Saturday, July 23, 2005

Speak Softly and Carry a Two-by-Four

That's the message that Alternet writer Zack Pelta-Heller proposes in considering activism tactics used by the big environmental groups in order to effect change in large corporations. Pelta-Heller initially focuses on a partnership I discussed in the waning hours of Blogging 'Round the Clock: the Sierra Club's partnership with Ford to promote the Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV. While such tactics have worked in the past (such as the Nature Conservancy's partnership with Home Depot on the sustainable sourcing of it's lumber supply), the article notes that peaceful partnerships often come about because other groups like the Rainforest Action Network are willing to use more disruptive tactics to draw attention to the problem. So, it would seem the real value of various activism techniques comes in their combination. I think this is a valuable lesson for activists -- if anything, it demonstrates that more creative means of communicating their message, and a willingness to play a variety of roles may prove most effective.

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