Hi we're Sandra Ekong and Angela Antony, cofounders of The Beanstockd Project.
We write to you from sunny Philadelphia, where we are currently building The Beanstockd Game: a competitive social network which incentivizes environmental behavior in small geographic communities and which, coincidentally, happens to be the focus of this blog.
Why Philly? We're here thanks to DreamIt Ventures, a Philadelphia-based incubator program which is providing resources and mentorship to help build Beanstockd into an environmental empire! Well, not an empire, but definitely into something great.
To give you a bit of background, we created The Beanstockd Project during our junior year at Harvard after returning to the states from our study abroad trip to Paris. During our 5 months abroad, we adopted habits standard to the European way of life--air drying clothing, using the water intermittently during showers, only taking public transportation. Within only the first 3 months abroad, these habits became normal to us simply from living in a cultural environment where people minimized their consumption. Upon coming home to the states, we found ourselves wondering if there was a way to recreate that positive social pressure in the States...
... and, The Beanstockd Project was born.
We developed our hypothesis, pinpointing three major gaps in the environmental movement, then crafted The Beanstockd Project to address them. These three gaps are:
1. Negative stigma - environmentalism is, despite all the press it's getting, still popularly perceived as hippie or granola OR is mistrusted as a marketing ploy; the movement still does not genuinely resonate with the young adult generation.
2. Lack of accountability - people don't really know the extent of their environmental impact.
3. Lack of incentives - nothing drives individuals to make the more environmentally conscious lifestyle choice when there is a more convenient or economical option available.
Beanstockd targets all three of these problems through media and gaming.
1. Negative stigma: Beanstockd News
Makes accessing environmental information entertaining and appealing to young adults - reporting on the latest in pop culture and current events and including a contextually related green spin to reach readers through the news stories they actively seek out.
2 & 3. Accountability and Incentive: The Beanstockd Game
Allows players in closed geographic communities to internally compete in an environmental competition; the most environmentally-active team wins the competition, a prize, and social recognition. The concept is unique because it approaches environmentalism from an unprecedented direction - it uses entertainment and competition to promote environmentally conscious behavior.
We believe that entertainment, immersion and competition, as embodied by games in general are powerful qualities that can be harnessed to drive an individual or group of individuals to change the way they perceive social issues, to change the way they live their own lives, and to change the world itself. To give you a sense of the power of gaming, Alternate Reality Gaming celeb (yeah those exist!) Prof Jane McGonigal writes "I'm trying to make sure that a game developer wins a Nobel Prize by the year 2032." We're clearly not alone in our thinking.
In the following weeks we'll be updating you on the execution of the concept, asking deep questions like: what makes a game a game?, asking fun questions like: how do we add entertainment value to the competition?, and asking silly questions like: what is the environmental impact of Jamie Lynn Spears' baby?
That's it for now. Tune in next week for more...