Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When social meets sustainability...the LITTERATI movement


Everyone wants to make it big in social.  And as we think about the spectrum that is social business there are many ways to make it.  You can be bold in your idea by serving everyone.  You can fill a gap that others don’t see.  You business can focus on being for the consumer directly as successes like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are.  You can focus on driving to create a solution that helps businesses serve their customers or partners like social listening or social marketing platforms do.  No matter how you slice it all these ideas contribute to connectivity in the world of business and between individuals.  But where is the social change.  Yes, Twitter has successfully innovated its way into this idea with the mobilization of people towards events like the Arab Spring.  These are I believe unintended consequences of brilliant and innovative applications of a novel invention.  But where is the effort to pinpoint the greater good in your social solution.  They are out there I guess…Kickstarter helps microdonate to inventors, but in reality this is another form of venture capital for products that in most cases are about getting rich.  And by the way there is nothing wrong with getting rich while doing good, just look at my hero Gary Hirschberg, owner of Stonyfield Farms, he uses his wealth to do good.

Recently I came across a concept that is bigger than us all.  I had the privilege of seeing my very old friend Jeff Kirschner a few weeks back.  Jeff and I grew up together and knew each other as mutual acquaintances who ended up together all throughout high school.  It so happens he and I live about 20 minutes apart now.  In the interest of seeing my past, we met to catch up.  After the perfunctory where have you been discussion (which I cherish greatly), we started to talk about his new idea. 

It is called Litterati.  (Litterati.org)

What is Litterati?  It is more than a merely a brilliant idea.  It is a movement waiting to happen.  And the story of how it came about was as fascinating as what it is trying to do.  Jeff shared with me that one day he was jogging on a trail with his daughter when they came across a full jug of cat litter sitting on a hill.  As they stood there in the Oakland hills taking a breather, his daughter looked at him and said, “Daddy…that doesn’t belong there does it?”  As he stood there looking at the jug of cat litter, he thought to himself how wrong it was.  After pausing for a few moments he looked back at his daughter and replied, “No, it doesn’t”.  And rather than do what most of us would do, which is simply move on about our day disgusted at the callousness of some idiot for putting it there, Jeff went deeper.  He looked at his daughter, he looked at the jug, he thought about the future and he picked it up.  He took it off the hill and removed it from where it stood.

I bet you are thinking right about now, so what?  He did what any tree hugger would do.  He removed the trash, cursed the idiot for doing it and was a change agent in the way we wonder if a tree falling in the forest makes any noise if no one is around.  But that is not simply what he did.  He took it farther.  Way farther.  Before he picked up that cat litter jug, he got nutty…real nutty.  He pulled out his phone.  He booted up instagram and took a picture of it before he picked it up.  And after taking that picture he created a new hashtag; #Litterati.

The Litterati Concept

Why was this step so important?  Because at that moment he started a socially conscience movement that requires engaged and connected activity.  You see, after he picked up that jug of litter, Jeff took it upon himself to pick up 10 pieces of trash a day using the same process; find, shoot, tweet, move on.
Why am I writing about this?  Because Jeff Kirschner is challenging all of you MEO’s to be a MEO for the planet.  He is asking anyone who will listen to change their behavior and rather than simply walk by the trash and throw it away to mark it down socially.  Why?  Because if we all changed our behavior a little bit, we could actually map the trash.  We could map all of it.  It would take the stupid concept of geo-caching to new heights.  And if you ever met a geo-cacher you’ve met one too many. Their never ending quest to find small vials in the weirdest place like behind the toilet in a chick fila restaurant, you know what commitment to an social idea can be.  We could know where people are being responsible versus irresponsible.  I mean for crying out loud we stop and tweet the stupidest personal moments to the world hoping to be noticed and listened to.  And frankly people care about when Kim Kardashian gets a smoothie.  Why can’t we care enough to call out where the trash is?  Why can’t we take it upon ourselves to bend over to take a picture rather than snap it standing up?  Why is taking a moment to do something you know is right AND leverage technologies’ ability to know where you did so hard?  It seems simple…but it requires change.  So I ask you…why can’t you get engaged in help the Litterati movement?

You have all changed your behavior to live inwardly on your phone, why not take a moment to live outwardly by noticing when some jerk has littered the planet?  Why not help us know where it is, how much is in certain places so we can all put it where it is supposed to be?  And rather than be a do-gooder no one pays attention to, we can be a do-gooder who is trying to socially connect everyone to the needs our Earth is crying out for; attention.

I believe Don King summed it up best in the 80’s film Head Office when he said (paraphrasing) his big idea was not about white power…it wasn’t about black power….it was about GREEEEN power (skip the part about money).  I am talking about geometric progression...2, 4, 6, 8, 16 the numbers boggle the mind...All he was asking was people get off the dime and get the show on the road.   Now he was talking about money, but the idea still stands and frankly makes sense.

And who would ever think that Don King would be a visionary of why we must all embrace Jeff Kirschner’s epiphany on that hill and the birth of a movement called Litterati.org.

You can see Don’s most legendary moment on film here…(LINK)

Enjoy the DON….listen to his wisdom…help do your part to save the plant one photo of trash at a time.

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