Growing up in America in the 70s, I was inundated with anti-littering messages.
- Woodsy the Owl told me, Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!
- The crying Indian, [heavy handedly] guilted us all into realising we were destroying our country with our casual littering. (YouTube video)
- And then there was the one that played on the sensitive cultural stereotypes of my home state: There ain’t no lower class than Tennessee Trash. (YouTube video)
What strikes me now is that these messages sort of stop with personal responsibility to NOT litter. There’s not a clear call to action for helping to clean up and help out with the local environment.
Although the Tidy Britain cinema and tv ads of the 60s and 70s weren’t a part of my growing up, a Surrey park user told me about them yesterday. There’s a really interesting difference between the US and UK versions. Although they also play up the guilt angle, there’s something else there, too. The idea of people taking action. (Like this COI video with its Litter Defense Volunteers) Or how there’s more than one negative impact from littering, such as the draining of the public purse. (Like in this video where New Seekers singer tells her bandmate that cleaning up litter costs £25 million each year)
But it seems to me that there’s isn’t much of that same call to action now. Where there is, it’s largely limited to the “just don’t mess things up” rather than we all have to help out to keep things nice.
Surrey has a beautiful environment. Its residents are rightly proud and have high standards. But the environment is something that always needs looking after, even if everyone behaves well. Leaves fall, things decay, weeds grow. But there’s not as much money Surrey’s residents will need to take a more active role in keeping this area a fantastic place to live and work. We need low cost easy-to-use tools that make it easy for people to help out in the place where they live through micro-volunteering and to low-commitment casual volunteering on organised schemes.
The funny thing is, there’s lots of this going on in Surrey already. But it’s not easy to find out about it and it’s not always obvious what the effects are. Not because they aren’t good, but because they’re not always shared as well as they could be.
As part of the Future Surrey programme, we are working on some ways to address these issues. Making Surrey even lovelier and showing residents how their neighbours are helping out.
Introducing HELP OUT
Help Out is a tool which will help people
- find one-off opportunities to support their local community by improving the place where they live
- report problems in the local area (e.g. graffiti, fly-tipping, dirty street signs, fallen leaves and opportunities to beautify the area.)
- see what issues have been reported
- claim issues they’d like to fix or make better
- see what other individuals are doing
- see what the council and community groups are doing to improve the local area, including responding to reported issues
- find opportunities to work with existing casual volunteering programmes run by local volunteer trusts, countryside services and park rangers among others.
How we’re Helping Out:
Working with practitioners across Surrey and with residents in the Borough of Epsom and Ewell, we are using a rapid prototyping process which allows us to flexibly design and develop the whole service: tech, communications, social media integration and delivery.
This means we’re be talking with local people about their attitudes to the place where they live. What makes them proud. What makes them want to contribute. And how they want to engage. And by the 19th of December, we’ll have something to show potential users and practitioners and be able to make some clear decisions about how and whether we’ll fully develop Help Out (but we think this is a goer).
Help us out with Help Out:
To find out more and keep informed about Help Out sign up at http://surrey.helpout.org.uk or contact Ingrid Koehler at firstname.lastname@example.org