Portraits of Consumerism

Photographer stirs emotion by turning lens on social issues

While some people recycle their soda cans and tote reusable grocery bags, photographer Chris Jordan hopes his photographic art inspires consumers to think about the big picture of social responsibility (SR) and what effect their actions—or inaction—can have the environment and the world.

"My belief is, if we can feel these issues more deeply, if we can feel our rage or anger or grief—whatever it is … I think we would feel very differently than we do now, and we might be moved to act in a different way," said Jordan, who will speak at an ASQ event on SR on April 22 in Milwaukee.

Jordan, a corporate lawyer who became a full-time photographer in 2003, began photographing American mass debris somewhat by accident. His early photos centered on color theories and he didn’t intend them to be commentary on consumerism. He was more concerned about aesthetics. 

"I’d go out looking for this specific kind of color. One of the places where I found this color and where I took a lot of photos was the industrial port of Seattle," he said.

Jordan was drawn to photographing things such as rusty rail cars and shipping containers. He eventually brought one of his photos—a giant colorful garbage pile—to his office and hung it up. Friends talked about how well the photo depicted consumerism.

"I started reading about consumerism and discovered there is this vast body of knowledge that has been out there for 100 years," Jordan said. "I had this waking-up process. It has been under my nose, but I’ve never faced up to it for years."

Jordan’s early works involved straight photographs (images unmanipulated by the artist), such as the pile of garbage, which make up his "Intolerable Beauty" series. "The idea behind that series was to capture the scale of our consumption," he said.

From there, Jordan moved on to making collaborative artwork rather than straight photos, which he believed didn’t always realistically portray the country’s consumption.

Now, Jordan takes a statistic—for example, 106,000 aluminum cans are used in the United States every 30 seconds—and shoots about 500 photos and builds them into a bigger image to depict just how much Americans use. Other photos in this series, "Running the Numbers," center on statistics involving objects, such as plastic bottles, light bulbs and packing peanuts.

Jordan also uses photos to illustrate social issues. For example, one work displays 200,000 packs of cigarettes, which is equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months.

Through his photography, Jordan said he hopes to illustrate the phenomena that underlie these statistics so it allows for more feeling. "These numbers are so big, our minds can’t comprehend them," he said. "If we can’t comprehend the numbers and that’s the only information we have, then that means we can’t comprehend the phenomena. It’s my hope to take these statistics and translate them from the cold, unfeeling language of huge numbers into a more universal language that allows for some feeling."

NOTE Information about Chris Jordan and his photographs can be found at www.chrisjordan.com.

—Nicole Adrian, contributing editor

ASQ to Host Social Responsibility Event

Chris Jordan will keynote the ASQ Social Responsibility (SR) Launch set for Earth Day in Milwaukee. He plans to showcase photos from the "Intolerable Beauty" series and discuss how he developed the "Running the Numbers" series. The April 22 event is part of ASQ’s initiative to align SR and quality principles, and promote the business case for SR and the role of quality in maintaining a competitive advantage.


Survey: Consumers think food industry isn’t doing enough

The food industry may be doing its part to follow safe production procedures, but most consumers don’t feel it’s enough, according to a recent ASQ/Harris survey of U.S. adults.

"The United States, overall, does have a safe food supply," said Steven Wilson, a member of ASQ’s board of directors and an ASQ food safety expert. "However, whether food manufacturers have process controls in place or not, some have plant sanitation issues that they need to address."

Among the findings of the survey of more than 2,000 consumers:

  • 93% said food manufacturers, growers and suppliers should be held legally responsible when people die from tainted food.
  • 61% said food recall processes in the United States are fair or poor.
  • 73% said food safety concerns them as much as the war on terror.
  • The food industry should be required to follow international standards on food safety, 82% said.

The survey also addressed the government’s role in food safety. Eighty percent said they believed the federal government should select the agencies that inspect the facilities of food manufacturers—not the manufacturers themselves.

Less than half said they trusted the government’s ability to ensure the safety of food products. Half of those surveyed said they thought the government was doing a good job enforcing laws related to the food supply.

For more specifics on the survey results, visit www.asq.org/media-room/press-releases/2009/20090311-food-safety.html.


Walk the Walk

Speaker: To regain trust, government, business leaders must ‘go overboard,’ live organizations’ values every day

To regain the confidence of those in the public who have become suspicious or distrustful because of today’s economic woes, leaders in business, government and politics must "go overboard" and live out what their organizations’ values and guiding principles actually mean, according to one of the keynote speakers scheduled to appear at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) next month in Minneapolis.

"You earn trust every day. Every action you take says who you are. Every decision you make says who you are," said Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks North America and Starbucks International.

"People watch what (business and government leaders) do. They don’t care as much about what you say, but they certainly watch what you do.

"There’s no way to regain (the public’s) trust (following today’s economic turmoil) except one step at a time," Behar said.

Leaders also must be truly committed to following through on initiatives touted to improve the organizations, such as social responsibility (SR), said Jerry Greenfield, the co-founder of ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., and the president of Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.

Greenfield is also slated to speak at WCQI.

Some leaders, for instance, may see SR as a feel-good way to gain public favor or score points with special interest groups. Without a true commitment and belief in what SR means and what it can do, time and effort is wasted, Greenfield said.

"If business leaders aren’t really interested in adopting social responsibility, if it’s not something that they personally believe in, then they shouldn’t do it," Greenfield said.

"If you try and incorporate something into your business that you don’t believe in, whether it happens to be making social responsibility a part of your culture or believing in high-quality products or safety as an essential ingredient in what you do, then it doesn’t work," Greenfield said.

Often, the ideas can come from throughout the organization, but the commitment needs to come from leadership, and it needs to be unrelenting and uncompromising," Greenfield said.

Listen to more of the interviews with Behar and Greenfield at http://wcqi.asq.org/speakers/keynote.html#behar.

Four in one

In addition to the presentations, workshops and other activities at the WCQI, organizers have planned three "mini-conferences" to be held concurrently.

These conferences will address quality and software, healthcare and sustainability.

One registration fee covers admission for all conferences.

Software: ASQ’s Software Division will host its first Institute for Software Excellence (ISE) conference. The ISE conference will feature presentations and networking opportunities. Organizers have also scheduled half-day, on-site tutorials Sunday, May 17, the day before the full conference begins. Visit www.asq.org/conferences/institute-for-software-excellence/index.html for details.

Healthcare: This year’s Quality Institute for Healthcare will build on the theme "Building Better Performing Delivery Systems." For details, visit http://qihc.asq.org.

Sustainability: The Quality in Sustainability conference will provide opportunities for quality professionals to plan and implement quality in their sustainability strategies. Visit www.asq.org/conferences/quality-in-sustainability/index.html for details.



The number of ORGANIZATIONS that have been accredited recently under a new American National Standards Institute (ANSI) program that addresses the inventory and reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the environment. The organizations are:

  • Advanced Waste Management.
  • Bureau Veritas Certification North America.
  • First Environment.
  • NSF International Strategic Registrations.
  • Rainforest Alliance.
  • Ryerson, Master and Associates Inc.
  • SGS Environmental Services Inc.

 Through the ANSI accreditation process, the organizations’ efforts to inventory, report and reduce GHG emissions were validated and the organizations’ assertions about emissions were verified.


New Hard-copy Brochure Promotes Benefits of ISO 9000

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a new hard-copy version of its Selection and Use of the ISO 9000 Family of Standards brochure. The brochure includes examples of the integrated use of the ISO 9000 family of standards in the following manufacturing or service organizations:

  • A metal parts fabricating company.
  • A welfare agency.
  • An electrical appliance manufacturer.
  • A chemical processing company.
  • A computer software developer.
  • A bank.
  • A franchise organization.

The brochure provides an overview of the standards in the ISO 9000 family and demonstrates how, collectively, they form a basis for continual improvement and business excellence. In addition to the user examples, the brochure includes sections on the following topics:

  • A description of the ISO 9000 core series standards.
  • A step-by-step process for implementing a quality management system.
  • Maintaining benefits and continual improvement.
  • The future of the ISO 9000 family.

The brochure was written by ISO technical committee 176. The ISO 9000 family currently consists of 17 international quality management standards and guidelines, and a compendium.

The hard copy is free from ISO at www.iso.org/iso/publications_and_e-products.htm. There is a fee for postage and handling of bulk orders, however. It is also available from ISO national member institutes, including the American National Standards Institute (www.ansi.org) in the United States. An electronic version can be accessed free of charge on ISO’s website.

ASQ News

SMEs FOR CCT BOK  Subject matter experts (SME) are needed to craft practice questions for ASQ’s certified calibration technician (CCT) body of knowledge. To maintain the integrity of the certification exams, organizers want contributors who have not participated in writing an actual ASQ exam within the past two years. The questions formulated by the SMEs will be used to help others prepare for the CCT exam. For more information, contact Kate Berumen at kberumen@asq.org.

NEW CERTIFICATION  Exam applications are available for ASQ’s newest certification, the certified pharmaceutical good manufacturing practices professional (CPGP). The pilot certification exam will be administered May 17 at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Minneapolis. The first official exam will be administered June 6 at ASQ local section sites and at more than 80 international locations. The exam will be offered annually in June and December. The cost is $230 for ASQ members and $390 for nonmembers.

FELLOW NOMINATIONS  The deadline to nominate an ASQ senior member to become an ASQ fellow is May 4. To learn about requirements and other information, visit www.asq.org and click on "About ASQ." Open the tab titled "How We Do It" and go to Governing Documents to find policy G 02.02.

ASQ IN LATIN AMERICA  The first Latin American ASQ Conference was held Feb. 11-12 in Juarez, Mexico. The event included four keynote speakers, including former ASQ President Jerry Mairani, 24 alternative events and sponsorship booths. About 900 people attended.


Quick Poll Results

Each month, visitors can take a short, informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"How extensive are your organization’s social responsibility efforts?"

  • We’ve made a few changes to become more socially responsible. 42.3%
  • We haven’t done anything different. 28.8%
  • We’ve made major changes to become more socially responsible.   28.8%

Answer the most recent Quick Poll question posted:

What is most important when it comes to securing lasting change within an organization?"

  • Committed leadership.
  • Adequate resources.   
  • Workforce buy-in.
  • The right people to drive the change.


QP’s editors regularly scour past issues and find "must read" articles. Find these most recent choices under the "Topics" tab:

  • "Energize Your QMS," Lorri Hunt, October 2008.
  • "Adapting to Troubled Times," Michael D. Nichols and Karim Houry, January 2009.
  • "Driven By Metrics," Duke Okes, September 2008.
  • "The True Test of Loyalty," Bob E. Hayes, June 2008.
  • "Geared Toward Innovation," Søren Bisgaard, September 2008.


ASQ Board Announces Nine Award Recipients

ASQ’s awards board has announced the winners of its national awards for 2008:

Distinguished Service Medals:
Ronald G. Kingen, president of Balance Engineering, Racine, WI;

Navin S. Dedhia, quality management consultant, Hitachi Global Storage Technology, San Jose, CA.

Feigenbaum Medal: Jeroen de Mast, principal consultant, IBIS UvA, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Grant Medal: Lawrence S. Aft, director, continuing education, Institute of Industrial Engineers, Alpharetta, GA.

Juran Medal: Horst Schulze, president and CEO, West Paces Hotel Group LLC, Atlanta.

Lancaster Medal: Alberto Miller, director, international education, Broome Community College, State University of New York, Vestal, NY.

Shainin Medal: Jane L. Hoying, manager, Shanin LLC, Livonia, MI.

Shewhart Medal: Roger W. Hoerl, manager, General Electric applied statistics lab, Niskayuna, NY.

Brumbaugh Award: Søren Bisgaard, professor, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Pelham, MA.

 For more information on ASQ awards, visit www.asq.org/about-asq/awards.

Who’s Who in Q

Name: W. James Bover.

Residence: Scotch Plains, NJ.

Education: Doctorate in analytical chemistry from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY.

Current job: Business and controls adviser at ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences Inc. since 2005. He has worked at ExxonMobil for more than 30 years.

Introduction to quality: In the early 1980s, Bover performed technical support visits to his company’s lube-oil blending plant laboratories. The visits eventually shifted focus toward quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC). In 1983, he joined American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM)—Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants to help develop standard methods for the industry. This led to developing a working knowledge of statistical quality control techniques.

ASQ activities: Bover is a senior member of ASQ, having been a member since 1996. He has been active in several ASQ sections, and he is a certified quality auditor.

Other activities/achievements: Bover achieved the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and New Jersey Army National Guard. In 1989, he authored a laboratory QA practices document that has evolved into a primary laboratory QA standard at Exxon and ExxonMobil. Starting in 1988, he led the development team within ASTM Committee D02 that initiated an international cross-check program to evaluate interlaboratory precision. Bover continues to chair this program, which now covers more than 20 petroleum and lube products and has more than 1,500 participating laboratories worldwide.

From 2001 to 2005, Bover was section head of data integrity and QA, which was responsible for planning and conducting QA/QC assessments of ExxonMobil refinery labs and lube-oil blending plant labs worldwide. During his career, he visited more than 40 countries and hundreds of laboratories in support of QA activities.

Since 2001, he has served as the chair of ISO/TC28 on petroleum products and lubricants committee. He has also served as chair of ASTM D02 on petroleum products and lubricants committee from 2000 to 2005.

Published works: Co-authored "Bias Management and Continuous Improvements through Committee D02’s Proficiency Testing," ASTM Standardization News, June 2005, and "Proficiency Test Programs—Impact on Analytical Test Methods Used by the Petroleum Industry," Eastern Analytical Symposium, Somerset, NJ, 2006.

Recent honor: 2008 ASTM International Committee D02—the Lowrie B. Sargent Jr. Award.

Family: Married with four children.

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