Thursday, October 26, 2006

Limited UnLtd.

Well, that's one Press Release I don't have to write, I guess.

Just back to a letter saying I was not going to get the money I'd applied for from the UnLtd. Millennium Awards Trust (the Guardian thing, or maybe not).

I'm obviously more than disappointed, but not too surprised.

It started so well. A fund that was designed to encourage social entrepreneurship. Better yet, with the money apparently not meant for buying kit or consultants, but supposedly to be paid directly to the individual in recognition that to start such enterprises takes time and effort which can eat in to earning a living with the day job.

I guess I should have seen what was coming. For a start having been vetted through the first round, I was required to take a whole day off to be briefed on making the application. Fair enough. But having fought my way up to Birmingham, I was less than thrilled to spend most of the day sitting watching a guy read his own PowerPoint presentation out to us. Even less so that all the topics had already been covered in the forms I'd submitted to get through the first round. But hey ho, met a few nice folk and had a free lunch. Whatever floats their box-ticking boat and consumes the money they cream off to fund the office, directors, pensions, etc, to dole this largesse out.

The most encouraging part was actually at the start of the day, when the big cheese leapt in to make his speech, which was suitably 'ra-ra', but did end with him saying that any of us who had commissioned professional awards application consultants should fire them now.. 'because we want to get a feel for the real you'. As a creative person struggling in a sea of suits and red tape, this was music to my ears.

It was also a load of b*****cks.

I was actually impressed and grateful that we got to pre-submit our application to assess whether it was pushing the requisite buttons. Except that it was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. If I was from Mars, the guy at the other end was from Uranus. He just couldn't see where I was coming from and I certainly couldn't see how he could not see what I saw as obvious. Friends in the corporate world tried to help, and certainly must have improved matters from my original: 'It's too passionate'. 'It's so you, but without knowing you that might put the men in grey off'. Fair do's. But I thought they wanted the real me.

They didn't. I have had my 'Dear Peter' letter. Several days work down the tubes.

I write this to vent, but also to make note to investigate further on all these cash sinks on the public purse. What is supported? Why? What happens to the money?

It's not really sour grapes. I just wanted the dough. And the PR would have been good on top.

But I'm afraid what really pushed my buttons was the cc'd form letter 'that recognised all the hard work' and 'to assist with future applications outlined the reasons I was not successful':

'The project proposal does not demonstrate that it has the potential to become sustainable or that significant social impact or social change will be delivered.

As to the former, I am just starting out and need help. That is why I am applying. I could lie through my teeth but gave my best shot at what had happened and could happen. Looking at others who have succeeded, and some that will doubtless get this grant, I can only wonder at the level of awards and major media coverage they will get that we already are, along with unique visitors in the hundreds of thousands.

As to the latter, this statement makes as much sense as the one that was used in the rejection letter from a Creative Innovation award from our early days: 'You are trying to do something that has not been proven before, in a way that we could not fully grasp', ie: too creatively innovative.

And what, precisely, could be any more socially significant, impactful and changing than getting the general public on board with re:using stuff to save the planet because they want to, as opposed to recycling because they're forced or shamed to?


Conspicuous Consumer Consumption

BBC Newsnight got into the whole 4x4xfarce issue last night with a piece that was pretty cynical about the motivations and the maths used by councils and enviro-advocates of the parking policy. I of course had add to my previous post and weigh in:

"Interesting piece. And some interesting facts. Shame these days I have no way of knowing which are true. Is the enviro-cost of making a new car 5% or 25%? That's a heck of a span to try and factor into a running, e-cost & purchase decision. As to the parking plan, let me get this straight. The proposal is to tax the vehicle, which may be moving, but most likely more often than not won't be. Meanwhile, there will be no disincentive for buzzing about all day using a 'green' vehicle, say an electric car, much beloved of many an authoritative spokesperson, which apparently 'causes no pollution'. Only the exhaust pipe is in another place, and the 'fuel' transfer system is not awfully efficient. And if I am convinced, and can find the funds for a new car (not all of us can drum up a Prius' worth - and as a country/motorway driver lugging a battery around doesn't seem optimal anyway- that quickly), where exactly does my perfectly good old car end up? I rather suspect it will still be used elsewhere, still popping CO2 skywards somewhere on the planet (though on my reuse website someone did once suggest turning them into saunas. I wonder if that's where Ming's, Dave's and all the other Gov-guzzlers ended up?) So now we've generated an extra car and both are belching out greenhouse gasses. Brilliant. ps: This is not anti-environment. Anything but. I just want to know the truth so I can make the best decisions for myself, my family and the planet."

A Better Mousetrap?

I'm rather chuffed with myself. And, more importantly, with

I was in the kitchen last night making a cuppa, and as the kettle boiled I looked at the plug, the socket, the device I've been making out of old milk bottles for my Mum... and then back at the milk bottle.

With pride, I introduce the Plug:Jug. It even has colour coding courtesy of the lid.

Evolution is a wonderful thing. Shame I can't make money out of it.