The Blog On How To Use Our Egos and Insecurities To Change Public Behavior
People are smart. We have an impressive ability to look at a complex idea and determine if the logic behind it is sound. In the past, many health and environmental public relations efforts attempting to change our behavior have wrongfully assumed that because people are so smart, the following strategy will work.
Mixte Communications, a San Diego public relations agency, has a free food garden planted on the sidewalk outside our office. It is one of the results of Jamie’s three-year Mixte anniversary present to her employees: $300 and an extra vacation day to go on an adventure.
Now, anyone can grab a cherry tomato off the vine or a snack of arugula as they walk by. But more importantly, our neighborhood gets the taste of a new idea: planting free food in public space that belongs to everyone.
The day for the first bike commute finally came. Google maps said it would take an hour and fifteen minutes, but I decided 45 would be plenty. It was mostly downhill, and hearing the ride described as, “really not that bad” over and over again, I figured I could beat the average time. I wasn’t worried. (Spoiler alert: I should’ve been worried.)
Our founder had a moment. A moment on her slightly bent, very used road bike at a popular intersection in San Diego, where she waited for a red light next to a Honda SUV. She didn’t own a car, yet there she sat on a roadway next to a consumer product that she promoted.
There had to be a better way.
The Silicon Valley tech community has a funny term: “dogfooding.” It’s a shortened version of the phrase, “eating your own dog food,” and no, it doesn’t refer to a trading out soup and salad for kibbles and bits. In a nutshell, it refers to practicing what you preach. For Silicon Valley software companies, this means using the software they create. For Mixte, it means a little more.
When I adopted my dog Glen, my mother gave me a warning. “You have to be careful. Before I had children I bought a cute dog. I loved him more than anything. He was really cute. Then I gave birth to three kids. They were pretty cute. But my dog…” Thankfully she got distracted criticizing something else about me, but the message was received.