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Bonin, I believe deeply in what Pepsi is doing to build a social purpose business paradigm. From the partners that you have selected to vet proposals to Pepsi's commitment to transparency in executing the program... your work comes across sound and authentic. As Beth and readers of this blog know all too well, projects of this nature are risky and can be derailed in an instant. While Chase Community Giving is the most recent memory of good intentions gone south, American Express Member's Project had its fair share of challenges as have others. In short, I admire the steps Pepsi is taking and wish you guys the best of luck! My question is this: Increasingly, the stories of Pepsi Refresh winners will be unfolding in interesting locations and unique circumstances in communities across America. Is Pepsi considering ways to help these individuals tell and propagate their ongoing stories from the 'front lines of change' across the Internet and advance their initiatives beyond the initial Pepsi grant. Executing the right digital story-telling strategy could be a powerful way to amass real scale beyond the initial cash grant by mobilizing skills and resources of the general public to get behind the winners, thereby taking their projects to the next level. American Express really missed this opportunity. What about Pepsi? Deron Triff
Beth, Thanks for introducing Mark in your blog. He sounds extraordinary and we will be reaching out to let him know about about Nate Bastien (, a 25 year-old graduate of Rhode Island School of Design who is creating the Street Pack, a "backpack for the homeless." Made entirely of scrap material destined for the landfill, the Street Pack doubles as waterproof shelter and storage. The materials to produce the pack cost $.75 and Nate has engineered the design to address the specific challenges of individuals living in a homeless condition, such as including a solar blanket within one of the panels. His work is incredibly cool. Several weeks ago Nate took to the streets of Boston (what he calls Street Retreats), panhandling for money, pitching a sleeping bag on the ground and spending time living among the homeless to prototype and strengthen the product he is creating on their behalf. His ongoing story on Changents has generated quite a lot of buzz on and off our site. In addition, our crack social media team generated coverage for him on Core 77, Treehugger and other sites, which we feel very fortunate about. Perhaps most unexpectedly for us, homeless people - who I imagine are going to their public libraries to login and interact with him online through our platform - have had passionate and sometimes heated exchanges with Nate. In any event, I think Mark will find his story really interesting, and particularly the comments he has received on Changents from homeless individuals and those who want to help around the world. Deron Triff
Great post, Beth. I figured you'd be all over this one:) Agreed. It is difficult to refrain from critiquing Chase for adding rules 'on the fly' as the reality unfolded at Internet speed & failing to understand the basic transparency that leaderboards and such ensure... particularly given that American Express and others are available case studies. That said, I am concerned about the overall CSR 2.0 fallout this may cause. Finally, we are a cross-roads where companies like Pepsi withdraw from Superbowl ads to focus on (hopefully legitimate) values marketing and Chase steps up with real cash or social currency to spotlight social change innovators on the Web. What do they get? Slammed. Yes, they deserve it in certain respects, but other companies that are poised to do good by doing well using social media may recoil. And so, I think we need to provide constructive feedback to Chase but be cognizant that unleashing a full blown assault does not do anyone, any good. We need more this kind of bold experimentation as we head into 2010. Thanks again for the post and all the smart comments that have followed. It's a good discussion. Now onward. Deron Triff CEO
Curt: I totally agree. There was a really interesting article ( ) this week in Outside Magazine by Pulitzer Prize-Winning journalist, Nicholas Kristof about the social psychology of engaging the public to take environmental action. In the article, Kristof suggests that we intervene not because of stories of desperate circumstances but when we can be cheered up with positive stories of success and transformation. His comments resonated deeply with the team here at Changents. Our vision is to equip Change Agents with a robust suite of Web 2.0 storytelling and mobilization tools to disseminate their stories in order to connect with supporters around the world who can support their initiatives. Thanks for sharing your post. Deron Triff
Good points, Robert. The challenge is attracting a critical mass of investors seeking market-rate returns to for profit social enterprises. Most of these ventures, including Better World Books, are backed by a small (but growing) segment of investors specifically interested in double bottom line investments - Investor's Circle being one of the largest and most notable. How do you mainstream socially responsible investing when as a practical matter profit-generating social ventures do not typically present the liquidity opportunities offered by pure financial investments? Much has been written about this topic and the debate continues. Deron Triff CEO,
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Dec 12, 2009