Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Your old briefs, please

Your old briefs, please

This is an urgent request to planning & strategy folk (responses needed by monday night)

Can you help us help the Ideas Foundation? []

It's a UK charity that is committed to championing creativity in young people

"We broker projects between industry and education.
We spot & develop young people’s creativity.
We pilot creative education projects and champion transferable skills within the creative industries and beyond.
We provide effective work experience, internship and apprenticeship opportunities. We signpost further & higher education routes to creative employment and enterprise.
And having done all that, we encourage our creativity scholars to stay in touch and get involved"

So here's the shout out to Planning for Good types - do you have a social policy brief that you've written that these kids can do work from?

Maybe the client didn't buy it? Maybe the suits or the CD didn't like it? Or your boss? Or you?

So what are we after?

A brief to target a youth audience on a social policy area

It could be in areas such as smoking cessation, sexual health, knife or gun crime, drug or alchohol abuse, bullying, internet safety etc.

We'd just like your old briefs. Or, if you really want to write a new one, please feel free to do so but just make sure you include the usual information (the problem defined, the audience, etc) and try to ground it in reality and evidence...

Thanks very much in advance on behalf of the Ideas Foundation - we promise to keep you in touch with what folk send in and what they do with them

Pls send your briefs to Mark at markearls [at] hotmail [dot] com by Monday night

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Calling All Entrepreneurs

The Idea Village, a non-profit created for innovators in New Orleans, is launching 504ward’s $100,000 Business Competition for entrepreneurs with ideas to retain young talent in New Orleans.

As some of you may remember, The Idea Village was Planning for Good’s first client. One of the ideas coming out of that experience was engaging national corporations and organizations in driving innovation to New Orleans. The Idea Village is now proud to report that Worldwide Partners and two teams Google employees have joined them to help launch this competition.

Check out this YouTube video for more info and please help spread the word:

Don’t forget The Idea Village mantra: “Trust Your Crazy Ideas.”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

PFG at the planning conference

Several of us from PFG are down at the AAAA Planning Conference in Miami this week.  And PFG is leading a session for junior and intermediate planners today. 32 people signed up, and in teams they have 6 hours to crack a brief on one of two projects for microlender or human rights advocacy group Witness.

The teams are working away right now.  It's exciting, after a lot of virtual working over the past year, to have everybody in a room working away. We'll announce a bit about the winning teams and their ideas here over the next few days.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Volunteering is bad.

After speaking with a friend and hearing her definition of volunteering, I thought about writing this post: to know your opinions. Chatting we realized that our associations with the word "volunteering", were quite different.

In the past I volunteered in Italy and in Ireland, to help and assist children. What really surprised me, in both cases, was the atmosphere. People living with other people, and sharing everything. Children were helping us (me and other volunteers) to think differently about life, adopting a different perspective. We were there to give them back their hopes.

Sharing (as well as helping) aspect of this attitude is completely eclipsed behind what seems to be just an economic issue. "Volunteers are people who are not paid for working", said my friend - expressing a common thought. If that is the normal assumption (in Italy I'm quite sure it is), social volunteering has a high obstacle to overcome, starting from its name.

What about your countries? Is there a name to indicate who helps other people just for the sake of it? Can you translate it in english? If not, may we find one?

They are "activists", but activism is probably a too aggressive concept... and not the most important one.
"Helpers" would sound better... but we loose the sharing side...
I'm thinking about firefighters ... for their generosity... social volunteering is probably fighting the bad fate...

Any help?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Healthy Santas

Fitness may be a matter of attractiveness.
WiiFit is a great game/tool because through it incentive (gaming pleasure) takes over sacrifice (workout)
Nothing new, it's something similar to flavoured cough syrup for children.
Simple, effective, helpful.
"An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation" (Levitt & Debner, Freakonomics)

We are planning for good, so I spen some time thinking of a different, often weaker target: older people.
For them attractiveness is no more an issue, video gaming is not a pleasure, but phisical exercise is a vital need. A good incentive might work on the emotional link with their grandchildren.

What about digitally recording (something like Nike+Ipod) the phisical exercise of theese people and link their performance with prizes?
No digital stuff? We can set up a more familiar dynamics: loyalty scheme through club card points
- Selection of itineraries (parks or pedestrian areas)
- Exercise tracking through coupons validation -start/check points/arrival marks
- Itineraries completion give you points for the club card
Prizes: free cinema tickets (Cartoons), free entrances to leisure parks, zoos...

Incentive and sacrifice, does it make sense?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Help create some fast strategy

One of our committee members, Mark Earls, is participating in a Fast Strategy conference in London on Monday 28th.  They will be given a brief to answer that day by the Central Office of Information (the UK Government's communications 'client').  
Mark has assembled a crack group of planners - Jon Leach (of HHCL fame), Chris Forrest (ex DFGW and now of the excellent research company The Nursery) and Ian Tait (of Poke (and the crackunit blog)) to work on the brief as the P4G Allstars.  BUT THEY WANT YOUR HELP.
Mark wants to demonstrate the power of P4G by involving any of us with internet access (and favorable time zones) to contribute to the the thinking.  Here's the deal.
Next Monday, 10amBST brief posted on wiki site; responses by 12pm (noon) at the latest.  Mark and the team will present at 2pm BST.
Please try and contribute - it will be fun and a great demonstration of the power of P4G at work.
If you're interested please email  and/or keep an eye on our facebook page.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sustainable Music

Edison, an italian energy company, launched a program called “Edison - Change the Music” to promote sustainability culture in the music world.

Producing and listening music means energy usage, therefore usually an heavy impact on the environment.
Edison - Change the Music is thought to inform artists, producers, fans, and all the rest of the world about music related energy saving.

The first step is represented by sustainable concerts.
There’s a Green Music Book , on the making, with suggestions from the community, like:
- Daylight concerts to avoid use of artificial lights
- Reserved (and nearer) parking areas for car pooling
- Planning concerts near train stations, metro, bus station or other easy reachable areas
(If you have some interesting suggestion to share I’ll do my best to translate and add them to the list)

Here is their MySpace page with a contest for new bands and musicians.

(thanks to Davide)

Friday, March 14, 2008

"The Alarmists"

A group of influential green professionals are pushing for activism to go viral.

Keeping themselves deliberately incognito and going by the name of "The Alarmists" they are proposing to make some serious noise about Global Warming. Not just at one event, but at 11 am on the 11th of every month for one minute.

They say, "This is a state of global emergency. According to the IPCC, we must cut emissions within eight years, to avoid catastrophic global warming. There is nowhere near enough action yet to make that happen. We need to set off the world's alarms. Join in. It could be the alarm on your phone, in your home, in your car. You could gather some friends to make some noise. Organise a flash mob. Schedule a company fire drill. Borrow a vintage air raid siren... Be creative. Raise the alarm."

Check it out here:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

State of Emergency

If anyone had any doubts about Climate Change, this will put them to rest. John Grant (author, planner, overall concerned guy) posted this on his blog yesterday.

I am thinking of ways PFG should be doing something on this and welcome suggestions.

It is much worse than we thought (MUCH worse)

Yesterday I saw the end of the world.

More specifically at Tomrrow's Company I saw a repeat of this presentation (originally given to a cross party working group on climate change in the UK parliament), plus a presentation by a Cambridge professor of theoretical physics on 2006/07 data on the arctic sheet, where exactly this sort of first and second order feedback and acceleration are now starting to be seen. In scientific terms this is paradigm-shifting new knowledge discovery work of the first order. If it wasnt so terrifying it would almost be exciting. If you read one thing on the environment this year, I would recommend you read this report.

The result in the case of the arctic is that ice melting has reached a level which the linear models behind IPCC, Stern Report and so on didnt predict until the 2080s.

The potential result for the planet overall is a catastrophe beyond anything that's been considered so far; a potential mass extinction event which would take out according to the speakers "5/6 of the world's biota".

the non-linear effects are basically the acceleration which comes about when a set of processes have a tendency to reinforce themselves individually (first order) or each other (second order). A couple of examples:
- as atmospheric CO2 increases the sea gets hotter which means it absorbs less CO2, which increases atmospheric CO2 which leads to further heating
- as permofrost in Siberia melts it releases trapped methane, which is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, which leads to further heating... (apparently this was observed this year, to the extent of huge "flumes" of escaping methane)

There are many positive feedback loops (acceleration) and no known naturally occuring major negative ones (damping). It still needs us forcing it along at this stage though. If it was just a one off event like a supervolcano eruption, radiation from a hotter atmosphere would cool the world down.

Think of it as like us pushing at a tree trunk which we have also been whittling away at - at some point the thing is simply going to fall over whether you keep pushing and whittling or not. That is the critical threshhold talked about in this paper. I studied the physics of non linear change at college, so I find it quite intuitive and easy to take on board, you might need to read this paper a couple of times although maybe not? - I think it does a masterful job.

This is not a new fringe theory. It is seen as the new central thrust of climate change science. It is the main thing which Al Gore now talks about. But it is new news compared to all the models driving current policy.

The important chart is the last one.

Think of our learning process in recent years as a sliding scale of worse and worse worst cases:

1. the loss of biodiversity, continuing the process of people ruining nature by chopping it down, desertifying it etc.

2. a shift in average temperature affecting global agriculture, especially in the hard to feed poor regions with rapid population growth such as sub saharan africa; a continuation of the 1980s recognition of humanitarian disaster

3. a shift in average temperature producing extremes of weather, a rate of Hurricane Katrina style global disasters which could bankrupt the global economy within 60 years according to one source

4. a raised sea level due to melting greenland icesheet, peak oil, cities and infrastructure in meltdown, a global emergency and significant social, economic and ecological collapse

5. global pandemics hit an environmentally stressed and overpopulated world (this is what is driving many amphibian species to extinction and a new theory says may be what actually did for the dinosaurs)

6. world war three fought over water; eg drought struck China invades Russia for Siberian water

7. non-linear effects, the critical threshold point, a potential new hot planet steady state, mass extinction

The difference between 1-6 and 7 is the recovery time. It jumps from a few thousand years, to NEVER.

There is a view that the disasters in 1-6 are actually going to be the negative feedback systems needed to stop all of this at the brink. A catastrophic collapse in human societies would stop the global forcing of climate change. But firstly we dont even know that's true (if it's enough at this stage). And secondly to go into those scenarios 1-6. knowingly would be an act of inhumanity unprecedented in the history of the most evil dictators and religious wars.

The implications for action are the same only more so. The Kyoto scenario takes us straight over the edge, because it was based on climate change models that took no account of feedback and acceleration. The survival pathway in these new models requires not just slamming on the brakes, but driving into reverse to back away from an oncoming threat.

I know many reading this will want to assume its not true, that there must be a catch. If it's that bad already, why was it possible to go around our daily routines as usual today? Why doesnt it LOOK like the end of days? Well if you watch the news, it is starting to look a bit like it. If it rained frogs in London tomorrow due to some freak weather event, would you really be as surprised as you should be?

One further point to bear in mind which I hadnt realised until yesterday although its pretty obvious when you think about it is that there is a 40-50 year lag between warming events and the planet actually getting hotter. It takes a long time to heat up oceans and landmasses. The global instability in weather and so on we are experiencing now is only the result of emissions and events in the 1950s-70s. Its clearly already extreme and has proved catastrophic in places, but everything has already accelerated greatly since that point and actually in terms of changes we are heading into under the business as usual scenario, this is actually very mild change.

The implications for culture are immense. This is THE apocalypse. Actually its even worse than that, in the apocalypse there is some sort of continuity of human culture in an afterlife, even if via a great battle etc. etc. This is ERADICATION - a 'we might as well never have existed' event. Legacy is all we have as any hedge against mortality, individually and collectively.

There have been times when individual civilisations have faced eradication and the destruction of their entire system of meaning, of any notion of legacy. It's a fate worse than individual or collective death, the prospect of discontinuity. The end. And faced with this prospect there have been some remarkble returns from the brink, for instance the Roman Empire in the 3rd Century (under Dioclitian/Constantine). Human societies do have an extraordinary ability to respond to catastrophic emergency. One speaker yesterday compared it to the ability of a shoal to respond in unison to threats.

I'm now working on a the beginnings of a scheme to help people 'get' on a mass scale what I heard yesterday. We dont have another decade for this to sink in. It's the only response I can think of where I can personally do something constructive beyond my current activities. Updates to follow when it's properly thought through. If anyone wants to help do drop me a line.

If you want to get the full briefing on all this there is a collection of papers prepared as a briefing for the Bali conference which you can order here

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. My own view is that I'd rather know now than find out later when i could have done more. In fact I am slightly peeved that politicians have known all this for 7 months before we got to see this.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Recycled Overclaims

"The reputation of Japan's paper industry lay in tatters today after the market leader, Oji Paper, admitted it had lied for more than a decade about the volume of recycled paper used in some of its products.

The revelation comes days after the country's second-biggest paper company, Nippon Paper Group, admitted it had made similarly false claims.

In one case Oji Paper said the amount of recycled paper in its copy and printing paper was as high as 50% when the real figure was between 5% and 10%.

The firm's envelopes contained, at most, 30% of recycled paper, although consumers had been led to believe it was as high as 70%. Some products contained no recycled material at all.

"We had let the ratio of recycled paper fall amid rising shipments while the amount of recycled paper did not grow," Oji Paper's president, Kazuhisa Shinoda, told reporters in Tokyo."

The Guardian-

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ark Assembly Instruction

Italy has been the sources of some really clever advertising meant to promote global warming awareness.

Copy reads: Global warming is bringing us closer to a catastrophe of biblical proportions. Let’s make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

Advertised brand: Global warming Effects
Advert title: Ark Instructions
Advertising Agency: Unbranded Communication, Milan, Italy
Creative Director: Gianluca Ghezzi
Art Director: Manuela Valtolina
Copywriter: Elia Canteri
Illustrator: Manuela Valtolina

Thursday, January 10, 2008

19 million = 766 million

"19 million people living in New York State have the same carbon footprint as 766 million people living in the world’s 50 poorest countries."

Source: UN

Cindy Gallup on Planning for Good and Agencies Doing Good

Cindy Gallup, the current chair of The Talent Business, Americas and the former head of BBH in the US, was a guest at the recent Evening of Goodness in New York. We asked her what she thought about PFG and the overall idea of agencies and brands doing good. Here is her response.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What's your consumption level?

There's an excellent piece in the NY Times today by Jared Diamond, the author of Guns, Germs and Steel and all-around expert in the dynamics of societies. He talks about some of the issues behind climate change and explains the underlying reason why we need to reduce our consumption. Much of it comes down to the difference in consumption rates between first-world and third-world nations. 

In the 'west' we consume resources at 32 times the rate of people in the third world. Each one of us consumes in a day the same resources, and creates the same waste, that 32 Indonesians or Kenyans do.
The problem, of course, is that third-world economies are quickly catching up, and the goal for many people in those countries is to reach a 'western' level of consumption. But if the whole world started consuming at our inflated rates, it would be the equivalent to having 72 billion people on the planet at today's consumption rates. And we're having trouble sustaining things as is. 

But it's patronizing and insulting to ask those economies to forgo a goal which we already enjoy. So the challenge is really how do we find a way to stabilize worldwide consumption -  reducing our consumption to a level to which they can grow. This makes it sound like we need to undertake radical sacrifices, but Diamond points out something important - resource consumption is not really tied to standard of living. Our consumption patterns are so wasteful that we could cut them in half and not notice a difference.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Election 2008

Why is no one asking the climate question?