Come to TransportCamp on October 30th.

My friend Jeremy Osborn invited me to an interesting event called TransportCamp: A Sustainable Transportation Unconference.

Here’s how it is described on the website:

TransportCamp is an unconference, created for exploring the following theme:

How can transportation be a catalyst for building more vibrant communities in the Lower Mainland?

I love this BarCamp model applied to areas in need of collaborative thinking. I’m signing up.

Here are the details:
Where: BCIT Campus Downtown, 2nd Floor 555 Seymour Street Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6B 3H6
When: October 30th, 8:30AM – 4:00PM
Why: To network, generate ideas, and organize around sustainable transportation!
Cost: $25.00

Here’s where you register. See you there.

.eco would be a good domain to have.

A year and a half ago or so, I was introduced to two guys in Vancouver who were trying to start a new top-level domain for companies and organizations doing good environmental work – .eco. Their resumes and backgrounds were impressive, and they seemed to really know what they were doing, but still, I thought, what are the chances that these two guys could actually create a new top-level domain?

Cut to last week, and I run into Trevor Bowden, one of .eco founders, and they have made truly remarkable progress.


What? from dot eco on Vimeo.

They just launched their website, doteco.info, which is great blend of useful information and videos about what they are trying to accomplish, ways to participate and help spread the message, and information about their current supporters (some of whom are truly impressive). All in a very nice looking website. Pulling off an informative and good-looking website about a new concept is very difficult.

They are gearing up for a presentation in 2010 to ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers . This is the organization responsible for the Internet’s naming system.

So what is .eco?

The .eco system will display current, detailed eco-information to anyone with a browser, anytime they need it, anywhere on the planet. It will do this by collecting information from people when they register .eco domain names for their companies, organisations, products, or even themselves and then displaying that information on a standardised, open platform.

What they want to do with .eco is very impressive. They would link it to verifiable environmental action, so those using the .eco domain would be showing off a badge that they had made progress on reducing their environmental impact.

Treehugger has a great article about what they are doing.

They have one major competitor, namely Al Gore and a group who are also trying to start a .eco top-level domain. I’m a big fan of Al Gore, but it’s kind of fun to watch some guys from Vancouver put together a very different and very compelling alternative to a .eco domain and see if they can give the bigwigs a run for their money.

I think the .eco domain is useful. A company like Toyota could assume that people going to toyota.eco would be at their site for specific reasons, and they could highlight their environmental products and policies and corporate initiatives front and centre. It could be a form of built-in audience segmentation (those who choose to visit a .eco version of the site instead of a .com), and not just a redirect to a main corporate site.

So check out doteco.info and see what it’s all about. It may be coming to an Internet near you…

An afternoon with Majora Carter.

It is days like this when I have to pinch myself for working at such an amazing organization.

Today Vancity helped bring Majora Carter to Vancouver to speak to a group called The Strathcona Business Improvement Association. They are a group dedicated to improving an area of Vancouver that could use some extra care to bounce back, and these business owners are playing an “important role in the business development, safety, security and street enhancement in Strathcona.” Part of their focus is to create a green business focus, making the neighbourhood an epicentre of sustainability in Vancouver.

Majora Carter gave a talk about how she helped bring back an area of the South Bronx through environmental renewal. Her TED talk is an inspiring story of economic injustice and an environmental response to it. Well worth watching.

Bullfrog Power brings renewable energy to BC.

Bullfrog Power in British ColumbiaWhen I lived in LA, the utility company there had an option where I could pay a slight amount more for my power and as a result all my power would come from renewable sources. I jumped on board. It is important to me that I pay a little more to help fund initiatives providing green power to our grid.

When I moved to BC, I found no such option available to me. I wasn’t too worried, as so much of the power we generate comes from hydroelectric and is renewable. But we sell a lot of our clean energy at peak hours to the US and buy back their mostly coal fired electricity at night when the cost per kilowatt hour is a lot less.

So recently my friend Peter ter Weeme sent me a sign up for Bullfrog Power, an Eastern Canadian renewable energy company that was moving into BC. Basically, you tell them how much you use in residential energy usage, and pay 2 cents per kilowatt hour and they will ensure that that amount of green energy is added to the BC grid, basically offsetting your usage.

You can see more info here on Bullfrog Power in BC. I think this is a very smart initiative, as it gets some competition around cleaner energy solutions in BC, and will speed up BC Hydro’s good efforts in this space.

One other thing for the bankers in the room. TD Canada Trust, one of Canada’s biggest banks, ran a campaign saying their Green Machine network, which is what they’ve always called their ATMs, is now run on Bullfrog green energy, reinforcing their position in the environment, and putting a nice spin on the branding. Read more about TD’s effort here.

ChangeCamp coming to Vancouver?

ChangeCampLast year I was one of the co-organizers of BarCampBankBC, an un-conference devoted to innovation in the financial services industry. BarCampBank has occurred several times around the world, and, as one of the attendees Morriss Partee recently blogged, each one takes on a local element. Morriss said that BarCampBankBC specifically “had a worthy-cause and social media flavor“.

After BarCampBankBC was over, Jeremy Osborn, a friend and sometimes commenter on this blog, mentioned to me that he would like to see the same un-conference, collaborative style applied to topics of sustainability and social change. Sounded like a very good and extremely worthwhile endevour.

I am lucky to work at a financial institution focused on these issues. Not many FIs aim at this space, but it exactly the intersection of where the money is and the changes we need to make in our society that makes Vancity such an amazing anomaly.

In a questionnaire, I recently (and somewhat inarticulately) told one of my favourite conferences, Net.Finance, in answer to their question “In a volatile economy like we have today, what does it really mean to be innovative?”:

As FIs in today’s economy the greatest innovations we can achieve are those that bring us closer to our customers. Anything that helps us better understand their needs and help them understand and manage their finances so as many people as possible can get through this period with their assets intact. Those are the innovations our customers will remember us for, how we treated them when everything was down. That’s how we build loyalty for the long term.

Recently, I found out that a BarCamp devoted to social change may, in fact, be happening.

In Toronto, people are planning something called ChangeCamp. This is how the organizers describe it:

ChangeCamp is a free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to answer one question:
How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?

Very intriguing. If you live in Toronto, check it out.

And now I learn that there is a spinoff group of ChangeCamp starting right here in Vancouver, calling their event VanChangeCamp. I’m paying close attention. Looks like it is currently being aimed to happen on March 28th, 2009.

I’ll post more as I learn more, but it should be an event worth watching…