by Jessica Quiney

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

― Bill Drayton, Leading Social Entrepreneurs Changing the World

The effectiveness of different types of aid are explored and discussed by Dambisa Moyo in ‘Dead Aid’. She explains that when a charity raises money for mosquito nets to be sent to a country like Sierra Leone, this practical act of charity can sometimes be highly destructive. The local net maker may go out of business as demand for his craft plummets due to the surge of free nets (subsequently he and his workers will fail their dependants); their net making skills will not be passed on and so when inevitable wear and tear causes holes there will be no one to mend the damage; and, if no parallel education is provided, it is highly probable that the donated nets will simply not even be used.

One for Argentina!

by Michael Mazzaferro on July 15, 2014

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Hours before last Sunday’s World Cup final between Germany and Argentina, I received an inspiring email from Mario, my son Carlo’s soccer coach.  I have known this fine man for years, and I have always been impressed by his deep passion for both the sport and his native national team, Argentina.

You see, I am an American soccer fan.  I played soccer as a kid through high school, learning the sport in the late 60’s from Tony Crupi, one of the best Italian teachers you could ever hope for.  While I have some field creds when it comes to futbol  -  I was co-captain of my high school soccer team, I organized a kids league in my hometown in the 70’s, I broke my leg (2 bones, 3 places) playing the game when I was 29, and I was a sideline fixture (and linesman)  at my son’s and daughter’s weekend youth soccer games – truth be told, I was never really THAT good.  I still do not know all the rules (I lean on the Brits in the office for such details).

Even so, most of my friends view me as the “expert.”  I’m the “go to” person when someone has a question about soccer.  And yet when someone has a question about futbol, I know I am out of my league.

Language matters.  Talking soccer is very different than talking futbol.

Mi Earthship Es Su Earthship

by Mckenzie Earley on July 14, 2014

If you talk with me long enough, you will discover my unfaltering excitement for design and architecture approaches that offer self-sustenance and a harmonious relationship with natural systems.  Given the earth’s track record of resiliency, I figure that mimicking and complementing biological processes simply makes sense.  My passion in this area was ignited by Garbage Warrior, which showcases the saga of Earthship Biotecture founder Michael Reynolds.

Reynolds’ Earthships popularized design approaches such as making use of nature’s cycles and showed that using “scrap” building materials, or those that are conventionally considered waste, can result in beautiful and comfortable modern homes.  Such bio-conscious architecture presents the idea that a building does not need to be a box in which you exist and deplete resources, but rather, a sub-ecosystem that actively creates nutrients and promotes the well-being of humans and the environment.  (Also see: The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability–Designing for Abundance.)  Common building materials for Earthships include old car tires for insulation, condensed plastic bottles for bricks, and gorgeous colored glass-bottles for stained glass.  Earthships include systems like thermal/solar heating and cooling, solar and wind electricity, water harvesting, and contained sewage treatment.  They take on a variety of appearances from modern to funky with the core commonality of integrating our homes into the environment, not separating them from it

Life and Death

by Annie Longsworth on July 10, 2014

Driving home from a friend’s 4th of July celebration last week, my 12-year old son suddenly asked, “What do you think is the worst way to die?” This question quickly led to a furious argument between his father, his sister and him about the various pros and cons of being smooshed between two buildings, an alien invasion, being stabbed in your sleep by your child (should I be worried?), and drowning in jello.

As I thought about it later, I realized that while all of those scenarios sound pretty unpleasant, the worst thing I can imagine is dying from something I can take steps to prevent like lung or skin cancer. I am not expecting guarantees – we all have personal evidence that cancer doesn’t discriminate – but certainly smoking a pack a day or skipping sunscreen would add serious regret to an already unhappy diagnosis.

What I can guarantee is that we, as a society, are going to regret not taking more action faster to slow and prevent further climate change, which is already the cause of more than 150,000 deaths each year. Between heat related illnesses, major weather events and a disrupted food supply, poor air quality and lack of clean water, it’s not hard to imagine a bitter and unpleasant decline to human life.

It sounds trite but I hope we all agree there’s an awful lot to live for, like, for example, the next philosophical question that a tween might pose. Perhaps it will be something like “Is there anything in the world that everyone agrees on?” I’d say yes: life.

Excited about the upcoming holiday weekend, I asked my colleagues what came to mind when they think about July 4th celebrations. Anticipating that most will respond with “Beer” “BBQ” or “Fireworks,” I thought of writing a blog post about “hosting a sustainable July 4th celebration.” However, I failed to recognize the creative minds of my colleagues, many of whom shared some very fun feedback.

 

In the spirit of celebration, I have decided to share what my lovely colleagues sent to me. I will also make a recommendation for how they can instill sustainability into their July 4th traditions. I hope you are inspired by this and think about how you can infuse a little bit of green into your red, white and blue.

Saatchi & Saatchi S Create & Impact

What if 20% of all trips made in San Francisco were done by bicycle? This is the goal that SF Bicycle Coalition is working to achieve by the year 2020.

We learned this and much more last Friday, June 27th for our team’s Create & Impact Day. For the month of June, agencies throughout the Pubilicis Groupe network around the world are encouraged to take action by participating in initiatives that create and have an impact towards sustainable living.

Bicycling as a form of transportation offers a host of benefits that impact the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit:

Water Your Vegetable Garden, Not Your Toilet

by Mckenzie Earley on June 25, 2014
Full Harvest Urban Farm, Oakland, CA

Full Harvest Urban Farm, Oakland, CA

A couple of weekends ago, I attended an all-day workshop called ‘The Good Sh*t: Water-Less Compost Toilet Installation’ held at Full Harvest Urban Farm in Oakland, CA.  The farm is at a residential home led by a couple who champion educating “black and brown community members” to revisit their roots and to develop a relationship with their food and environment.  Karissa Lewis, the farm’s Executive Director, explained that members work to disengage with the misconception that people of color do not understand nutrition and to show that cherishing the earth’s harvest is focal to their ancestry.  Their one acre space is a beacon of resiliency and community that has four yurts, solar panels, a plant nursery, a pond, and free-range animals—ducks, chickens who rest in the trees at night, goats, and a pig named Pumba.

The focus of the day was to install a water-less compost toilet, and prior to the installation, Movement Generation and DIG Cooperative shared insights on the origin of sewage systems in Western culture, challenges of inspiring the adoption of a water-less method, and emergence of ecological and social consequences tied to sewage.

Supporting Local: Learnings from BALLE 2014

by Naomi Fukuda on June 19, 2014

Last week I was fortunate to join 600 local advocates, social enterprises, municipal leaders and small business owners as they came together in Oakland, California for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies – BALLE 2014 Conference. Over the inspiring three days we saw examples of disenfranchisement, complexity as well as stunning collaboration.

BALLE focuses solely around small and locally owned businesses as the main drivers for resilient economies – and for good reason. Businesses that are locally owned translate three times as much economic benefit back to the local economy. That economic benefit can come in the form of direct and indirect local job creation and wages, local procurement and local philanthropy. So, please do buy local!

However, it isn’t realistic for every product or service to be made locally – and since businesses that don’t accommodate local ownership are our current reality, I would like to consider what non-local businesses can do.

How might  non-local or big business authentically and meaningfully  contribute to the places in which they operate and to the people that live there?

Wearable-tech1

Picture Source: http://www.axon-it.com/blog/2014/01/21/wearable-tech-versus-social-acceptability/

There’s been a lot of talk about big data lately, but it’s the tiny data you should keep your eye on. There’s a movement afoot to measure, track and analyze micro data about individuals. The concept is not new: people have been collecting data on themselves to improve decision-making for years. However, there’s been a rapid development in wearable technologies that is enabling the collection of vast amounts of personal data in real time and often with little to no effort by individuals. This is mainstreaming the phenomenon and leading to a burgeoning movement – and marketplace – around the idea of the quantified self.

Such easy access to personal data offers the opportunity to create powerful feedback loops for individuals to better understand how their behaviors impact themselves and others and make adjustments based on it. However as the movement continues to evolve, it’s hard to decipher which applications will be most useful and have sticking power over the long run. To this end, I find myself asking a few critical questions as I follow this trend, ‘What data do I really want? Will it make a difference for me? And I am going to look stupid wearing this thing?’

To explore these questions, I rounded-up a few interesting and cutting-edge wearables that are piquing my interest as we hurdle towards a more quantified you.

#SB14sd Day Three: Regenerate

by Daniel Jacobs on June 6, 2014

Regenerate

 

The 2014 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego has three distinct words suspended above the stage each day: Reimagine, Redesign and Regenerate. Given that it’s a 3 day event, I thought it would make sense to try and look at each on a separate day as I sum up my learnings.

Today’s topic: Regenerate.

#SB14sd Day Two: Redesign

by Daniel Jacobs on June 4, 2014

redesign

The 2014 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego has three distinct words suspended above the stage each day: Reimagine, Redesign and Regenerate. Given that it’s a 3 day event, I thought it would make sense to try and look at each on a separate day as I sum up my learnings.

Today’s topic: Redesign.

#SB14sd Day One: Reimagine

by Daniel Jacobs on June 4, 2014
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Saatchi S CEO Annie Longsworth (right) meets a giraffe (left)

The 2014 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego has three distinct words suspended above the stage each day: Reimagine, Redesign and Regenerate. Given that it’s a 3 day event, I thought it would make sense to try and look at each on a separate day as I sum up my learnings.

First up, Reimagine.

Five Reasons to Pedal for the Planet

by Rochelle Lee on May 29, 2014

Climate_Ride_Capital

For those of you who read Daniel’s blog post, you know that I returned last week from the California Climate Ride. It was a truly irresistible experience and there’s no doubt that I will be participating again. Very little has felt more empowering than riding up to the capital building in Sacramento at the end of a 250 mile journey, knowing that we had collectively raised over half a million dollars (a Climate Ride record!) for bike advocacy and sustainability. Through our participation in Climate Ride, each of us have been able to demonstrate on both a community and state-wide level that cycling is a critical solution to climate change.

I’m hoping to convince as many people as I can to join one of the rides. Here are five reasons why you should consider participating in next year’s California, NYC-DC, or Midwest Climate Ride:

Don’t Buy This Car? If You Say So, Fiat.

by Kelly Petrich on May 23, 2014
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Picture Source: Autoexpress.co.uk, http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/fiat/500/61635/fiat-500e-pictures/page/8/0

A few years back, Patagonia released a provocative ad campaign where they implored consumers, “Don’t Buy this Jacket.” It was a compelling strategy urging people to reduce their purchases and opt for reusing and recycling items through their newly established Common Threads marketplace on eBay.

Based on their success, I figured Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was taking a page out of the Patagonia playbook this week when he requested people to please don’t buy the Fiat 500e. However upon a closer look, it turns out I was wrong.  Sergio really doesn’t want you to buy one. This seems a bit odd coming from the head honcho but apparently Fiat is losing money hand over fist on these cars because it isn’t able to sell them at a high enough price point in the U.S.

This is disappointing to hear since I’ve just recently been touting the irresistibility of the 500e environmentallysexy ads.  It’s a great example of a fun, humorous and engaging digital campaign that draws a consumer into the positive benefits of the car without leading with a traditional responsibility-laden ‘green’ message.

Getting Wheely Excited About Climate Action

by Daniel Jacobs on May 20, 2014
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Image courtesy of SLO County Bicycle Coalition via flickr

 

I have long since believed that sports plays an important role in society. Many of my greatest learnings have come as a result of participating in, coaching, or watching sports. Sports foster a sense of belonging, of cultural heritage and generational storytelling, of personal confidence, of leadership, of appreciation of teamwork and how your actions can impact others to help achieve something far bigger than yourself.

In a future blog, I will talk about the power that athletes and owners, that fans and sponsors wield simply as a result of their association. Later.

For now, I’m going to take this blog a little closer to home.

“Cum Laude”

by Michael Mazzaferro on May 16, 2014

Georgetown

 

“Cum Laude”, Georgetown University, for effectively communicating a user-friendly
sustainability message that is both actionable and culturally relevant.

 

Catalyzing the Sharing Economy- Peers.org Dives Deep

by Jessica Appelgren on May 16, 2014

 

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The Sharing Economy, as represented at this week’s SHARE conference co-hosted by Peers.org and SOCAP, is still in the wild west days of a movement.

At the two day conference held in San Francisco in a record heat wave, my Saatchi & Saatchi S colleagues and I were able to hear about the benefits and the challenges that organizations and companies across the space are facing when it comes to this “adolescence phase” of the industry.

leo

Although I do not stay up-to-date on celebrity gossip, I will certainly turn my head when I hear about an actor or artist vocalizing their support for issues that are important to them.  I recognize that many people tend to emulate their idols’ behavior, which is why I value celebrities who make the most of their podium.  Leonardo DiCaprio is no exception.

In fact, I consider him at the top of the celeb list of those who should be appreciated for making environmental issues resonate with supporters.  The extent to which he advocates for the well-being of our planet is telling of authenticity, intellect, and compassion.

City Hall

 

Las Vegas City Hall, entrance to the building lined with solar trees

Photo courtesy of TimDan2, Flickr

 

Have you been to Vegas recently? I was there recently and had the opportunity to experience a very different side of the city.  Las Vegas has traditionally been known for excess, indulgence and consumption (read: drinking, partying and gambling), however “Sin City” is starting to become a model for sustainable development. On the strip, casinos are heavily investing resources to drive efforts in green building, water conservation, recycling and community involvement. In downtown Las Vegas, city officials are committed to create a tighter community bond through environmental programs that will benefit local residents and building public parks and recreational spaces to bring them together.  And, happily, Saatchi & Saatchi S client Caesars Entertainment is helping to lead the change.

5 Steps to True Innovation

by Henry Simonds on May 1, 2014
Photo by Becky Stern via Flickr

Photo by Becky Stern via Flickr

‘New and improved’ just isn’t what it used to be. The long hope of a hover board promised to me by Marty McFly and Doc Brown doesn’t look set to hit the shops next year as predicted. I must say I am a little disappointed.

People are getting weary of empty innovations (think iPhone 5S – the same but with snazzy fingerprint recognition).  And it isn’t just empty or inconsequential upgrades that describe the state of innovation these days. Just a quick skim of the data shows the number of patent applications have fallen steadily since their peak in 2005. Since 1972 no humans have been back to the moon and since the last flight of the Concorde in 2003 civilian travel has become slower.

So, what has happened to innovation and how can we give a much needed shot in the arm to imaginative and disruptive ideas?

To start it’s helpful to define innovation. Peter Drucker explains that, “an idea, a change or an improvement is only an innovation when it is put to use, is accepted by users and effectively causes a social or commercial reorganization.”

This definition of innovation nods to the need for exponential rather than incremental change. Today, overuse of the word and our desire for trivial toys has clearly dented its impact.

The need for exponential innovation

We know there is a growing list of global issues which people imagined we would have solved years ago, such as hunger, climate change, poverty, malaria and cancer.  Not only have we failed to ‘reorganize’ socially or commercially to tackle them, today, these issues are deemed “too big, scary and far away” for our minute modern day attention spans.

It seems that the reason we’d rather not think about scary and far-away ideas is the fear.  Fear of giving up a way of life, a lifestyle; fear of the unknown; fear of what comes next.

The good news is that today’s economy favours those who experiment. Recent research shows a startling correlation between innovation and revenue growth for business (Harvard Business Review 2012) and improved standard of living (Goldman Sachs 2012). Even Facebook’s motto is ‘move fast and break things’.

Businesses can’t afford to stand still and sustainability pressures can be the engine of enterprise and opportunity.

5 steps to exponential innovation

There is no blue print for generating leaps in innovation.  But by focussing on how any enterprise, any individual, can stimulate new approaches and new thinking we create the opportunity for invention.

  1. 1. Start by asking the right question. Steve Jobs famously asked for “1,000 songs in my pocket”. Once defined the ideas will start to flow.
  1. 2. Actively encourage open collaboration and crowd-sourcing. Ed Catmul, the Pixar guru whose innovative animation giant has created 14 No. 1 movies in a row explains, “The problem isn’t finding ideas, it’s finding a team that works well together.” As an example, more than half of P&G’s innovation originates from a partnership with an external organisation; their innovation success record has doubled while their cost of innovation has fallen.
  1. 3. Don’t revert back to factory setting. Abandon failures quickly, learn from the experience, and move on to other opportunities
  1. 4. Give time for idea generation. At Saatchi & Saatchi we believe that 10% should be reserved for ‘never-been-done-before’ experiments.
  1. 5. Use technology and connectivity to spread ideas faster than ever.

The journey ahead is likely to be at times bumpy but the prospect of the exponential change to come should be incredibly exciting.

Just remember Nothing is Impossible.