“Experience shows that whenever you can achieve smallness, simplicity, capital cheapness, and nonviolence, or indeed, any of these objectives, new possibilities are created for people, singly or collectively, to help themselves, and that the patterns that result from such technologies are more humane, more ecological, less dependent on fossil fuels, and closer to real human needs than the patterns (or lifestyles) created by technologies that go for giantism, complexity, capital intensity, and violence.”
I spent a fairly surreal afternoon in a lecture theatre in the Leeds Met. Rosebowl yesterday afternoon.
We had been invited to ‘take part in’ (actually watch) a live simulcast from the TEDx team in New York, working with the Gates Foundation to look at progress on the UNs Millenium Development Goals (halving poverty, reducing infant mortality, improving maternal care etc).
Surreal because the entire front row was filled with bagels, muffins, cookies and fruit, the lecture theatre was half empty, and we sat gawping at a large screen while some people in a foreign land berated and congratulated themselves in roughly equal measure on their progress.
As the afternoon went by I got increasingly uncomfortable. A feeling not assuaged by copious bagels and cupcakes, as we witnessed a theatre full of rich folks in New York clapping along to Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew.
But the source of my discomfort was more than just the cultural dissonances. It was that for me some of the central tenets for good development work appeared to have been overlooked.
Instead of being invited in by communities to work on the issues that mattered to them it felt like we (the great and the good of the west) had dropped into their world to work on the issues that mattered to us, as judged by our moral compass and our self interest. Not theirs. And we could do it because we were rich. We could hustle our way into the game because we had a whole stash of cash.
So we celebrated the fact that through increased access to contraception ‘we’ had succeeded in reducing family size in just about the whole world. And as we all know reducing the planets population growth is essential. No mention of the fact that small families in the West use a gazillion times more of the earths resources than even a large African family compound for example.
We celebrated the fact that Coca Cola had a distribution network to flood the 3rd world with diabetes inducing corn syrup based products and that we could use the same channels to flood the same communities with our ideologies of entrepreneurship and ‘progress’. In my experience the tobacco companies have been even more successful in setting up networks of distribution and influence throughout the planet – but I guess they are just too clearly part of the dark side for happy, shiny people to embrace. Good old Coca Cola on the other hand….
One of the first principles of good development should be R.E.S.P.E.CT.
Respect for the culture on the ground. Respect for what local people value and find important. Respect for how they are trying to shape their futures, whether or not they fit neatly with our ideologies and ideals. A certain humility and a refusal to believe that ‘our superiority’ means that we have the solutions to their problems.
Good development work should be less about turning the developing world into entrepreneurs who can, and do, control their own fecundity than about helping people find the power to act in their own interests, rather than ours.
Ted Turner said recently “War is obsolete. You end up bombing your customers.”
And at times yesterday I felt as if the whole Millennium Development Goal thing was a kind of ‘anti-war’, the objective of which is to make everyone healthy and rich enough to consume.
A massive exercise in expanding viable territories. Rather than an exercise in compassionate facilitation of self determination.
As Ted Turner went on to say….’why do you think I gave the UN $1bn? I could have bought a couple of really big yachts with that money.’
Big thanks to @imranali and @herbkim for setting this gig up. One of only 2 in the UK. It certainly engaged the heart and mind of this leeds citizen of the world.
The web has changed (nearly) everything.
It is far more likely that we will read about what you do in a piece written on the web by our peers than a piece written by your Press Office or PR agent on your website.
We have learned to recognise and respond to authentic voices that want to converse. We are increasingly immune to your sales pitches….
In this one day workshop we will explore exactly what has changed because of the web and how.
This will not be a day for technologists and web geeks, but for communications professionals, service managers, business developers, strategists and others who are wondering how to manage perceptions on the web and use them to build a better business.
We will not be looking in any detail at the specifics of particular social media platforms or web sites but we will be examining how the new information that it surfaces can either kill or cure an organisation.
We will then look at practical actions and strategies that will help to re-position you effectively in the web enabled world.
Remember: your customers and service users know more about your products and services right now than you do.
And whether their experience is good or bad, increasingly they will use the web to tell people about it. The only question is, once you accept and understand this, how do you respond?
Who Should Attend?
This workshop will be useful to anyone who is coming to terms with how the web is shaping their business and how they need to re-think strategy and communications as a consequence.
Whether you work on the delivery and management of a public service or in the private or ‘third sector’ our promise is that this workshop will provide yo with practical ideas about how to make the most of the new web2 world.
What we will cover:
- Why people listen to the web, and how you can too…
- When a story breaks – how should we respond?
- Why SHOUTING on the web won’t work – how to engage in polite yet powerful conversation
- Finding your voice and speaking your truth
- Moving from online to offline – what to do when you actually meet the online community
- Dozens of ways in which the web changes everything and how you might respond as a result
The sessions will by led by some of Leeds most influential and experienced bloggers, tweeters and social marketers. By people who care passionately about the web, good business and civic society.
If you fancy lending a hand in the design and delivery of the workshop rather than coming along as participant, or if you have any questions then please do get in touch.
So says our new PM.
- Which people?
- In control of what?
- Is ‘control’ possible, desirable?
What do you mean by control…
- power to direct or determine; “under control”
- a relation of constraint of one entity (thing or person or group) by another; “measures for the control of disease”; “they instituted controls over drinking on campus”
- exercise authoritative control or power over; “control the budget”; “Command the military forces”
- lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits; “moderate your alcohol intake”; “hold your tongue”; “hold your temper”; “control your anger”
- the activity of managing or exerting control over something; “the control of the mob by the police was admirable”
- operate: handle and cause to function;
- dominance: the state that exists when one person or group has power over another;
- manipulate: control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one’s advantage;
- restraint: discipline in personal and social activities; “he was a model of polite restraint”; “she never lost control of herself”
I wonder what exactly Mr Cameron means by ‘Making sure that people are in control’?