Category Archives: Culture

10 Ways to Change the World through Social Media

Citizen journalism, open government, status updates, community building, information sharing, crowdsourcing, and the election of a President.

Editor’s note: This is first guest post from Max Gladwell.

Our children will inherit a world profoundly changed by the combination of technology and humanity that is social media. They’ll take for granted that their voices can be heard and that a social movement can be launched from their laptop. They’ll take for granted that they are connected and interconnected with hundreds of millions of people at any given moment. And they’ll take for granted that a black man is or was President of the United States.

What’s most profound is that these represent parts of a greater whole. They represent a shift in power from centralized institutions and organizations to the People they represent. It is the evolution of democracy by way of technology, and we are all better for it.

For most of us, social media has changed our lives in some meaningful way. Collectively it is changing the world for good. Given the pace of innovation and adoption, change has become a constant. Every so often we find the need to stop and reflect on its most recent and noteworthy developments, hence the following list.

Please note this is not a top-10 list, nor are these listed in any particular order. It’s also incomplete. So we ask that you add to this conversation in the comments. If you’d like to Retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Take Social Actions: The nonprofit organization Social Actions aggregates “opportunities to make a difference from over 50 online platforms” through its unique API. It recently held the Change the Web Challenge contest in order to inspire the most innovative applications for that API. The Social Actions Interactive Map won the $5,000 first prize. The result is a virtual tour of the world through the lens of social action. “People are volunteering, donating, signing petitions, making loans and doing other social actions as we speak — all over the world. To capture the context of the where, this project uses sophisticated techniques to extract location information from full text paragraphs.” You can also join the Social Actions Community, which is powered by Ning…which now boasts more than one million individual social networks.

2. Twitter with a Purpose: This list could be exclusive to Twitter. The micro-blogging sensation was featured on our first two lists (a three-tweet), and it’s certain to be a fixture. From Tweetsgiving, the virtual Thanksgiving feast, to the Twestival, which organized 202 off-line events around the world to benefit charity: water, it’s become the de facto tool for organizing and taking action. Tweet Congress won the SXSW activism award, and celebrity Tweeps Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Rose Tweeted their two million followers about ending malaria. Max Gladwell recently initiated the #EcoMonday follow meme as a way to connect and organize the Green Twittersphere.

3. Visit White House 2.0: Inside of its first 100 days, the Obama administration has managed to set the historic benchmark for government transparency and accountability. The President’s virtual town hall meeting used WhiteHouse.gov to crowdsource questions from his 300 million constituents, complete with voting to determine the ones he’d have to answer. All told, 97,937 people submitted 103,978 questions and cast 1,782,650 votes. The White House continues to raise the bar with its official Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter channels. In so doing President Obama is not just setting the standard for state and local government in the U.S. He’s establishing the world standard. The Obama administration is spreading democracy not by force but through example. Because you don’t have to be an American citizen to be a friend or follower of White House 2.0.

4. Claim your Zumbox: What happens when all mail can be sent and delivered online to any street address in a paperless form? That’s the big question for Zumbox, which has created an online mail system with a digital mailbox for every U.S. street address. And while the answer to that question remains to be seen, it promises to be as liberating as it is disruptive. A key quality for Zumbox is that it’s closed system much like that of Facebook, only instead of true identity it’s true address. This will enable people to better connect with their communities including their neighbors, local businesses, and the mayor’s office. The primary agent of change, though, might not be that this uses street addresses but that it enables direct and potentially viral feedback, which is a virtue that e-mail and the USPS do not offer. The first methods are to request exclusive paperless delivery and to block a sender, but others are certain to evolve such as real-time commenting and ways to share mail with friends, family, and colleagues. Welcome to Mail 2.0. (Disclosure: Zumbox is a client of Rob Reed, the founder of Max Gladwell.)

5. Host a Social Media Event: This is the year of the social media event. No meaningful gathering of people is complete without an interactive online audience, especially when it’s so easy and cost effective to pull off. Essential tools include a broadband connection, laptop, video camera, projector, and screen. Add people and a purpose, such as entrepreneurship. Promote it through social media channels, and you have a social media event. A recent example in the green world is the Evolution of Green, which was hosted by Creative Citizen, a green wiki community. It celebrated the launch of a new Web property, EcoMatters, while also establishing a new Twitter tag. By posing the question, “How can we go from green hype to green habit?” and including the #GreenQ hashtag, it sparked a conversation between attendees and the Twittersphere in real time. Thus was born a new mechanism for getting answers to green questions via Twitter.

6. Travel the World: More than anyone else, Tim O’Reilly knows the potential for social media to change the world. In his opening keynote at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo, he called for a new ethic in which we do more with less and create more value than we capture. This provided the context for SalaamGarage founder Amanda Koster, whose presentation followed O’Reilly’s. The idea is that social media has enabled each of us to have an audience. Whether through Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or a personal blog, each of us can have influence and reach. What’s more, it can be used for good. SalaamGarage coordinates trips for citizen journalists (that means you) to places like India and Vietnam in conjunction with non-government organizations like Seattle-based Peace Trees. The destination is the story, as these humanitarian journalists report on the people they meet and discoveries they make. Their words, images, and video are posted to the social web to gain exposure and because these stories just need to be told.

7. Build It on Drupal: You may not have noticed, but the open-source Drupal content management system (CMS) has quickly become the dominant player on the social web. While we still prefer WordPress as a strict blogging application, Drupal has emerged as the go-to platform for building scalable, community-driven Web sites. It powers Recovery.gov, a key part of President Obama’s commitment to transparency and accountability. PopRule uses it as a social news platform for politics. And Drupal will soon become the platform for Causecast, a site where “media, philanthropy, social networking, entertainment and education converge to serve a greater purpose.” This is especially significant because Causecast CEO Ryan Scott is transitioning the site off of Ruby on Rails because Drupal has proved more efficient, user friendly, and cost effective. (Disclosure: Max Gladwell founder Rob Reed is co-founder of PopRule.)

8. Green Your iPhone: Looking for an organic diner within biking distance that has a three-star green rating? There’s a app for that. It’s called 3rd Whale, and you can download it for free. (Except that the star rating is actually a whale rating.) Complete with Facebook Connect, this iPhone app locates green products and businesses in 30 major North American cities. It uses the iPhone’s dial function to select a category (food), sub-category (restaurants), and distance (walking, biking, or driving). In Santa Monica, this might give you Swingers diner for its selection of veggie and vegan fare. You could then get directions from your current location using the iPhone’s built-in Google map, rate your experience on the three-whale scale, and write up a quick review. 3rd Whale recently released a new feature that integrates green-living tips, which can show how much energy or waste you’ll save by taking a given action.

9. Unite the World Through Video: Matt’s dancing around the world video inspired many to tears. Today, more than 20 million people have viewed his YouTube masterpiece, where he performs a kooky dance with the citizens of planet earth. The most recent example of this approach is Playing for Change, which connects the world through song. The project started in Santa Monica with a street performance of the classic Stand By Me and expanded to New Orleans, New Mexico, France, Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain, and The Netherlands. The project was superbly executed via social media, complete with a YouTube channel, MySpace, Facebook, and Blog. It’s received tremendous mainstream media exposure and also benefits a foundation of the same name.

10. Rate a Company: The conversation about corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes place across the social web on blogs, Twitter, and YouTube, but a central hub for this information and opinion is still to be determined. SocialYell seeks to address this by building an online community around the CSR conversation, where users can submit reviews of companies together with nonprofit organizations and even public figures like Michelle Obama. The major topics are the Environment, Health, Social Equity, Consumer Advocacy, and Charity. The reviews are voted and commented on by the community in a Reddit-like fashion with both up (Yell) and down (shhh) voting. The site is relatively new and still gaining traction, but there’s no question that a resource like this is needed to shine a bright light on CSR and and other related issues.

11. Publish a collective, simultaneous blog post on a universal topic: As Nigel Tufnel might say, this list goes to eleven. Let the #10Ways conversation begin…

Final note: This is Max Gladwell’s third list of “10 Ways to Change the World Through Social Media.” The first was posted a year ago today on Sustainablog.org, and the sequel followed five months later. If a single headline can capture the Max Gladwell raison d’etre, this is it.

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The Future of Food – Vertical Farming

vert-farmWith 85% of the human population living in urban settings by 2050 – there is not doubt that a new way of raising our food, must be underway.  Lucky for us, a genius by the name of Dickson Despommier, has already created the solution for us – vertical farming.

Despommier  is a professor of Environmental Health at Columbia University, and coined the term, Vertical Farming.  It offers the idea of using hydroponic greenhouse methods to grow upward, rather than out.

As our needs continue  to grow over the next several decades, we are going to need to solve this issues, before they become problems.  The idea of a controlled environment, may be counter intuitive to us, naturalists, but the reality is that the use of Agri Business, has not been able to solve our food issues.

The method of vertical farming, forgoes the use of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, mono cropping and a variety of other common used practices in conventional farming.

I had the honor of speaking with Despommier, at a TED conference after party.  It was one of the most fascinating conversations I have had.  He is, without a doubt, a pioneer in the movement of alternative food production.  I was able to inquire on a variety of issues, that only propelled his thinking, and was not able to give me a response.  Only affirming that we are in the mere inception of these ground breaking ideas, and innovation is abound, and an open field!

We need to continue to develop individuals’ relationship with food – where it comes from, the energy trail associated with it, and of course, whether it is organic or not.  Understand the intended principals of food, and how energy is put into food – and how it translates to nutrition and taste.

Mankind has lost its spiritual place within the natural world, and awareness of one’s humanity – issues that have transmitted to other areas of our life.  Clearly, our mainstream society is missing the dynamic balance between people, place and community.  Perhaps, this is also a problem that has created a dissonance with all aspects of our life – in turn the natural world.

With an increase in consciousness and awareness, this discord will begin to heal, and harmony amongst people will return.  Individually, we must step up and begin with ourselves, and that will transcend out.   Supporting our local farmer’s market through direct purchase or through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in addition to, growing our own food, we can begin to grow our food within our region, and in accordance to the seasons.

vert-farm-ii2

Creative Citizen on Yahoo Green

cc-logo

Are you a creative citizen?

By Kastle Waserman

Posted Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:50am PST

The idea of global warming can sometimes be a daunting, overwhelming concept. How can one person help fix this problem that is literally changing the face of the earth? The website Creative Citizen offers a manageable answer — by one action at a time. Based on the idea of social networking, Creative Citizen consists of a community of people who are taking simple measures and have found creative ways to conserve, reuse, and recycle.

Together, they post and share ideas such as: Wash your car with a waterless cleaner, tell your dry cleaner to keep the plastic, have plants in your house as natural air purifiers, and the list goes on. Each solution tracks how much it will save in water, energy, waste, emissions, and dollars. You can search for creative solutions, read information about each idea, see photos, add or read comments, edit and provide more info, and then take an action by sending to a friend or bookmarking it.

By clicking “I’ll do it” you add to your “Greenage” as a Creative Citizen. “Greenage” is a tally of points Creative Citizens earn by participating in the online community. People with the most Greenage points can go on to make the Top Citizens board that lists the biggest contributors. In your Citizen profile, you can keep track of what solutions you’ve adopted and connect with friends and see what actions they’ve taken. It makes you feel like what it would like to live in an ideal green world where everybody cares and shares, and it’s a demonstration of what happens when people take small actions to make a big impact.

Now that’s getting eco-creative!

Check it out, Take a tour

cc


Free Green Living Workshops in Santa Monica

all-greenFREE  GREEN  WORKSHOPS

Workshops will be held:

SM Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street @ Ocean Park
Santa Monica, CA 90405

January 24, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 1
Green Living

This workshop on Green Living, will help lay the foundation to create your green abode
– whether you own or not. Learn the simple ways to make your home energy and
water efficient while eliminating toxins and drastically improving indoor air quality!

The workshop will cover a DIY cleaning product demo, lecture, and interaction with the
audience.

I will provide all attendees with an E-Book on all material covered as well as local
resources!

January 31, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 2
Green Decor

Few people are aware, that just as in our homes as our workplace, there is an
opportunity to choose objects and products that do not pollute our homes and are
harmful to us and the environment.

Learn how to decorate your home in a way that improves your indoor air quality, and
your overall state of being, by pairing down on clutter and waste, eliminating toxins,
and breathing in a new breathe of fresh air into your home!

I will provide a basis of information that will help guide you in a direction of knowing
what questions to ask from your suppliers and manufacturers to insure that the
materials and finishes you choose for your home are environmentally sound.

There will be samples and materials incorporated, to provide a better understanding for
greening your decor!


Februray 07, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 3
Green Landscaping/Gardening

A basic introduction, offering everything you wanted to know about greening your
garden and landscaping!

This workshop will provide an introduction to Permaculture and good gardening
practices, that you can begin implementing in your green space today!

Information will be provided on local programs, through Santa Monica, on sustainable
gardening and landscaping.

Learn simple tools that will help you save time, money, water and energy in your
garden!

Welcome President Obama

obama

Whatever direction you are slanted, there is no doubt that one can feel the exuberance in the air.

It is a sigh of relief that is being felt coast to coast.

Americans are joining in, with the anticipation that we are in the dawning of a new epoch.

This marks a historical moment, re-empowering this country, to reclaim its sense of dignity.

Perhaps, an overwhelming feat for one person, but collectively, we can make it happen, and we are!

Calender of Events in The World Of Green – Winter 2009

January 15 Green Building Workshop (Brooklyn, NY)

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: LC 400, Dibner Library Building   5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY
A workshop that brings industry researchers and developers of green buildings technologies, entrepreneurs, investors, representatives from green buildings and sustainability initiatives, regulators, architects and building designers.

I will be speaking on ‘Integrating Green Building in the Urban Environment’

at 9:55 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

January 24  – Green Living Workshop  – Part 1  (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street   Santa Monica, CA 90405
This workshop on Green Living, will help lay the foundation to create your green abode – whether you own or not.  Learn the simple ways to make your home energy and water efficient while eliminating toxins and drastically improving indoor air quality!

The workshop will cover a DIY cleaning product demo, lecture, and interaction with the audience.

I will provide all attendees with an E-Book on all material covered as well as local resources!

January 25 –   Go Green Expo –  (Los Angeles, CA)

Time –  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: The Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 South Figueroa Street   Los Angeles, CA 90015

Go Green Expo is a showcase for earth-friendly products and services – a trade show that wholly focused on green living.

I will be on the panel for Green Building and Design on the tradeshow floor on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

January 31  – Green Decor Workshop  – Part 2 (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street   Santa Monica, CA 90405

Few people are aware, that just as in our homes as our workplace, there is an opportunity to choose objects and products that do not pollute our homes and are harmful to us and the environment.

Learn how to decorate your home in a way that improves your indoor air quality, and your overall state of being, by pairing down on clutter and waste, eliminating toxins, and breathing in a new breathe of fresh air into your home!

I will provide a basis of information that will help guide you in a direction of knowing what questions to ask from your suppliers and manufacturers to insure that the materials and finishes you choose for your home are environmentally sound.

There will be samples and materials incorporated, to provide a better understanding for greening your decor!

February 07 – Green Landscaping Workshop  – Part 3  (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street Santa Monica, CA 90405

A basic introduction, offering everything you wanted to know about greening your garden and landscaping!

This workshop will provide an introduction to Permaculture and good gardening practices, that you can begin implementing in your green space today!  Learn simple tools that will help you save time, money, water and energy in your garden!

Information will be provided on local programs, through Santa Monica, on sustainable gardening and landscaping.

Integrating Green Building into the Urban Environment

Green Living Roof

Green Living Roof

The business, of environmental capital is not only a vast new market in the making, but it is a global economy, a shift in our patterns, as well as a turn in ecological literacy.

Urban green building has been on the forefront of this movement and has set the stage for us: the designers, architects and civilians of our country to drive this properly.

Let us start looking at all facets of the construction industry – the basic building blocks that represent the building industry – and begin filling in the gaps, where needed.

This is a ripe opportunity to integrate all the available elements that we have before us – while continuing to push the envelop in design.

Economy – New Business Model

As a new business model, Green Building has been speculated for some time, and perhaps, even considered a fad.  With the Dow Jones having introduced the Sustainability Index a mere nine years ago, this indicates that this shift had already begun to gain traction, on an economic and public front.

It was considered the first global platform in which indexes were tracked and measured for companies, that held the model of the triple bottom line.  A term used to reference the 21st c. business framework, that takes into account the people, the planet and profit.

As we move away from the old paradigms, that are disintegrating behind us –  we are in the midst of designing a new business model.  It is a model, that aside from the ubiquitous triple bottom line, is integrating the value of the collective.

Corporations are now finding themselves in a new state, yearning for the solutions that will help them compete and integrate into this new economy.  A sense of moving away from being compartmentalized and working in a more integrative system that will result in efficiency and profit.

An integrative strategy, represents a whole systems approach – taking into account the many variables at stake.  This creates an effort to design with a more wide approach, yet, while being able to be specialized.

We are sewing the tapestry of a new culture, here in our country, abroad, and within humanity.  As Americans, this is our opportunity to set the bar for ourselves, and set an example for the rest of the world.

It is imperative that we demonstrate that following our previous path, has lead us in a direction, that is having us, redirect the way we build and the way we live.

Building, is such a pivotal sector, within our economy.  If positioned properly, it can serve as a model for all other umbrella industries; as it already has begun to do so, with innovation in materials, technology and systems.

In the past 15 years, enough data has been gathered to build a case against conventional modes of construction and operation.

Buildings of the world consume:

17% of our clean water
25% of the wood harvested
40% of the world’s energy and materials

These numbers, alone, present an ideal opportunity to use the ingenuity we have been known for.  Create buildings that require less energy to perform, turn waste into energy, and releasing cleaner water.

Begin integrating nature as a model by moving away from linear thinking and mathematics to a more organic multifaceted frame of mind.  Because, the reality is that we live in a 3 dimensional world.

Green Building

Green Building has been one of the largest driving forces of this movement.  It has taken some time to realize that how we have been building, in the past, has been ineffective and inefficient; all while creating depletion of natural resources, en masse, and intoxicating ourselves.

Building greener buildings indicates using renewable energy alternatives, low impact efficient materials, in addition to, measuring the environmental performance of buildings.

Today, we have the knowledge, the technology and innovation to build in such ways that are not only, cutting edge and lucrative, but also offer, sustainable living or working environments, in addition to, being “smart”.

Smart buildings use internet protocol-based networks, new digital technology as well as proper design and building materials.  This innovation works to convert waste into energy, save on operational costs, by requiring less maintenance, and reduce energy and water consumption by storing and using these elements from the sun and rain.

Understanding the science of buildings, and the psychology of how people live and work, serve as pillars, to create efficient models, for the various phases of a building.

This foundation, can prove to facilitate efficiency and costs associated with the various stages of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, demolition and recovery.

In essence, acknowledging the life cycle of buildings, will help urban designers and architects plan and design, in ways, that take far more into consideration than the mere aesthetic of a building.

Studying the location, the intended land use, the building objective, and projected occupant needs can begin to help set the scene for charettes, amongst the design team.

Charettes, are an open forum that is an integral component, found in virtually all green projects, where key players on the project, use their expertise in co-creating a fully integrated vision.

By incorporating: site location, human scale, and natural elements such as, weather patterns, and local materials into the design of buildings, projects work with available resources.

In understanding, the needs of a building, and integrating these elements, in such a way, that cohesively work together, have proven to be successful models that are in rhythm with the natural patterns of nature, and ebb and flow with the culture and seasons of a region.

Through the application of sustainable landscapes, design specifications correspond to site specific project locations, as well as with the local flora and fauna.  Natural settings  create habitats for building inhabitants to spend time outdoors, while encouraging native species and biodiversity to flourish.

In addition, to complementing the visual aesthetic, sustainable landscaping can be integrated into the model of the design and contribute to the energy and water efficiency of the building.  Indoor landscapes, also act as a natural filter – contributing to better indoor air quality and circulation.

Innovation/Standards

Green building effects every sector in human development: from residential to commercial, education to non profit, and health care to entertainment.

Naturally, the initial cost impact of building green, may distract short sited builders and investors; although, there is a significant amount of data to back up any upfront cost associated with green building.

Benefits in productivity, increase in sales, lower rates of absenteeism, and overall employee and tenant satisfaction, rank extremely high in buildings considered green, versus their counterparts.

To an investor, this may seem trivial, yet, considering the significant added real estate value and low operating costs, it could appear to be more of an incentive to understand the larger market value

With certifications and green building programs, such as The Green Building Council’s LEED program and Build it Green, green building is now receiving the added property value and credentials it deserves.

Cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, have implemented green within their municipal policy for new commercial and Federal buildings to be a minimum, of being LEED certified.

In addition, they are facilitating work permits, expediting building plans and priority processing, which encourage, time sensitive projects to consider, this as viable and lucrative alternative.

On the state level, government is offering various incentives, rebates and tax credits for upgrading to energy star appliances, full energy audits and weatherization of homes.

On a local level, the development of legislation in creating a green framework, could prove to be the initiation, that commerce and residents, a like, need to embrace this new practice.

We are creatures of habit, and we are naturally slow, at the reception of change.

It is pivotal, to provide people with the health benefits associated with building sustainably; versus, using the scare tactic, and the costs associated with conditions like, sick building syndrome.

Providing home and business owners, with the multitude of ways in which money can be saved, by implementing green strategies, can serve as the turning point in which a consumer chooses green materials over the conventional counterpart.

With the installation of proper windows, good insulation, efficient fixtures, appliances, and HVAC systems, in addition to, energy and water conservation, can result in stark savings, over a short period of time.

With the learning curve we are living through, we are also writing the history books.

Learning what works, and what does not.  We will be in this phase of research and development for some time, as this is all new.

Materials and resources will continue to grow, and expand, as with the field of professionals, and with the depth of knowledge we will accrue over the years of experience.

It is imperative that we use this technology and innovation, that is currently available.  We must design buildings that help address energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, toxin elimination, improved indoor air quality, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Urban Green Building

Integrating green into the urbanization of our cities, requires the proper tools to keep within the evolving fabric of a metropolis.

As cities evolve over the years, they begin to build their history, reflecting a community’s current social and economic state.  Implementing green strategies to compliment the landscape of urban development, and seamlessly integrating it.

Today, we build buildings with a life cycle of 50 – 60 years and materials and products with a virtually disposable lifespan.  A mere 100 years ago, people built things to last – a stark contrast, to where we are today.

This is a huge component within the green building initiative that must be addressed – Recreating our frame of mind to design works of art that will leave a lasting impression.

More over, supporting cost-effective dis-assembly, by understanding the future reuse of building materials, will help reduce the amount of waste associated with the deconstruction of a building.

As other countries, continue to emulate the way in which a live and build, we have the ripe opportunity to educate others with Eco Literacy.

By building, a robust green building infrastructure – a road map, per se, where others can have this knowledge available to them.

Design a Green Building Standard where case studies are available to the public and where short and long term solutions can easily, be modeled, with the added benefits for incorporating them.

There is a level of transparency where we are given the opportunity to fully impart the knowledge of what going green truly represents.   Become less ambiguous and available for all.

We need to create a local infrastructure, where  social equity creates a revenue model within sustainability.

As the market size widens, the trends and opportunities across the green building sectors are only going to grow on an exponential level.

In theory, we are currently one of the very few growing markets, and as the leaders of our communities we need to take a rise at this movement and truly take a lead……..