Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this conversation about social experiments based on small kindnesses. There are now several ideas in this thread but I’m sure we can generate more.
I visited Karma Army and Team Nice as Laura and Ian suggested. They are both great ideas although I sense neither currently quite has the momentum to reach a tipping point. We need to create a small kindness alliance.
Maybe it’s because I am a policy wonk social scientist but I like the idea that the RSA initiative is not just about acts of kindness but about gathering evidence (albeit impressionistic) of the effect of benign behaviours on others. I wouldn’t want to vouch for the safety of Peter Mansfield’s lane blocking strategy but it would be fascinating to see whether lots of drivers copying him did start to have an aggregate impact on behaviours.
Ian Gilmour mentions PledgeBank and I too him am a great fan of the concept. PledgeBank is already doing good thing but I have always believed that it needs to grow into a network of local banks to really deliver on its potential (after all most of the concrete things we want to do together are at the local level). Maybe RSA networks can help to take Pledge Bank to this next stage (what do you think Tom?).
Back to kind social experiments; how about this as a target?
Let’s discover/generate 100 ideas.
Then I can approach the Faculty of the Royal Designers for Industry based here at RSA and ask for assistance from some of their members to design and illustrate a little book of the 100 ideas.
Then we can sell it (one of those checkout books you see in major bookshops) with the proceeds going towards a fund for civic initiatives emerging from RSA networks.
The first step is to keep the list of ideas growing – once I’ve got up to about a dozen I’ll ask the team here to design a space on the RSA site to list them and so we have a link to send around to encourage more of the same.
Ian Gilmour has already suggested this idea, and I fully agree with it. Of course, some people will see this all as very whimsical but it is a mistake to think that big change and small change are mutually exclusive aspirations. Not only can small changes tip into big changes but doing small things provides legitimacy, credibility and insight to those calling for social transformation.