By promoting shared traditional values like solidarity, responsibility, generosity, fitness, and respect, Jaime Carril is working to improve the general quality of life in Chile.
The New Idea
Popular contemporary thinking in Chilean society often relegates the ideals of kindness, service, and compassion to religion, an arena often considered too abstract, restrictive, and serious by Chilean youth and society in general. In response to this typical perspective, Jaime developed a multifaceted secular campaign that emphasizes the positive aspects of healthy living and civic participation. By employing an appealing media format and incorporating modern topics like environmental protection and personal productivity, Jaime effectively reaches a large, diverse audience. His approach is inclusive and nonjudgmental. His subsequent activities at the local level provide a model of constructive behavior and further assure that he does change attitudes and perceptions. In addition to offering concrete ways to improve everyday life, Jaime's efforts lay the groundwork for much-needed dialogues among community actors in Chile.
Chilean society has long been divided between two fundamentalist positions, the military and the political left, which appeal to two deeply rooted and opposite sets of values. Now, both groups must become acclimated to a third paradigm, capitalism, which poses a new set of ideals. A previously polarized society, Chile must accommodate this third perspective while dealing with issues of women's rights, HIV and AIDS, increasing poverty levels, and an alarmingly strong intolerance toward minorities.
In addition to their widespread social prejudice, urban Chileans are known for their high levels of stress, caused by unhealthy lifestyles, competition in the workplace, and pollution. Studies by the United Nations Development Program in 1998 revealed that Chilean life is characterized by uncertainty about the future, mistrust toward neighbors, insecurity, and general discontent. These qualities persist despite major improvements in material consumption since the return of democracy at the end of the previous decade. Moreover, the much-lauded economic advance has brought with it unforeseen consequences, like unemployment, disloyalty among coworkers, and a longer average workday. The Ministry of Health reports that half of the adult population in Santiago consumes some sort of daily tranquilizer. A recent investigation by the Association of Psychologists and Psychiatrists revealed that one out of three Chileans suffers from depression. Compared to other cities in Latin America, Santiago has one of the worst mental health indexes and environmental quality ratings. Although some state offices and nongovernmental organizations have marginally addressed these issues, they have had little success in reversing these trends.
Jaime's first step in addressing these problems was to design a media campaign underscoring the importance of generosity, trust, and respect. His print and television spots feature not only cartoon characters in familiar roles–as parents and children, couples, co-workers and classmates–demonstrating both proper and improper interpersonal behavior, but also advertisements that include a telephone number to call for more information. This was Jaime's first Campaign for a Good Life, and it had an immediate impact as people from around the country, mostly children, called Jaime to join him in his "efforts to change society." Based on this initial success, Jaime started developing workshops for school students and launched Cool Life, a children's magazine. Today, Good Life Corporation's strategy is focused on children, educators, corporate and public sector employees, and national campaigns.
Fully aware that children will one day be the heads of households in Chile, Jaime develops Good Life school workshops using theater as a tool to dramatize the practical application of personal values. The workshops are conducted weekly for eight months in each classroom, and they have involved more than a thousand children from 22 schools, half of which are in poor neighborhoods. Cool Life maintains students' interest following workshop training. The periodical features articles written by children on topics chosen by its readers. Children are encouraged to submit articles on any Good Life Campaign theme, including their thoughts and feelings about current events. Two of the most notable and popular articles were written by youngsters following the arrest of former military dictator Pinochet and the terrorist attack on the United States. Cool Life has reached a monthly circulation of 7,500 and is available at newsstands and by subscription at an affordable price. Good Life also has an agreement with the National Ministry of Education to distribute the magazine to 2,000 students at public schools throughout Chile.
In addition, Jaime developed trainings for teachers on how to incorporate Good Life lessons into other classroom subjects and encouraged them to nurture their students' natural inclination towards personal values. To date, 1,200 teachers have been trained and have access to learning guidelines and online discussions at the Good Life Web site. Jaime is also designing an online training project that will provide educator networks on a national scale with access to information on value-learning methods.
Jaime also identified the workplace as an environment that would benefit greatly from Good Life workshops. He has developed activities for companies and public institutions to foster better interpersonal skills and productive relationships among coworkers. Participants raise self-awareness and identify areas where values are being compromised. Jaime has also developed a guide for businesses and organizations to use in implementing the workshops internally–six months after which Good Life conducts a full impact assessment. Over 1,000 employees from 10 different institutions participated in Good Life office workshops in 2000, including typically high-stress groups from the Police Department and the Ministry of Health.
Good Life Corporation continues its public media campaigns promoting positive attitudes and society's need to adopt affirmative core values. The 1999 Campaign for a Good Life focused on public, family, and office interpersonal skills. The 2000 Campaign highlighted the importance of personal hygiene, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle. Last year's series encouraged Chileans to rediscover the spirit of their country in a contemporary context, strengthening tolerance, respect, and unity. Each campaign lasts six months and has full media coverage on television, radio, billboards, and posters. Good Life Corporation has a multidisciplinary professional team, with 4 full-time staff, 14 freelancers, and 6 volunteers. The board of directors is composed of entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and advertising and telecommunications executives. Eighty percent of the corporation's annual budget is financed by the sale of promotional materials Jaime has produced–agendas, notepads, booklets, and greeting cards designed by famous artists, and 20 percent by donations from companies and individuals. Importantly, Jaime's successes have created an international network of contacts that he will use to launch the Good Life model in Ecuador, Panama, Cuba, and Germany.
Jaime comes from a large family that was closely linked to the church. His social activism can be traced to his early childhood when he recruited his five siblings to help him organize a neighborhood music festival. Recognizing Jaime's potential, his grandfather persuaded him to read about philosophy, history, and politics–a practice Jaime found invaluable later in life.
During Pinochet's military dictatorship and while studying fine arts in college, Jaime organized workshops in silk printing, leather handicrafts, theater, and painting for people in poor neighborhoods. He found that art was an excellent tool to motivate personal growth and social development. Later, he formed a group of professional artists to conduct social activities for church parishes and citizen sector organizations. At the same time, he organized and participated in expositions and worked as creative director for several companies and initiatives. In 1986, however, he decided to focus his education on social issues and began his postgraduate studies in social sciences and development at the Latin American Institute on Social Studies (ILADES). ILADES subdirector, Priest Mario Zañartu, invited Jaime in 1988 to work on the creation of the Jesuits Company Communications Department, citing the need to "shake the status quo." During his tenure at the Jesuit Company, Jaime developed and implemented an innovative communications strategy based on discussion workshops and videos for priests, catechists, deacons, and parishioners. Jaime's project had such a positive impact that the Jesuit Company asked him to design a national campaign that he documented in various articles, manuals, and texts.
In 1996, still working for the Jesuit Company, but afraid that his workshops were not reaching a large audience, Jaime developed a concept for a televised campaign to revitalize the values necessary to personal and community prosperity. More "Campaign for a Good Life" projects followed.