[tweetmeme] Resetting cultural norms is an important weapon in the move to a sustainable economy. It is partly a design challenge and partly a cultural myth-making challenge. The myth-making challenge is the province of marketeers, but must be founded on a genuine product.

Reagan’s opponent in the 1984 presidential election was former Vice President Walter Mondale. With questions about Reagan’s age, and a weak performance in the first presidential debate, it was questioned whether he was capable to be president for another term. In the second debate held in Kansas City, Missouri, October 21, Walter Mondale asked:

I want to raise an issue … in national security terms. You already are the oldest President in history. And some… say you were tired after your [debate]… President Kennedy had to go for days on end with very little sleep… Is there any doubt … you would be able to function in such circumstances?

Reagan rebounded confronted questions about his age in a brilliant piece of ‘resetting’:

I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience… it was Seneca or… Cicero… that said, `If it was not for the elders correcting the mistakes of the young, there would be no state.’

To great Laughter and applause Ronald Regan had reset the cultural norm of age as a liability, to age as wisdom. A very wise move indeed.

Resetting charity giving

s_glass_of_waterIn 2007 Droga5 conceived of the Tap Project. It was based on a simple, tangible and easy-to-implement concept: restaurants would ask their patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free, and all funds raised would support UNICEF’s efforts to bring clean and accessible water to millions of children around the world. Cleverly the project was started in New York City – a place where dining out is a daily occurrence.

A brilliant piece of resetting something that we take for granted.

We’ll see more and more products and services that solve our sustainability problem in the future, and some of those will be genuinely game-changing. They’ll need cultural norms reset: We have the expertise to do it.

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