Sustainable community action

Phil Green started the Sustainable Community Action wiki in 2004 - it's about:

Information and knowledge sharing, but with a focus on what might be useful to community groups and active citizens interested in taking action to make their communities more sustainable and in support of environmental, social and economic wellbeing,

For some time he's been looking for a new home for the wiki, and he's decided to work with Appropedia. We're very glad to have him Phil, and look forward to working with him.

Phil is now adding pages to Appropedia about locations around the world and their community actions - hundreds in total - which he has consolidated from over 2600 pages on the original site. Some of these form new pages (see the Sustainable community action category) and others are being merged with existing pages.

This builds an important area in our sustainability knowledge bank, and I hope we can find a powerful synergy.

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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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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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Wikiprogress

Introducing a series of guest posts from knowledge sharing projects aiming to build a better world.

Our first post is from Philippa Lysaght from Wikiprogress - looking at progress as more than just increasing GDP.


Wikiprogress logo

When Wikiprogress launched at the 2009 OECD World Forum, there was a lot of excitement and nervousness as to how the wiki platform would develop and foster the progress community. Almost two years on and Wikiprogress has grown to play a central role in the progress movement, with many lessons learnt on the challenges and opportunities wiki platforms present. We have gathered a few of the highlights from this experience so far, along with a little background info what Wikiprogress is and what it aims to achieve.

What is Wikiprogress?

Wikiprogress is an online platform centralizing data, information, initiatives, publications, events and networks that are part of the international movement to look beyond GDP in measuring the progress of societies.

In recent years, the shift from measuring economic production to wellbeing has gained a lot of support from organisations and governments around the world. National statistics offices, intergovernmental organisations, research networks, non-government organisations and interested individuals are working to develop new and existing measures of social, environmental and economic progress.

Wikiprogress aims to provide a platform for all parts of the progress community, citizens and policy makers alike, to develop information on measures of progress by creating a robust wiki of related research and statistics. In doing so, Wikiprogress aims to foster a web community around the vision of measuring progress and provide a platform for collaborative participation.

Why wiki?

In fostering the development of progress indicators, it is important to develop a conversation with all levels of society on what dimensions of progress are important to each community.

Joseph Stiglitz, a world-renowned economist and pioneer of the progress movement, has called for a ‘global dialogue’ on measuring progress: ‘part of the objective of rethinking our measurement systems is to generate a national and global dialogue on what we care about.’ (From Measuring Production to Measuring Well-being, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Presentation to the Productivity Commission, Melbourne, July 29, 2010)

The wiki platform ensures that all voices are heard in developing progress indicators, and more importantly, fosters a multidisciplinary community to work together.
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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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Students publish work on Wikipedia

Public policy students publish work on Wikipedia - great to see. Interesting to see the stories of particular students, and what led them to choose their topics.

This is just one of the academic programs using Wikipedia. It's an effective way to learn, and it creates something of value to society: open knowledge.

We mention this because similar opportunities exist at Appropedia. About half a dozen university classes work with Appropedia at any one time on sustainability, development and design subjects, exploring topics in depth or documenting real world projects. We'd love to have more.

The level of engagement described below is something that we've also seen:

Students who participated last semester became so engaged that they said it was the first time they shared one of their college papers with their parents...

See Appropedia:Service learning for more.

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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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Will the World Bank go all “Wikipedia”?

The World Bank's Chief Economist for Africa, Shantayanan Devarajan, writes about using mobile phones for monitoring and transparency. It's good to see the World Bank looking seriously at the principles of open development.

He continues:

Each year, the World Bank produces a World Development Report. While there is an extensive consultation process with the draft, the Report is essentially written by a core team of Bank staff. Why not produce the report like Wikipedia, and invite the whole world to write it? As one of my colleagues put it, “Then it will be the World’s Development Report.”

And a fitting symbol of Development 3.0.

via Development 3.0 | End Poverty.

That would be exciting to see. The World Bank has recently opened its data to public use, but Devarajan's idea is several steps beyond that.

Here's a submission for the next step, that might take us a bit closer to Wiki World Development Reports: Open licenses on all World Bank content, scrapping the current restrictions on all past and future World Bank publications. Those restrictions may seem mild (no commercial use and no mention of permissions for derivatives) but they are not compatible with open licenses, meaning they do not support wider collaborative work, and have no place in Development 3.0. It's time to open up.

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Wikis for Health

Health is another area where we all want the best information.

I'm a little surprised that there is no active and well-developed wiki on health information. WikiHealth.com could be promising, if it grows, but it's very quiet - only 2 edit sessions in the last 90 days. (I looked for other health wikis listed on WikiIndex, but could find no active wikis - that's an interesting pattern, to look at another day.)

There are other wiki options in health, though. Wikipedia is teeming with information, though it often means wading through a lot of detail, as the articles are not written with a particular focus on health. wikiHow has more practically oriented articles - see their health category.

And of course see Appropedia to look for - and build - information on global public health.

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