Archive for January, 2009

Shit rules

This post is from Fionn, who works on a betterplace incubator project:

As Joana has already mentioned in ealier posts, Noa Lerner, Holger Schmitz and I are working on a sanitation project for the bottom of the pyramid market segment.It started as part of this WTO-Project on betterplace. We decided to design a squat toilet which requires no H2O and for which, therefore a drainage system is not required.

Our first prototype/ concept enables the residents of slums, who live in cramped  conditions, often in one room, to own their own toilet.  A mechanical syphon will permit the odourless enclosing of faeces and urine in a tank. The tank, when full,  can be transported to a public bio digester. Here the contents will be turned into methane gas.

A nanotechnological finishing surface will facilitate the complete emptying of the tank. The biodigester can be connected, according to need,  to an energy kiosk in which the methane gas can be transformed into electricity. In turn, slum residents will  be able to charge batteries. Small businesses, such as goldsmiths where well-lit work places are needed,  could  operate using the methane gas.

Maybe you remember Joana talking about a little stop and motion film we made from cut out fotos, finaly here it is :

 

To prove our concept, we recently went to India for two weeks. Here we had the honuer to work together with Dr. Pathak, the founder of Sulab international. His organisation is successfully trying to improve sanitation in India: up to this day, they already installed 1,2 million privat and 7000 public toilets. Together with his engineers , biologists and mathematicians  we work on all the issues which were still open regarding biogas and electricity.

Another part of our field study in India was to talk to the future owners of the toilets. We wanted to find out if they actually would be open for our sanitation concept and how they would like there toilets  to be designed.

Prepared with specialy designed interview tools we went into the living areas, were we not only talked to the inhabitants, but also tried out our first prototype, which we had brought along from Germany.

At the moment we are evaluating the results from our trip to India and prepare our business plan. This we will be presenting at the University of Arts in Berlin in April.

Fionn Dobbin

Generation Generosity

 

briefing_2009_02

Check out the latest trendreport by Amsterdam based trendwatching.com:

According to Generation Generosity,  being generous will be one of the most important attributes for the coming year – both for society as a whole as well as for businesses. 

Giving is the new taking, and sharing is the new giving 

With the economic downturn getting worse every day, an increasig number of consumers are even more suspcious of corporations than before-  only 13% of Americans in a recent poll trusted large companies and three-quarters expect them to lie in their advertisments.

These same people experience daily that a very different approach to goods and knowledge is possible: On the internet people are constantly sharing, giving and co-creating, mostly for free. In this sphere people feel valued and trusted and experience that even small contributions can have a huge impact – just witness the so called Obama-Effekt.

And this culture is not a momentary fad, but as Kevin Kelly said already a few years ago: „online culture is the culture“.

Learning from Online

Now, the trendreport has zillions of examples of how corporations can join this culture of generosity. The most relevant for us here at betterplace.org is the first: 

Co-Donate

Many corporations such as  Whole Foods (who donate for every customer bringing his/her own bag to the store, to a local charity or the German Pfandtastisch Helfen (customers can opt to donate the money they get back for returning bottles) have invited their consumers to donate and do good together with them. 

Tripadvisers More than Footprints campaign pledged 1 Mio. US$ and let site visitors decide to which pre-selected charities the money shoudl go. TOMS Shoes sells fair-traded slippers, handing one extra pair to a child in need for every pair bought, thus following the famous model set by One Laptop per Child.

To follow Generation G is not only “nice to have”, but – according to the authors of this entertaining report – a necessity: 

if you want to stay relevant in societies that value generosity, sharing and collaboration. Joining obviously entails more than adding a social responsibility or sustainability department; it means adopting a generous mind- set that permeates every interaction with your community, with your employees, with your customers, with, wait for it, your ‘stakeholders’. Nothing more or less than a holistic approach to generosity and business.

Just do it

This is exactly where betterplace can come in: Besides our co-branded sites, where corporations present their social engagemnets in a transparent and activating way, we offer many tools for easy co-donation, for example by employees agreeing to a so-called round-up to their monthly wage check: Who really cares if they earn 2290,56 or 2296,-? By themselves, 56 Cent are not going to make much of a difference. But just imagine, what can be achieved, if you have many employees of a large corporations joining the effort, together supporting a common cause?

Visiting Cinema Jenin

We love people visiting projects posted on betterplace and thus I was thrilled to read the latest visitors account: Dagmar had travelled to Jenin – just a few days before the outbreak of war in Gaza – to take a look at Marcus Vetters Cinema Jenin. And this is what she wrote in the Web of trust:

My friend Johannes and myself, we have been in Jenin in December 2008 to meet the Cinema Jenin team and the local architects and engineers. Johannes is the project architect. I am working on coordination, network, and fundraising. We both are enthusiastic about what we experienced. Everybody in Jenin seems to know the project, is keen to participate – and cannot wait for the opening. We strongly believe that this place will not only be a cultural highlight in this forgotten area, but also a place to show that watering little plants of culture, education and business will carry the fruit of empathy, understanding and freedom. Our dream is to take our Israeli friends there to meet our Palestinian friends at the opening of Cinema Jenin!