Yesterday I posted the last of the audio interviews I had conducted at Philly's Go Green Expo, but there's one that didn't exist in that format, because I only finally caught up with these folks as I was about to get into my car.
"PHILLY CARROT MOB" is what the T-shirts said on a handful of college-age activists who were circulating through the Expo, and I made a note that I would have to check out what their story was. But by the time I started looking for them in earnest, they had left the convention center. Fortunately, I happened to be talking with Paul Glover at the Green Jobs Philly booth, and he had spoken with the people and had the whole story.
Carrot Mob was started in San Francisco by Brent Schulkin, who had the idea to take the boycott model and reverse it: In order to pressure a business into changing something in a more sustainable direction, instead of organizing people to not buy there until a change happened, Schulkin organized people to "flash-mob" a given store once it had agreed to spend the profits from a given day on the needed upgrade. In other words, Carrot-Mobbers who would otherwise have bought whatever they were going to buy at their own regular place go at a targeted time to descend on one store and make one purchase there; it's money they were going to spend anyway, but it's now targeted along with many others to make a big difference for the business in question. It's a win-win - or, since the planet wins as well, a win-win-win scenario.
The most fun and captivating way to learn more about this new model of green activism and the thinking behind it is to watch the video on this page, which, yes, does have a bit more dancing than is necessary to explain the concept, but it still gets the main point across well.
After the Bay Area success, the carrotmob idea is being picked up in other cities. The Philadelphia chapter is headed by Tony Montagnaro, who was one of the white-T-shirted wonders wandering the Expo. He's currently organizing the first Carrot Mob event in Philly, doing creative canvassing events (such as their Go Green Expo fly-through) and getting like-minded individuals together who are ready to do some targeted purchasing, probably in May. If you're in the Delaware Valley and you're interested in joining up or just finding out more, you can e-mail Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by Clark Park this Saturday, April 18 (more on this Earth Day-related festival tomorrow) between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and look for anybody wearing a shirt that says PHILLY CARROT MOB. Keep up with the latest local planning and news at philly.carrotmob.org.
If you're reading this from somewhere else but like the idea and want to start a carrot mob in your town, drop a line to email@example.com and tell 'em Earth to Philly sent you!
P.S. Why did I wait till now to put the word out when I found out about this at the Go Green Expo in mid-March? Well, since Paul Glover is the one who had the scoop, I agreed to wait until his next Green Jobs Philly came out before spilling the beans. And yes, it's out now! Omigod! Go read it! It's full of green goodies galore, as usual.