Well done, Subaru!

There aren’t many so-called cause, social good, or CSR (corporate social responsibility) campaigns that suit my standards. Most such campaigns don’t pass a basic sniff test for corporate greenwash. But to coincide with the seasonal opening of the National Park system over Memorial Day weekend, Subaru launched a new integrated campaign and microsite, Zero Landfill, that’s a winner by any standard.

Why it’s good

Not to minimize the impact of the stunning images and production quality, here’s why the campaign works:

  • The history timeline demonstrates Subaru’s commitment to environmental responsibility through product stewardship, recycling, and zero waste — starting in 1989. (Bonus points because the timeline uses years and months in rings to echo the growth rings of a tree.) This classic “show, don’t tell” creative approach to demonstrate sustained commitment is the opposite of the common “cause of the year” bandwagons many companies jump on.
  • The integrated, multi-channel campaign engages you wherever you may be at the moment. So far I’ve bumped into the #DontFeedTheLandfills creative via TV advertising, tweets (including video), Facebook post, Pinterest pins, and Instagram.
  • Clicking the bright green “How can I help?” button in the lower left takes you to simple steps anyone can take to translate new-found awareness into actions that can make a difference for the National Parks.
  • There are no annoying pop-up windows, floating social icons, or overwhelming array of choices.”Get Involved” offers three options: updates via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

I may return to the #ZeroLandfill campaign as it evolves, but meanwhile, kudos for the campaign launch Subaru!



Google Balloon Internet Access: The Thrill of a Big Idea


I nearly missed this. You know how it is. In today’s stimulus-saturated world, I set limits for my daily news scans and then unplug each weekend for 24 hours. So as I approached the unplug deadline after an early morning hour of visual overload (and depressing news), another video didn’t really appeal. But it was from a trusted source in my Google+ circles (thank you, ) so with my left hand on the ‘power down’ button, my right hand clicked play. Wow!

A Big Idea

“The idea does sound crazy, even for Google—so much so that the company has dubbed it Project Loon. But if all works according to the company’s grand vision, hundreds, even thousands, of high-pressure balloons circling the earth could provide Internet to a significant chunk of the world’s 5 billion unconnected souls, enriching their lives with vital news, precious educational materials, lifesaving health information, and images of grumpy cats.”

In an exclusive, Wired magazine goes on to add fascinating details, animations and clips as it tells the story of the initial tests in New Zealand. Just as I was beginning to focus too much on the prevalence of grumpy cats, a breathtaking reminder arrives of the global promise of Internet access.

Next Up: Digital Literacy?

While Google, and hopefully others, work on bringing balloon Internet access to remote areas, digital literacy is looming as a pressing, parallel need. From a local story on Middle-schoolers share technology with seniors, to the national news on the state of broadband access in the U.S., come recent reminders of how many people have been left out.

In case you missed it, the Google Project Loon announcement video on YouTube is embedded below.

Instant Electronic Whiteboards: Evernote and IdeaPaint

This is an instant favorite for me. The concept of an inexpensive, instant electronic whiteboard is a sure winner for the types of meetings I’m often in. Even if we’ve got a group collaborating to take notes in real time using Google Docs, there are usually several of us who prefer to sketch mind maps or doodle notes. Typed notes just don’t cut it for me. But the problem with whiteboards has always been that the fancy electronic versions cost a fortune and require a technical support team. Painting I can handle though, and Evernote is already a favorite tool, so my order has been placed. I’ll report back after putting this new combination through its paces.

Deep Green Underwater Kites: A New Way to Harness Tidal Energy

Good news in renewable energy development this week. Minesto, a Swedish start-up and SAAB spin-off, looks to make a new tidal turbine commercially available within four years. Their “Deep Green” technology is a tidal stream system that uses the motion of the tides to generate electricity, similar to wind power generation. Deep Green’s turbines are connected to kites, which are anchored to the ocean floor, and move back and forth in the water to generate electricity (see an animation of this process here).

Minesto is optimistic about Deep Green’s eventual energy production capabilities (via CNN):

Anchoring “Deep Green” and steering the tethered “kite” enables the turbine to capture energy from the tidal currents at ten times the speed of the actual stream velocity…When operational, the turbine is expected to generate 500 kilowatts of power.

For more on this story, head to ecogeek.org or CNN.com.

Image shows an artist’s impression of how the “Deep Green” device will function beneath the surface of the ocean. Via Minesto.

I’m fascinated by the possibilities for harnessing energy in new, clean ways. Unlike wind or solar, Deep Green Underwater Kites aren’t a market-ready renewable energy technology yet, but to me there’s hope in the possibility.