Technology for the Common Good

The world is pretty messed up. It’s hard to deny it. Economically we’re in for a ride that could last months, if not years. And there’s something definitely up with the environment – at least with the weather here on the wet coast. Snow in February? Come on! Uncertainty is the only certainty, which means that having the ability to adapt to change is a required asset to thrive in these times.

In stark contrast to print and TV media the internet is a beacon of hope. It’s amazing how much wide-eyed optimism you can find online. Great ideas are finding an audience. New businesses launch daily. Innovation thrives. One area in particular that seems to be finding a home online is sustainability.

It makes sense that a movement whose aim is to increase the odds of the planet’s survival would use innovative technology to build networks, disseminate information and leverage knowhow. Vancouver is a hotbed for sustainable ventures, many of which use technology to effect and communicate change.

The City of Vancouver’s One Day campaign is an example of a civic effort to encourage citizens to adopt sustainable practices. Users can sign up for weekly action reminders, download tip sheets for saving energy, reducing water consumption, and reducing waste. The site also includes a great event calendar of sustainability-themed events.

Green Table Network is a Vancouver-based not-for-profit that is helping to green Vancouver’s food service industry. While its difficult to reliably source locally grown food and services à la The 100-Mile Diet, Green Table is helping build a green network of suppliers and distributors to supply Vancouver’s ever-vibrant hospitality scene.

Change Everything is a sustainability-minded social networking site sponsored by Vancity credit union. The community inspires its members to commit to making personal change and to blog about the experience, and includes links to resources that help individuals become more sustainable.

Happy Frog is a great online resource (think a green version of Craigslist) that promotes sustainability-minded businesses. The site recently partnered with 3rd Whale that will see the site’s focus grow to include cities and business outside of the Lower Mainland. 3rd Whale offers an iPhone app that let’s users find green businesses using the phone’s localization technology.

If you’re a film buff you will be interested to know of the Projecting Change Film Festival that brings film lovers, environmentalists, community leaders, and businesses together to watch films and discuss key issues around sustainability. The second incarnation of the festival runs April 2 – 5, 2009 at The Ridge Theatre. Projecting Change connects with its audience through Facebook so if you’re interested to learn more be sure to check it out.

Though the economic storm builds still, technology is helping build a more sustainable future and that’s something we can all take solace in knowing.