Achieving continuous magazine collection and distribution to community literacy programs is critical to success because, to invest their attention in a sea of other pressing demands, agencies need us to be a reliable partner with a steady supply of reading materials. No matter how well-intentioned, sustaining grassroots leadership and operations can be very challenging with an all-volunteer workforce. Moving magazines around is hard work.
We are continuously innovating – inventing and re-inventing our magazine literacy supply chain to learn new lessons and to apply new organizational methods and social networking that lead us to more efficient, effective, sustainable operations. When something works – we do more of it; when it doesn’t, we boil a fresh pot of spaghetti and throw it in new directions on new walls until it sticks.
Today an office was asked to participate in a Magazine Harvest by placing their clean, gently read magazines in a bin by the water cooler. The response was immediate and strong, with staff not only offering magazines, but volunteering to join a team to manage the project. This happens to be a software project team assembled for about a year, so even if their collection and distribution goes on for many months, it’s likely to end.
So, we have a teachable moment – an example that demonstrates strong and compelling engagement of consumers enthusiastic about recycling their magazines to new readers and about serving on a Magazine Harvest team, but only for a temporary period of time. One important prediction is that other workers in other businesses would likely be as enthusiastic about recycling their magazines and about serving on Magazine Harvest teams. Teams are important because many hands make lighter work – spreading tasks among team members in a way that promotes sustainability. The leap is whether individuals are interested enough to serve as representatives on teams that bridge many businesses. This would be a true formula for a sustainable community project that even resolves the issue of temporary business members. A Magazine Harvest team comprised of representatives from multiple businesses would weather the natural turnover exhibited by all-volunteer teams.
Today, place a bin by a water cooler to fill with magazines. Tomorrow, walk around your building to recruit new business teams. After that, go next door and down the street, and across town to put this theory to the test. Let’s tie the pieces together with social networking and online collaboration tools and spread the idea far and wide – on a wing and a tweet.
As one astronaut said to another rocketing toward his first orbit around the globe – godspeed Magazine Harvest.