Better World Team story fragment, reflection or sketch...

Live from Starbucks…
'The Better World Girl' Contest

"Oh good, there he is… finally," Maya said as Artie walked in through the entrance of the Starbucks. He looked to the left, and the right, and all around, searching for us. Finally he located us at the exact same table we'd been sitting at every single day for the past week; he seemed surprised to see us there.

Artie motioned toward the line, indicating that he was getting a coffee, and we smiled back impatiently and nodded. Fortunately the line wasn't very long.

As Artie finally sat down and settled in, I discovered what was left in my cup was stone cold. I toyed with the idea of getting up to get another latte, but now that the three of us were here, I didn't want to delay this meeting a second more. I mean, even though we all lived together now, these daily get-togethers at our local Starbucks were literally the only times I ever saw him.

Which was kind of weird when I started to think about it. Artie didn't know anyone here, but he was never around at the house. Where did he go? What was he doing? And the house isn't really that big, but come to think of it, I almost never actually saw Maya all week, either. I couldn't really complain about the state of affairs -- it is her house, and it's so amazing that she was letting us stay here while we work on the Show … But, I didn't know anyone either, and it would have been nice to at least have a meal together once in a while.

"So I've got some footage edited for a teaser video," Artie said after he'd settled down with his cup of coffee, and we had exchanged greetings.

I must admit the first thought that ran through my head was that he could have left us a note on the kitchen table, or at least sent us the link - I'd been hoping all week that he'd show us something. But then, as I knew from years and years of experience, Artie had probably just finished it minutes before racing over, from wherever he was, to meet with us. In fact he had probably still been working on it 15 minutes ago when we'd texted: "We're at Starbucks, are you on your way?" The guy was one of my closest friends (despite our age difference), and he was definitely an artistic genius, but he had no sense of time, whatsoever.

But how could I really be annoyed. Looking at the two of them sitting there, I couldn't help but feel a rush of gratitude … I was so excited to have finally found "a team" to work on this project with me, after all these years.

It filled me with amazement once again to think how it had all changed in a single instant. One sort-of-casual conversation with a stranger, and I'd finally found someone to star in (and finance!) my Better World Show project. Hard to believe I'd only met Maya online three and a half weeks ago. And how many times had I begged Artie to do this reality show webseries with me over the years. Yet somehow I could never pique his interest enough. But that one fateful day after emailing and then Skyping all day with Maya and then calling him, for some reason, suddenly it clicked and he was gung ho; and the Better World Team was born.

Artie reached into his bag to pull out his laptop while we waited with baited breath. "Wait, wait…" he said and pulled out his video camera and tripod instead. "We've got to tape everything, remember."

"Right," Maya and I agreed. The whole reason we'd set up these daily meetings at Starbucks, was, well every popular show had a bar or a diner, or a coffee shop as it's familiar 'home base.' So we would, too. But even more than that, we had a Plan to get this multi-national mega-chain of 20,000-plus coffee shops involved in a big way in our scheme to change the world. We'd film every episode and vlog entry at Starbucks, hoping somehow they'd notice and sponsor us.

As Artie quickly set up the tripod and turned the camera on before returning to his seat, I kept glancing over at it uncomfortably. I still wasn't sure I'd ever get used to the idea of being filmed. Artie, of course, would not be in the shot - somehow there wasn't a second of footage with him in it. Either he was physically behind the camera shooting, or the shot was conveniently framed so that he wasn't in it.

I noticed that Maya had suddenly perked up a few notches; she loved to be on camera.

Anyway, I naturally assumed the 'mystery footage' would be Starbucks-related. Over the last few days we'd been trying to think up some catchy campaign slogans that might catch the interest of someone in their corporate infrastructure. In my mind I was trying to remember some of the slogans we'd come up with.

The running conversation we'd been having since I pitched the idea earlier in the week raced through my mind. "Can you imagine if we can get them on board to fund us and push meetups for local Better World Clubs …" I remember saying. "But how can we get their attention?"

"If we could come up with some catchy catchphrase…" Maya suggested.

"Starbucks… The Better World Club Hub…" Artie had offered.

"Enjoy a Grande Latte, while you change the world today …" Maya suggested but quickly shrugged it off. "Come for the coffee, stay to change the world," she tried again. She shook her head and quickly rambled off three more equally forgettable ideas.

"Live from Starbucks… It's… the Better World Show!" I remember exclaiming, wildly imagining a flash-forward future when a famous celebrity announcer would introduce each episode of our super popular TV show.

Meanwhile back in reality, and as if she were reading my daydreamed-remembrances, Maya turned her coffee cup just a smidge so that the Starbuck's label was facing the ever-present camera lens. She put on her best smile. "Starbucks," she declared in her most professional TV-commercial voice, "the meeting place to change the world!"

"Not bad…" Artie said, momentarily looking up from his laptop.

"Yeah, we're getting closer…" I agreed.

"Great … so let's see the footage you've put together, Artie. Can't wait," Maya bubbled over, with sparkles radiating from her eyes. Every minute of every meeting had been recorded and there were undoubtedly any number of potentially great scenes where she'd come up with some key insight, or witty repartee or …

But when Artie pressed play, Maya was barely in the frame. We watched as we saw me with a binder full of notes, and scraps of paper were falling out and scattering in every direction. "I've got some good notes in here somewhere about doing a contest to find The Better World Girl…" I was saying in frustration. As I frantically searched, the viewer could plainly see that Maya wasn't pleased at all with the whole 'Better World Girl' concept. Her expression seemed even more dramatic with the music Artie had chosen in the background.

"We can generate a lot of hype with a contest, posting all the auditions online, having the public vote for the finalists …" I continued, finally giving up on the search and continuing my case for a fourth and much younger member of the team.

"We really need a young pretty face to symbolize the movement we're trying to build; someone who will inspire people to get involved and make a difference in their communities - and convince them, of course to make their own videos to inspire others, and tag them with 'The Better World Show' to virally grow our whole concept…"

In the video, from off screen, Artie handed Maya one of the slips of paper that had fallen to the ground. "Here's the text for an ad Bob had worked up," his offscreen voice said.

"Are you the Better World Girl?" Maya read in her best announcer voice. Even though she wasn't too keen on the idea, she did try to sound as professional as possible. Unfortunately, her scowl definitely showed through her smiling presentation. "Make a youtube video showing The Better World Girl in action," she declared, still cringing unconsciously over the words 'Better World Girl.'

"…And send a link to The winner will have a starring role in The Better World Show: The Reality Show That Will Change Reality."

That was it. The 30 second clip ended and Artie looked up from his laptop. "Well, what do you think?" he beamed.

I swallowed nervously. "Great music," I offered. I didn't mention that I wasn't that pleased to be the one featuerd on camera.

Maya was scowling even more than the video-version of herself. She grit her teeth and chewed on her lip while trying her best to think of something to say to mask her disappointment that this topic was the video Artie had chosen to work on first. She'd already made it perfectly clear that the other personas we were toying with for her were all we needed, and bringing someone on board to be 'The Better World Girl' was totally unnecessary.

Her silence dragged on a little too long and all three of us suddenly felt a little uncomfortable. The conversations at tables all around us started to seem a little overwhelming.

Fortunately Artie's laptop chimed a 'you've got mail' chime, and the tension shattered as he glanced down and exclaimed, "Oh wow! We got a response to the craigslist ad we put up this morning!"

Maya and I, of course, had no idea that WE had put up an ad this morning.

"And there's a Better World Girl audition video attached!" he added.

We peered excitedly as he pressed play, suddenly forgetting that we were both annoyed with Artie for doing something like posting an ad before checking with us -- the rest of the TEAM. We got a response already!

"Hi, I'm the Better World Girl!" the video's totally nude woman said seductively, with the volume turned up way too high. Heads were already turning at several tables nearby, by the time Artie slammed the laptop closed.

"Uh…I don't think we're going to use that one …" he said meekly.

"No!" Maya and I concurred.

We sipped our cold coffees in silence for a few minutes. "Should I pull the ad?" Artie finally coughed out. He was starting to realize that jumping the gun may not have been the best idea.

We thought about it a moment or so more. "Maybe we'll get something we can use…" I suggested.

"Maybe…" Maya smirked. Or maybe now Artie and I would forget about the Better World Girl angle, she thought, and we'd warm up to the Better World Goddess persona she'd pitched at the last meeting, for herself to play.

We were still lost in pensive reverie when Artie's phone chimed its own 'you've got mail' chime. And then again, and again. He looked down hesitantly to see who the 3 new messages were from.

Artie met our expectant gazes with a nervous nod. Yes, more Better World Girl responses, his eyes said. With a huge communal gulp, we watched as he opened the first new message.

© 2015 Robert Alan Silverstein
from The Better World Factory

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The Better World Show
The Reality Show That Will Change Reality

For the past 11 years, I've been wanting to create The Better World Show, a reality show that would inspire action for a better world and provide a way for millions to participate in real-time.

"The Better World Show: The Reality Show That Will Change Reality" would be an SNL-like variety show/reality show that would highlight the many efforts for a better world that are going on, often unseen, all around us, and inspire and empower action through humor, music and cutting-edge and engaging features.

I have hundreds of pages of notes on skits, next steps, a calendar of action, numerous vehicles within the Show and tons of offshoot-ideas. So, in a last ditch effort to try to make this happen before another 11 years go by, I'm putting out this call to either find a team to launch this webseries, or someone who might be interested in writing a series of novels with me based on this concept.

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The Better World Show:
The Reality Show That Will Change Reality

An SNL-like variety show/ reality show, inspiring and empowering a global movement for change in real-time.


Better World Factory
The off-beat behind the scenes exploits of a Team of dreamers, activist-actors and misfits working on The Better World Show webseries' vignettes of humorous skits, inspirational features and original music.

Better World Roadtrip: In Search of Utopia
A roadtrip across America highlighting people, places, organizations and ideas that are helping to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Better World Inc
Misadventures of employees in an Office-type setting working for a Corporation without any products or services but whose sole purpose is to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Better World 101
Sociology professor teaching from The Better World Handbook, gives his students a semester-long assignment to create a network of Better World Clubs on college campuses around the world and a webseries to inspire and empower the network they've created.

Better World News
A humorously satirical but inspiring take on current events unseen in traditional media outlets.

Better World Band
Music videos and behind the scenes exploits of musicians on tour, performing social-issue based songs.

Better World Girl
Shy dreamer has an alter-ego in her graphic novels about her hipster glasses, beret and scarf-wearing-heroine, The Better World Girl.

The Better World Couple
BetterWorldGuy and BetterWorldGirl engage in a youtube video duel to inspire action for a beter world.

Better World Heroes
A team of dreaming misfit superhero-wannabes embark on a fantastical quest of epic proportions to save the world.


© 2004-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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