Thursday, February 24, 2011

Capitalism and advertising in a garden

Knowledge capital, social capital, and bandwidth access—these enable communities to support those businesses which address their needs. Branding loyalty which rests upon production of trends and calculated obsolescence is wasteful, and old-style demographic calculations and statistics of mass audience appeal become themselves obsolescent. Those who efficiently identify, address, and strengthen the abilities of the community to meet its challenges will develop trust, diminish waste, and deliver not only useful products, but needed profits to market participants.
In our now-globally-conscious economy, “connected” people are looking for products which are affordable, durable, sustainable (“green/renewable/transnationally responsible”).  Concomitantly, social networking, digital capitalism and improved access to information world-wide can now enable each individual, each community, to join a “global pool” of knowledge, consumer coalitions, and innovative product development.
This creates a dynamic which can replace old concepts of advertising and market “share” with a much more resilient form of capitalism, development, and sustainability. People/consumers can highlight the infrastructure needs of their communities, their markets. Small businesses can network with larger corporations to provide the best possible products with the smallest degree of environmental waste, the most affordable price. Reasonable profit margins will still allow room for research, development, and a healthy economy.
In a garden-concept of capitalism, “sterile seed” businesses, those with planned-obsolescent trends, unsustainable practices, monopolistic (uni-crop) development would be viewed with the critical eyes of an informed consumer and investor population. As in a healthy, bio-diverse garden, those businesses which can grow in concert with the needs of a community and the technological and environmental innovations of the forerunners of industry will be most likely to succeed.
And advertisers, similar to responsible gardeners, can help ensure access and accomplishment for those businesses which best address the community-level realities of our globally-interdependent “market.”
Rather than a concept of “market share,” a practice of stewardship, of tilling the ‘gardens’ of “shared markets” will enable socially-connected, socially-conscious consumers to reward similarly motivated product providers with a new concept of brand-and-beneficial performance loyalty.
Currently recognized and trusted brands, high-end merchandisers, and specialized service providers can lead the trend of supporting a more responsible global economy and advertising concept. When investing in bandwidth advertising, large-budget advertisers can include in their costs a new style of online “sponsorship,” akin to the old-style “sponsorship” of public TV programming, movies, philanthropic and sports events, etc.
This “sponsorship” could entail direct contributions as well as pooled funds. Tax deductions for advertising/business sponsorship investments could be instituted among host governments, as precedent with existing sponsoring practice. And the visible manifestation of sponsorship could be reflected through ribbon ads, logo or brand marks along the sponsor-supported local/community-specific business ads, so that a simple click can link consumers to the welcome page of the sponsoring business, as easily as a click would link consumers to the desired local-targeting business, product or service provider.
The sponsoring funds would supply more than bandwidth to emerging and innovative community/global level businesses. Through the online/net service provider, pooled funds invested by globally-recognized brands could cover the costs of mentoring/online support to enable independent innovators, developing businesses, and local-market providers to maintain a cutting-edge grasp of the needs, product/profit balance, and best-available solutions to local/global community challenges.
Replacing concepts of “market share” competition with “shared market” collaboration will bring social consciousness, transparency, and sustainability to the “win/lose” monopolies of previous generations, and partner business with consumers in a more survivable, realistic form of capitalism, capable of responding to technological and critical developments. Creating a diverse garden of providers, products and services rather than a mono-culture of winner-take-all profiteering can best expand advertising, capitalism and market cultivation to their most efficient (and sustainably profitable), dynamic and productive capabilities.
One local-to-globally scalable agricultural project engaging the support of "shared market" providers would create serendipitous benefits for the local participants, for the larger eco-system, and for the planet as a whole. 
Simple in concept--creating green jobs, arable soils, renewable energies, and preserving and developing heritage knowledge of medicinal and aromatic plants along with edible and product-consumable varietals--industry and corporate sponsorship could facilitate the overall development of "seed pellets" for use in dust-  and harsh-environment- farming. Local and online soil management metrics could be maintained through tracking seed-use. Water management and bio-fuel production would be enhanced through the composting associated with the project.
Humans have been preserving seeds for much of our accessible history; people have been using seed-coatings (pastes, paper strips, grow-sprays, etc) for a long time, but there are few (if any) organic- or renewable-compost-sourced seed-aggregate or seed-pellet projects, in any scale. 
In regions of the world with large tracts of potentially fertile land (including urban farming along reclaimed spaces), soil remedies are urgently needed. Many farmers and cooperatives resort to subsistence agriculture where climates are uneven (drought, flood, temperature extremes, etc.), the soil is virtually untillable—stone- and debris-filled fields must be “dust sewn,” exposing precious, limited seed stores to birds, parasites and small animals, which consume seeds and seedlings before crops can grow large enough to withstand opportunistic predators.
Mono-culturing of “cash crops” has not improved this scenario, nor has extensive use of chemically-derived fertilizers and pesticides—which many subsistence small-holders and landless farmers lack the literacy and available cash reserves to access and use anyway. Many GMO “advancements” produce the actual “sterile seed” (corporate version mentioned above), which not only precludes subsistence farmers from gleaning seed stock for use with subsequent crops, but also, through cross-pollination, has been shown to render sterile contiguous plantings of the formerly robust indigenous plants and crops the farmers grew previously.
When container or mobile-cart gardening is not an option due to volume of produce needed, seed pellets or cocoons can create small biospheres of single-species- and symbiotically-grouped-species of seeds which can withstand climate and predators until healthy seedlings can mature into much needed, bio-diverse crops. Soil improvement, water, waste and energy management are serendipitous benefits to the use of seed pellet farming practices.
In a financially-viable, elegant solution, traditional agricultural methods: the use of terra preta (human-made, pyrolisized soil or fertilizer extremely rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and organics, highly carbon-sequestering—which decreases greenhouse gases and water pollution) recycled organic matter (egg shells, etc.) and biomass-fuel compost by-products (to prepare or generate soil and soil pellets), xeriscaping and/or food-forest/oasis layered plantings, and color-coded seed pellets accessible to literate and illiterate farmers may be  combined into a local-to-globally-scalable industry which can provide benefits to the entire planet.
At the cottage-industry level, seed pellets/cocoons may be easily produced in egg shell halves, egg cartons, and other small forms, or rolled by hand, and dried. Mass production might occur in a retooled pharmaceutical- or even candy- or snack-food factory, if a standard agricultural producer is unavailable for initial projects. Seed pellets may be cast by hand (“dust sewing”), or distributed mechanically, depending upon the scope of each planting project.
Pests which might have been attracted to seeds and seedlings are repelled by organics incorporated within the pellet mixture. Surrounding base soils are gradually enriched, becoming more productive and less susceptible to erosion/evaporation with each successive seed-pellet-sewing. Until “normal” tilling is possible, post-harvest plant mass may be removed for use in bio-fuel production—with organic solids available for compost material post-process.
Seeds and pellet coatings can be bio/organic, or standard (not certified organic), and regionally- and locally- based production runs could ensure that optimal mixtures of composts, nutrients, fungals and/or repellant organics are used to maximize response to each environmental challenge. Types of seeds / pellet-contents may be color-coated according to planting time, soil needs, crop pairings, etc., and distributed with simplified guide sheets to facilitate informed usage for initial crop selection, optimal soil enhancement, water preservation, and pollinator support, and suggestions for subsequent crop rotations among less-literate populations.
Corporate production might also offer small packages of flower/pollinator-friendly seeds, as well as vegetable, herbal, and other crops, for “upscale” marketing among environmentally-minded consumers who may be willing to pay a bit more for the opportunity to help support subsistence farmers, and the environment as a whole, while they have the fun of scattering seed pellets in fertile ground, or challenged margins of sidewalk or rock, to beautify their surroundings, as well.
There are many other “beneficial” corporate concepts which are available, and we must consider them as we move forward in our increasingly crowded and interdependent lives on this planet.
Some seeds for thought.