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Viral Environmentalism: Day 1

So here's the plan, I'm going to share one lesson each day for the next 365 days.  These lessons will range in type and feel from the highly educational to the highly motivational just like my lessons in the classroom.  My plea to you is to share my articles.  You need not agree with my message in full as I'm rarely or ever completely right, but my hope is that you will find something in these articles worth hearing, discussing, and sharing.  If you do, tweet them, share them, like them, post them, or read them aloud on the street.   I don't care, but in the process invite those who you share them with to follow this blog.  One year from today I'm going to take a look at how many people are following or have "Liked" this blog and then count them among the converted.  By so doing, I'll know whether it is possible for one person to beat the exponential odds.  Is it possible to grow an environmental ethic fast enough to make a difference?

Do you ever wonder why?  Why buy organic?  Why purchase fair trade?  Why support small-scale artisans?  Why Bother?  That is precisely what my students want to know.  After hearing all term about environmental destruction, endless treadmills of consumption, and why its so hard to do anything about any of it; my students need an answer to "why bother".  The answer I share with them is not mine, at least not all mine.  I ask them to read Michael Pollan's 2008 New York Times article with the same name, "Why Bother".  You'll have to read his article yourself to really get a sense of his answer in full, but here is a part.

One of the ways Pollan suggests we might make a difference is through the process of viral environmentalism.  I was first introduced to the idea a few years back by a professor of mine, Jonathan Foley at the University of Wisconsin.  Ultimately his lesson was rather grim.  He pointed out what Pollan does in his article, which is that no matter how fast I "convert" students and friends to my message, a larger number of people are born every day who won't hear it.  Ultimately despite how fast I teach or how many policies I help review, I get further behind by the day as new warm bodies are added to the planet.  That assumption, however, is grounded in the belief that my reach (and yours) is additive.  So, for example, if I manage to convince 80 of my 140 students this term to stop using plastic bags at the grocery store then I have added 80 people to the "converted" list.  If human population growth is exponential, then ultimately my additive process is just too slow!

So, as I lectured today on why my students should bother, I had a thought...how do I make the messages I share viral?  How do I beat the curve and beat the odds by abandoning the additive educational model, embrace the terrifying world of viral marketing, and launch an environmentally themed viral social marketing scheme?  The answer, which probably seems to you pretty obvious (but I'm a bit slow), was to marry my day job and my night job.  By day I'm a professor, by night I run an internet retail business and online community, the latter of which is designed very intentionally with viral marketing potential.

So here's the plan, I'm going to share one lesson each day for the next 365 days.  These lessons will range in type and feel from the highly educational to the highly motivational just like my lessons in the classroom.  My plea to you is to share my articles.  You need not agree with my message in full as I'm rarely or ever completely right, but my hope is that you will find something in these articles worth hearing, discussing, and sharing.  If you do, tweet them, share them, like them, post them, or read them aloud on the street.   I don't care, but in the process invite those who you share them with to follow this blog.  One year from today I'm going to take a look at how many people are following or have "Liked" this blog and then count them among the converted.  By so doing, I'll know whether it is possible for one person to beat the exponential odds.  Is it possible to grow an environmental ethic fast enough to make a difference?

So, where this will go?  I do not know.  But my mind is racing and my heart is full.  Over the years I've produced a lot of research and a lot of writing that has had an audience no larger than the size of my file cabinet.  I don't want to do that again.  It hurts.  So, lets see what these tools we've created can do to better the world we live in.  Lets see if I can't use the internet and social media to share a message more meaningful than the absurd video games I'm constantly invited to play online.  Lets see if the world isn't ready for a future in which children and flowers can grow together.

Vincent M. Smith

  • http://www.silentsprings.com Vincent Smith

    Wow, thanks Emily. I'm so glad they are showing up around the internet!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/emilyblesse Emily Blesse

    I found this post randomly on a google search and your idea is really cool! Your classes were always full of interesting info/stories, and I'm sure the blogs the same. :) looking forward to reading more.

  • http://www.silentsprings.com/blog silentsprings

    Myra,

    Glad to hear it! Hopefully we can offer lots more food for thought!

  • Myra R

    what a great idea! it makes me keep wanting to come back to check out the posts every day!

  • http://www.silentsprings.com/blog silentsprings

    Thanks Sage. We look forward to your comments.

  • http://sageadderley.blogspot.com/ Sage

    I love this idea and look forward to your posts!

  • http://ratsandmore.com Amanda Tempel

    What an awesome idea!

  • http://www.mommatandbabye.com Trisha G.

    What a great idea and sounds interesting!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vincent.m.smith.3 Vincent M. Smith

    Thanks for subscribing. I look forward to your comments!

  • http://www.healthybabybeans.com Clancy Harrison MS, RD, LDN

    This is wonderful information. I love it.

  • Jennifer Clay

    Very interesting series. Can't wait to read more!! Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheFrugalGreenishMama The Frugal Greenish Mama

    I think this is an awesome idea and great to get the information out there! Everyone has to start somewhere and then watch it grow! I hope this to be one of the first of many visits to your site!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ffoster Flora Foster

    Shared, and subscribed, thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.croisant Kimberly Croisant Mommieagain

    Spreading the word for a friend.

  • http://www.jdaniel4smom.com JDaniel4's Mom

    This sounds like a wonderful series!

  • http://www.silentsprings.com Vincent Smith

    Thanks Jenn! We appreciate the comment & feedback!

  • http://www.silentsprings.com Vincent Smith

    Thanks for the support!

  • http://organic-mama.ca Jenn

    Shared & looking forward to reading more!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tamara.g.smith.9 Tamara Galbraith Smith

    Happy to be the first to share Vince's new campaign to spread the word on healthier lifestyles and greening the future!

  • http://mamapapabarn.blogspot.com/ Christine @ Mama Papa Barn

    Thanks for letting us not agree :) I know that even your partner (ie, my husband) can disagree with one's green opinions.

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