Worldchanging is an American non-profit online magazine and
blogabout sustainabilityand social innovation.
The site has earned positive reviews (and won several awards and honors) and was rated the second largest sustainability site on the web by
Nielsen Onlinein 2008 [ [http://www.nielsenbuzzmetrics.com/pr/releases/20080331 Nielsen BuzzMetrics :: The Global Measurement Standard in Consumer-Generated Media ] ] .
Worldchanging is also the title of a book by the same editors, "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century",,cite book| author = Steffen, Alex| title = Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century| publisher = Harry N. Abrams, Inc.| year = 2006| id = ISBN 0810930951] a survey of best practices in sustainability and social innovation.
History and Organization
Worldchanging was launched in October, 2003 in San Francisco by
Alex Steffenand Jamais Cascio, with a core of initial contributors, many of whom were part of the Viridian Design Movementand had intellectual ties to the Whole Earth Catalog[http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008606.html] . In 2005, Worldchanging moved its offices to Seattle, Washington. In early 2006, Cascio split off to form the more explicitly futurist site Open the Future and Worldchanging became a 501(c)(3)nonprofit corporation.
Worldchanging is now headquartered in Seattle and lead by Alex Steffen, the executive editor, with managing editor Julia Steinberger, contributing editors Jeremy Faludi and Sarah Rich, and associate editor Sarah Kuck. It relies extensively on an international network of writers and correspondents, see list below.
Worldchanging is overseen by a board of directors, lead by Worldchanging's chairman, the environmental photographer
Edward Burtynsky. Worldchanging is supported by a mixture of grants, book sales, speaker fees and reader donations.
Worldchanging practices "solutions-based journalism" [ [http://www.netsquared.org/tags/worldchanging worldchanging | NetSquared, a project of TechSoup.org ] ] , that is, the explicit goal of its work is to highlight the possible solutions to what the editorial team sees as the planet's most pressing problems, rather than to spread news of those problems or critiques of their causes [http://www.worldchanging.com/about/ WorldChanging: Award-Winning Solutions Journalism ] ] . Executive editor
Alex Steffenwas quoted in the Guardian [ [http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2035002,00.html Go bright green | Review | Guardian Unlimited Books ] ] explaining the value of this approach by saying "Cynicism is often seen as a rebellious attitude in western popular culture, but in reality, our cynicism advances the desires of the powerful: cynicism is obedience."
"Worldchanging is a solutions-based online magazine that works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together.
Informed by that premise, we do our best to bring you the most important and innovative new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future. We don't do negative reviews – why waste your time with what doesn't work? We don't offer critiques or exposes, except to the extent that such information may be necessary for the general reader to apprehend the usefulness of a particular tool or resource. We don't generally offer links to resources which are about problems and not solutions, unless the resource is so insightful that its very existence is a step towards a solution. We pay special attention to tools, ideas and models that may have been overlooked in the mass media. We make a point of showing ways in which seemingly unconnected resources link together to form a toolkit for changing the world.
Worldchanging publishes a mix of essays and interviews; shorter original reviews, letters from the field (conference reports, lab visits, notes from correspondents' travels) and think-pieces; and blog posts "highlighting the best coverage of new ideas and innovations from around the Web." From time to time, the site posts radio-style podcasts as well.
Worldchanging's content is divided in to seven sections:
stuff, shelter, cities, community, business, politics, and planet. This taxonomy is designed to parse solutions based on their proximity to the reader, so that one one extreme Stuff is mostly about innovations in product design, food, clothing, and other objects used directly by individual people, while on the other extreme Planet encompasses global environmental and social issues, scientific advances and new thinking about the future of humanity.
Worldchanging also maintains a network of local blogs in several U.S. cities and Canada.
Bright Green Approach
Critical to Worldchanging's editorial stance is the concept of
bright green environmentalism. Bright green environmentalism aims for a sustainably prosperous society that relies on new technology and improved design to live within the planet's ecological limits while increasing the potential for economic growth, human social development and individual quality of life.
Like many other bright green environmentalists, the Worldchanging community expresses the belief that radical changes are needed in the economic and political operation of society in order to make it sustainable, but that better designs, new technologies and more widely distributed social innovations are the means to make those changes-- and that we can neither shop nor protest our way to sustainability [ [http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007073.html WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: Don't Just Be the Change, Mass-Produce It ] ] . They tend to focus extensively on the idea that through a combination of well-built compact communities, clean energy, green building, new technologies and sustainable living practices, quality of life can actually be improved even while ecological footprints shrink. "One-planet living" is a frequently heard buzz-phrase. [ [http://www.socialtext.net/brightgreen/index.cgi?mission_statement Bright Green Living wiki mission statement] ] [ [http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/004343.html "On Earth Day"] , Alex Steffen — Worldchanging website] As Ross Robertson writes, " [B] right green environmentalism is less about the problems and limitations we need to overcome than the “tools, models, and ideas” that already exist for overcoming them. It forgoes the bleakness of protest and dissent for the energizing confidence of constructive solutions." [ [http://www.wie.org/j38/bright-green.asp?page=1 A Brighter Shade of Green: Rebooting Environmentalism for the 21st Century, by Ross Robertson ] ] .
The term "bright green" has been used with increased frequency due to the promulgation of its ideas though the Internet and recent coverage in the traditional media. For more on the differences between "light green", "dark green" and "bright green" movements, see the
bright green environmentalismentry.
Critical Reception, Audience and Impact
Bruce Sterlingcalled Worldchanging "the most important website on the planet," and architect Richard Meiernamed it as his favorite site and praised it as "a wealth of information on sustainability" [ [http://www.vanityfair.com/ontheweb/blogs/daily/2008/01/my-sites-archit.html VF Daily: My Sites: Architect Richard Meier: Online Only: vanityfair.com ] ] .
It has won or been nominated for the following awards and prizes:
* 2005, won the Utne Independent Press Award.
* 2006, finalist for a
Webbyfor Best Blog.
* 2007, finalist for a
Webbyfor Best Magazine, as well as for Bloggieawards for Best Group Weblog and Best Writing for a Weblog; won the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature for its book; won Organic Design Award. Prix Ars Electronica nominee.
* 2008, named a
BlogPulse, Worldchanging was the 135th most cited blogin the world in July 2008 [ [http://blogpulse.com/profile?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldchanging.com&x=0&y=0 BlogPulse Tools | Profiles Overview ] Retrieved July 16, 2008] In 2008, Nielsenrated it the second leading sustainability site in the world, after Treehugger.com, while Time Magazinenamed it one of the world's top 15 environmental websites. [ [http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1730759_1731034_1731065,00.html WorldChanging - The Environment - TIME ] ]
In interviews, Worldchanging staff have described their readers as young, highly-educated and concentrated in green business, the design professions, NGOs, media organizations and academia. [ [http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200807/mixed-media.asp Mixed Media - July/August 2008 - Sierra Magazine - Sierra Club ] ] [ [http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2008/01/unedited_interview_with_alex_s.html Spark | CBC Radio | Unedited Interview with Alex Steffen from Worldchanging ] ] More than a third of these readers live outside North America, particularly in the U.K., the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand. The site has a particularly strong following in Canada, and maintains a blog devoted especially to Canadian ideas and innovations [ [http://www.worldchanging.com/local/canada/ WorldChanging Canada ] ] .
Worldchanging and its ideas have been covered in stories in the New York Times and New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, Time magazine, Der Spiegel, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Wired, US News and World Report, USA Today, the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times, Le Monde, the Independent, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Fast Company, SEED, ID, Dwell, ReadyMade, the Associated Press, the New York Review of Books, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe and Mail, the New Statesman, the Nation, New Scientist, Sierra magazine, Outside, Audubon, and the Sun.
Worldchanging is the subject of a CNN documentary and editors have appeared on the Today Show, LinkTV and several CBC television programs. Radio includes the CBC's the Current, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR's Living on Earth, Open Source and Morning Edition programs, as well as on Earth & Sky, Marketplace and many local NPR affiliate and talk radio programs.
In November 2006, Worldchanging published a survey of global innovation, "" with a foreword by
Al Gore, design by Stefan Sagmeisterand an introduction by Bruce Sterling. It has received wide praise (see below), was a winner of the Green Prizefor sustainable literature, and is now seeing translation into French (under the title "Change Le Monde" [ [http://www.worldchanging.com/local/canada/archives//007410.html WorldChanging Canada: Changer le monde! ] ] ), German and several other languages. [ [http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008167.html WorldChanging: Das Handbuch der Ideen für eine bessere Zukunft ] ] Harry N. Abrams, Inc., the publisher of the hardcover edition, listed it among their 50 best selling titles in July 2008. [http://www.hnabooks.com/category/show/169 Retrieved 4 July 2008] The book was mentioned by BusinessWeekas one of the "Best Innovation and Design Books for 2006" [Bruce Nussbaum: " [http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/dec2006/id20061206_492064.htm Best Innovation and Design Books for 2006. We looked past obvious titles to compile a list of books that will inform the thinking about innovation beyond this year] " BusinessWeek.com, December 6, 2006] and received positive comments:
Gore, in his foreword to the book, calls it "vitally important," adding,
"Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century" is a compendium of solutions, some little known but well proven, some innovative and new, some bold but as yet untried. This book not only shows what is already possible, but also helps all of us imagine what might be – in our own homes, in our communities, and for the planet as a whole. Taken together, these solutions present a picture of a future that is not dark or catastrophic, but one that is full of hope and within our grasp. To build that future, we need a generation of everyday heroes, people who – whatever their walks of life – have the courage to think in fresh ways and to act to meet this planetary crisis head-on. This book belongs in the library of every person who aspires to be part of that generation."
Bill McKibben in the "New York Review of Books" characterized the book as "The
Whole Earth Catalog" retooled for the iPod generation."
"It is precisely this question – how we might radically transform our daily lives – that is addressed by the cheerful proprietors of the WorldChanging website in their new book of the same name. This is one of the most professional and interesting websites that you could possibly bookmark on your browser; almost every day they describe a new technology or technique for environmentalists.... [Their book} is a compendium of everything a younger generation of environmental activists has to offer: creativity, digital dexterity, networking ability, an Internet-era optimism about the future, and a deep concern about not only green issues but related questions of human rights, poverty, and social justice. The book's pragmatism is refreshing: 'We can do this' is the constant message, and there are enough examples to leave little doubt that sheer cleverness is not what we're lacking as we approach our uncertain future. 'We need, in the next twenty-five years or so, to do something never before done. We need to consciously redesign the entire material basis of our civilization,' Alex Steffen writes in his editor's introduction. 'If we face an unprecedented planetary crisis, we also find ourselves in a moment of innovation unlike any that has come before.... We live in an era when the number of people working to make the world better is exploding.' He's right."
Laurie Davidcalled the book is "The seminal resource guide for anyone concerned about today and the future." while Earth Day founder Denis Hayessaid, "'Worldchanging' might well be the most complete, compelling articulation of the possible look and feel and actual operation of a sustainable society ever written." Other reviews have been similarly positive:
"(Worldchanging) is a comprehensive, cohesive vision for sustainability that feels perfectly in sync with the times. Out with the muumuus, Bucky domes and brown rice; in with the Hug Shirt, renovated factory lofts and New Rice for Africa. If Worldchanging is any indicator, the new green movement is globally aware, technically savvy, design conscious and, above all, optimistic." – Jenn Shreve, Wired
"The enormous guidebook offers a Whole Earth Catalog-style compendium of ecofriendly objects, books, foundations, products, designers, movements and more. Shop less, shop right, and the story your things tell about you will be happy." – Penelope Green, The New York Times
"Worldchanging is more than a road map of lifestyle choices; it is an innovative look at today’s environmental and social justice issues, offering 600 pages of practical, real-world solutions, including green building and “giving well.” If you’re looking for pragmatic ways to make the Earth a better place, Worldchanging does more than champion changing light bulbs and recycling—it challenges us to change the world." - Scott Edward Anderson, the Nature Conservancy Magazine
The staff plans to eventually release the book as a free
Creative Commons-licensed online resource. On October 2008, they announced their plans to launch a new book, as well as putting out a second edition of their first book. [http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008799.html]
Contributors and Correspondents
Worldchanging is run by a core team of 5, and relies extensively on an international network of writers and correspondents:
Erica C. Barnett
* Nicole-Anne Boyer
* Dawn Danby
* Regine Debatty
* Eric de Place
* Joy Green
* Zaid Hassan
* Brandon Keim
* Sanjay Khanna
* Michael LaFond
* Jennifer Leonard
* Ed Mazria
* Patrick Mazza
* Mike Millikin
* Chad Monfreda
* Craig Neilson
* Sarah Rich
* Ted Rose
* Justus Stewart
* Mark Tovey
* Matthew Waxman
Terry Tempest Williams
* David Zaks
* Andrew Zolli
* Seth Zuckerman
In addition to its editorial work, Worldchanging frequently presents its ideas in speeches and other public appearances, especially by editor
Alex Steffenand contributing editors Sarah Richand Jeremy Falludi. From time to time, it takes on mission-related consulting work.
Steffen does most of the organization's public appearances, and has spoken at
TED[http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/alex_steffen_sees_a_sustainable_future.html] , Poptech[http://www.poptech.org/blog/index.php/2006/11/06/worldchanging-the-book-is-out/] , Design Indaba[http://www.designindaba.com/conf/DI_Speakers/DI10/alexsteffen.htm] , Amsterdam's PicNic and New Delhi's Doors of Perception as well as major industry events like the AIGA and IDSA national conferences, O'Reilly's Emerging Technologies (eTech), FOO Camp and South by Southwest Interactive (SxSW).Fact|date=August 2008 He frequently speaks for academic and cultural audiences at institutions like Barcelona's CCCB, Stanford, Harvard, the University of Washington and the Art Center College of Design.Fact|date=August 2008 He is represented by the Lavin Agency[http://www.thelavinagency.com/speaker-alex-steffen.html] .
* [http://www.worldchanging.com/ Worldchanging.com]
* [http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/74 video of Alex Steffen's talk at the TED conference]
*Dicum, Gregory (2006). " [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2006/03/22/gree.DTL&feed=rss.green Green Blogs: The Green revolution moves online] ". "
San Francisco Chronicle"
*Steffen, Alex Nikolai (2006). " [http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/green.html The Next Green Revolution: How technology is leading environmentalism out of the anti-business, anti-consumer wilderness] ". Wired Magazine
* [http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/05/20/magazine/20070520_ECOINNO_SLIDESHOW_6.html profile on Worldchanging in the New York Times Magazine]
* [http://www.wie.org/j38/bright-green.asp?page=1 A Brighter Shade of Green: Rebooting Environmentalism for the 21st Century] —
* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2035002,00.html "Go Bright Green" -- article in the Guardian]
* [http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2005/9/1/124941/1990 Interview in Grist.org]
* [http://www.principalvoices.com/ Principal Voices by CNN]
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