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BGI Using the Social Web for Social Change Post Mortem

The semester is over and we’ve been asked to reflect on what elements of the course worked and what could use a different approach. Here is my download:

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How (not) To Build a Team

Good to Great by Jim Collins I realized this semester that many of my ideals and ideas are often ahead of the curve of where many people are at. In the past I’ve operated as a solo entrepreneur so it didn’t much matter as I didn’t have to worry about merging my ideas together with anyone else’s. Now that I’m getting into a space where I want to work on larger projects that can make a difference in the world, I need to do it with others. To borrow a metaphor from Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, I would benefit from ensuring that the right people are on the bus and in the right seats before starting out. I’ve tended to go ahead without building this team and consensus first which means shouldering the brunt of the work if something is going to get done. This approach comes with a host of problems – problems and lessons I no longer want nor need to repeat. Next semester I hope to find or create the “right bus” and a seat that works for me during my last 6 months at BGI.

BJ Fogg nailed it when he said that “savoring hope is more pleasing than facing reality“. It’s time to face the reality if people aren’t ready to get on the bus.

Help: Regenerative Communities Questionaire

Hello friends! I’m working on a school project exploring the idea of regenerative communities from a real estate developer perspective. My group is curious to know if there is a place in the market for real estate development infused and guided by the ethics and principles of permaculture. We are trying to validate our gut sense that there is latent demand for living in patterns of community that allow people to realize a fully regenerative lifestyle.

Most of the questions are close-ended so I don’t think it will take you more than 10 or 15 minutes of your time.


in gratitude

Social Web: How to Influence People

Yes - 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be PersuasoveMy social web class had to watch a 15 minute video by Robert Cialdini called How to Influence Others this week. It is basically about getting people to say yes. Like all skills, the understanding of how to influence others can be used for both good and evil. Let us hope the majority of the readers of his book are oriented toward the light. The six principles his research uncovered are:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Commitment and Consistency
  4. Consensus (social proof) is the idea that people want to follow the lead of similar others
  5. Authority
  6. Liking (how similar we feel to another person)

His talk is pretty thoughtful. I appreciated that he clarified how we must develop the subtle awareness to know when people are using the techniques in the book disingenuously. When used for authentic reasons they can be very beneficial. I think I’ll check out Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive after school wraps up.

Finally Getting into Video

I bought a video camera off of a guy whom I met via criagslist.org last year with intent to start sharing my adventures with a larger audience. I hope to utilize the user-generated, on-demand video services available to add energy to realizing a just and regenerative civilization. No minor undertaking! Like most of my new ambitions, there has been a lag time of about a year between the original idea and when I actually got down to it. This particular endeavor got a boost from my Using the Social Web for Social Change class at BGI. To get our feet wet, we each had to produce a short video introducing ourselves and blog to the world. Here is take 1 and rolling…

iMovie made it waaaay simple to actually pull this off. It was about a 5-hour endeavor with quite a bit of fumbling and trial and error to get the timing of the clips, transitions and text to flow well. iMovie’s feature set is a bit limited but this also makes it pretty painless to jump into. It integrates with iPhoto and iTunes so it is really easy to pull in media from those channels. Fortunately, I had shot some video this past summer so I had something to work with. Most of my finished product is actually not video because I didn’t have that much usable footage. This forced me to figure out how to use stills, transitions, text overlays and background audio – pretty much all the features iMovie had to offer. I pinched the audio clip from a live Ravi Shankar recording that I love. It’s copy written material but I think the way I have used it counts for “Fair Use“. This means I will probably not run into problems with YouTube and their Terms of Use police. The specific legal jargon relevant in this scenario is that my work could be considered: transformative. The relevant part being:

Repurposing a work to aid identification of the base work is also generally transformative.

I gave credit to Ravi Shankar at the end so I think I am essentially aiding the identification of his base work with the use of his audio. Hopefully YouTube is cool with this. We’ll see.

Feedback and comments are welcome!

Inspiration Board

Daniel Pink's: A Whole New MindI’m reading Daniel Pink’s: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future for my Creativity and Right Livelihood class this semester. This week we had to read Chapter 6 – Symphony and do one of the exercises from the end of the chapter. Daniel defines symphony as:

the ability to put together the pieces. It is the capacity to synthesize rather than analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; to detect broad patterns rather than to deliver specific answers; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair. – pg 130

I think symphony is something I do reasonably well but there is always room for improvement! I chose the inspiration board exercise (pg 154). I chose it because I wanted to do something artsy but within my reach and produce something that would inspire me and hopefully others too. Given the rudimentary nature of my artistic abilities (I can use scissors), I went and scrounged a pile of magazines from upstairs and began to flip though them looking for inspiring imagery. I wasn’t that successful in finding much in the way of images but I did find a few – enough to get started. The magazines I found were text-heavy so this is what emerged:

Justin's Inspiration Board

It turned out to be a text and visual synopsis of the world I feel called to create. I hope you find a little inspiration in what emerged.


Who is Driving, Humans or Memes?

I had to watch Susan Blackmore’s TED talk on Memetics today for my social web class. Prior to the class I didn’t even know what memetics was. Susan defines them as: “that which is imitated or information that is copied“. Ok, I can buy that concept but where I start to struggle with her ideas and language is when she is trying to assert that memes are in control: The memes are trying to get copied, they are using you and me as their propagating, copying machinery and we are the meme machines. See goes on further to define the idea of memetic drive – as “memes evolve, as they inevitably must, they drive a bigger brain that is better at copying the memes that are doing the driving”.

I can’t reconcile the position she has taken. It just doesn’t sit well with me. She leaves me somewhat baffled as she is also big on researching human consciousness, even writing a text book on the subject. She obviously believes in consciousness as she says here while also believing that the memes are driving. How can an idea that gets copied do the driving? Isn’t that like saying that a car that gets driven is doing the driving? I don’t buy it. I think consciousness (human or otherwise) is the driver, period. Memes being non-conscious can not drive any more than genes can drive evolution. They can influence possibilities and range of outcomes but they are not driving. What are you thoughts? Have I misinterpreted her or not understood clearly?

Reflections on Intensive I: The Social Web and Privacy

Privacy Humour: Video RentingLast weekend was my first intensive of the year at BGI. I decided to join the Social Web for Social Change class with the intent to become more skillful at using the web to influence people to toward consciously living in harmony with others and the planet.

A considerable portion of our class discussion was dedicated to online privacy and the implications of sharing ourselves via social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. It became evident that we have yet to see the implications on careers and life paths with so many peoples’ lives publicly recorded for all to see. With the majority of social networking sites’ default behaviour set to show most of your information unless you intentionally disable or limit access, your life and connections are available to anyone with a web browser. Is this a good thing? Read More »

Bring BGI into the Mainstream

I’m currently working on an MBA in Sustainable Development at Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) in Washington State. BGI is one of the most progressive institutions on the planet that’s focused on creating a socially just and sustainable world. The school is attracting the people who have the intelligence, wisdom, compassion and skills to transform how we do business on this planet – to something that benefits all life – and teaching them the skills to actually do it.

It turns out to be a rather expensive to start a graduate school. BGI is seven years in and doing well but the current economic situation is making it difficult to both deliver the education and grow to a point that the school can make a meaningful and lasting difference in the world. You can see our school founder Gifford below explain why growing BGI is essential. If you think what he has to say is accurate and you want to and can help, visit the following link which includes details on how to donate to BGI.

peace, in action