Green21 featured at Green Software Unconference

by Kevin Kanarek on August 20, 2009

in business, Green21, media, social change, social media, sustainability

(left to right) Ken Eklund, Denise Zmekhol, Kevin Kanarek, Jennifer Thompson

(left to right) Ken Eklund, Denise Zmekhol, Kevin Kanarek, Jennifer Thompson

Green21 was featured at the Green Software Unconference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA on Wednesday, August 19th.  A special thank you to Mary Vincent of Green Star Solution for bringing together an amazing group of green software developers, engineers, entrepreneurs and social media producers. The event’s major sponsor was CSRware, makers of carbon and sustainability management programs.

The Green21 team included  Jennifer Thompson (Executive Producer), Denise Zmekhol (Producer/Director), Ken Eklund (Director of Game Design), Michael Gelobter (Board of Advisors) and myself.

Jennifer  delivered the keynote address.  She described how social attitudes have changed radically over the past 50 years, and she named two key factors in that change: 1) media, which offers new paradigms, and 2) peer influences, in other words modeling our behavior on those around us.  In the case of climate change and sustainability, however, we don’t have 50 years.  By combining elements of both the media and peer influence models, we hope that social media can facilitate even faster change in the near future.  Jennifer then cited the work of Paul Hawken, showing how many disparate groups working toward sustainability and social justice can be seen as  different facets of a single movement. She concluded by paraphrasing one of Hawken’s more inspiring points:

If you look at the scientific data you can’t help but be pessimistic, otherwise  you don’t understand the data; but if you meet the people who are working to create real change, you can’t help but be optimistic.

After this speech, Green21 Director/Producer Denise Zmekhol screened the video she created with Google Earth Outreach “Trading Bows and Arrows for Laptops” which explores how the internet and GPS technology is being used by indigenous peoples to monitor the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest.  The audience had many questions, including the implications of a society moving from the stone age to the internet age in the space of 40 years, and work of the Surui leaders to gain access to the carbon offset market.

Green21’s Director of Game Design Ken Eklund, creator of the groundbreaking massively collaborative game “World Without Oil,” led a session on alternate reality games and social issues. Ken is developing the Green21 game “Lifeboat,” an alternate reality game that encourages participants to contribute their own experiences and discoveries, opening new paths to consensus and action. Ken and Jennifer were then briefly interviewed on the topic by Dee McCorey.  On another short video, I discuss how Green21’s  online ecosystem will bridge diverse communities that don’t often get to communicate directly over the critical issues of sustainability and climate change.

All in all, the unconference format allowed for spontaneous discussions and workshops at a manageable scale.  This event offered the ideal forum for connecting with people who are working at the intersection of technology, sustainability and social change.

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