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What’s a Cause mob? Can you define it?

April 16, 2010

The other day, I read a post by Jessica Kirkwood ; Can A Spontaneous Mob of Strangers Change The World? on the HandsOn Network Blog. Very interesting topic! Nice work Jessica. I’d like voice some excitement about this idea of randomly or semi-spontaneously inspiring others to work for or toward the common good. Here are my piggy back thoughts.

A mob or a riot has a strong connection to an unruly and disorderly crowd of people, it is generally not in the frame of mind to work toward the common good of a community.  But, mix up a disorderly crowd with  the improvisational like idea of a  flash mob (a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse) to a certain cause or service idea (like education or recycling) and you might be on to something.  Never-mind the fact that choreographed dancing and pantlessness is neither truly spontaneous nor socially helpful.  Just think about how the above videos above made you feel. Did you laugh? Wish you were there? Want to take part? Did the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Now imagine if those people had built a homeless shelter in an hour, or given 200 stray pets a home.  Exciting stuff right? Just maybe Cause or Flash mob of volunteers, if planned correctly, could inspire an entire city of people to begin recycling or stop using Styrofoam products.

Now Jessica,  can bring it back to the real world…

the seasoned volunteer manager in me furrows her brow and skips right to the details of implementation.“How can we make sure the Cause Mob meets a real, unmet need?” my inner volunteer manager asks skeptically?… “How will we know we if we are going to have too many or too few Cause Mobbers?”… “What if too many or too few makes the project ineffective, or worse, what if too much or too little participation causes the project fail?”… Assuming the details could be worked out, what types of Cause Mobs might work?….

And Jessica is totally correct, harnessing the creative forces that go into flash mobs and turning it toward acts of service is daunting. Especially  if you’re anything like me; totally unable to dance like those in the Antwerp video, and not really unwilling to walk around in public with my pants off.  But myself and everyone else is certainly capable of doing a simple “good deed.” Maybe something like the financial commercial video below where Liberty Mutual tries to gain some credibility could be a good place to start when brainstorming about cause mobs.

Like a real mob or riot, there are often a laundry list of events and discussions that happen before a crowd becomes unruly. But, just as often there is only only one act or voicing of an opinion that is a “tipping point” and transforms such a group from a peaceful gathering into a chaotic mob.  Maybe, just maybe, a Cause mob could be such a “tipping point” sparking a movement to end homelessness  or inspiring a coalition of volunteers to have 100% of fourth graders  reading.  It may only take one instance  where 200 people race through all the buildings in a five block area collect and recycle all the aluminum cans before the entire city is always recycling aluminum. Anyone out there with an idea for a Cause mob? Once again Thanks Jessica for that post!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2010 10:05 pm


    Thanks for this post and your response on the concept of Cause Mobbing… let’s you, me and a couple thousand Alums experiment, eh?


  2. May 31, 2010 6:41 pm

    I just like the approach you took with this article. It isn’t typical that you just discover a subject so to the point and informative.

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