I recently had a discussion with a friend who works with a land conservatory nonprofit. Our discussion centered on one question:
Would a Facing Project on an environmental issue be successful?
Rivers and oceans and coral reefs and wetlands and the planet don’t have faces. Unlike the the Facing projects across the country that have happened so far, which have faced explicitly social issues — homelessness, hunger, poverty, addiction, disease, illness, etc.
With today being Earth Day, no doubt you’ve seen plenty of other storyless and faceless stats about our planet and environment. At the Facing Project we believe starting with stories is more impactful than starting with statistics, and not just any stories, but stories in the first person from an individual’s heart and mind. We believe . . .
One story can change the planet.
To be clear, I didn’t need any convincing that a Facing Project could work on an environmental topic. I’ve made a career out of giving inanimate objects a face (underwear & T-shirts, apples and bananas), or more specifically the people who produce them.
As I chatted with my buddy, he told the story of a woman on a date who visited a property her family had given over to the land conservatory. It was the first time she had visited, and when she saw the sign thanking her family, she thought of her family’s legacy and the legacy of the land they left behind. She was moved. She would be a perfect storyteller for a Facing Land Preservation Project, as would the story of the volunteers and other donors that work with the organization.
Think about the classic “Crying Indian Ad” for Keep America Beautiful. The Native American in the ad paddles his canoe to a polluted shoreline and turns to the camera with tears falling down his cheeks. The narrator says, “People start pollution and people can stop it.”
The ad became one of the most powerful and successful ads in history and Ad Age Magazine named it one of the top 100 ads of the 20th Century.
Take Iron Eyes Cody, that’s the crying actor, out of the ad and we’re left with a polluted river. It’s hard to have empathy for a river, but it’s easy to have empathy for fellow humans who love the river or are made ill by the degradation of the river. Humans cry; rivers don’t. Humans are hard wired with mirror neurons, so when a baby sees a baby cry they begin to cry themselves. We connect more to people than oceans.
Environmentalists have recognized the importance of putting a face on issues. Climate change scientists are armed with maps, charts, and theories, but they’ve struggled to reach people. That’s why we’ve seen the development of projects such as Climate Stories Project and the documentary The Island President.
Win a Facing Project to face an environmental issue
We want to see a Facing Project on an environmental issue. So we are giving away a project.
What does this mean? We’ll waive the Facing Project affiliation fee, give you access to the Facing Project Tool Kit on how to run a project from start to finish, build you your own Facing Project site, train your writers, and be there to answer any of your questions along the way.
To enter, email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) a brief description on what environmental issue you’d like to face and why. Also mention what community partners (at least two) that you’d work with on the project.
For more info on what a project entails or how to get one started GO HERE.