Viral Marketing

Roots & Shoots is a grass roots organization. We were founded by 16 Tanzanian students and Dr. Jane Goodall. It was a while until we had a corporate office and a communications department and communications strategy. So for a while, Roots & Shoots spread two ways, either by Dr. Jane Goodall or simply by people who were a part of the program passing it on to friends and family.

While simple word of mouth is great and has been very effective for a number of organizations, including Roots & Shoots, it is a thing of the past–not the concept, just the traditional means by which it is accomplished.

The name is gone too. What was word of mouth, is now ‘viral marketing’ and anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can take part.

In fact, most young people are already apart. Viral marketing takes place when you log into Facebook and in your feed you see that your friend just bought the new Ipod touch. As a result, you either buy it or you change your status to “is jealous of Jake’s Ipod touch.” If you don’t buy it but pass it on, it is likely that someone is going to buy it because they heard of it from one of their friends who heard it from one of their friends who heard it from you, who of course heard it from one of your friends.

The tools of the trade?

Myspace, Facebook, YouTube,, Digg,com, Stumble, Photobucket, WordPress, Blogger, Live Journal, Discussion Boards, Instant Messengers… really anything that allows people to communicate with a lot of people from the comfort of their desk, couch or bed.

Roots & Shoots is working on it’s viral marketing strategy but if you are reading this, you have already been touched by it!

Check out some of the other tools of the Roots & Shoots viral marketing strategy:

Dr. Jane’s Myspace

Roots & Shoots Myspace

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Facebook page

The ReBirth the Earth: Trees for Tomorrow Facebook Cause

the Jane Goodall Institute’s Facebook page

Roots & Shoots YouTube Channel

And of course the Fellow Blog!




Above is a picture of a Lifestraw. These nifty little devices filter 700 liters of water (about how much water a typical adult would drink the course of a year) over the course of it’s life. The device allows anyone to obtain save drinking water from any source of water.

Sadly, the WHO estimates that 1.8 million people die each year from waterborne diarrheal diseases. Lifestraws filter 99.9% of the bacteria that causes more diarrheal diseases.

I first heard about these while I was traveling in California last fall. They are such a great invention! The best part is they only cost $4.50. Think about how much you spend each year on the water you drink. Even you ‘just tap it,’ your still paying a water bill. For $4.50 a year you can drink any water you find.

We are planning on using them in our next youth campaign. We hope to sell stainless steel water bottles and for every bottle sold we will send a Lifestraw to a Roots & Shoots group in Uganda.

Youth Leadership Retreat

Sorry for the lack of activity but Shawn and I spend all of last week working on the annual Youth Leadership Retreat, which started last Friday and ended yesterday.

I think it is safe to say, it was a great weekend!

We still need to go through the evaluations but everyone seemed happy and we got a lot accomplished.

Here is the summery of the weekend from my perspective

Funniest moment: The tennis ball game

Deepest moment: Why R&S is the best by Emily (I do not think there was a dry eye in the house)

Most Exciting Moment: Dance Dance Revolution (Ya’ll know Chelsea and I broke it down)

Saddest Moment: Saying good bye

Happiest Moment: For moi, the standing O everyone gave Shawn and I

Best expression: (I think she was trying to figure out what the other group was doing with the tennis ball, love ya Elan!)

Elans Expression

For more pictures from the weekend, visit and look under the Roots & Shoots collection and then look in the Youth Leadership Retreat album. For those who attended, look for an email about how we will be disbursing all of the pictures (I have to decide on the best method).

Also, check out the slideshow shown the last night on YouTube:

Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America

Last week, on January 31st, more than 1000 Colleges and Universities across the U.S. hosted teach-ins for Focus the Nation. This was a momentous event, the largest teach-in in history, and it was all about one thing. Global Warming. Western Connecticut State University was one of the schools that participated. All day there were debates, movies, discussions, and lectures all about Global warming. I had the pleasure of participating in a panel that was titled, “A Climactic Happening: An Open Discussion- What must we do? What’s likely to happen? How can we cope?” We had a rousing discussion about the nature of Global Warming, whether or not humans have the abilities necessary to reduce its impacts, and what people can do specifically to make that change. The panel was chaired by Dr. Wynn Wilcox, WCSU History Faculty, and joining us were Dr. John Briggs, WCSU Writing Faculty, Dr. Albert Owino, WCSU Physics, Astronomy and Meteorology Faculty, and Jennifer O‘Brien, WCSU Library Staff.

It seemed, from my observation throughout the day, that at least in this community we are mostly beyond whether or not Global Warming is happening. Now we are in a place where we are focusing on whether or not its being caused by humans. So at least we are making progress. I don’t admit to be an expert on Global Warming, but I have done a bit of reading, saw “An Inconvenient Truth”, and have listened to a number of lectures on the topic. While I understand that climate changes happen all the time, and are very cyclical, never have they been more off the charts as they are today. That is the data that helps me believe its being caused by something other than natural cycles. Never has our population been larger, and never in the existence of the earth (that we know of) have we experienced climate like we are today. In any case, even if you don’t believe in global warming, or human’s role in it, I don’t think that anyone can deny that we are facing serious problems across the planet, and we have to play some role in fixing them if we want life to continue on our planet.

A Green Superbowl

For any die hard football fan, the Superbowl represents the ultimate stage, the final battle and the place where dreams become reality or die. As a Patriots fan, my dream of an undefeated season leading to a fourth world championship in seven years  and a claim to being the undisputed best team of all time die yesterday as Eli Manning and the Gaints played their hearts out and Tom Brady and my beloved Pats could not answer.

Fortunately,  the day was not a total loss as the Superbowl was a pretty “green” event. Not as in the field was extra green, although I am sure it was, but the event was carbon neutral and the NFL (National Football League) took a number of steps to green the event.

The biggest step that the NFL and the Superbowl planning committee took to green the Superbowl this year was planting 1000 trees  to help reforest 42 acres of land that was cleared by the Rodeo Chediski Fire. The trees will, over the span of their lives, offset the carbon produced by the event. For those who are wondering, I do think that includes the carbon produced by the travel that had to take place to get everyone to the event.

A number of other steps were taken including measures to recycle as many bottles and cans as possible as well as donating any left over materials (from building stages etc…).

For whatever reason, these steps were not widely publicized. One step that was widely publicized was the “AMP energy drink generator trainer ride.”

AMP got together 42 bikers, who were powered by AMP (a high caffeine energy drink), and over the course of 12 hours the bikers, on stand still bikes attached to generators, biked up enough energy to power 30 minutes of the Fox pre-game show. Perhaps not quite as green as 1000 trees, but certainly it is the thought that counts.

Another interesting fact is that the NFL has been working on greening football for the past 14 years since Jack Groth, environment program director, was brought on board in the early 90’s.

Even though the game last night did not go the way I was hoping, it is good to know that it was held with at least some eye towards the future of our planet.