The Super Power Project (formerly Good AttaDudes)

The Super Power Project (formerly Good AttaDudes)

Canada
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Super Power Project is a youth-driven multi-media project to create and distribute messages to prevent gendered violence.

About You
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Your idea
Year the initative began (yyyy)

2007

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Culture/environment of conflict exposes and enlists young men in violence

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Unleash creativity that channels experiences of risk and vulnerability toward leadership

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

This field has not been completed

Innovation
Describe your program or new idea in one sentence.

The Super Power Project is a youth-driven multi-media project to create and distribute messages to prevent gendered violence.

What makes your initiative uniquely positioned to create change in your community?

By using the concept of super heroes as a way to rethink power and bust gender stereotypes this ground breaking project is working with high school-age youth (of both genders) in the lower mainland and other parts of BC to develop both an understanding of the root causes of violence against women and girls, and a “new-media literacy.” Participants will not only gain a critical understanding of the negative messages that flood youth culture in all media, but also how to create their own positive messages in a way that will be meaningful to their peers. The end goal of the project is for the youth team to help the messages they create “go viral,” using the web as a way to reach many more youth where they already are.

Using video and multi-media tools and training as part of a workshop process, grade 8 age youth of both genders are drawn into engaging with the issues in a way that is meaningful to them. Through exploring how stereotypes can contribute to dating miscommunication youth learn, in a playful way, how to “bust the myths” that may lead to violence while also gaining a “multi-media literacy” around how these messages are constructed in mainstream media.

Out of these workshops, and with their new awareness, they will create positive messages for their peers that will help model skills for healthy relationships. In our current phase ideas that have come out of the larger workshop are being turned into videos, flash animation and which will launch online with the help of our core group of youth some of whom will also be trained as media spokespeople. The project will be evaluated on multiple levels, to measure attitude shifts in the youth directly impacted, and how far their message has spread online.
Innovation: This project builds a new model to integrate much needed critical thinking skills, with message making and distribution.

The integration of education in the issues, with hands-on skills building in multi-media, supported by professionals, is what makes this project highly innovative. Ours is a commitment to a process model that treats youth as experts of their own experience, while re-presenting them as heroes to their peers, fully supported by the best video, graphic design, music and effects that can be professionally supplied to bring their ideas to life.

In addition we will have the youth involved learn how to focus test their ideas and in so doing they will they will learn not only how to make effective messages, but how to know when and why these messages work, or why not. They will have moved beyond self-awareness to an understanding of how their own friends form their attitudes, and why. This is particularly effective when dealing with the impasse (created and supported by mainstream society) between how young women and young men think, feel, and behave.

The biggest challenge to our success is that It’s not always easy to make the links between stereotypes and sexualized/gendered violence clear, and it’s even harder to model positive behavior in a way that will not be immediately dismissed as preachy and judgmental. The audience segment we are prioritizing in our messaging and approach is the ‘typical’ grade 8 boy. In the field of all things related to personal health and sexuality – he is the hardest to reach. Males are the group most often missed out with any kind of sexual health messages. So we have to work hard to do it!

Part of the challenge for us is how we take positive, role-model messages to reach male audiences without it coming across as ‘cheesy’, ‘lame’, ‘corny’ or preachy. Boy culture still very much revolves on the premise “bad boy=cool”. But we also know that if a boy feels he is being cast as the villain in the story we’ve lost his attention, and in a lot of ways his respect. If you think about extreme stereotypical masculinity, it values things like power, control and aggression. So how do we make the idea of self-awareness and effective communication – essential components of healthy relationships but which also fly in the face of stereotypical masculinity - considered hot, sexy and desirable? This is our biggest messaging challenge.

Our other challenge is in finding the right project partners, and generating enough ongoing financial support to give us a chance to experiment fully with the elements of our project we see as being effective, but needing more time to implement and evaluate.

Describe how you organize and carry out your work?

Our basic methodology is to use social marketing best-practices and apply them to our objectives. In a nutshell this means:

1) Working with the target audience to develop and disseminate the messages, as well as working with those who are in contact with the target audience.
2) Using the tools of mainstream marketing, in this case treating the youth as our clients in a deep branding process that will allow us to create top notch creative, that still reflects their POV.
3) Addressing root causes (gender stereotypes, power imbalance) in our messaging
4) Evaluating and focus testing as we go to make sure we are effectively meeting our objectives

The delivery model itself is also groundbreaking, as we will make use of all the tools that the “web 2.0” has to offer to make our positive messages “go viral.” This will be combined with outreach to mainstream media, and good old fashioned offline networking and partnerships.

This project will use the web to reach youth where they already are, and youth themselves will educate us on how to reach them. Through a network of linking and track-back mechanisms, we will unleash our messages on YouTube, MySpace, HelloCoolWorld, on the project micro-site TheSuperPowerProject.com and elsewhere in cyberspace. Key messages will all be branded with an overarching project “message brand” that will also lead to a central portal page where links and key content can be updated. However, the goal will be to disperse the branding not contain it, as that is how a project goes “viral”.

We will also create a project launch offline, celebrating youth culture, and allowing for the kind of offline community building that helps feed the momentum and excitement. We will use this as an opportunity to spread our key messages and branding offline, in the form of items like stickers and temporary tattoos.

What is your plan to scale and expand your innovation into your community and beyond?

Good Company Communications and WAVAW have an interest in making this model available for other groups touse, and/or offering licensing of the creative to other groups for far less than the cost of hiring an ad agency to do the work. There are few groups who can combine the savvy of an ad agency with the collaborative approach with both clients and the target markets. This process could be marketed. In addition we have created web-tools that allow us to efficiently set up time-based campaign sites on our HelloCoolWorld.com network, allowing our resources to be used for content production rather than building the technology.

Our overall methodology for expanding our message impact is based on the exponential capabilities of offline communities as well as the web to expand audiences. Based on our experiences with other projects we can reach out exponentially through a launch of the project to the 30 youth, their friends, families and communities. This could easily amount to 1000 people directly reached.The DVD can be distributed to many more and used in conferences and workshops, The online messaging campaign can reach thousands more.

What other resources, institutional, or policy needs would be necessary to help sustain and scale up your idea?

One of our project
partners, OPT – Options for Sexual Health (Formerly Planned Parenthood BC) has actively been advocating for the BC curriculum to mandate and include comprehensive sex education in the schools and to establish standards for the content and delivery. Their research shows that School Sexual Health Education (SSHE) is “spotty at best” and that teachers feel inadequately prepared to do this job. The SPP would be an important part of all SSHE curriculum and would benefit from being included in curriculum.

Impact
Describe your impact in one sentence, commenting on both the individual and community levels.

Anecdotally we know that this project has been life-altering for the participants, particularly the youth from Kitamaat Village. They live in a community of 800 people, and this project is an opportunity that they were incredibly excited by. (And it has not even launched yet!)

What impact has your work achieved to date?
Number of individuals served

We have not yet finished the pilot project, but to date, 8 youth ages 12-17 were part of a day long focus-test workshop. 22 youth ages 12-17 have been involved in our ongoing two workshop series. (In Vancouver, and in Kitamaat Village) More youth across BC have been involved in our pre-launch online focus tests.

Community impact

When the youth video screens in a community of 800 people (likely to be a feast for 200) it has an enormous impact on the community. The youth will be honoured for their work, and the topic of relationship violence will be brought into the open. The potential impact of this is huge.

Society at large

We’ve seen many years of girl power and consciousness raising, but we are in the very early days of a parallel movement for men and boys. The transformative potential of truly re-thinking masculinity could be world changing. And in an increasingly more violence world, it could be necessary for our very survival.

But to reach men and boys, we need to work with men and boys to really understand their fears and frustration around sexuality, being bullied, and being confused about what their role in the world as “good men” should be.

The boys who have been part of our project will be the testament to this future – as they will each be a new kind of leader, lover, father or friend.

What measure do you use to gauge your impact and why?

We will do a two-part evaluation, one will be qualitative and will analyze through interviews with youth participants, the impact of the project on them. We will also engage youth, as much as possible, in the focus testing of their own materials on their peers. In this way we will both evaluate if the messages will be meaningful to other youth (and we will be focusing on boys) and on how this process impacts our youth team.

The second part will be more quantitative. We will be encouraging our youth to spread their message through online means. We can track how effective this is using our own track-back tools, and google analytics. We can measure how well they get the message out and we can find out more about the impact through interviews, and text analysis of online commentary.

We will also be working with some online marketers to do more mainstream outreach (i.e. search marketing and direct marketing). In particular we will try to intervene into sites where boys hang out, including gaming sites. We will entice them with a contest and then get feedback on whether our messages are effective with them. We will measure three things: 1) Can we reach our target online? 2) Did they respond to our contest hook? 3) Did our message have an impact? (determined by their response to our contest survey.)

Sustainability
How is your initiative currently being financed and how would you finance further expansion and/or replication?

We received provincial government funding through a partners in Prevention Grant from the Ministry of Community Services for $150,000. The remainder of the budget of close to $200,000 is being provided in-kind by the partners, as well as some monetary support from Chee Mamuk (of the BC CDC) and the Haisla Nation. We are also exploring other funding options including online donations. In this pilot stage, the workshops will be provided free of charge to the youth/communities. However, the educational component of the model may be exportable, for a fee, in future as a way of sustaining the project. In addition, the use of the creative concepts may be licensed to other like-minded organizations for use in offline print, or television campaigns.

Provide information on your current finances and organization:

• Annual budget: $240,000
• Annual revenue $250,000
• Sources of revenue: Consulting, viral social marketing campaigns, youth workshops, fundraising through online store sales of documentaries
• Number of staff: 2 full-time

Who are your potential partners and allies?

The project is a partnership between WAVAW and Good Company Communications. WAVAW brings over 25 years of work in dealing with the root cause analysis of violence against women to the process. Their feminist anti-oppression models will be refined to focus on this project’s main target audience (grade 8 youth of both genders) and to dovetail with new media experts Good Company Communications’ multi-media production and distribution model. Both partners are “networks of networks” and intend to use this notion of networking to further the reach and effectiveness of the project.

Good Company Communications (most famous for their work on Canada’s top documentary The Corporation) has been using new media as a teaching tool as well as an end product, with an emphasis on using the web to distribute innovative and persuasive content since they formed in 2001. With hands-on youth projects like Planetahead.ca (Vancouver Coastal Health) the workshop series “Star in Your Own Stories” (Chee Mamuk, BC CDC), also entered in this contest, and the recent launch of the Won’t Get Weird viral campaign (bc.wontgetweird.com, Options For Sexual Health) they are poised to be one of the most innovative social marketing companies in Canada. www.HelloCoolWorld.com.

We’ve also joined forces with more distribution partners: Options For Sexual Health, The Haisla Nation, Chee Mamuk, Agentic Communications with more partnerships on the way.

Who are your potential investors?

We have hopes that we can receive more grant money from the BC Ministry of Community Services, and have plans to do further fundraising with our project partners.

In addition, we think that those who care about the issue will be interested in supporting the concept through online donations and/or investments in the development of the curriculum materials and workshops that we can sell.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

This project was the brainchild of Katherine Dodds founder and creative director of Good Company Communications. She has been interested in all aspects of gender and sexual health over two decades. Almost 10 years ago she was part of the creative team that created the video and key messaging for Project Respect (yesmeansyes.com) After that project’s successful launch she formed Good Company Communications and took her process models to work on more campaigns for other organizations including directing the marketing and branding for Canada’s top documentary The Corporation.

What is innovative about the Super Power Project is how it combines social marketing best practices methodology, with grassroots and activist movement building and the emerging possibilities of web-based communications. Good Company found the perfect partner in WAVAW as they have a commitment to root causes and grassroots movements. Together they are using the best of all the communications processes and tools on and offline that 2008 has to offer!

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

Katherine Dodds AKA "Kat" is the founder of Good Company Communications and HelloCoolWorld.com. Trained in renegade advertising & branding through her work with Adbusters in the '90s, Kat's early induction into the possibilities of the web-world was inspired by the term hypertext, which she immediately found comforting. She is dedicated to cause-related communication and to the development and use of tools that promote democratic processes. She has a degree in Visual Arts from the University of Victoria and an MA in Feminism and the Visual Arts from The University of Leeds, UK. Her area of research was around the synthesis of cybernetic systems, semiotics and psychoanalysis. … cybernetic systems, semiotics and psychoanalysis.

We hired Good Company Communications to do "Star In Your Own Stories, a positive sexual health campaign" with Kitamaat youth. This was our most
successful youth workshop ever. The video and creative process attracted the youth to the project, engaged them, and lent itself well to positive relationship building between us and the youth and among the youth themselves. The video medium is something that the youth could really relate to and get excited about and helped us to achieve our sexual health education goals.
— Melanie Rivers, Chee Mamuk Educator, BC Centre For Disease Control

The entire team at Good Company/HelloCoolWorld is on the cutting edge of new forms of independent distribution, marketing, and campaigning. With sass, savvy, and bubbling imagination, they take progressive content and get it to the widest possible audience, building a conscious network of engaged culture consumers in the process. HelloCoolWorld is a desperately needed alternative to the stale thinking and “that’s-how-we’ve-always-done-it” mentality that governs far too much our cultural landscape.
— Avi Lewis, filmmaker (with Naomi Klein) of THE TAKE

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