Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Savoring the Moment DESPITE Technology

I've been guilty of being frantic to capture the moment -- whether watching the amazing Russell Malone at his gig and wanting to get it on camera to share the joy...or wanting to hold on to the feeling of the inauguration forever, but it ended up being like trying to hold water in my hands.

So, Note to self: Be more present. Trust your memory photos vs. your digital ones.
Here's a great blog entry called "Technology is Great, but Are We Forgetting to Live?"

Really sums this feeling up.

And so what did I do with that blog entry?
Oh, I sent it to Twitter.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fair Trade Valentine's Day?

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?
Last week, I got the opportunity to have a blast from the past, with a touch of the future of trade.

I heard that Robin Thicke was performing at an event that was showcasing romantic options from 1-800-flowers, so I called his aunt, one of my best friends, to see about getting in. It seemed like a billion years ago that she and I were watching 11 year-old Robin run around the pool in baggy swim trunks and torturing his older brother, Brennan. He was a funny and good looking kid, and charming even then. His performance was great, everyone was listening attentively, he was terrific with the press, and it was good to see some things haven't changed - like the looks and the charisma!

And it was good to see some things HAVE changed.

I was pretty impressed that, always looking for the green angle (okay, some would say I'm always looking for ANY angle), I asked the spokesperson for 1-800-flowers what eco-oriented strides they have taken. She did not miss a beat. She was well-informed about the options for fair-trade flowers that were offered, for example. Granted, they may not have taken the biggest strides -- and I think she agreed, but if you know Moss Appeal Green's position then you know I believe in starting SOMEWHERE. You also know I think that greening any company starts from the inside out, so to have the employees have the scoop was a good sign to me. And even if she was a publicist, I got the sense, from the also charismatic CEO Jim McCann to Dir of PR Yanique Woodall, that a lot of the staff was informed about the company's efforts. That's what helps put more green in play...a company environment of support and interest that encourages employees to take it further and push the agenda.

But it's time to stride faster down the sustainability path. In her blog, "Dirt", Amy Stewart did a good job of posting considerations for florists making more impactful changes. And that was posted in 2007. I didn't have the opportunity to ask Jim if they have made deeper changes, like even water and energy conservation tactics in their 15 owned stores. I do know there are only about a dozen items that come up as "organic" or "fair trade" or "natural" of the myriad gift baskets or arrangements available on their site, and of those I have no idea what the packaging is like. With all of the moving parts of a big company like 1-800-flowers (they own everything from
Harry London Chocolates to The Popcorn Factory, where nothing comes up under green but the Green Bay Packers logo'd popcorn tin) it's daunting to think of how much COULD be done -- from pressuring stakeholders to comply, to taking a deep breath and adjusting your profit margin and mandating tougher changes. We will be listening attentively when the publicist announces those kinds of changes.

By its nature, flying in the flowers we love from South America just ain't green no matter how fair the trade is made. But do I wish, nonetheless, someone would send me some on Valentine's Day anyway?....


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Green Dregs and Spam

Well, it happened. Green spam. This is not just "greenwashing" or companies sending emails about their new-found consciousness using images, as my favorite eco-marketing mentor Jacquie Ottman would say, of "babies, planets and daisies."

The good news could be that some understanding of the problems at hand are trickling down and being grasped by enough of the general population so spammers think their .00001% average response will work even for a highly suspect fuel solution product. Or maybe I'm just on a Bleeding Heart Database because of my eco-activities and got it. along with only the .

But yesterday I got spammed about converting my car (I live in NYC - no car) to run on water.... "all for the low, low price of..."

There has been a lot written about "Brown's Gas" or HHO, and a lot of pretty smart people have been working hard at extracting energy from water (and I'm all for them figuring out how to finally perfect a FUSION vs. fission nuclear power plant.) But if a lot of other smart people are to be trusted then I'm putting my money on the pundits who posted about this on wikipedia, vs. the guy who is trying to sell converters for my car. (Whoops -- YOUR car. Remember? I don't have one.)

So if you want to have at it, I'll forward you the ad and maybe you'll be the one in .00001 that buys this, puts it in your Chevy and will write back and tell us all how it worked for you!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hope - Never a Cliche

As a cockeyed optimist, sometimes answering to Pollyanna, I can't help but be buoyed (pun intended) by the Miracle on the Hudson (per my tweet of "watching miraculous rescue: http://tinyurl.com/38przq.

It struck me - and a lot of my friends - that the timing of such an uplifting story of rescue is in perfect sync with the upcoming inauguration. We are all hoping to be rescued, perched as we are perilously close to close to being submerged by the muck created by the last administration. We are holding our collective breaths that there is a tugboat coming to lift us up, in the form of Obama/Biden. BravObama!

But it will take, just to keep the analogy going, putting our own masks on before helping others. In other words, we each have to do our parts.

We can't forget to be eco-conscious -- and I mean both economically conscious and ecologically conscious. This is not a time to give up on going green or saving green, to keep THAT pun going, too. Happily Obama has promised decent investments in renewable energy programs. The cockeyed optimist in me hopes that he sticks with the program despite some recent cautions.

And maybe even more a sign of new times? Mainstream folks are greening their world a little more. Even household cleaners are cleaning up with green. One year Clorox launched its Green Works line of natural cleaning products. Now? The brand has established itself as a leader in the category, capturing 42% market share.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Keeping Up

I try to keep up. Maybe I'm better than the average Joe(ette) with techno gizmos and social media stuff. But sometimes I feel woefully left behind. Thanks to new friend and followee on Twitter, Iyna, I learned about Google Alerts the other day. Where have I been!?
Since she's a PR maven, I told her how I'd been interviewed a couple of times recently and never knew if my comments made the cut. She showed me how to track alerts about me. So today, I check in...and voila! There was something about "branding by consultant E.B. Moss". Whaa?? Another brand marketer named E.B.? Hmmm...

I click on the alert link and...
Ce's t moi!

A few months ago, I spoke
on branding, quite eloquently I thought, at the Alliance for Community Media International conference in D.C. I knew someone was taping it for their internal review, but didn't catch her name.
Well, someone -- whether the woman shooting it or someone who downloaded it -- created two clips of me. Not so pretty clips. But a couple of my smarter comments, I must say! Now, I know I can be verbose, but I'm sad to say my brilliant 35-minute branding presentation got summarized pretty well in two thirty-five second clips!

(But speaking of clips, who did my hair and makeup that day?)

If you want me to come do the long or short version on the basics of branding (OR my Appealing Shade of Green marketing schpiel) at YOUR next seminar or company meeting, let me know. (I'll get my blow-dryer ready.)

Friday, January 9, 2009


I was all set to write some thoughts/tips about a Clean Start to the New Year with office greening ideas, etc. But last night, I was stopped dead in my tracks by attending a screening of an amazing new documentary. I was privileged to be among the first New Yorkers to attend this invitation-only screening as the film makes it way to theater circuit...thanks to rabid recycler and professionally funny friend, Robin Gelfenbien. She got the invite and when she heard the topic was biofuel she immediately called me. (Either she thought of me because I was the only sucker she could find to go see a film on that subject or my "brand position" of eco-consciousness has sunk in.)
I am indebted.
is a must see. Funny, educational, depressing and inspiring. Maybe it hit home because the film takes you from director Josh Tickell's early efforts to promote his all-vegetable-oil-run Veggie Van, from the back-story of the pollution created by the Oil Companies like totally mucking up towns like MOSSVILLE, Louisiana...to shining a light on purported cover-ups that would humble Michael Moore. But he describes it as "More a movement than a movie."

If you're in NYC, it will be playing in one small theater, opening 2/6, on 12th st. But here's the scoop: Robin and I...and pretty much all the other 25 people in the room last night, all drank the Kool-Aid and are working on creating screening opportunities from living rooms to corporate offices. If you have the space and want to host a screening before 2/13, call or write to me and we'll bring the popcorn and a copy of the DVD!

Looks like you can't play the trailer from here, so here's another link:

Why: It's on the "short list" of 15 others before they narrow the Academy Award noms down for the category of Best Documentary. We need to help them gain buzz and word-of-mouth because it's THAT IMPORTANT. One version of it won Sundance...and the updated version, with the twists and turns that happened since then, is even better. (It even has more of a "beginning, middle and end" kind of story than An Inconvenient Truth for the plot-driven fans among us.) Twists and turns in a documentary about energy? Believe it or not. For example, did you know:
  • Oil is finite. We have maybe 30 years left to last us. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes gotta happen NOW to break the addiction.
  • The alternative, of biofuels (see Veggie Van), can power ANY diesel engine without any conversions necessary and seemed promising til it got bad press in timing that was spookily coincidental to the GOOD press and award the film got, that may have scared the bejeezus out of the oil folks...
  • But there are still issues with veggie biofuels, especially ethanol...so Josh researched and promotes an alternative to the alternative, that even folks like Sir Richard Branson and Robert Kennedy, Jr who are featured in the film, are totes behind! One of those alternatives? Algae biofuel...which he actually tastes some of in the film....(I'll stick to Spirulina.)
At the end he does a great job of explaining it'll take a whole combo of alternative energies from wind and solar and whathaveyou...and yes, even some (operative word, some) oil to get us through.

Bravo. Hope you win, Josh.
We need fuel like this to spark action right now.

let us know if you want to donate screening space for an evening before 2/13, or want to be in the loop on screenings. (We'll try to create a Facebook page for it.) Worst case, ya'll can come over for a screening and Robin and I will host you if need be!
Want to help more? Check with Josh or producer Rebecca at: http://thefuelfilm.com/contact

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Unmasking a Green Menace, with a touch of Irony

Yeah, I know, you're thinking if this is E.B.'s blog, the title must be referring to an ECO-Green Menace. And there ARE some aspects of that, but its mostly more Moss Hysteria stuff with some twisted connections:

Yesterday I saw the van Gogh exhibit at MoMa (when I COULD see it, behind many heads of many tall people blocking my view of Starry Night. Happily, my favorite was the more visible Also Ran, called The Starry Night over the Rhone. Well, van Gogh's backstory of course included his appreciation for Absinthe and his prolific painting and/or his psychosis may have been that fueled in part by the Green Menace, which the liquor came to be called some time after its 1792 origins. But I'm deferring to the pros at the Virtual Absinthe Museum site who say hogwash.
"Van Gogh certainly drank excessive amounts of absinthe, and he did suffer from mental deterioration - however, the one does not necessarily follow the other. Van Gogh's family had a history of mental illness, and van Gogh not only drank absinthe, but also turpentine on several occasions (it's interesting to note that thujone, the active ingredient in wormwood, is a terpene)...."
A few years ago I read a good Wired article about a scientist who wanted to get to the bottom of the Green Menace and set out to prove that it wasn't poisonous by recreating the original absinthe recipe from his lab -- at Environmental Analytical Solutions Inc., where he NORMALLY tests for pollution in water. (See? That's one eco-tie-in.) In that article they quote Johnny Depp, who compared its effects to marijuana. "Drink too much," he said, "and you suddenly realize why Van Gogh cut off his ear."

In 2005 when that article was published, Absinthe was still outlawed. In 2007 all bets were off because the FDA cleared the Great Green Way so the underground hipsters, like Johnny, have made their way out with the wormwood.
But despite my passion for all things green, I haven't tried the Menace version of it yet, though I have had a cocktail or two in the New Orleans bar called L'Absinthe.

Anyway, to bring this around, I'm thinking just coincidentally to the exhibit at MoMa?, there was a great article in the Times about Absinthe, and the aspirational affectations of its drinkers.Now, many have argued (like Time Magazine) that we graduated from the Age of Irony when the Towers came down.
"The ironists, seeing through everything, made it difficult for anyone to see anything. The consequence of thinking that nothing is real — apart from prancing around in an air of vain stupidity — is that one will not know the difference between a joke and a menace."
But Eric Konigsberg tries to unmask the green Menace in a very funny and very condescending way. Brutally funny, if you are a pole-ercizer or even a cigar-barizer, but hurrah for him or anyone who puts the soul patch in its place. I just had to give his prose some props (do people still say "props" or am I an aspiring hipster even in the absence of absinthe?) when he generalizes about fans of the drink and
"just how quickly something that was once illicit...can lose its sheen of mystery and become, well, rather uncool.

Once the naughty aura of the forbidden fruit is removed, all that remains is a grasp at unearned sophistication. If absinthe were a band, it would be Interpol, third-hand piffle masquerading as transgressive pop culture. If absinthe were sneakers, it would be a pair of laceless Chuck Taylors designed by
John Varvatos for Converse. If it were facial hair, it would be the soul patch. If absinthe were a finish on kitchen and bath fixtures, it would be brushed nickel."
Man he's bitter. And funny:
"As with rolling one’s own cigarettes, say, or key parties, partaking of absinthe is built on preparation rituals and anticipation. You could say that absinthe is a kindred spirit of so many falsely subversive things: ear piercing for men, tattoos on women, those cigar bars, pole-dancing-aerobics classes, mind erasers, blogging about one’s bikini grooming, naming one’s bong after a cartoon character."

I have been to a cigar bar, and I LIKE the look of brushed nickel, but ironically, this blog has been bikini-grooming free.

PS: Know what else is called the Green Menace? Last year Governor Blagojevich announced an "Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week" for the State of Illinois. I'm talking about the beetle from Asia not the Governor, though I wonder what Konigberg would say about him. But to add another shot of eco to the topic, FYI the Emerald Ash Borer could destroy all ash trees in a few years if not contained. It has already killed about 20million ash trees in Michigan.

That's the problem with accidental introduction of non-indigineous species. But that is a blog for a more serious day.