District conference

Off to the district conference today, a conference which focused on social justice issues. Vicki Weintein, minister at our Norwell (Mass.) church did a wonderful presentation on integrating social justice into your congregation. Vicki pointed out some things that should be obvious, but that we sometimes forget about (at least that I sometimes forget about). She said that if you want to get people to help you with your social justice project, guilting them into it won’t work as well as “evangelizing” them: telling them how working on your particular social justice project has changed your life, and by the way when you look at someone else you see something in them that is like what’s in you that was transformed by this work. She said that social justice can be fun (radical concept for us New Englanders for whom fun might be an alien concept). And she said that we have to be open to what we are going to get from the people whom we happen to be helping — because social justice is not a one-way process where the priveleged we help out the poor oppressed them, it’s a two-way process where we who do the social justice benefit as well (obviously, there are sometimes some boundaries that come with certain kinds of social justice work, but you get the idea).

On a less serious note — at lunch, I happened to sit beside an old friend, and I began talking about the new YouTube video featuring the bizarre purple alien being who promotes seven cosmic principles, which happen to be just like the seven principles from the Unitarian Universalist Association bylaws (here’s the YouTube link if you haven’t seen it yet). “OK, it’s really stupid, but it’s funny,” I said, “and what I like best is the fact that the bizarre purple space alien is standing in front of this U.S. Pentagon emblem, which is just surreal. It keeps you from taking the video too seriously.”

“Um, well,” said my friend, “I’m actually the guy who made that video.”

“You’re ‘alienhelper,’ the person who created that video?!” I gasped. “Of course, I should have known it was you! So… how did you make it?”

“It was easy,” he said. “One Saturday morning A—- was away, and I had this idea, so I got really wired on coffee and went to work. First I recorded the soundtrack, speeded it up, and raised the pitch. Then I used one of those cheapo $80 Web cams from Logitech. I used Vlogit software to edit the video and add titles. Vlogit has a green screen feature, so I set up some green construction paper, pointed the Web cam at it, and used this little purple alien finger puppet to sort of act out what was on the soundtrack. Then I substituted the Pentagon image for the green screen.”

End result? 200 views in 2 days. The Live Journal UUs picked it up: 2000 views in 13 days. Whoa. This is what we call viral marketing — inexpensive marketing that spreads like a virus.