Week 1: Lindsey Newkirk response to readings and videos

One of the themes that stood out to me and piqued my interest in the Transmedia hangout discussion and the Precious Places work is the question of staying power; how to engage with the audience so that you activate a call to action or keep them involved in an issue after the delivery of the message.

I know when I started my work in sustainability, I thought ‘if people only had more in depth awareness of this issue; if we could make it fun, exciting and engaging, then they would change their behavior, buy in, activate.’  It turns out that inspiring behavior change or activating an action is much more complicated than that; how can you get people involved in the process, want to take action, is it sustainable to maintain interaction long after a particular project is over?  I loved the idea of partnering with an advocacy group to be able to take ownership of activation after the project is completed.  I think that creative collaborations are some of what can really leverage projects and ideas to what would be impossible on one’s own.

I’ll be attending a workshop next week titled “Fostering Sustainable Behavior” which will introduce the five steps of Community Based Social Marketing: Selecting Behaviors, Identifying barriers and benefit, developing strategies, conducting a pilot, and broad scale implementation.  I’m excited to learn about this strategy as one way to foster change but clearly with the complexity of it, it’s certainly not a feasible or even necessary approach to activation.

My curiosity also lies in the importance of one singular project (even amongst collaborations) to create change.  As we learned in the Skype chat with Louis Messiah, one project in Philidelphia wasn’t successful in their goal of saving a neighborhood from eminent domain, but another group in New Jersey, after seeing their film, was motivated to create a similar video project that was successful.  In my work I’ve struggled to figure out how to use metrics to define the success of a project, and really, how to define success in the first place.  I touched on slightly in class, I think that if you can engage people in the right ways, the ripple effect of a project can be perhaps even more effective in creating wide spread and lasting social change.

I wasn’t able to bring my organization to scale to establish financial security so I decided I needed to shut down.  Failure, right?  Ego crusher for sure, however in retrospect, I think many of our accomplishments point to success.   We had provided experiences and got our message out to literally hundreds of thousands of people, we had media exposure in dozens of outlets, and we inspired the development of several other similar organizations/projects around the country and around the world.  I always wondered if what we were doing actually made a difference.  Did the people we interacted with actually change a behavior?  I have no idea.  Perhaps all we did was garner attention and provide exposure to an idea but I also believe that we created a ripple effect.  Perhaps individual activation didn’t matter.  Could the ripple effect itself be a contributor to a paradigm shift?

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3 comments to Week 1: Lindsey Newkirk response to readings and videos

  • epriebe@uoregon.edu

    The idea of how to measure success is something that I have struggled with as well, and is a major challenge when it comes to content marketing. Sure, you can measure success by how often a piece of content is shared, and it definitely works to create awareness for your brand, but does it drive sales? Maybe eventually, but hardly ever right away. That creates a struggle over whether or not your efforts are at all valuable or making an impact, and it can be hard to prove when you’re looking at sales cycles that take months and years to come to fruition. The ripple effect is definitely something I’m looking forward to exploring more.

  • kblack7@uoregon.edu

    Lindsey-

    I think you addressed the single-most difficult task as filmmakers, journalists, and storytellers alike. The idea of keeping a project that was so near and dear to our hearts alive after the final product has been released into the marketplace. If the finished product is not far-reaching in the industry, does that mean that we were unsuccessful with the project? We might have opened a few peoples eyes to the situation, but if we do not speak to these individuals directly, how do we know that we have made any sort of impact at all?

  • abk@uoregon.edu

    I like your notion of contrasting failure with ego-crushing. Sometimes the work we do acts as a catalyst for other endeavors, and it’s fulfilling to realize your role in the greater picture. Perhaps one’s failures are actually an easier way to see the greater whole that you are actually a part of than one’s successes. There mus always be some sort of trial and error process, and it’s refreshing to think of your own error as the initial step in something larger than yourself coming to fruition.

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