Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Get the message? Got the values?



I know some Networkers have a bias against Coca-Cola.  Some have a bias against stuff connected to Bill Gates.  However, Networkers, I do ask that you clear your mind to listen to Melissa French Gates as she looks at how Coca-Cola does business and how that methodology might benefit development work.

I suggest, Networkers, that you take those principles beyond merely development work but into any sphere of community activity where you might be trying  to get a message out and across to influence people, their attitudes and behaviours.


I do wish to insert some broader understanding into Ms Gates' exposition - and it comes from the inimitable George Monbiot. For both the video above and George's piece below, I am indebted to the Twitterverse.  George has written on the values of everything. He outlines what drives us, what motivates us. 

George gives a chilling example:
Rightwing politicians have also, instinctively, understood the importance of values in changing the political map. Margaret Thatcher famously remarked that “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.” Conservatives in the United States generally avoid debating facts and figures. Instead they frame issues in ways that both appeal to and reinforce extrinsic values. Every year, through mechanisms that are rarely visible and seldom discussed, the space in which progressive ideas can flourish shrinks a little more. The progressive response to this trend has been disastrous.
Melissa French Gates applies the Coca-Cola logic to health issues in developing countries.  There are so many areas which are ripe for expert and considered messaging.  
  • How are older irrigation farmers to be asked to give due attention to the proposals outlined for environmental flows in The Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan so that they see their own welfare and productivity inextricably linked to the health of the environment?  
  • How do we get momentum behind the need for greater spending to provide adequately for the community needs for public housing?  
  • How do we get more - and more articulate - voices into the debate for the adequate provision of varying  health needs across the nation?
The failure to act intelligently, smartly, forcefully, with speed on these issues sends us backwards on so many social indicators.  

Are we truly to become (or have we already become?) a self-interested, child-ferrying, plasma television worshipping nation?  

If the answer to this last question is yes, then we must admit that all we are doing - or most of us are doing - is holing up in our McMansion or Bogun Villa caverns soaking up entertainment for proles like so many inanimate sponges. 

Postscript:
I realise that Coca-Cola would
not speak to its consumers and
would-be consumers in the manner
of the last three paragraphs.  Miss
Eagle does have a lot to learn about getting
messages across!
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