Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Grace and favours

Today, Emma and I were on the way back from a JunkkYard mission for our own benefit, and we are now the proud owners (well, as these things seem to work out, custodians) of a perfectly good 3 drawer filing cabinet that was destined for the skip until we got wind of it. The system works!
Anyway, on our way back through Ross High Street we noticed a book signing event at one of our local organic food stores, and decided to drop by in our capacity as journalists. The author in question was Janey Lee Grace (who, amongst many other things, graces R2's Steve Wright show) and she was there to promote her book, 'imperfectly natural woman'.

It was a more than worthwhile stopover, in many ways, as she proved to be a lovely, approachable woman, and it was a pleasure to spend a few moments in her company. We'll certainly be happy to give her a slot on our diRE:ctory, and having succumbed to her charms I bought a copy which we will be reviewing soon for a news feature.
We were also pleased to find that she was very interested in Junkk.com, and thought it was a great idea! Hopefully something she will share with her colleagues back at the radio station. We have been trying to break into the London PR/media club with a notable lack of success to date, and this could well be the break that we were looking for.
She also was kind enough to write some nice things in the cover, which we'll add to our collection of testimonials.
So, all in all, it was a a most rewarding exchange, and I'd like to think mutually. And with our Ideal Home Show fast approaching, the timing could not have been much better to make the most of such a nice opportunity.
Speaking of which, there are a few more rather wonderful developments to report on when I can grab the time.

Building Blocks

I've never been quite sure of the actual value of memberships of business bodies. The benefits have always seemed a little less than those promised, especially when weighed against the costs of participation, which can run from free to a few hundred £ a year. There is also the small matter of time commitments (getting to events, etc), but you can get out a lot if you put in some well-directed efforts.

Being part of the Chamber of Commerce certainly didn't hurt in our being helped by Business Link to initiate Junkk.com. But I have to say I have ceased to go to many of their breakfast meetings any more, as there are only so many life coaches, bank managers and teenage web developers I can face paying £15 and getting up at 6am to drive 20 miles to meet.

But there is no subsitute at our stage for networking (and what could be a more tangible example than our fortcoming exhibitions stands). And one organisation that is bearing fruit is by our being a member of the FPB. And as what goes around comes around, I happily promote them here.

Making it happen took a lot of persistence and work on both sides, but it has resulted in the following feature. Not bad, even if we do say so ourselves.

And it has kinda of snowballed, bringing in many other stands. For instance, we were immediately contacted by another member, Melanie Murrell of Innotec, and as a result a truly delightful and ever-evolving synergy has developed.

Her company have a product which essentially enables the repair of pretty much any plastics. And with a vast number of items made from plastic being discarded unnecessarily due to relatively minor, repairable damage, you can imagine how excited we were simply to feature them as a re:source on Junkk.com.

And now it has already developed much further. For the one month duration of the show we have been keen to 'feature' Junkk.com diRE:ctory clients, and we're pleased that Melanie is keen to come on board and arrange some demos.

The show organisers are very keen on our message of re:pair and re:use (even higher up the re:tree than re:cycling), and have already expressed an interest in our 'product' range for some PR events, including their Green Catwalk show on press day.

Hence Melanie is teaming up with us to try and make a gob-smacking demo model of one of my latest ideas, the Vac:Sac, which is a clamshell rucksack made out of an an old vacuum.

I'm pleased to say we are also getting many other businesses keen to be a part of our roadshow. Hopefully we'll hear from more like Melanie via the FPB. 

It's just what we'd hoped for; acting as a matchmaker between those with ways to re-something away from the landfill, and those who are looking for ideas to help the environment ... and their pockets. Better yet if we can come up with ways via the site to link complementary enterprises together.

Sticks and Stones

So the whole Danish cartoon issue ferments ever more onerously. Meanwhile fingers are being pointed. Intellects engaged and ranged in all directions. Pronouncements made. Actions taken. So much fuss... and on the part of those claiming to try and make sense of it all and/or resolve matters, so far all I can see is a bubbling pot.

It's one to which I have contributed (by submitting the wrods below to a few letters pages and blogs), but only to try and point out that most exchanges I have been exposed make it feel like being caught in the middle of artillery exchanges between those who can only see things in black and white. 

That this issue creeps into this blog is twofold. One is that so much in the world of environmental debate these days also seems to be conducted on similar lines. You are either 'for' or 'against', 'believe' or 'don't believe'. Middle ground does not exist, perhaps because it does not make for such good ratings. Which is my second concern. Those that control the media have the power to shape debate by selecting what they share or omit, not that I can see much that can be done about it.

Spoken or written words and/or images of potential offence will inevitably exist so long is there is one with lips to speak and hands to write, and another with whom they may come into contact who has ears to hear or eyes to read. Plus...

There's an important piece of context that can often be ignored when 'giving, or taking, offence' is referred to. It’s always there ready and waiting, and will be delivered freely and immediately (p&p inc.)... the minute anyone opts to seek it out and collect it. 

Failing to recognize, accept and cope with this is one thing, but to wring hands, deny or, most incredulously, try to prevent it happening (again) is up there with Canute’s tide-restraining demo. 

The threat of physical violence is another matter entirely. Words (or, in this case images) cannot harm us. But allowing even the hint of validation that they may be used as an excuse (and hence somehow should be restricted) is a far more dangerous route to opt for. Hence my disquiet at the tacit approval given in some quarters to 4x4 tyre deflation pranks. Where can this lead but further downwards?

While one could wish they had not existed, the cartoons are therefore essentially irrelevant. 

There will always be tinder available for those with a match and who seek to light a fire. So all the well-meaning efforts being expended on explanation and mitigation are simply helping fan the flames in support of those whose interests are served by this 'event' taking its course. Starve it of the oxygen it feeds upon, in the form of credibility, and it will extinguish. Until the next time. But feed it straw, and it will flare once more.