Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Carrotmobbing for Education?

I was listening to NPR this morning on my way to work, and I heard about Carrot Mobs - a group of people who ask businesses to compete for capitol by promising to make their places of business more energy efficient.  The first carrot mob happened after Brent Schulkin went around to 23 convenience stores telling them that he'd get hundreds of people to purchase goods at their store if they'd be willing to donate a percentage of their revenue from that day to installing energy efficient lighting.  One store agreed to use 22% of their revenue and then Brent went around posting fliers and getting people to show up and shop there on the particular day of the carrot mob.  Since then, I guess there have been 100 or so carrot mobs "encouraging" places of business to green-it-up.  I love it when people figure out how to organize people and use capitalism for good!  During the interview, Brent talked about getting enough people involved... say... getting millions of people to commit to buying either - say - Budweiser or Coors for their Superbowl parties based on which company is willing to make the biggest environmental change or even, he said, to adopt a particular new maternity policy.  If enough people are willing to change their buying habits for a day, you could really ask for anything.  Brent is one smart cookie.

I always get a little scared when "education" and "capitalism" are uttered in the same sentence.  I really don't think that business practices are the solution to fixing an "industry" that doesn't really have clear-cut products or a bottom-line, per se.  I do think, though, that when communities get involved in their schools - things are more likely to change.  Is there a lesson about public education to be learned from carrot mobbing?  At the very least, students could use carrot mobbing to help generate change in their communities.... but how about something more fundamental? Any ideas?

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