Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Joining Hands for a Better World: 12.3.13

Last week BBC News published the first results from a year-long project launched at London’s Science Museum in March, 2013. The study found that people were more likely to take positive steps towards reducing climate change when presented with action steps in game form rather than in the midst of a deluge of gloomy facts and figures. 

Project consultant Paula Owen created a series of modified games for the exhibit, including “Play Your Eco-Cards Right” and “Eco-Snakes and Ladders.” She found that over 50% of the players pledged to make changes in their behavior in order to improve the environment. Owen hopes to broaden the reach of the project throughout Great Britain with a free games app and “behavioral change tool” to be released soon. 

Owen’s results confirms the findings of Gregory Norris, lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health and founder of Handprints, which was number 3 on Time’s 2012 list of “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life.” Norris had discovered that after calculating their carbon footprints his students often expressed the opinion that the planet would be better off if they had not been born. They were simply overwhelmed by too much bad news. You can read the full article here

Norris determined that what was missing was the notion that each person CAN make a positive contribution to the planet. To make these benefits as tangible as footprints, Norris developed the concept of “Handprints,” and set up a website handprinter.org with an app in beta which lets you calculate your handprint and pledge ways you intend to enlarge it. [While you want your footprint to get smaller, you want your handprint to grow.] You then share the action through your social media network. As friends make the same pledge, your handprint increases.

Time interviewed cognitive scientist Elke Weber about the concept. Weber feels that the handprint might remedy the difficulty many people have in moving from awareness of global warming to taking action to bring about change. “If we have a positive goal in mind that we can take small, manageable steps toward, we feel good —and are more likely to keep going. Step by step by hand.”

Naysayers may say it’s too late to do anything. But even they would agree that such actions can’t hurt.

Follow me from now until the holidays. My goal is to share one easily-accomplished idea a day. 

Today’s suggestion: Participate in #GivingTuesday™, “a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.” Make a financial gift, or commit your time and talent to a favorite cause. 

All together now,” as the Beatles optimistically sang. Let’s show the world how much good we can do over the next few weeks.

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