Category Archives: Innovation / Strategy

Changing Food and Climate: An Engagement Journey Begins

Changing Food and Climate: An Engagement Journey Begins

One of the biggest challenges with developing Greenpeace’s Less Is More campaign to reduce industrial meat & dairy worldwide was deciding how we could campaign to change people’s mindsets on how eating cheap meat and dairy they eat while also campaigning in a more traditional way to compel governments to take meaningful action to stop subsidizing the worst practices.

This need to balance positive solutions campaigning with our more tried-and-true techniques would have to be evident in our digital approach as well. I was tasked to being the project lead on the Less Is More website to come up with some solutions for Greenpeace offices all over the world to encourage people to make small steps to change food for the sake of our planet, especially in mitigating climate change.

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Team Plant: Greenpeace’s Crack Team of Kids To Change The World

Team Plant: Greenpeace’s Crack Team of Kids To Change The World

It’s really gratifying to see a concept that was just and idea in a few people’s brains get translated into a solid script and then into a viral video. In online advocacy, this often doesn’t happen but a great idea and flawless execution paid off.

For the launch of Greenpeace’s Less Is More global campaign to reduce industrial meat and dairy production for the sake of the planet, three campaigners at Greenpeace International – Alessandro Saccoccio, Dawn Bickett and myself, brainstormed some ideas to really articulate how we’re trying to trigger a major shift in consumption patterns in a positive way. Continue reading

Planet 4: Greenpeace’s WordPress Based CMS Goes Live

Planet 4: Greenpeace’s WordPress Based CMS Goes Live

It’s really great to see a global organization like Greenpeace push itself to adopt best-in-class, open source technology to adapt to the changing appetites and gnat-like attention spans of audiences in the modern age. People have lots of avenues to channel their desire to preserve the natural world and lots of great non-profit organizations to choose from to save this planet. I wrote in an earlier post about my role in helping Greenpeace arrive at the wise decision to embrace the WordPress CMS after careful evaluating of other solutions including Drupal. It took the better part of a year but the Planet 4 open source CMS is now a tangible product for the world to see.

I had the good fortune of being the only global campaign strategist to sit on the Steering Committee of the Planet 4 project for more than a year, where about a dozen of us from our Engagement and IT departments helped steer the process of empowering a small internal team of talented project managers, designers and developers – the Planet 4 team – to deliver a nimble prototype that could be replicated by multiple offices. Continue reading

Taking Your House Solar: Five Things You Should Know

Taking Your House Solar: Five Things You Should Know

Find out more about Tesla Energy SolarCity

It’s not easy being a solar guinea pig. But in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that’s what many of us have become. I’m talking about the thousands of others like me rolling the dice to solarize their home and see if it pays off despite an unfriendly atmosphere. At times, it can feel a little bit like you’re on your hamster wheel going around in circles. Solar energy in Virginia is still in its primordial phase.

The state ranks an abysmal 38th out of 50 states, according to Solar Power Rocks.  Virginia boasts anemic state tax credits, rock bottom renewable energy credits, weak RPS laws (which encourage diversification to more renewables) and lots of other impediments. We’re talking about a meager 241 megawatts compared to 1,591 megawatts in Massachusetts.  Much of this is due to the dominance of one power company, Dominion Energy (feel free to swing by their Facebook page to give them a piece of your mind after this post). They dictate not only what kind of power most customers get but also dictate terms to legislators in the capital of Richmond.

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Greenpeace Open Sourcing Its Digital Strategy with Planet 4

Greenpeace Open Sourcing Its Digital Strategy with Planet 4

Reprinted from Velocitize

Environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) Greenpeace is at the forefront when it comes to driving environmental change. With offices in more than 40 countries, Greenpeace is directly helping to move the needle on global environmental issues such as climate change and deforestation, and as such is one of largest and most visible NGOs in the world.

Its website, Greenpeace.org, plays a central role in its mission to save the planet by acting as a front door to educate users and as portal to encourage activism.

Greenpeace recently announced Planet 4 — the successor to Planet 3 and the codename for the redesign of Greenpeace.org — which aims to deliver a better content experience and provide a more streamlined navigation for its global supporters to take action. Continue reading

Why Greenpeace and WordPress need each other

Why Greenpeace and WordPress need each other

Greenpeace is about to embark on an exciting digital initiative called Planet 4 — a sea change in how we present our vision and campaigns to our supporters, volunteers and the wider world. Planet 4, or P4 for short, is our name for a next-generation content management system (CMS) and also the process of building it and getting to market. We want to do much more than “manage content” — we would like to redefine it, reshape it and make it much more user-centric where our supporters take center stage and the content reflects them as much as it does Greenpeace.

But “next-generation” isn’t entirely accurate because Planet 4 has a lineage and that lineage is WordPress. In essence, Planet 4 will be a customized version of the most widely used CMS on the planet with the intent on saving the planet.

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‘Journalism alone’ not enough to combat ISIS media messages

‘Journalism alone’ not enough to combat ISIS media messages

WASHINGTON – The propaganda spread by ISIS is more powerful and sophisticated than Al Qaeda’s media messages of just a few years ago.  So now, “journalism alone” is not sufficient for the U.S. to combat the Islamic state’s media campaign.

That was the message from two U.S. international broadcasting executives, Shameem Rassam, Executive Producer of Alhurra Iraq, and Davin Hutchins, Director of Digital Content for the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, at Monday’s CCLP Communication Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

Empowering future Arab leaders: There’s an app for that

Empowering future Arab leaders: There’s an app for that

When Radio Sawa launched as an FM radio station network in the Middle East in 2002, the Arab world had not really experienced anything like it. In many Arab countries, restrictive state control of radio licenses stifled innovation in music programming. But Radio Sawa provided an alternative of a mix of Arab and Western popular music coupled with on-the-hour objective newscasts and magazine shows on social issues.

Launching in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and the Palestinian Territories, Radio Sawa was the “cool channel” on the FM dial at the turn of the century. As the decade continued, a liberalization of the broadcast landscape and local investment in media created lots of competition. In addition, in key countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, terrestrial FM distribution was elusive. Some markets had never even heard of Radio Sawa or its unique news brand.

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Creating Digital Media To Confront Extremism, Inform Arab Audiences

Creating Digital Media To Confront Extremism, Inform Arab Audiences

WASHINGTON – At the board meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Davin Hutchins explained the digital strategy at Alhurra and Radio Sawa to BBG chairman Jeff Shell (Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group), Richard Stengel (former managing editor for Time and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department) and Middle East career diplomat Amb. Ryan Crocker.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors focused its meeting today on perceptions of the United States throughout the Middle East and took an in-depth look at the activities and accomplishments of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

The four-hour meeting at MBN’s headquarters examined the impact of U.S. international media in the region, including the operations of Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television, which marked its 10th Anniversary this month.

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‘Middle East Voices’ Wins Online Journalism Award

‘Middle East Voices’ Wins Online Journalism Award

The team from Middle East Voices won the 2012 Online News Association (ONA) award for “Topical Reporting, Large Site,” for their collaborative reporting technique during the Arab Spring.

To gain better insight how their innovative approach to journalism won them the award, I spoke with Davin Hutchins (former VOA Managing Editor, Middle East), Robert “Bob” Morris (VOA Chief of English, Middle East), Adam Martin (ODDI Manager of Technology Services), and Eric Pugh (ODDI Web Developer).

Here is the profile as penned by the Innovation Series Blog at the BBG… Continue reading

PBS MediaShift – ‘Syria Stories’ Uses On-Demand Illustrations to Tell Personal Wartime Stories

PBS MediaShift – ‘Syria Stories’ Uses On-Demand Illustrations to Tell Personal Wartime Stories

Published on PBS Mediashift with Mark Glaser.

This article was co-written by Brian Williamson. It’s a first-person account of a project by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The news reports from Syria are dominated by casualty counts: 80 thousand… 90 thousand… 100 thousand people killed in the conflict.

Comprehension of Syria’s human suffering is desperately needed to keep the human cost in perspective. Journalists at the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) (part of the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors) felt that a different approach was needed to give an Arab-speaking audience a deeper, personal connection to individual Syrians trying to survive.

Syria Stories is a new online documentary project from MBN that aims to tell the stories of the ongoing Syrian civil war on a very personal, human scale.

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On Assignment: The Story Behind Middle East Voices

On Assignment: The Story Behind Middle East Voices

Middle East Voices is a unique social journalism project powered by Voice of America. Its goal is to inform, amplify voices, stimulate dialogue and foster understanding within, without and across man-made borders.

The site won the Topical Reporting category in the 2012 Online Journalism Awards (ONA) beating CNN and the New York Times (Nate Silver’s Political Calculus Blog).

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Samsung, iPhone, Nokia and the Next Arab Spring

Samsung, iPhone, Nokia and the Next Arab Spring

If there is to be another Arab Spring in the next few years, it will look markedly different from what has transpired in 2011-12. Social media and mobile phones clearly played a role. But satellite television was deemed the amplifier that took self-organizing groups on Twitter and Facebook and turned them into million-man (and women) marches and armed resistance. Next time the Arab Spring may be more subtle… and more powerful.

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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Egypt Returns to Tahrir Square

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Egypt Returns to Tahrir Square

Voice of America dispatched teams to Cairo to cover the historic presidential election between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmad Shafiq. The same week, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces assumed legislative powers as the Supreme Court dissolved the democratically elected parliament. Egyptians sporadically protested in Tahrir that week until after the elections, when tens of thousands marched on Tahrir in defiance of SCAF.

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Covering the Arab Spring With Tumblr In Syria and Bahrain

Covering the Arab Spring With Tumblr In Syria and Bahrain

Before we embarked on re-launching the award-winning Arab Spring blog, Middle East Voices, the Middle East team in VOA English actually learned some tough lessons in creating participatory micro-sites. We originally planned to created Middle East Voices on Tumblr but after two experiences, we realized we needed to use a more robust platform which turned out to be responsive WordPress.

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The Future of Journalism, Public Diplomacy & Innovation: Five Rules to Follow

The Future of Journalism, Public Diplomacy & Innovation: Five Rules to Follow

What does the future of international broadcasting look like in the age of mobile? Should journalists focus on providing objective information even though information is no longer scarce in the age of the Internet? Should public diplomats focus on explaining a foreign policy or rather sparking discussion and promoting free speech even if it’s critical of that policy?

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Lessons from the Lab: Driving The Parking Lot Movie

Lessons from the Lab: Driving The Parking Lot Movie

IndiesLab Director Davin Hutchins runs through the digital successes achieved by the Independent Lensfilm, The Parking Lot Movie.

For those of you who aren’t aware of the mission of IndiesLab, it is a joint initiative of ITVS and PBS and our goal is to test and devise strategies for filmmaker success on emerging online distribution platforms. Our distribution partners include iTunes, Amazon Video-On-Demand, Hulu, YouTube, SnagFilms, PBS Video, and several other video-on-demand services on cable.

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Lessons from the IndiesLab: Digital Survey in Review

Lessons from the IndiesLab: Digital Survey in Review

This month, IndiesLab is launching a new feature, “Lessons from the Lab,” a regular blog with new marketplace data and observations about what’s working and what’s not in the digital space for indies. This month, we are building on the knowledge gleaned from our 2009 ITVS Digital Survey which polled nearly 1,000 independent filmmakers about their attitudes and strategies towards digital distribution and promotion. Here’s what we found:

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Predictions for Documentary Films and Digital Distribution

Predictions for Documentary Films and Digital Distribution

The Independent Digital Distribution Lab –– IndiesLab for short –– is a joint initiative of ITVS and PBS designed to help filmmakers navigate the marketplace and to generate revenue streams while also having a social impact. Indie Labs Director Davin Hutchins shares his first of five predictions about the future of films and digital distribution. Be sure to visit Beyond the Box over the next several months to hear more predictions.

As independent filmmakers proceed with their projects for 2010, I thought I’d take a crack at making some predictions for the New Year.

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The Knight Commission Website – Aspen Institute

The Knight Commission Website – Aspen Institute

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy was a blue ribbon panel of seventeen media, policy and community leaders. Its purpose was to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs. Its Report, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, was the first major commission on media since the Hutchins Commission in the 1940’s and the Kerner and Carnegie Commissions of the 1960’s.

Davin Hutchins was hired as a digital consultant for the Aspen Institute as a web developer to build a usable, flexible website for Aspen staffers to feature aspects of the report coming to life across the United States in various communities.

Read the full site at KnightComm.org.

The Art of Flight – Documentary on Sudanese Refugees in Egypt

The Art of Flight – Documentary on Sudanese Refugees in Egypt

The Art Of Flight tells the story of refugees fleeing Sudan’s civil war for Egypt and one journalist’s struggle to get their story told. This feature-length film tells the story of three people who have found themselves struggling to survive in Egypt – a U.S.-financed dictatorship which has reluctantly become their home. The film delves deep into the nature of charity, the consequences of American empire and the price of transience.

The documentary debuted at AFI Fest Hollywood, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and Bangkok International Film Festival and is distributed by 7th Art Releasing.

Available on iTunes.