Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Social Networking for Green

From festivals to the blogosphere, 'connectors' keep green movement momentum strong
CSRwire 20 May 08;

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell points out the pivotal role of "connectors" in spreading ideas through social networking. Thankfully, the ideas of green and sustainability are catching like wildfire, in no small part due to social networking.

Take, for example, Co-op America's Green Festival, where an estimated 30,000 people gathered this past week in Chicago. A primary mission of the Festivals (which also happen in Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, DC this year) is to provide "structured networking opportunities . . . throughout the conference so businesses can meet and build connections with other business owners to form synergies and grow together." In other words, people attend to rub elbows, a peculiarly effective method of generating momentum for the green movement.

Web-based networking represents a much less carbon-intensive method for spreading the word. JustMeans launched a mere half-year ago as a social media website for socially responsible individuals and businesses, with job offers providing the primary social lubricant. CraigsList meets FaceBook, for the green crowd. JustMeans establishes credibility by association, linking itself to a set of A-list founding members - including eight fellows of the prestigious Ashoka social entrepreneur organization founded by Bill Drayton. These organizations support JustMeans because it simultaneously demonstrates and stimulates the growth of socially and environmentally responsible enterprises.

Blogging similarly leverages the connective power of the Internet to virally spread ideas far and wide. No wonder environmental guru Bill McKibben is endorsing Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge to harness the blogosphere in raising awareness about tackling the climate crisis. Carbon offset firm Brighter Planet invites bloggers to write posts describing the need to reduce atmospheric carbon concentration from 383 parts per million to 350, explaining the scientific consensus that this reduction will likely avert triggering catastrophic climate feedback loops. The first 350 bloggers who download the 350 Challenge badge will receive 350 tons of carbon offsets from Brighter Planet.

Perhaps most importantly, social networking injects fun into the otherwise daunting task of saving the world.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Estonians scour country for junk in big clean up

David Mardiste, Reuters 3 May 08;

TURI, ESTONIA (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Estonians scoured fields, streets, forests and riverbanks on Saturday to amass tonnes of rubbish in the Baltic state's first national clean-up.

Using Google maps from the Internet and Global Positioning technology to locate junk, people collected every kind of garbage from tractor batteries to plastic bottles and paint tins and ferried it, often in their own vehicles, to central dumps.

The campaign, which aimed to collect up to 10,000 tonnes of rubbish, was organized by Internet entrepreneurs.

"It is not really about the rubbish. It is about changing people's mind sets. Next year it might be something else," said Tiina Urm, spokeswoman for the Let's Do It! event.

Estonia inherited a mass of rubbish after it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but it has only added to the problem since.

"It has to be done, it can't stay here," said Mats Eek, 17, cleaning up a site in the middle of a forest near the central town of Turi, 100 km (62 miles) from capital city Tallinn.

He and the rest of his team worked to remove old metal, plastic, glass, bottles, and remains of farm medicals and household garbage hundred of meters from deep in a forest.

The organizers mapped and photographed illegal rubbish tips, then put them on the Internet using Google Earth as a platform.

They then used satellite photos and Global Positioning System (GSP) devices for accuracy in finding the clean up sites and asked people to register on the Internet to participate.

(Editing by Richard Balmforth)