Who hasn’t dreamed of being a rock star? Throngs of fans following your meteoric rise to stardom, listening to your every word, creating a buzz about your latest grand accomplishment, an entourage of followers ready to step in at the slightest need.
Wake up, because chances are you might already be a rock star (or perhaps know one), at least the kind of rock star that Deron Triff and Alex Hofmann are looking for – that is to say, a rock star “Agent of Change” – and why they started Changents.com.
Rock stars of this genre are people like Elizabeth Redmond, creator of POWERleap, a flooring system that generates electricity from foot traffic (also featured last year here on 3P), or Scott Harrison, working to help alleviate the growing global water crisis. Elizabeth and Scott are two of a growing number of “Earthkeeper” Change Agents utilizing the tools and resources available to them at Changents, a new breed of online social media and networking platform developed by Triff and Hofmann. With key support and sponsorship from Timberland, Changents launched in beta on June 8th, but the buzz started back late last year when the project was in “quiet alpha” mode.
There are many great social networking sites out there focusing on environmental and social issues. Ways for people to connect, share ideas, find common ground, create a buzz. Some of those sites we’ve reviewed here at TriplePundit.
As good and useful as all those social networking sites are, Deron Triff and Alex Hofmann want Changents to be something different.
More Than Just a Green Profile
“Online profiles can be somewhat tertiary” says Deron in reference to the basic function at a typical social networking site. The aim of Changents is to help emerging leaders (like Elizabeth and Scott mentioned above) who are making a difference in the “real world” break through the clutter by using the latest online tools to build public followings.
Our platform enables ‘Change Agents’ to broadcast their first-hand stories from the field (using real-time Internet and mobile media tools) and build scalable, active fan networks around the world. Fans “Back” change agents by assuming roles as virtual team members.
Essentially, members are either Change Agents or Backers of one or more Change Agents (or both).
A Change Agent is an individual or group (generally personified by one or two “faces”) with an innovative project or tangible plan on making substantive change within a particular social issue (corporate responsibility, climate change, disaster relief, education, environment, human rights, refugees… to name just a few). A Backer is a supporter of a Change Agent’s mission. It’s a simple concept, but often the most powerful ideas are also the simplest. Make love, not war.
Changents provides the platform for the Change Agent to tell their story, attracting Backers interested in interacting with and helping the Change Agent in one or all of five different roles. Those roles are:
- Fan – A fan supports the cause from the sidelines, following the story and cheering the Change Agent on.
- Buzz Builder – Got a bit of a following yourself? Access to any sort of platform? Take a more active role and shout about it from your own mountaintop.
- Angel – Everybody loves somebody with a knack for raising money. Every Change Agent needs money in support of their cause. (Note that this is available to Change Agents with a 501c non-profit status.)
- First Responder – If you’re able to act quickly when a need arises, get on the Change Agent’s “short list”.
- Advocate – Not afraid to speak “truth to power”? Help create change from the inside.
Backers are able to choose any one or combination of these roles, and to change them later.
Through these various roles, Backers create a motive force behind the Change Agent, helping to achieve real goals both online and off.
Still just in early beta, Changents offers supporters plenty of opportunities get behind Change Agents.
Members of Changents can nominate either themselves or someone else as a Change Agent.
Eleanor Dowling of Changents walked me through the site and with her gracious help got me started as a Change Agent centered around my work as the publisher of GlobalWarmingisReal.com.
I first became a member, found a couple of great rock star Change Agents to back, then got inside and “under the hood”. That’s when I began to fully realize the power that this platform has. Within minutes of nominating myself as a Change Agent, I had imported the rss feed from my blog (I can also start one at Changents, but there is no need to do both), set up Twitter, import pictures and video that help tell my story, and have access to a phone number to leave audio blogs from wherever I am in the world (toll-free in the U.S.).
The secret is taking the time to create your compelling story, perhaps with a bit of attitude and humor (humor! please!), and blending the platform’s tools in a unique way to best complement your own goals and agenda.
And it seems to work. While Changents was designed with the Millennials , X, and Y generations in mind, it isn’t lost on old “late baby-boomer” like yours truly. Just a brief sampling of what I can do for my own project:
- I can send out Action Requests (official call-outs for help) from my Backers (writers, policy wonks, WordPress experts, etc.) or to announce a particular need, special event or meet-up.
- I can use Twitter to post quick updates about breaking news before I have a chance to write a full blog post, or use the audio blog function to leave a quick rant or call to action.
- Videos and photo albums help tell the story and inform backers and browsers of important issues. And when I finally get around to creating the video “A Global Warming Primer”, I can go to my base of backers to find someone more talented than I am in producing videos.
It’s a platform designed for flexibility, and it all integrates seamlessly with the major social networking platforms like Digg, Facebook, and MySpace.
Truly, the more I got into working my Changents story, the more excited I became about the possibilities of the platform (feel free to become on of my Backers!)
A Ripple Becomes a Wave
Another unique feature at Changents is the “Ripple“. The Ripple is an online representation of “rippable” actions taken by Changents members, rippling through the internet, sparking actions from others, and building the ripple into a wave of action.
Building Grassroots Momentum for Positive Change
I’ve taken the time to walk you through Changents because I believe that most TriplePundit readers are themselves Change Agents or support the idea of proactive and visionary change in a world where the status quo simply doesn’t cut it anymore. I think that’s the central idea behind this blog.
Deron, Alex, and their team at Changents have created a unique platform of online media tools and social networking to harness the power of grassroots momentum that can create a powerful force for change in the world.
That all might sound a bit highfalutin’, but change won’t happen sitting on the sidelines.
A ripple becomes a wave.
It is a revolutionary world we live in, and this generation at home and around the world has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived. Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills. Yet many of the world’s great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth; a young woman reclaimed the territory of France; and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the 32 year-old Thomas Jefferson who [pro]claimed that “all men are created equal.
These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. *It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.* Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
-Edward Kennedy, from his Eulogy for his brother, Robert