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Every month I participate in a Green Moms Blogging Carnival. This time, we are to blog about the commercialization of holidays. At first, I thought of recycling the Halloween post I wrote for Groovy Green last year. That would have been too easy, and also I have a subversive idea I want to put out to all green mommy bloggers during this holiday season.

I have played before with the “Green Drop” idea, a green twist on artist Ryan Watkins-Hughes‘ original shopdrop concept:

shopdrop: to covertly place merchandise on display in a store; a form of “culture jamming”, reverse shoplift.

For the “Mommy Green Drop” Initiative we will only shopdrop green things. Imagine for instance, going to a Target store before Halloween, and taping subversive flyers on the back of items in the costume section. These would be flyers you would have prepared ahead of time and brought with you into the store. Or you could create almost identical replica of costumes sold in the store, with your own  green twist of course! Part of the fun, is performing the shopdropping unnoticed, while documenting with your camera – video or still -, and then reporting in your blog. There are no limits to what you can do, really.

To keep track of your participation in the project, I have created a “greendrop” Twitter account, where you can input your “greendrop” performances, with links to documenting posts in your blog. All you need is to email me for the password. If you do not have a blog, you can upload your videos on YouTube, or your photos on Flickr, again using the Twitter account as a central log.

I am feeling excited just writing about this project. If enough of us get involved, we can create a big green ripple in the holiday shopping frenzy.

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No time to blog. I have been taken by the energy of the Democratic Convention, and spent all my evenings glued to the TV. Nervously praying for no missteps. La Marguerite is an environment blog, not a place to share my political views. This time is different, however. I feel the big environmental challenges facing us are political issues. One only need to take a look at the past eight years, to be convinced. Eight years, during which we, the citizens of this great country, have been consistently ‘dis-inspired’, demoralized, and demobilized on so many fronts. Eight years, during which other countries looked up to us for leadership on climate change, and found nothing instead. Eight years of systematic obstruction to hundreds of good environmental proposals. Eight years of special fuel interests pulling the strings behind the scenes and imposing their wishes. Eight years, during which CO2 levels have risen steadily, past the 350 danger zone. Eight years of muffling the voices of climate scientists. Eight long years, that have dwarfed my efforts, and others’ efforts to try to heal nature.

I am ready for a change. Are you?

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Love how blogging works! Today, Jonathan Melhuish left a comment on my Climate Camp post. I clicked on his name, and landed on his personal blog. Then noticed his professional blog. There, I discovered Jon’s latest post on Bodder, his new mobile social network. Stopped on his Wikipedia link on ‘network effect’ and really got into this part:

A more natural strategy is to build a system that has enough value without network effects – underlined by me –, at least to early adopters. Then, as the number of users increases, the system becomes even more valuable and is able to attract a wider user base. Joshua Schachter has explained that he built Del.icio.us along these lines – he built an online system where he could keep bookmarks for himself, such that even if no other user joined, it would still be valuable to him.[2] It was relatively easy to build up a user base from zero because early adopters found enough value in the system outside of the network aspects.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? On line, I am not social just for the sake of being social. There needs to be something in it for me. Videos on YouTube, insiders’ info on Twitter, objective book reviews on Amazon, a place to show my stuff on Facebook, bookmark storage on del.icio.us, interesting stories on diggs, etc. In other words, there needs to be something worthwhile spreading in order for the network effect to take place. 

Also digged this comment at the bottom of the post, from other Bodder‘s co-founder, Simon Hammond:

The main lesson for me was probably that the technical engineering is relatively straightforward compared to the social engineering underlined by me – In other words, it’s not enough to merely provide a nice platform and interface. You have to account for social factors – underlined by me – as well. Few people will try something completely off their own bat – they need to be personally introduced to it. At heart, we are still apes and we learn by copying. Getting the visible endorsement of the group leaders is probably essential to getting group adoption. Think Scoble/TechCrunch and Twitter.

Embedded in Simon’s comment are two very important points. First is the need to not just push a technology, but also to take into account the psychological aspect of ‘the user’ and also the community. I have noticed lots of social networks get started by developers with no understanding or appreciation of that essential dimension of any social venture. Second is the need for the nascent network to receive the validation of one or several recognized or credible leaders. I know I always look for the personal story behind any new network. Who started it? What are thought leaders saying on Twitter? When cuil came out a few weeks ago, it only took a few negative tweets from the few social media gurus I follow, and a quick, unsatisfactory trial, for me to ban it from my toolbox. We are very much like cockroaches in that respect!

Thanks Jonathan, thanks Simon, for teaching me a few things about social networks . . .

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Based on my success with Technorati, I decided to continue my campaign with another major blogging platform, requesting that they make ‘Green‘ a more prominent category on their site. This time is WordPress‘s turn.

Here is a copy of the email, I just sent to Matt Mullenweg, the man at WordPress:

Hello Matt,

First thanks for WordPress, without which my blog would not be where it is today!

More importantly, as a green blogging queen, I am chagrined that WordPress does not have a dedicated Green category in its Featured Blogs. Hopefully this email will be as fruitful as the one I sent to Technorati last month, and that resulted in a personal comment back of Richard on my blog, along with Technorati listening and making change I suggested to have dedicated Green search.

I look forward to your response, hopefully with a promise of changes.

Thanks,

Marguerite

Let’s see what happens. I will keep you apprised.

I also encourage you to do the same with other Internet venues that you come in contact with. Little by little, you and I can help green the media landscape. 

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Once in a while, I decide to disclose some moments of weakness along my greener path. Yes, I still own a car. Yes, I still drive at times when I could otherwise bike, or take public transportation. Yes, I still buy too much food, too often. Yes, I give into the dryer for small to medium laundry items. Yes, I forget to turn off the power strip, on a regular basis. Yes, I engage into all these reprehensible behaviors, and then report on them, publicly on this blog. 

I have my reasons. I believe there is some redeeming value in being  real, and in writing out loud what others prefer to keep in the privacy of their minds. And to not apologize for it. After all, this is why I started La Marguerite blog, to provide a place for people to be human, not super green heroes. ‘Talk my language, and my struggles, and then, maybe I will listen to you, and change a bit.’ That’s been my stance up to now. 

Readers’ reactions to my environmental shortcomings tend to be on the supportive end. Some feel sorry for me, for being so hard on myself, and beg me instead to appreciate all my progress. Others start sharing stories of their own, and how we are all in this together. Those are music to my eyes, especially the ones vouching for the transformative power of my confessions. Then comes a third category. The hard core greenies, who admonish me for not getting my act together faster. ‘You would bring so much more to the world’, they write, ‘if you just turned 100% green overnight. Get rid of your car, will you?’

Could the greenies be right? I wonder. I have come across many tales of green gods and goddesses. While I find those interesting, I have a hard time relating to so much perfection. And so, I ask you the question. What kind of stories do you find most inspiring? Which ones have caused you to make real changes?

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The following is a reprint from comment I left on Huffington Post this morning, in response to their call out to bloggers for some input on future of their Green section. By the way, thanks Nadine, and Ian at NRDC blog for your kind comments about La Marguerite blog.

Olivia,

There are three very important aspects of blogging that I would like to bring up in this discussion:

First, is blogging as a vehicle for the building of a vibrant community of passionate people. This has been the most rewarding part of my involvement with La Marguerite blog. In order for it to work, your team needs to play the role of moderators, responding to, and connecting all the folks that honor you with their visit. Most of the major green blogs follow the old model of blogging as just writing, and interact very little with their readers.

Second, is blogging as a channel for problem solving and activism. Sooner or later, just talking about things cease to be sufficient. One natural progression is for clusters of people to want to take it further, and start implementing solutions discussed in the blog. This is happening on my blog, where several groups of readers have spun off into offline discussions, leading to several green initiatives. What I would like to suggest, is that you incorporate a more formal structure for such initiatives.

Third, you may be interested in Mark Klein‘s Collaboratorium initiative at MIT, regarding new ways to structure blogging discussions, so that they become more productive. For more on this, I invite you to read post I wrote a while ago, including discussion with Mark Klein‘s comment towards end of the thread: https://lamarguerite.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/mit-collaboratorium-wants-to-organize-the-climate-change-debate/

Marguerite
More on Environment
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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I am pleased to report that Technorati obliged my request for a section in their directory, specifically devoted to ‘Green’. Here is the link: http://technorati.com/lifestyle/green/

Now, green blog searches will be a breeze. . .

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