On Saturday, March 28th, 2009 there was a moment of solidarity that requested change for the world (and, for all kids afraid of the dark, a change of underpants). Earth Hour 2009 asked everyone on the planet interested in action against climate change to make a unified statement by shutting off their lights for 1 hour, 8:30 PM-9:30 PM.
The photos, videos, tweets, and scale of people involved was meant to serve as a wake up call in Copenhagen during the Global Climate Change Conference in December 2009. At that time, world leaders will be meeting to determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. Earth Hour planned to make everyone’s voice heard at this meeting. It’s the equivalent of going around your neighborhood to collect signatures on a petition for the mayor (1,000 people desire this) but a much larger scale (100 million people desire this).
Before Earth Hour had produced any collateral I tried to do my part this year by creating my own collateral and coming up with a few ideas that could help gain participants on the hour of the day.
NYC-Focused Collateral. One notable downfall to Earth Hour’s organization was a lack of basic templates that could tap into the power of participant’s creativity. This could have generated a greater sense of ownership over the change they were making and produce collateral more specific, and, possibly more effective, to their given area.
Poster Image. The visual idea here gave a typographical twist that made the 8:30 time slot more memorable than just saying it.
In an effort to draw my followers attention to the Earth Hour hashtag (#earthhour), I wrote an original poem with stanzas measuring 140 characters or less. By the end of it there were seven stanzas in all. You can read it here starting from the bottom going upwards. The title? How about: How far that good night can go.
I wanted to see more interaction with new media to gain US involvement. As of last November the iPhone was ranked the most popular phone in the US. That’s not an opportunity to ignore. So what was the idea?
Create an iPhone Earth Hour App which functions on two levels.
- A functional utility. The app analyzes your phone’s settings and helps you conserve battery life by restricting its energy output for only what’s used at the given moment on the phone.
- A reminder. The app generates a message on the morning of the day of the event (March 28th). “Today is Earth Hour. Remember to shut off the lights at 8:30PM. Through out the day your iPhone screen dims darker as the final hour approaches. Just before the screen would turn completely black a final reminder sounds as the phone shuts itself off for that one hour, turning back on with a thank you message upon completion.
Every app that is downloaded and utilized would count as a voice added to the cause. This data would be collected by Earth Hour for their purposes. As for the user–they would be given a unique badge for their phone designating that they made their voice heard (this can also be placed on their website/blog/e-mail signature, etc).
The idea would have taken a bit more planning, likely months in advance of the event, but it also would have functioned as a memorable utility that pulled iPhone users into the cause.
Candle Lit Dining and True Blind Wine Tastings
These two concepts came to mind as alternative activities to draw people into the spirit of this event. Rather than telling people to sit in the dark, let’s give them something fun to do.
Candle Lit Dining
The idea behind Candle Lit Dining was to organize a majority of restaurants in NYC to host a special pre-fixe dinner during Earth Hour, March 28th, 8:30-9:30PM. The meal and reservations would be prepared in advance as the restaurant shuts down all electricity and allows the entire meal to be served and eaten by candle light.
Unfortunately for this idea, but fortunately for the thirsty of Africa, Droga5’s Tap Project was already organizing with restaurants for its third year of participation asking restaurant goers to pay $1 for the tap water they normally drink for free. I don’t know how many causes one restaurant is willing to sign onto.
Blind Wine Tastings
There are so many restaurants, bars, and shops which sell wine. If you don’t believe me you can look at one local blogger’s map of them. This is for wine bars and this is for shops. That’s a lot! Not only that, but there’s a vibrant online community of wine bloggers/twitterers. Why not combine the passion for wine with the passion for climate change? Campaign a true blind wine tasting at area shops and online. People can reserve spots in advance and sample wines in the dark with friends. No distractions, no blaring lights–every sense involved except sight.
Earth Hour 2010
The hour has come and passed, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. I would love to see some of these suggestions implemented in the city for next year. I invite anyone who reads this and is interested to mobilize these ideas to lend a hand. The sooner the planning starts, the more we can involve NYC like it has never been involved before–we can do more than have Coke shut down one billboard in Times Square.