In a boycott, everyone loses. In a Carrotmob, everyone wins.

Have you heard of this group, Carrotmob?  Information taken from their web site is summarized below:
In a Carrotmob campaign, a group of people offers to spend their money to support a business, and in return the business agrees to make an improvement that the people care about. The group is called Carrotmob because it uses the “carrot” instead of the “stick.” Traditionally, people who wanted to influence businesses would threaten or attack them. The Carrotmob movement believes people can have more influence on businesses by giving them a positive incentive to change: their money.
People want to “vote with their money” to advance their values and improve the world from New York to Paris to Bangkok. This group is building a website to make voting with one’s money easier, more effective, and more fun.  Carrotmob organizers around the world have already created a growing movement. Find out more at
This concept has interesting implications for the work we do as economic development practitioners.  In reading a lot about innovation lately, my belief has been confirmed that innovation is just as much about applying a new concept to the way we typically do something as it is developing a new gadget or coming up with a new product.  So here is an innovative way to get a business to change.
The Carrotmob concept could be applied effectively through a Mainstreet organization (or a group of passionate citizens) to create excitement around the businesses in a central business district.  Like anything truly worth the effort, it takes leadership, dedication and hard work. But publicity and excitement will be generated around the idea, and who couldn’t benefit from a little more of that?
When we apply this concept to government, it sounds really similar to lobbying, however, with the Carrotmob concept, people aren’t paying the business to change rather they are giving the business their patronage so the business will have the capacity to make a change.  It shows an investment of time and money on the part of a whole host of participants.
If we were to organize ourselves around an effort is there a way we could lobby for good?  Think of the impact if we were to energize our constituents passionately around a proactive, positive effort or topic rather than only at the threat of something being taken away.  It appears to me that more attention is turning to local efforts, grass roots groups organizing and being effective at producing results around a cause.  How can you impact your community today?

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