Tuesday, September 11, 2007

So good, he posted it twice!

Pop back a few posts and see one about our being on a long/shortlist for the EAST Awards. It just got a tad better....

Congratulations! Your entry from your organisation to the 2007 EAST Awards has been shortlisted by the Judging Panel for an Environmental and Sustainable Technology (EAST) Award. Once again congratulations on being shortlisted for a 2007 EAST Award from a very competitive entry list.

Paul McBride

Managing Editor

The EAST Journal

...which was nice.

Anita Roddick, R.I.P

It's a funny old world. If, perhaps, a pretty complex and often not very nice one.

When I heard of her death, I was indeed saddened at the loss of someone who by any measure did, has and will have a real impact on how the cause of capitalism and environmentalism could go hand in hand for the common good.

In fact I'd applied to a Science Museum mentor thingie with the sole aim of trying to get some advice from her on how best to do this btter (mainly the making moeny bit). Sadly, now not to be.

But is surprises me just what else there was that made up the person and her deeds. Some not always as good as others. There were many who screamed betrayal when Body Shop got swallowed by a corporate giant, but I have to say I saw no problem at all. At worst it was hers to do with as she wished, but at best she was then in a position to effect greater change from within.

What I hadn't appreciated before were some of her other activist views which, if true, I could not honestly endorse.

Do these therefore taint how she should be remembered? Well, as I often bang on, it's hard these days to dissociate the messenger from the message, and if there are... distractions... maybe they may not be the best poster persons to choose.

I think I can be Solomonesque in this case. Divorcing some of her personal views and activist activities in other areas, I'd choose to remember a small shop that went on to be a global brand, based on the notion that people could be persuaded to buy 'better' products without guilt, nannying or threat. Simply by making the option appealing.

Brand republic - Speaking well of whom

West is West, but EAST... is best!

EAST magazine is rather good. It's fun, glossy, nicely written and, oddly but generously, free ( a bit like a certain website and blog I hear you say.... er... hello?).

Now that I have got the brown-nosing out of the way, please bear in mind that I have said this only now, and not before, mainly because I was only aware of one issue and had not got around to mentioning it, along with a few thousand other worthy aspects of note, such as February's newsletter.

Anyway, my latest edition has just come in, and perusing the online PDF copy my eye alighted on the not so small matter of their recent awards. Which I had decided was worth having a go at being a) prestigious, b) got us in front of some decent judges anyway and c) was free. And I must confess I then forgot all about it.

Well, golly-gosh and cor-blimey, lookee there (well, it's too small to see, but trust me it is - or go to the magazine site and register to read in A4 glory) - who do we see as a semi-finalist? And in good company ,too.

I just hope not too good company, as the shortlisted guys get a free invite, and at £200+ I kinda need to be in there to go. Which would be nice.

Wish us luck!

Celeb pity

I thought this - Celebrity Eco-Hypocritique - was going to be another media industry sulk about how their green parties are being spoiled by grumpy old commoners not being supportive enough of whatever jolly they deem we need.

But it is actually more thoughtful than that.

And, as always, some good comments pro and con to follow.

For some reason, I was moved to pitch in:

An interesting analysis, with equally interesting posts in response.

There is a slight sense of 'damned if you do; damned if you don't..' that makes it hard not to sympathise with the motives and probable frustrations of a passionate, committed 'activist' celeb.

I really felt sorry that someone such as Bono was copping so much flak because of who he was and what he earned, whilst being a man with a view almost being required to shut up and sing.

But then ego comes into play. What if by what they are doing they are not serving the greater enviROI or indeed the most effective message? They may well be genuine and have opinions and want to speak out or even do, but there are, sorry guys, bigger factors than what they want, and especially if that somehow needs to translate into column inches or airtime.

Sadly the good of intention will get tarred by the less so, especially when the PR machine/media support systems see opportunity. I have lost count of the number of slots where some blonde or buff gets wheeled on to give us 10 seconds of cause before we move on to 'so how's the new movie?'.

We are in an era when the messenger is more important than the message, so that messenger has to be pretty squeaky clean and on message. As pointed out, with the best will in the world that's hard to do when you are making squillions and few outlets exist to spent it on are that environmentally sound. Again the 'machine' has demands. Walking to the shops, buying domestic and holidaying in the back yard are hardly the stuff of glamour magazine front pages. There's the dilemma. If that's the job, then fine, but don't ask those who not enjoying such a lifestyle not to note that and only empathise with selected aspects of what is being shared by way of example.

Bob Geldof had a rather colourful view on how much more 'awareness of the problem' that we all needed when Live Earth was in the news. I would value an objective analysis of how it did indeed serve the actual aims. Were the collective greenhouse emissions of all involved (protagonists and audience) reduced as a consequence? Was the awareness raised (of?) positively and, more importantly, call to actions embraced?

Don't know about anywhere else, but here in the UK it was not the greatest example of motivation and publicity that one could have hoped for. Especially for any plugging the causes of green.

Hence the next effort in this mould, Planet Relief, as mooted by the BBC, didn't get off the ground, to the surprise of many in the media world just waiting for all the opportunities they would have had to feed off it. And some, with spectacular sour grapes, took to blaming all but their own inability to read the public mood for its downfall.

There was even an attempt to portray this as a victory for politically-motivated, climate denier-funded campaigning. Not so. But there were many from very committed environmental standpoints who simply didn't feel that such things were very effective, and may even set the cause back. Frankly the most damage I see to the whole cause of promoting a 'greener' lifestyle are those unelected, self-appointed spokespersons who for too long have enjoyed an un-earned position to tell 'us' what's good for us and, worse, brook no critique whatsoever. These days any doubts on the efficacy of some green scheme that may not be all it is claimed, especially when vindicated, are usually met with accusations in the same way the cry of '-ist' was thrown around in earlier times.

Interestingly, the BBC has cited the main reason for pulling Planet Relief was fact that their audience - the nation's Joe & Jill Average - had fed back that rather than another green elite party they'd really prefer balanced information on what's going on, and ways to cope within already pressurised calls on time and budget.

Why does a celeb NEED a private jet? They are cash rich and time poor. But if that's necessary to manage the demands of their chosen lifestyle, when it comes to how that example plays out then maybe they need to reassess, with their managers, their personal values of what is 'enough'. Make a few less movies, go on fewer tours... and don't earn as many millions as last year. Stay at home more. Travel slower. Buy better stuff and not only the latest and glitziest just because you can.

You'll set a better example and maybe even enjoy life more. And rather than issuing press release about it via your people, let it be simply found out about and appreciated by getting 'out there' organically rather than stuffing it down other folk's throats as part of a rounded CV.

Living a more eco lifestyle is, for now, a mostly more expensive choice and/or in complement a less income-acquisitive one. Many don't have the luxury of limitless funds to match up to what some can afford to do with chump change. Do it, fine. Let it be shared, well, ok. Preach from a shaky pedestal... fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

A guy took exception, and unfortunately in a rather selective manner that also embraced the 'brook no criticism' stance that I find very tiresome. I had to reply:

Who is tearing who down? This seems a rather grotesque - and all too common - knee-jerk dismissal to the notion of simply asking any questions on the efficacy of certain aspects of promoting environmental good practice. Plus having an opinion.

As it happens, I think that Leo seems to be one of the more substantial 'celebrities' trying to make their mark under the difficult, but realistic spotlight that has been acknowledged.

Then again, to those who don't fly so much, and usually if we do once a year in cattle class, taking 'A' trip to Europe by commercial air came across as a tad... unfortunate as a comeback. Though the question, in the spirit of things at the time, was not very nice. But that... is the reality of the system. So understand it to play it to best advantage.

I guess I am keen on making a change, but I do wonder who else with green intentions is simultaneously trying to 'destroy' whose.... own leaders? I think I missed that election.

As to real points, I did sit in a [demographically sensitive location definition deleted] with 20 of my [demographically sensitive group definition deleted] chums who tolerate what I bang on about all the time. The result was that the concert set back my efforts. They didn't buy it and thought the way it was set up was silly. It seemed to give 'em a good excuse to revert to more profligate ways as 'those that are telling [them] how to behave' seemed to be doing so from a 'not us, of course, that wouldn't be practical to do our jobs' camp'. Some business persons not in the ents/media world do need to travel to stay employed, too. So who is left? It's a tough sell to some poor family looking at a guilt-tripped (there's an idea for a travel agent) 2 weeks a year in the sun to be fed 'Here's XX in her designer T an entourage at such and such a camp in 'Exotic place 101', especially when combo'd with their latest kid-buying sleepover in a 5* resort a world away down the road.

You may have a different experience. That was mine and it influenced my view on this as a mechanism of change.

As to only supporting uncritically those who do pollute and depend on us to use them to do so, I'm afraid I will need to remain in favour of phased reduction.

I can recommend Leo Hickman's book, Final Call, which does a good job of looking at the issues surrounding 'our' need and/or desire to travel, but also as quickly as possible. More efficient engines are indeed a worthy instrument of mitigation and delay, and I am sure will allow more of a movement to commercial craft that can offer the necessary facilities to lure some from 'going private'.