Great community organizing tool for reducing your carbon footprint

Salon author James Glave was looking for a way to persuade a neighbor not to leave bright floodlights on all night, every night. He hosted a neighborhood gathering to brainstorm for ideas on reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

With everyone suitably sated, I kicked off the discussion by introducing a special guest. Fellow islander Paul Welsh runs a public-relations firm and helped launch the City of Vancouver’s climate change public-engagement program. The OneDay campaign is about small moves to change your routine for the better — such as cycling to work, if that is realistic — for just one day out of the week, or even one day out of the month. It stresses the easy stuff: Turn off that idling car, dial down the thermostat a degree or two, adjust the pressure in your tires. And, critically, turn off unnecessary lights.

“The OneDay program builds off one of the key tenets of social marketing theory,” said Welsh. “And that is, if you can make a behavioral ‘ask’ of people that is easy, obtainable, and simple in its beginning, you can build momentum and make the ‘ask’ bigger a bit at a time. Make it small from the start, make it easy, and get emboldened by success early. Then you can ask for more.”

OneDay is a clever, broad-ranging program. Anyone in any city or district anywhere in the world can download, for free, a OneDay start-up package that contains everything needed — from logo typefaces to strategic brand advice — to localize the scheme and roll it out in his or her town. The legwork has all been done; Welsh and others have engineered OneDay for self-replication. It is a virus of change looking for receptive hosts.

Here’s a link to the OneDay program Welsh developed. It does look easy to replicate. After the holiday weekend I’m going to get in touch with the Windsor Heights city council members and Mayor Jerry Sullivan.

Anyone else want to try to get this going in your community?

There are plenty of carbon footprint calculators out there to show you in broad terms your current impact and how various aspects of your lifestyle contribute to the greenhouse gases your activity generates. Here’s a relatively simple one, or google “carbon footprint calculator” to find others.

On a related subject, if you’re looking for potential community leaders or candidates for local offices, try following the advice of Bleeding Heartland commenter Keith Nichols, who has been a Democratic Party precinct committeeman for about 30 years:

We used to always check write in candidates.  If Jim Smith got a few write in votes and was a democrat we would approach him or her about running for a county office.  Most of the time it didn’t work but a few times we could find a local candidate that way.

It makes sense that someone who inspires a handful of people to write in his or her name (without even campaigning for the office) has the potential to become a leader. Might be worth meeting that person to see if he or she would be inclined to get involved in any community activism.

This is an open thread for any useful ideas on social networking or grassroots organizing.  

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