Wanna be part of a carrotmob?

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Carrotmob Crowd

Carrotmob Crowd (Photo credit: meganpru)

What do you get when you combine progressive socio-economic incentive with a vegetable? Well, of course, you get a Carrotmob! Popping up over 70 times in 20 countries around the world and with thousands of members, socially networked mobs of supporters are actively boosting local businesses who agree to make smarter choices for conservation and sustainability. In focusing their buying power, Carrotmob organizers get businesses to bid on certain actions like having an energy audit, switching to fair trade and local foods or services and equipment upgrades, changes that are a win-win for the people involved and the biosphere. Join us to find out how consumer power, focused as a Carrotmob, is catching on.

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Read transcript below.

Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive solutions…taking root.

What do you get when you combine progressive socio-economic incentive with a vegetable?  Well, of course, you get a Carrotmob!

Popping up over 70 times in 20 countries around the world and with thousands of members, socially networked mobs of supporters are actively boosting local businesses who agree to make smarter choices for conservation and sustainability. In focusing their buying power, Carrotmob organizers get businesses to bid on certain actions like having an energy audit, switching to fair trade goods and local foods or services and equipment upgrades, changes that are a win-win for the people involved and the biosphere. Consumer power, focused as a Carrotmob, is catching on.

We caught up with Sarah Zisa, energy activist and Director of Community, through the network of Carrotmob.org. This web-based group promotes positive community involvement and empowerment of citizens through the private sector.

Zisa:  Carrotmob, at its core, is a new model for change. It’s a way for consumers to express themselves and their values in the marketplace.  The typical way to do that is through a boycott where a consumer says, hey, I’m not going to shop at your place of business unless you do X, Y, Z.  A carrotmob reverses that and says if you do A, B, C, we’re gonna come and support you and make it profitable.  So a carrotmob is just the reverse of a boycott.

Zisa says Carrotmobs are ultimately about passionate activists changing climate history one business at a time and having fun doing it.

Clint Womack is a San Francisco based social worker by day and an activist with the local Wiggle Party, promoting transit advocacy, including bike power and local food production, as ways to conserve energy and reduce the threat of climate change.  He volunteered to organize a Carrotmob.

Womack: What we wanted to do was to help this particular business focus on very concrete changes that they could make.  So we wanted to really give them the financial incentives to take those steps. What really makes a Carrotmob successful is the outreach to the community, a pretty local base of consumers.  Ideally, you’re using consumer decisions that you would be making anyways, you’re gonna go buy coffee on a Saturday afternoon or you’re gonna go get a bagel.  So why not, as a group, collectively decide to all do that at one time at one place and show through your collective, active consumerism that there’s certain things that you want and you’ll demand from a business.  And the business not only gets the money, which is a huge incentive for doing the Carrotmob but additionally, it gives the people involved a really good sense of connection to their community and that they can actually affect change.  

Womack says this is a good example of consumer’s expressing their values through the power of their dollars.

Womack:   Carrotmob really shows that collectively deciding how to buy things, that you  can have a much greater impact in the long.  And the beautiful thing is that you can keep doing it over and over.  I like what they are doing so I want to support that. 

A recent recipient of a Carrotmob is the Matching Half Cafe, near Golden Gate Park,  who bid to re-invest 200% of profits in renewable changes.  Jason Walberg is part owner of the cafe and despite a rainy day, the band played and a big fun-loving crowd showed up, making his mob a success.

Wahlberg:  The idea behind a Carrotmob is to promote sustainable business practices and instead of a boycott, you’re basically investing in the business and what their stated goals are.  So these people came to help us get more efficient.  We’re trying to use less energy, more local produce, trying to convert to more organic ingredients in our menu.    And instead of just coming at people with what you don’t want, you’re embracing people who are trying to make the change and you’re giving them the support that they need to do that.  It was an interesting day, we got slammed with a bunch of people and there had been several days of prep behind it.   But its a really fun crown of people who came in and everyone really excited about supporting us. Its kind of a neat way where the consumer’ s willing to meet you half-way. 

Zisa:  I want the way we create change to be as positive as the change itself.  The thing about Carrotmob is that it’s about fun.  And it’s about celebration and its also about impact and making a difference.  You have the business owner, and community organizers, ordinary consumers and everybody wins.  And it creates something positive for the local community, for the bigger community and for the world. 

Some of the best results come after a Carrotmob as participants continue to vote with their dollars, patronizing businesses willing to make a positive difference.

For more ideas on how you can help reduce causes of climate change related to your life, please visit us at gooddirtradio.org.  Reports are always free to download and share.

I’m Tom Bartels and I’m Tami Graham.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt Radio, digging up goodnews…. for a change.