Here are some live blogging notes from the SXSW session.  Obviously it needs some more context but that’ll come in later posts 🙂


Sustainability requires doing more with less, constantly learning how to get more out of every pound of material and watt of energy. The creation and communication of this knowledge occurs in social networks of relationships, empowered by social media. Join us for a discussion and exploration of how social media are being used to accelerate our transition to a global sustainable culture.


  • Emily Gertz –
  • Jon Lebkowsky – Social Web Strategies
  • John McElhenney – Clear Green Technologies
  • Rob Reed – Max Gladwell

What is sustainability? – Jon Lebkowsky

The ability to maintain a certain process or state.  We’re really talking about using no more resources than we can replenish.

What is social media? – Jon Lebkowsky

Blogs, wikis, social network platforms, forums, chats: aka user generated content, conversations, communities.  Publishing plust interactivity, participatory.  Low barrier to entry.  Emergent, peer to peer conversations and sharing of knowledge.  Many channels, both personal and professional.

How are the two related? – Jon Lebkowsky

Tech has radically altered production and transmission of knowlege and information.  Sustainability depends on knowledge; social media facilitate knowledge production, processing and distribution.  Human sustainability is a social construction and social media the havey equipment that supports that  consturction.  Examples:

  • WorldChanging: knowledge prodution and sharing
  • 350: robust advocacy
  • BrightGreenLiving wiki: crowdsourced knowledge
  • communities of efficiency
  • World Data Center for Climate: shared computational cycles
  • Sustainable South Bronx: guerrilla R & D

You can mount challenges that are effective in spreading the word and making our message accessible to more people who can make their own decisions.

Who is Max Gladwell? – Rob Reed

A heroic ideal: our social and environmental problems are solvable; social entrepreneurship; information technology.  Started with mega trends of social media and green living.  The nexus of social media and green living: brands that combine the two, like good2gether, knowmore, givingpal, justmeans, causecast, kiba, ecoflip, blog action day, donorschoose, changents, wikigreen, greenhome.  Both are trying to decentralize information and resources so that they can be distributed across the world.

Green or Sustainability? – John McElhenney

Reduced operating costs, increased productivity, use less energy and water; improved health due to improved air quality; reduced environmental impact.  “Social media is just PR with new tools. One of the tools are social networks.  Within a social network, you socially network :)”

The Social Media Formula – John McElhenney

P x P / (I – M) = T

People multiplied by platform divided by an indivudal’s ability to express themselves minus misses or clash of style that degrade the community equlas trust.

How do we connect? John McElhenney

Communities; twitter, rss, threads; in person; by affinities; passions.

Social Media Influencers: as an individual you can join forces, share ideas, communicate.
Social Media Communities: as a community of thousands we can demand accountability, ask questions, etc.

Sometimes we forget to think small enough – Emily Gertz

Not everyone has the means, opportunity, etc. to change the energy system.  They want to know what to do at home.  There are only a number of ways we could be directing people’s efforts into local efforts and promoting clean energy at home.  Big groups think too big and small groups think too small.


  • National Phrenology Network: asking people to report blooming data in their area
  • The Great Sunflower Project: sign up, they send you seeds and you send in data about those feeding off the flowers
  • Tweetawatt: will send out information via twitter about energy usage, on
  • allow your computer, when not in use, to be used to help scientists run predictive tests for climate change


Follow #smfs on for the real conversation from this session!

SXSW: Using Social Media to Accelerate Sustainability
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