energypedia

This wiki profile part of our green wiki series.

energypedia is one of the handful of ongoing, very active sustainability wikis. Benjamin Rebenich of energypedia describes their wiki project for us:

From an energy perspective, the world is facing two seemingly contradicting problems. On the one hand, CO2 emissions continue to rise, especially in transition countries like China and India. On the other hand, there are still many regions suffering from extreme energy poverty. For example, the electrification rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is below 25%. We at energypedia believe that we can tackle this challenge of combating climate change while achieving universal access to modern energy by promoting renewable energy solutions in industrial and especially in developing countries. Offering free access to up to date information is our contribution to a better and cleaner future.

Energypedia – Connecting Knowledge

Energypedia logo

There are many projects fighting against climate change and energy poverty. However, there is still a huge lack of information and knowledge exchange between those efforts resulting in the disappearance of important information and experiences collected by individuals and institutions. Energypedia tries to fill this gap, connecting knowledge by offering an open wiki platform where everyone can benefit from the experiences of the global society by reading, writing, and revising articles on technologies and approaches related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

We not only want to foster worldwide social and economic development by removing knowledge and communication barriers, but we also intend to connect people. By bringing energy experts, universities, civil society, as well as the public and private sector together, theoretical knowledge can benefit from the lessons learnt by practitioners and vice versa to catalyze innovative sustainable energy technologies and services. Therefore, energypedia not only offers editable wiki articles but also social media features like a newsblog, an event calendar, and an internal messaging system.
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Shared vision: Open Source Permaculture

Update: Nothing came of this project, sadly. See comments for details.

Appropedia continues to be committed to free and open knowledge resources for permaculture, and we hope to have more detailed announcements on this soon. - Chris Watkins, 7 Aug 2013.

Original post:

We've been speaking with Sophie Novack and Evan Schoepke from the Open Source Permaculture project, and we're glad to announce that we'll be working together building the permaculture wiki on Appropedia, and that we're supporting their fundraising effort.

They state:

We believe that sustainability is for everyone. That's why we're creating Open Source Permaculture, a free online resource for anyone who wants to create a more sustainable world.

This resonates with us. We've been talking about open source permaculture for some time, and putting the idea out there in the permaculture community. Our "Permaculture wiki" page describes the state of things, noting various attempts which have sadly fallen over and others which have a more limited scope, and inviting others to join us. An open source permaculture wiki page (hosted by our friends the Open Source Ecology wiki0 looks at what we need in a website to really serve this vision.

We've made progress. We're now using an important tool for structured data, Semantic MediaWiki, which we can apply to a permaculture ecology to help map the relationships between inputs, outputs, plants, animals, principles and resources. We've cultivated the wiki platform, to enable open source permaculture to grow

But a key part of the ecosystem has been missing, until now: Passionate individuals who know permaculture, who are prepared to study and work on developing materials to explain and teach permaculture. That's what the Open Source Permaculture project is about and we're happy to point you to their fundraising effort. This is a vision that deserves funding, and deserves a vote of support. Please check it out, and ask yourself how much this kind of abundant future means to you.

The details of our collaboration are being worked out - it will be based on using Appropedia as the permaculture wiki, and I'm sure we'll be working together in other ways in this work to create an abundant and sustainable world.

By the way, for those unclear about what permaculture is exactly, here's a video from a community in San Francisco:
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Socializing innovation

An experimental site called cross-innovation is exploring innovation in appropriate technology. Founder Jon Minchin asks "How can we improve / augment collaborative innovation online?" I like the question, and these are my thoughts:

To socialize hardware, think about social structure. Communities doing things on the ground are key to the physical activities that people participate in. That's partly helped by networking - finding out (A) who else is near you who likes the same things as you, and (B) what building and tinkering is going on near you (in case it catches your interest). Uniiverse sounds interesting for that.
It's also helped by information flow. This is my own focus - the socialized information. I'm hoping we'll make the most of th possibilities of socialized information, by building a comprehensive library of how-tos, guides, designs and topical info (which is what Appropedia, a wiki for appropriate technology, is about).

I might be that person who only has a hammer and find that everything looks like a nail - but my feeling is that access to quality information, inspiring stories and great designs is actually central to making things happen.

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Searching the green dev wikisphere

There is an ecosystem of wiki websites on sustainability, design and development issues.

Appropedia is a large and broad site; others include small but active communities and NGOs doing good, focused work (e.g. Greenlivingpedia and Akvopedia), wikis run by multilateral organizations (e.g. the UNDP's WaterWiki and the OECD's Wikiprogress and Wikigender), and (sadly) wikis where nothing has happened for years, and the community appears to have scattered.The ecosystem isn't exactly thriving - even when we're friendly (and we usually are) we don't talk and we don't share as much as we'd like.

As communities we want to collaborate and encourage each other, but as individuals we're busy - and I'm as guilty as anyone. What can help is just being aware of what is on other wiki sites - knowing of good wiki pages out there in the green wikisphere, to learn from, borrow from and link from our own pages. That can even lead to the odd bit of drive-by editing on another wiki - all the better.

To that end, here's a tool I've made: a search engine for green and development wikis.

It's a Google custom search of over 40 wiki sites. Apologies to the good wikis I haven't named in this blog post, but I hope you'll check that your site shows up in the search results.

If you want to who's writing about something on which wiki, this can help. The results are a little quirky, so allow a few seconds to scan the list to find what you want, and maybe try different search terms. Give it a try, and let me know.

May it add a little more unity to our wiki ecosystem.

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Appropedia Kiswahili

Chris Sam, a lawyer and teacher in Tanzania, volunteered to translate Appropedia articles into Swahili - or as it is known to its own speakers, "Kiswahili." Starting in February this year, he has translated over 50 pages.

More than 50 million people in Africa speak this language - the potential value of translating appropriate technology information and other development resources is clear. Chris shares the progress so far:


I am very happy to announce that Appropedia's Karibu Appropedia (Welcome to Appropedia) page has hit more than 1000 views. And I am more than happy for the steady growth of our Kiswahili readers. We still need more articles in Kiswahili and what should be put or translated to Kiswahili from you. Kiswahili is spoken in more than ten developing countries, if you have something suitable especially for the developing countries (article or anything that you think belongs to Appropedia) or want your project translated to Kiswahili or you have good Kiswahili content that you think belongs to Appropedia please suggest it here and play your part towards sustainability and richly lives. For Kiswahili help please contact me here or send an email to kiswahili Atsymbol.png appropediaDot.pngorg

'Nina furaha sana kutangaza kuwa ukurasa wa Karibu Appropedia wa Appropedia umetazamwa zaidi ya mara 1000. Na nina zaidi ya furaha kwa muongezeko wa wasomaji wa Kiswahili. Bado tunahitaji makala za Kiswahili na nini kiwekwe au kitafsiriwe katika Kiswahili toka kwako. Kiswahili kinazungumzwa zaidi ya nchi kumi katika nchi zinazoendelea, kama unakinachofaa na hasa kwa nchi zinazoendelea (makala au chochote kinachofaa Appropedia) au unahitaji mradi wako utafsiriwe kwenda Kiswahili au unayo maudhui mazuri kwa Kiswahili na unadhani yanafaa Appropedia tafadhali orodhesha hapa ili kufanya kazi yako kuelekea uendelevu na maisha ya kitajiri. Kwa msaada wa Kiswahili wasiliana na mimi hapa au tuma barua pepe kwenda kiswahili Atsymbol.png appropediaDot.pngorg

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Appropedia: Service learning in sustainable development

An academic paper in the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development reports on service learning with Appropedia as a platform.

It notes that contributing to sustainable development can be a way of improving students' academic skills - but this is expensive when it involves international travel, and as a result, few students have this experience.

The article describes two learning experiments with service learning programs based at and around the university, These experiments provided...

...solutions to sustainable development problems using Appropedia.org, the site for collaborative solutions in sustainability, poverty reduction and international development. The course successfully used Appropedia (1) as a forum for students who were geographically dispersed, (2) for a whole-class writing collaboration, (3) to coordinate a sustainability-focused outreach campaign to retrofit stop lights in communities throughout Pennsylvania and (4) to review class material with application to technologies for sustainable development.*

*Quoting from the abstract of Appropedia as a Tool for Service Learning in Sustainable Development by Prof Joshua Pearce of Queen's University.

More info about our learning programs:

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Permaculture wiki, and an update

Update: I want to apologize to everyone who's frustrated with our broken blog feed. We've been given pointers on how to fix it, but since we don't actually have a tech team (anyone like to help?)  I need to dig in and fix this myself, and... I haven't got it done yet. But it's there on the to-do list. Now onto more interesting things.

Permaculture: Plug "permaculture" and "wiki" into a search engine and you'll get a bunch of hits. Most of them will be pretty empty - inactive, spammed or dormant sites. So what about the dream of creating a freely accessible and usable permaculture manual for the world, for rich and poor alike? It lives.

This collaborative work on a permaculture resource is happening on Appropedia, these days. This is by far the most active site for permaculture topics, as far as I can tell, and I've spend some hours scouring the internet. So I've started a page to invite collaboration: Permaculture wiki. Check it out, and since it's a wiki your perspectives are welcomed.

Btw, tech people: if you're a WordPress wizard and want to help, let us know. And we're also looking for someone who can pretty up the skin on the wiki...

http://www.appropedia.org/Permaculture
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Humboldt Sustainable Future

Last Wednesday, I had the honor of presenting on the future of Humboldt (Northern California) Sustainability for the Humboldt Bay Center for Sustainable Living and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. The presentation was part of a growing movement of community wide sustainability and hopes to catalyze a series of large-scale open space technology style meetings.

This clip starts a few minutes into the presentation, just after I describe that the presentation was made with the help of many local and over-the-internet colleagues. Click the info button to access the introduction (part 1).


Thanks to StreamGuys for providing excellent streaming services.

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Green wikis #3: Greenlivingpedia

Greenlivingpedia is an active green wiki - one of the few. Covering the whole range of green issues, with a particular focus on sustainable buildings and the needs of the modern, green-minded urbanite, Greenlivingpedia is a nicely laid-out site with a good collection of information.

What's remarkable is that it's largely the work of one passionate person,* Peter Campbell, Melbournite and (when elections come around) a candidate for the Australian Greens party. I've met Peter in Sydney a couple of times, and found him to be an honest, direct, no-nonsense, with no patience for greenwashing and the dumbing down of the green message for the sake of profit. In contrast, Peter is building something solid, and it''s good to see what an impressive resource can be put together by one motivated individual.

It's surprising to see, though, that more contributors haven't joined up. We know what that's like - many praise wikis, but far fewer actually contribute - so the efforts of one person can really stand out.

From the time we first made contact, over two years ago, we've extended the offer to collaborate on one site, but Peter prefers to keep a different focus. I can appreciate the value of market segmentation, at the same time as we'd love to work more closely with Peter. So we collaborate where we can, and our conversations continue.

As wiki software improves, new kinds of collaboration will become possible. In the meantime Peter's persistence shows what can be achieved with patient work in green open knowledge.

*To see who has been contributing to a wiki recently, see the Recent changes page or equivalent, usually linked on the left. Each page also has its own history tab - available above the page title.

This is part of the green wiki series.

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Super fresh local food, with yardsharing

Eating fresh local food (and super fresh food tastes so much better) is appealing, but for some of us, we're just never going to make our own gardens. Behold, a solution:

What is ‘yardsharing’?

Yardsharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper!

via What is yardsharing? « Hyperlocavore.

Turn that wasted space (that you have to maintain) into a resource.

Turn a chore into a social activity. While I grew up around plants, and love lazy gardening (better eating by doing a little pleasant activity), I know that many people are daunted, uninterested, or feel that they don't have time. With some local teamwork, you can have a garden anyway!

Find a local group/website if there is one (e.g. Portland Yardsharing) and start from there. Or visit the Hyperlocavore social network and ask there.

Enjoy!

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