participation, which, I think, makes it a means of finding and connecting a community.

Whether we're able to foster that participation, of course, is largely dependent on the strength of the disconnected yearning.

But maybe there exists a persuasion element too. Maybe we need to tease the yearning out of some people. Maybe some people really badly evangelically want businesses to quit the short term greed and do good.

Or maybe - and I think this could be where Seth is trying to lead us with his presentation - a freshly-connected community of heavy-duty yearners is a highly long-term effective persuasive force.

So, are we equipped to do enough connecting, to allow for the most comfortable and useful forms of online connection? And do we appeal to the heavy duty yearners?

Seth, want to come think about this with me?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Big Word

Did a 9pm to 3am drive with Jason on Sunday night.

We hadn't seen each other for a while, so we had a lot to discuss. Tomatoes. Pyschics. China. Purpose...

He asked me if I felt like The Carrot Project was My Purpose.

I thought Purpose was a big word. Sometimes a scary word. But probably a good word to keep in mind.

So I told him The Carrot Project was a piece of My Purpose. A Purpose, which, at the moment, feels something like this...

The Purpose is to help people participate in making the world a better place. To help make the participation meaningful. And to help people see that their participation, even if it's only a small part of a small part of a small part of something, is meaningful.

So there it is. As it has evolved up to right now.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

THE Three Questions

I want to write. I need to write. And I will get back to the serious writing.

But it's late, and I think I can take this note more understandably with voice and head gestures.

So, I present to you, making their More Perfect Market debut, my much beloved Ricky Vaughn glasses...



Good questions? Confidence inspiring answers? Cool glasses?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What to Eat and What to Say

Read about word choice and strategic persuasion in the New York Times last week.

Wrote about word choice and strategic persuasion on the Carrot Project Blog last night.

And now, today, I see this. From a site called Frugal For Life. Via GOOD Magazine.

Good and frugal. Probably a little more main-stream friendly than crunchy...