As communications consultants working with nonprofits, foundations, mission-minded businesses and community groups on behalf of the environment and public health, we come across a lot of really good ideas and cool tactics. What follows are seven especially cool things that came across our collective desks in 2012. Some we were part of, and some we admired from afar. All speak to the creativity, smarts and determination of advocates working to make the world a better place.
- Slime – whether pink slime or green slime, advocates leveraged the power of “gross” to raise awareness of the impacts of industrial agriculture on our health and quality of life—from ammonia-treated meat goo in school lunches to toxic algae blooms caused by chemical fertilizer runoff and the dead pets, lake closures and health advisories that go with them.
- Walk it off – The Moapa Band of Paiutes trekked 50 miles through the desert from their reservation to Las Vegas to raise awareness of the polluting coal plant parked next to their homeland and to promote their solution – a commercial scale solar project. The long trek attracted widespread media attention, contributing to an early December agreement by LA to purchase enough solar energy from the tribe to power 105,000 homes—notable progress in the long fight to protect the Tribe’s air and water.
- Love thy enemy – With decades of acrimony between them, it wasn’t easy for environmentalists, timber workers, landowners and government forest managers to swallow their collective pride and collaborate on forest management in the Lemhi National Forest. But collaborate they did, resulting in a forest thinning project in the Hughes Creek drainage that came not a moment too soon: When the Mustang Complex fire ravaged through timbered country on the Montana/Idaho border this summer, hotshot crews were able to contain the blaze along Hughes Creek where the thinning project had taken place.
- ActionSprout – Call us social media geeks, but we’re entranced by ActionSprout, a new Facebook app that makes it much easier for people to do good on behalf of their favorite causes on Facebook. Instead of just “liking” posts, ActionSprout lets fans do all sorts of things: “stop” a drilling permit, “stand with” or “thank” an elected official, “protect” a place or “attend” an event. We can’t wait to use it in 2013!
- Humor – We laughed long and hard at the crowd-sourced glee in Binders full of Women and White People Mourning Romney, and the delicious “We Quit You, Keystone XL” video. Thanks for the creative and funny offerings…keep ‘em coming!
- Show me the data – From the role of data in the 2012 Presidential Election to fascinating research demonstrating what engagement strategies actually influence Congress, 2012 was a watershed year for smart integration of data into advocacy campaigns.
- Power Past Coal – And finally, in a demonstration of the power of good, old-fashioned organizing, Washington advocates rallied more than 2300 people to attend a hearing on coal export in downtown Seattle. The show of force topped off months of outreach to local residents to inform them about the impact of 18 mile-and-a-half long coal trains each day through the Seattle’s waterfront and neighborhoods.
So there you have it: Our hats go off to the creativity, energy and dedication behind each of our selections, and to the many other great ideas we failed to mention.
And now it’s your turn. What’s at the top of your “cool things from 2012” list?