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Response to Andrius: Companies, Commerce, and Cultures

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Andrius and All, Thanks for your thoughtful letter, and for a better understanding of how you see what we might be doing, as well as your idea of the
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 26, 2009
      Dear Andrius and All,

      Thanks for your thoughtful letter, and for a better understanding of how you
      see what we might be doing, as well as your idea of the meaning of the words
      we are using.

      What I will say in response is that we have different definitions of
      "endorsement" and "promotion" in some respects. I looked them up in the
      dictionary, to compare them to my own sense of their meaning. Endorsing
      something or someone basically means to "give approval" of it.

      Promoting something means several things: to support actively, to help
      forward, to sell and/or publicize. Promoting something is often linked to
      endorsing it (implicitly or explicitly), ie "I approve of this and therefore
      I will tell others about it".

      I think we are getting enough of a sense of Mornflake as an company to
      explicitly or implicitly approve of who they are, and/or what they are
      trying to do. And to build on that approval to--perhaps at some point, when
      all parties agree--promote the "company", especially its values and goals.
      We would most likely not be involved with an arms manufacturer, for the same

      Endorsement here simply means: "we think you're on a positive path and we
      would like to be part of that, and/or help you move forward on that path in
      some way". For a company we feel that way about, one that reflects the
      overall values of our "culture", we might be willing to take the next step,
      which would be promoting it, ie actively supporting it in some capacity.

      But what about its products? Most of us know nothing about them, nor will
      we, until they become available internationally. I'm concerned about us
      trying to promote (actively support or sell/publicize) "products" of which
      we have no real (experiental) knowledge. This applies to Mornflake now, but
      is equally applicable to all such situations in future.

      Promoting something is often, in the public's mind, akin to endorsing it, ie
      giving it our approval. So people will most likely think that we must have
      some basic approval of the company or product, if we are promoting it,
      because we are not an advertising agency (where it is more clear that
      someone is getting paid to promote something, whether or not they believe in

      I'm not just concerned about what we know, and think, and do...I am also
      concerned with how it is perceived by others. Especially as that might
      affect us as individuals, orgs, and as a whole culture.

      In our common work to date, and for so many of us as individuals, we are
      striving to align as much as possible our values and behavior, what we
      think-feel-believe and what we do. This is "soulwork" too, so what I am
      bringing up relates to that (you have mentioned this in the same light).

      In this respect, a "company"--which is made up of individuals, one of our
      focal points--seems to me a better fit for our own culture to endorse,
      promote, and work with than a "product". And promoting something--a company
      more than a product, at least as I see it--will also have a link to
      endorsing it, because if we cannot approve of it (the company or the
      product), we should not be promoting it (at least in my view of our culture
      and its focus on particular values).

      Again, that's one reason I'm focusing on the company: we may know enough
      about the company--Mornflake in this instance--to endorse and even promote
      it (ie "this is a good company, in our view, so please consider checking out
      its products"). But we don't collectively know enough about its products to
      promote them (ie "buy this cereal, it tastes great"). Nor is Mornflake
      asking us to do so.

      I will leave this here for now, because I know time is of the essence in
      this research work. I also do not mean to sound critical or to be a
      "spoiler". I do strongly think and feel that this "commercial" territory, as
      Franz put it at GV, is something we need to discuss, and even be wary of,
      for the reasons already stated. A lot, in my view, is at stake for our
      culture. But I fully support the research, and what we might do--and
      ourselves gain--by working with Mornflake as a company.

      With greatest thanks and blessings to all, Janet

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Andrius Kulikauskas" <ms@...>
      To: <voiceful@yahoogroups.com>
      Cc: <holistichelping@yahoogroups.com>; <mendenyo@yahoogroups.com>;
      "learningfromeachother" <learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com>;
      Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2009 2:19 AM
      Subject: [holistichelping] Re: Mornflake: thanks Benoit, Kevin, Leon,
      Andrius/welcome Joanne!/my feedback re product endorsement

      > Janet,
      > Thank you for your insights. I'm glad that Joanne and Leon might respond.
      > In my mind, there is a big difference between endorsing and promoting.
      > I want to stay away from "endorsing" for the reasons that you cite. I
      > don't think that we won't have or want the divine judgement that would
      > allow for endorsements of others or ourselves for that matter.
      > Instead, we are "promoting", which is to say, we are simply providing
      > attention. And we are promoting them because they are promoting us. In
      > my mind, they are providing resources so that we can promote ourselves
      > and thereby they can benefit from our authenticity as we help them
      > become known. We don't have to know anything about their products or
      > even provide a positive view of them. We are simply bringing them into
      > the light where they can be scrutinized.
      > Minciu Sodas teams are useful where the outcome is unknown. We don't
      > know which videos will go viral. Will it be a mouse chasing a cat
      > chasing a dog? Possibly. And so the winning video may have nothing to
      > do with Mornflake or cereal except that it mentions Mornflake as the
      > contest specifies. But that is enough for the contest and for Mornflake
      > to benefit. Minciu Sodas is useful because we open up many angles that
      > might lead to unexpected results. I will get to speak with Joanne and
      > Leon on Friday and understand more.
      > I will be in the village today, difficult to reach. Dennis, Samwel,
      > please find Sasha Mrkailo and Tomas Cepaitis and work with them in the
      > chat room so that you know how to add entries today. Please focus on
      > regional searches like "UK Manchester online community" etc. as Joanne
      > wrote.
      > Andrius
      > Andrius Kulikauskas
      > Minciu Sodas
      > http://www.ms.lt
      > ms@...
      > Janet Feldman wrote:
      >> Dear Friends,
      >> Great to see so much activity related to the Mornflake project, and
      >> welcome to Joanne! Reading what Joanne has written has addressed some
      >> of the questions and issues that I myself have brought up, and perhaps
      >> will help to do the same for Kevin and others who have raised similar
      >> concerns.
      >> Thanks to Benoit for your great suggestions to Mornflake (focusing
      >> first on strengthening and developing the company internally,
      >> and creating strong bonds with individuals and communities "locally",
      >> then working in partnership with others like Minciu Sodas to expand
      >> globally)! And also to Kevin for his questions and his constructive
      >> criticism, as well as his suggestions for solutions.
      >> One important aspect of sustainable development is to strengthen one's
      >> local base and bonds, which can include a national focus (or, in this
      >> case, multi-national yet closely linked, ie "UK") too, in terms of
      >> outreach and connectedness. And from that position of support and
      >> strength to then "go global." This is why Benoit's suggestion is so
      >> relevant.
      >> Kevin has brought up the issue and idea of "authenticity", and this
      >> connects to the "local" (at least as Mornflake is more a
      >> local/national company at the moment, rather than international). This
      >> links to one of my concerns about promoting Mornflake "products",
      >> since most of us--including those doing the research--are not in
      >> locations where we can purchase and eat the products, hence cutting
      >> down on the "authenticity" of a product endorsement.
      >> Joanne may have addressed this issue in her letter in any case, since
      >> she has asked that we NOT do any product promotion right now.
      >> While I am against MS doing product promotion in general (not just in
      >> this situation, but overall), I am very enthusiastic about the
      >> research we are doing. And I would like to suggest that--in addition
      >> to research--Minciu Sodas and its members might appropriately be
      >> supportive of a "company", when we determine that this company
      >> reflects the values of our "culture".
      >> That might take the form of an "endorsement" (ie "we give our seal of
      >> approval to this company because it is a good corporate citizen"), or
      >> perhaps even encouragement to purchase products from the company (ie
      >> "patronizing this company will help it to support local communities
      >> and engage in humanitarian activities").
      >> We are not an advertising agency. But we can help to "advertize" a
      >> company, especially one that itself promotes "ideas" such as
      >> sustainability, and "values" such as caring about people in local
      >> communities, and wanting to create healthier food.
      >> I don't know about the money aspect, though: perhaps this would be a
      >> more authentic endorsement when not tied to funds we are receiving for
      >> work? This might apply to "Minciu Sodas" itself, by which I mean the
      >> "culture", as much as the organizational entity, rather than to all
      >> members of its sub-cultures.
      >> For example, I can see where some of our members (in various
      >> "sub-cultures"), like the Nafsi Acrobats in Kenya, might be hired as
      >> consultants by Mornflake, to help them develop creative ways to
      >> advertize their product. Again, not putting Mornflake products in
      >> Nafsi videos (at least until Mornflake products become available in
      >> Kenya :)), but working with Mornflake on a video campaign for that
      >> company, including training in-house employees on how to make videos,
      >> where to market videos, what elements make up a good video, et al.
      >> Andrius, there will most likely be issues for you--and for all of
      >> us--related to MS as a "business" (and your own need to make money),
      >> versus MS as a "culture". It seems to me that this is a case where
      >> there may be a conflict to address. Members of MS-related sub-cultures
      >> might be better able to benefit from these projects, for instance,
      >> whereas MS the umbrella culture--representing our diversity and being
      >> the public face of all of our related activities--may not.
      >> I will close for now by using an example of a business-nonprofit
      >> relationship that has worked well, and been a winning situation
      >> all-around. This connects to Leon's "winning by sharing" philosophy,
      >> something we can all endorse!
      >> KAIPPG (www.kaippg.org <http://www.kaippg.org>), a health and
      >> development nonprofit in W Kenya--whose international branch I run in
      >> the USA--has a partnership with a Kenyan Diaspora tea business. This
      >> business, founded by a Kenyan (who immigrated from Kenya to Oakland,
      >> CA), buys teas from small-scale Kenyan farmers, thus helping to
      >> support those farmers and their local communities. Some of the profits
      >> of this business are then donated to KAIPPG. We use these funds to
      >> help prospective parents in Kenya to adopt children who are
      >> parentless, due to HIV/AIDS.
      >> This "winning-by-sharing" solution helps people and communities in
      >> Kenya at both the supply and profit/benefits ends, and gives people in
      >> the USA (Kenyans in the Diaspora included) a chance to have some
      >> delightful and beneficial (to health) teas. We are not asked
      >> to promote or "sell" anything, though of course we do like to tell
      >> people about this wonderful company, and they have a page on our site.
      >> I can see us doing something similar with Mornflake, when the time is
      >> right for that!
      >> With excitement about this project and its many possibilities, and
      >> best wishes and blessings to all! Janet
      >> ----- Original Message -----
      >> *From:* Benoit Couture <mailto:benoitctr@...>
      >> *To:* voiceful@yahoogroups.com <mailto:voiceful@yahoogroups.com>
      >> *Sent:* Wednesday, April 22, 2009 8:39 AM
      >> *Subject:* RE: [voiceful] Re: Synergy team for Mornflake research
      >> of UK online communities
      >> Leon, Janet, Andrius, Kevin and all,
      >> The main aspect that really reaches me deep, out of this
      >> association between The Law Firm with Minciu Sodas and
      >> Worknets serving Mornflake, is the 400 years pilgrim of a UK
      >> family, looking at expanding a healthy past and present
      >> contribution to humanity's welbeing toward a sustainable future of
      >> global reach.
      >> My suggestion to Mornflake is to develop a campaign called:
      >> 1- The point of this campaign is to consolidate the value of the
      >> relationships amongst the labor force that makes up Mornflake and
      >> to their immediate relationships in their supply network.
      >> 2- From such consolidation, Mornflake extends the labor-to-labor
      >> relationships to the supply network of its whole operation.
      >> 3- As Mornflake moves on to stimulate its own inner health and
      >> solidifies its immediate supply and production network, The Law
      >> Firm with Minciu Sodas and Worknets can then gather the steam to
      >> reach outwardly, growing from the good health and happiness of all
      >> whom Mownflake serve.
      >> Does that make any sense?
      >> Benoit Couture
      >> Edmonton, Canada
      >> --- On *Mon, 4/20/09, Leon Benjamin /<leon@...>/*
      >> wrote:
      >> From: Leon Benjamin <leon@...>
      >> Subject: RE: [voiceful] Re: Synergy team for Mornflake
      >> research of UK online communities
      >> To: voiceful@yahoogroups.com, livingbytruth@yahoogroups.com,
      >> earthtreasury@yahoogroups.com
      >> Date: Monday, April 20, 2009, 3:06 PM
      >> Kevin,
      >> Thank you for your contributions. Much food for thought.
      >> I think the video is simply a soundtrack on top of film taken
      >> from a moving train. Mornflake has its factory on the railway
      >> sidings in Crewe. Indeed the track was originally laid around
      >> the factory. I think you may be reading too much into this
      >> video.
      >> Thanks for pointing out the incompleteness of the organic
      >> statements. The site has just been launched. I’ve relayed
      >> your feedback and will respond soon.
      >> One of the things I like about your suggestions is the
      >> potential to create a cultural library (a montage?) of the
      >> UK’s values. A sort of time stamped impression of UK
      >> morality. Just a thought.
      >> Leon.
      >> *From:* voiceful@yahoogroup s.com [mailto:voiceful@
      >> yahoogroups. com] *On Behalf Of *ms@...
      >> *Sent:* 20 April 2009 13:59
      >> *To:* livingbytruth@ yahoogroups. com; earthtreasury@
      >> yahoogroups. com; voiceful@yahoogroup s.com
      >> *Subject:* [voiceful] Re: Synergy team for Mornflake research
      >> of UK online communities
      >> Hi Kevin,
      >> How do you know that it shows the Mornflake factory complex? I
      >> found no
      >> mention of Mornflake on the page. I left a message:
      >> "Hi trefechan, I found your clip because I and my online lab,
      >> Minciu
      >> Sodas, are doing some preparatory research for a Mornflake
      >> online video
      >> contest. Kevin Parcell wrote that your clip shows some of the
      >> Mornflake
      >> facilities and that the song "Madness" is a sort of commentary
      >> on that. I
      >> think that you simply like to make videos from trains. Can you
      >> please
      >> resolve our debate? Thank you!"
      >> Franz asked to post less at the Global Villages group so I
      >> refrain there.
      >> I share our letters with Edward Cherlin's Earth Treasury
      >> working group.
      >> Leon receives our letters through Rachel Wambui Kungu's
      >> Voiceful working
      >> group.
      >> Thank you, Kevin.
      >> Andrius
      >> Andrius Kulikauskas
      >> Minciu Sodas
      >> http://www.ms. lt <http://www.ms.lt/>
      >> ms@...
      >> <http://us.mc01g.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=ms%40ms.lt>
      >> Kevin Parcell wrote:
      >> > Andrius
      >> >
      >> > I see that your response to my note that replied to the
      >> message from
      >> > Leon has been sent to different groups than the note from
      >> Leon. Please
      >> > share my response with the same people and, of course, with
      >> Leon.
      >> > Thank you.
      >> >
      >> > At the very least, the video I linked gives an actual recent
      >> view of
      >> > the Mornflake factory complex and so adds to our knowledge.
      >> The lyrics
      >> > of the music also ironically seem to comment on issues
      >> relevant to this
      >> > project and so on the whole it suggests to me the likelihood
      >> that there
      >> > are a number of young people who reject the values they
      >> associate with
      >> > Mornflake as partaking in some kind of "madness" - not a
      >> path of bliss
      >> > - and thus it has always been.
      >> >
      >> > I found the vid by googling Mornflake, which means that many
      >> involved
      >> > in the contest whom google Mornflake (to see what others
      >> have posted
      >> > for instance) will find it, and the average person is likely
      >> to google
      >> > Mornflake rather than do a Google Video search. Perhaps
      >> Mornflake
      >> > ought then to expect to encounter similar expressions during
      >> the
      >> > contest. I think this vid is intended to be a casual and
      >> > self-explanatory statement that there is something wrong. It
      >> seems
      >> > likely to me that Mornflake was once a part of a physical
      >> community
      >> > engaged in feeding its neighbors rather than part of the global
      >> > community where neighbor is a quaint idea and virtual
      >> community is a
      >> > laudable a goal rather than the final destination of a
      >> society that
      >> > dreams of independent wealth as though that is not an oxymoron.
      >> > Sometimes I dream of wealth, but no longer of independent
      >> wealth....
      >> >
      >> > Kevin
      >> >
      >> > On Apr 20, 2009, at 4:26 AM, Andrius Kulikauskas wrote:
      >> >
      >> >> Kevin,
      >> >>
      >> >> Thanks for the link to the video:
      >> >> http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=b8VwChBp7VQ
      >> <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VwChBp7VQ>
      >> >> by Dai who "mostly take vids of trains and travel in
      >> britain and
      >> >> things I see on the way". The video makes no mention of
      >> Mornflake.
      >> >> I'm curious, how did you find it? I didn't see anything
      >> controversial
      >> >> about the video, nor anything potentially "viral" for that
      >> matter (it
      >> >> received 200 views). Could you connect the dots, what is it
      >> saying
      >> >> about Mornflake?
      >> >>
      >> >> I looked up "Mornflake" in Google Video search and there
      >> were only 2
      >> >> videos, both related to the local football team Mornflake
      >> supports,
      >> >> and each with less than 1,000 views.
      >> >>
      >> >> Leon told me the winner will be based on views through
      >> Facebook, so it
      >> >> is strictly a popularity contest, which makes things very
      >> simple.
      >> >>
      >> >> I agree that it makes sense to make it as simple as possible
      >> to
      >> >> participate. I imagine it would be enough to show or mention
      >> >> Mornflake somewhere in the video. Leon and I plan to talk
      >> today and I
      >> >> think he'll explain.
      >> >>
      >> >> I share your letters below. Thank you!
      >> >>
      >> >> **Andrius
      >> >>
      >> >> Andrius Kulikauskas
      >> >> Minciu Sodas
      >> >> http://www.ms. lt <http://www.ms.lt/>
      >> >> ms@...
      >> <http://us.mc01g.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=ms%40ms.lt>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >> Hi Leon
      >> >>
      >> >> Thank you for the information.
      >> >>
      >> >> You extract from something you are writing that,
      >> >>
      >> >> “One of the dictionary's definitions of the word
      >> authenticity is
      >> >> 'undisputed credibility' . In order for someone to be able
      >> to exude
      >> >> undisputed credibility, they must first have what I call a
      >> ‘quiet core'
      >> >> of self belief."
      >> >>
      >> >> That might be so about credibility, but in fact it is easy
      >> to dispute
      >> >> Mornflakes' credibility. For example, I've read the processing
      >> >> standards of Mornflakes' organic certifier (available here
      >> >> http://www.orgfoodf ed.com/Our% 20Standards. htm
      >> <http://www.orgfoodfed.com/Our%20Standards.htm>). This
      >> certifier does
      >> >> not independently test for organic integrity etc, and so the
      >> >> certification is a rubber stamp. Of course, the point is
      >> perception
      >> >> among the general populice, and in that regard I wonder if
      >> it isn't
      >> >> more important to all of us that we encourage ourselves to
      >> value
      >> >> undisputed credibility then it is that we focus on
      >> understanding
      >> >> exactly what that means. Specifically, I see that your vid
      >> guidelines
      >> >> on the theme "what should Mornflakes stand for?" is quite
      >> good in
      >> >> principle except it asks folks to look to where Mornflakes
      >> falls short.
      >> >> Will someone purchase the product if they agree with a vid
      >> that
      >> >> Mornflakes falls short or even if they have to question that?
      >> >>
      >> >> As you say, let it be about people's values rather than
      >> product
      >> >> features. Perhaps you might consider dropping the
      >> requirements that
      >> >> vids include the product and that they assert what
      >> Mornflakes should
      >> >> stand for, but instead ask only that vids be about what
      >> your customers
      >> >> believe in and that each video close with the written
      >> statement that
      >> >> the vid is sponsored by Mornflakes. This gives everyone a
      >> soapbox for
      >> >> their values so the contest sells itself. You then select from
      >> >> submissions a wide variety that are passionate, humorously
      >> >> self-deprecating (at Mornflakes' expense ideally), clever,
      >> etc, so that
      >> >> you always surprise the viewer and thus effectively create
      >> a fun
      >> >> guessing game that holds interest through variety - thus a
      >> viral
      >> >> campaign, not just a viral video. The result might be that
      >> your
      >> >> individual customers' ideas of their own "undisputed
      >> credibility"
      >> >> becomes identical to Mornflakes' undisputed credibility in
      >> their minds,
      >> >> even if there isn't general consensus about what that means.
      >> If
      >> >> Mornflakes thus becomes synonymous with the quality of the
      >> United
      >> >> Kingdom's people themselves - and I wonder if that wouldn't be
      >> >> appropriate given the history - your customers will demand
      >> you not let
      >> >> them down and they will not let Mornflakes down. Win-win.
      >> >>
      >> >> You wrote in your note about your positive impression of
      >> the people
      >> >> involved, but you are paid to promote the company and so
      >> your statement
      >> >> obviously must tend to ring a bit false. Securing the
      >> endorsements of
      >> >> regular, unpaid people, such as myself, would be better for
      >> Mornflakes
      >> >> of course, but you can probably select usefully from
      >> submitted vids to
      >> >> the same effect of accomplishing credibility. As for myself,
      >> >> undisputed credibility is something I would like to have so
      >> that my
      >> >> work's credibility benefits. And so I'm happy to think
      >> about this a
      >> >> bit, as I have, and offer a couple of criticisms and
      >> suggestions to
      >> >> express my general support of mincio sodas but reluctant to
      >> endorse
      >> >> anything where I lack firsthand knowledge.
      >> >>
      >> >> Anyway, I still have this itch to better understand how to
      >> link a
      >> >> product to the collective unconscious as it seems "Whiter
      >> Shade of
      >> >> Pale" accomplished.
      >> >>
      >> >> Cheers
      >> >>
      >> >> Kevin
      >> >>
      >> >> Ps Are you letting them vote for best vid with a ballot on
      >> every box of
      >> >> product? How about vote online and get a sample in the mail?
      >> >>
      >> >> ------------ --------- ------
      >> >>
      >> >> Andrius, Janet, et al
      >> >>
      >> >> Here is a link to a vid, shot from a train as it passes the
      >> Mornflake
      >> >> factory and its related railyards and housing...for 3
      >> minutes...the
      >> >> background music is the song "Madness"... The vid was posted
      >> on
      >> >> YouTube last month.
      >> >>
      >> >> http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=b8VwChBp7VQ
      >> <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VwChBp7VQ>
      >> >>
      >> >> Andrius, you state:
      >> >>
      >> >> "I'm in a situation where the nature of Mornflake is not
      >> important to
      >> >> me.
      >> >> I need work and I would help just about any company. I
      >> don't intend to
      >> >> judge them. Instead, the more that I can work as I prefer,
      >> the more I
      >> >> will apply my creativity to help them."
      >> >>
      >> >> I concur with Janet in both supporting the intent of
      >> advancing MS
      >> >> through researching and engaging online communities and
      >> also in needing
      >> >> more reason to engage those communities in public relations on
      >> >> Mornflake's behalf.
      >> >>
      >> >> Kevin
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >> ------------ --------- --------- ------
      >> >>
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      >> <http://www.primarilypublicdomain.org/letter/>
      >> >> Please credit our authors!Yahoo! Groups Links
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> >>
      >> > Kevin Parcell
      >> > http://sunmoney. org <http://sunmoney.org/>
      >> >
      >> >
      >> > ------------ --------- --------- ------
      >> >
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      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> >
      >> > "Since 1970 the index has fallen about 30%"
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