When thinking about how over-saturated information is these days and how the slimy lobbyists in Merchants of Doubt have created such a large impact with small groups of supporters, I began wondering how we can apply their tactics to art and environmentalism. We talked in class about how perhaps it would be possible to reap from the success of these public manipulators and use some of their strategy. This is the concept I’d like to explore for this project – how can we take the ideas, theories and tricks of selling products/mentalities and use them to gain traction in environmentalism?
Aside from lobbyists I’d like to include other professions that aim to sell a project and get their voice heard – everything from filmmakers to door-to-door knife salesmen. It would be so interesting to take ideas from all across the board and see how they can influence our work.
One 2012 study showed that members of the public with the highest scientific literacy were actually more polarized on the issue of climate change as opposed to more accepting of its truth. Powerful rhetoric is claiming the public attention far more than hard facts – just look at how important strong speaking and attractiveness are in presidential elections. Therefore better education may not be the key to changing public opinion. So how do we make an impact?
I think it would be unique and interesting to create a project where I delve deep into how to “build the ultimate environmentalist.” There are so many important people spreading powerful issues that go completely unnoticed by the public. Yet there are massive troves of scientific and analytic thought on how to sell businesses, products and lobby ideas – everything from shaping body language to providing choices rather than perfect products to being a leader and inspiring action. Everyone that is selling a product – from Wall Street to Magazines to Used Car Salesmen – have a set of tactics and secrets to reeling people in. It’s time we take this wisdom and introduce it to the environmental sphere.
I’d like to approach the project from two angles: one is interviewing artists, environmentalists, businesspeople, etc. and collect all of their thoughts and ideas on spreading content and issues. The other is reading, combining, assessing and streamlining the mountains of TED talks, scientific studies, research and other resources on how to sell a person, product, business, idea and get your work out to make an impact.
I think the idea of “how do we fight for these issues and create engaging content?” is something people from all sorts of backgrounds will be eager to think about and respond to – I’m hopeful that I can get emailed responses or interviews from a lot of authors, writers and scholars.
People I may be able to speak with include: Robert Kenner (directed Merchants of Doubt and Food, Inc., one of my professors is very close with him), Tisch faculty and alumni, National Geographic coworkers, TED presenters, researchers, businesspeople and all sorts of other speakers.
As for format, I think this could be really cool either in the form of a short essay/pamphlet, website with a series of infographics, or short documentary. The ideas and trends found could be a tool and inspiration for people to consider when starting up a project. Also, I could send the final project to all sorts of publications, blogs and sites and try to get it published.
That’s it! Please feel free to offer up suggestions, thoughts and ideas.