TV Kids SHOULD Watch…And Produce!

quantum-shift.gifSometimes you just “click” with a “person, place or thing” that rocks your world in an ‘aha moment’ of “Where have you been all my life?”

Such is the case with Shaping Youth meeting up with QuantumShiftTV which holds the promise and vision of so many things we’re trying to achieve here with our fledgling nonprofit. As inspiration would have it, I found these Calgary-based visionaries through one of my own favorite blogs, Britt Bravo’s “Have Fun, Do Good” posting. Their tagline caught my eye immediately, “Be the change! Share the story!”

In a sound bite media world, I can distill my enthusiasm for this innovative crew into a four-word blip on one single hand, it’s “YouTube with a conscience.” Solutions-oriented storytelling. Educating through games and entertainment…yep, tons of overlap with our own Shaping Youth endeavors.

Little did I know, I’d have the great fortune to host QuantumShift’s CEO, Hugo Bonjean and his VP Relationship Development/Graphics guru, Daren McClean overnight in my home when they passed through the Bay area en route to L.A. last week…So needless to say, this is just a “prequel” to an extensive conversation.

“…Anybody with a story and a video clip can reach a vast audience…The question then becomes: is this technology usable for something other than showing music videos and Beyonce’s latest wardrobe malfunction?

What if the power of this medium could be shifted to informing and motivating individuals to address the important environmental and social issues of the day?”

Yes! A virtual sibling! A like-minded hybrid social venture all about a Quantum Shift from the norm…

Much like the crew, I liked their concept and tv series from the get-go…and seeing this action video of their core team of players at the Action Sports Environmental Coalition made me understand in a blink how they’d target youth…But since critical thinking skills are in my DNA…

I immediately looked at their “$50,000 prize package” and started my “sniff “test:

The QuantumShiftTV schools contest is challenging students to develop and execute two short videos (environmental, human rights or social justice)…They’re giving out three Grand Prizes in three separate age groups Elementary school: Grades 1-6; Junior, 7-9; and Senior, 10-12, with $50K PER age category...

So I start doing the math, thinking,

“Hmn…we’re talking six figures already…who’s behind this? Where’s the backing? What’s the rev gen model? Are there political ties? What’s the agenda? Should we partner? I’d better pull up some reviews on Eco-Sherpa and Google them too…Oooh. Excellent. ’07 Web of Change. Nice.”

Yes, I’m admittedly a cautious critter and journalistic pain in the tushie…

As much as I liked these guys personally, I grilled the poor gents extensively on everything from advertising filters to commercialism and sponsorship to ensure this wasn’t yet another backdoor greenwashing ploy to engage kids, glean ‘sticky eyeballs’ and promote unhealthy junk.

I’ve seen the whole Pepsi playground, philanthropic “snackercise” concept in low income neighborhoods to work the ‘green dot’ brandwashing of ‘healthier junk’, so I’m not exactly an ‘easy sell.’ (yes, kids, you too can work off the sugary sodas we market to you relentlessly 24/7, aren’t we great to give back to the community? sigh.)

Delving deeper, I found QuantumShiftTV indeed had like-minded action partners with Shaping Youth, a distinguished panel of contest judges including international digital media author Howard Rheingold, stellar orgs like Bioneers and Room to Read involved, and amazing champions of change like Canada’s 11-year old Hannah Taylor and her LadyBug Foundation.

Hannah, by the way, is the subject of an upcoming Shaping Youth interview, as she was recently honored with a Brick Award (given to world-changers under aged 25, along with one of my own roomies and gal pals, Ruth DeGolia, fellow U.S. GWLN delegate at our ’07 Women Leaders for the World summit and founder of Mercado Global out of Guatemala). Hannah has made incredible strides as a model of compassion for the homeless, making her project accessible to kids and adults alike. (yours truly was the probono writer for Francis Ford Coppola’s North Beach Citizens project in San Francisco, so you can see, Hannah and I have a vested interest in not wanting people foraging out of dumpsters!)

Anyway, the more I saw of QuantumShiftTV videos, the more I liked, because it truly speaks to the paradigm shift required in epic proportions for media and technology convergence.

I found myself wondering where we would align and how this will work long term, and stopped seeking ‘evidence,’ finally giving in to mumbling that classic line from the Jerry McGuire film…

“You had me at hello.”

With media partners like Green Teacher and a peppering of cause-marketing pros and media all over the board (from the entertainment President of Fox network to web celeb Ze Frank) this group is primed to snag the hearts and minds of passionistas eager to make a difference in the world!

To me, QuantumShiftTV’s school contest, project and resource list, exemplifies the finest in new media mobilization, enabling kids to use the media they love to connect and engage on a meaningful level that ignites passion into purpose in ways that benefit us all.

Just by planting a few seeds and nourishing them with knowledge, you can see thought leaders form alliances, take shape, and take off with fearless determination and unstoppable momentum.

For example, I immediately told the green teens in Seoul, Korea, launching the Project Global Cooling network (a “live earth” movement for local bands and green-minded students to stream their efforts online in time for Earth Day ’08) and they were exuberant hearing about QuantumShiftTV hoping it would be a perfect platform for their vision. (alas, at second glance it looks like the contest is limited to North America only due to the prize package offering involving physical logistics/execution)

Yet did that hinder? Not at all. It energized them and validated they were “on the right track.” These teens are planning, producing and promoting their own concert events in cities worldwide as a student showcase of what kids can do given a cause, a few supportive adults, and social media technology. (in this case, under the tutelage of international student learning techno-teacher enthusiast, Clay Burrell)

Now take that energy and idealism, toss in some some sponsorship funding and big bucks corporate donors and just imagine what these kids could do! My guess is they could ‘show us how it’s done,’ without big name celebs and a carbon footprint concert controversy.

These teens are living inspirations of the ‘think globally, act locally’ mindset, not waiting and contemplating their navels, or longing for a tidal shift of the cultural zeitgeist, but instead, taking it in their own teenage hands to be their own digital storytellers expressing why this all matters to them! Bravo!

Likewise, QuantumShiftTV has jumped right into the storytelling arena and landed a bracer on my own org, re-tuning my own frequency to a much more local channel.

I’m guilty of thinking globally, but not necessarily acting locally…After all, Bay Area local luminaries like Paul Hawken, Van Jones’ Ella Baker Center, and Nicole Sanchez of New Global Citizens are doing fabulous environmental work right in my own backyard…(and they’re all three judges for QStv) My outreach extends hither & yon overseas when there’s supportive brainpower right here locally that’s off my radar…

Whew. These are the kinds of ‘Earthseeds’ ideas that need continuously planted and scattered, to grow and bloom into a whole new life form…I’ll get into the motivation behind Hugo’s work in the interview itself, but briefly, the corporate know-how of QuantumShiftTV’s strategic chops should be applauded too…

Hugo was a successful 38-year-old business executive working for the Marriott International in Latin America a few years ago, dealing with some of the richest people in South America, while at the same time observing firsthand some of the poorest living conditions in the world.

“What I saw rekindled the humanitarian values of my teens…I decided to commit the rest of my life to the integration of ethics into the economic fabric of society.”

Whether you view it as an early midlife crisis or a resurgence of spirit that came into being, Hugo ended up writing a moving book called In the Eyes of Anahita–An adventure in search of humanity, which I hold a signed edition of, in my hands right now.

The novel, which became a bestseller in Canada, told the story of an executive’s struggle to integrate humanistic ethics into his role in global trade. The process of writing the book and its success afterwards led to a quest for how to make a contribution to society.

“The most common question I got at book signings was, ‘I want to make a difference, but I just don’t know how,” Hugo said.

(I hear that all the time at Shaping Youth with overwhelmed parents seeing media as a battleground rather than an ally…big conundrum that needs shifted!)

This guy definitely knows what he’s doing in the ‘green teen’ youth realm…

QuantumShift leveraged multiple contacts within the Action Sports Environmental Coalition to jumpstart youth enthusiasm (i.e. sports heroes like pro-skateboarder queen Lin-Z Adams, surfer Rob Machado and uber ‘X-treme’ environmental entrepreneur and skateboarding superstar Bob Burnquist,) to ping the positive synapses of youth energy.

Green X Games through the ASEC? Impressive.

Stay tuned for the full interview to see what they’re up to…

Meanwhile fire up the video cam, get your school’s media mavens involved and don’t miss out on the first round of entries, due December 15 for the ‘who, what, how, visionary conjecture” followed by round two beginning Dec. 16th, 2007 — March 31th, 2008 to tell the story of how you implemented your project, what the challenges were — what worked & what didn’t, what you learned, how it affected your community and all that jazz.

Parents, tell your kids, kids tell your parents…there’s $50,000 in cash and prizes for your school in EACH age group at stake here…$10,000 in cash, $15,000 in computer and other school material and the schools’ choice of a combination of a Bob Burnquist organic garden and greenhouse, a skateboard park, playground, jungle gym or comparable recreational facility delivered and installed by the Action Sport Environmental Coalition.

They’re also tossing in a celebration party at the Grand Prize Winning schools with action sports athletes and a rock band (thus the overseas logistical confinement to North America for now)

Join the other 13 US states and 4 Canadian provinces that are already onboard with their innovative, worldchanging project teams. And stay tuned for more on Hugo Bonjean’s QuantumShiftTV endeavors in our full length interview honoring People Shaping Youth…

QuantumShiftTV definitely fits our purpose of “using the power of media for positive change”…Encore!



  1. So happy that you gave me a heads up on this Amy –
    I’m already thinking – how can this model work / be extended for the age groups in my life pre-schoolers (my kids!) and college students (my students!). Great find.

  2. Kids should really run everything! This article reminds me of the one below:

  3. Run everything? Hmn. Well, I dunno ’bout that, our society is pretty ‘child-centric’ as it is…but I do agree that the heavy lifting issues (sustainability of our planet/people/peace, etc.) could use a dose of ‘kid-focus’ in terms of solution-based strategies that look beyond the myopia of whichever generation happens to be at the helm. (or in the voting booth) 😉

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