Facebook for the Greater Good

Paul Hawken is one of those people who does everything. He writes books that change the definition of sustainable business. He founds institutes on environmental issues and businesses to try out his theories. He tours the world speaking to people about his successes and failures. He collects a couple thousand business cards from people working globally on disparate issues and writes another book about what they all have in common–Blessed Unrest –with a companion website that’s like Facebook for activists.

WiserEarth, founded just over two years ago on Earth Day 2007, allows you to create a profile and search for organizations and people working on just about any issue under the sun, or organize projects of your own. You can join groups, post jobs, start conversations, and connect with like-minded souls in dozens of ways. I found hundreds of groups just in Toronto proper (although, oddly, not the ones I currently volunteer with. I might have to do something about that) and a search on my postal code gave me a few dozen hits, many of which I’d never heard of before. No, you can’t answer quizes and annoy your friends with detailed recountings of what kind of red wine, Sesame Street character or shade of purple you are (although there is a friend feed), but do you really want to?

If you’re trying to find people near you who are already working on causes close to your heart, this is a good place to start. If you’re already working on something and you want to publicize it or find other organizations to pool resources with, it could be a useful tool. If you have no idea where to start or what you’re interested in, take five of the sixty minutes you already spend on Facebook every day and shift them to WiserEarth: poke around, see what’s available, and find a way to connect your interests to the needs of your community.

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