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Entries in Virtual (3)

Saturday
Mar312012

Nonprofit Tech Companies

This weekend I hosted a party and one of my guests recently started working at Twitter. We had a nice conversation about social media and technology, and how in light of recent high-profile public offerings (Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, Pandora, Yelp, Zynga, etc.), little has been known about how these technology companies are turning a profit, like the recent 60 Minutes profile of Groupon.

I live two blocks away from the Zynga headquarters and walk past the Twitter's new building on my way to work each morning, so technology is a community interest for me, in some ways.

And for those tech companies that offer information or tools, it's fascinating to see some great examples of non-profit tech companies that serve a social mission, making the internet more of a nonprofit space, where ads and marketing aren't influencing the user experience.

I've been thinking more and more about this conversation and so I decided to explore the mission statements of my top 10 favorite nonprofit tech companies.

They are (in alphabetical order):

1. Bay Area Video Coalition (San Francisco, CA) bavc.org
Mission: The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) inspires social change by enabling the sharing of diverse stories through art, education and technology.

2. Craigslist Foundation (RIP, San Francisco, CA) craigslist.org
Mission: to empower people to strengthen their communities by connecting them to the resources they need to effectively engage in community building.

3. Creative Commons (Mountain View, CA) creativecommons.org
Mission: Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

4. Electronic Frontier Foundation (San Francisco, CA) eff.org
Mission: The Corporation was formed for the purpose of understanding and fostering the opportunities of digital communication in a free and open society.

5. Internet Archive (San Francisco, CA) archive.org
Mission: to offer permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

6. Kahn Academy (Mountain View, CA) kahnacademy.org
Mission: to provide a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.

Note: Kahn Academy was recently featured on 60 Minutes.

7. Mozilla Foundation (Mountain View, CA) mozilla.org
Mission: to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the web,

8. TechSoup Global (San Francisco, CA) techsoup.org
Mission: TechSoup Global is working toward a time when every nonprofit and NGO on the planet has the technology resources and knowledge they need to operation at their full potential.

9. Tehnology, Entertainment, Design (New York, NY) ted.com
Mission: Spreading ideas.

10. Wikimedia Foundation (San Francisco, CA) wikimediafoundation.org
Mission: to encourage the growth, development, and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to provide the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge.

Please share your favorite nonprofit tech companies with me! I can be reached at adam@badwound.org.

Sunday
Mar062011

An Evening with Yann Arthus-Bertrand

As part of the first San Francisco Green Film Festival, I recently had the pleasure of spending an evening with one of the most inspiring activists and artists of his generation: Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

En route to France via San Francisco, he was in California for another TED Talk in Monterey and I had the pleasure of watching him present his recent film, HOME, followed by a Q&A discussion, time with attendees, and a gala reception downtown.

The film highlights the dangers human activities create to planet earth. Produced by Luc Besson and financed by the PPR Group (a French multinational company), it was Yann Arthus-Bertrand's intention to show the state of our planet and the challenges humanity faces, using aerial photography to document images of nature in a captivating narrative.

Following the show, he spoke with an enthusiastic energy about the importance of raising awareness of the impact/relationship between people and the planet. With a characteristically French charm and thick accent, he confessed, "I am only a film-maker" in admitting that he does not have all the answers to the questions raised by the film.

However, his artistic perspective shined when he suggested that the world is in need of a "spiritual revolution" in contrast to political or market-based solutions. Politicians and corporations, in his view, are often too narrow in focus and objectives to think about the future. He cited the culture of corruption and consumption as contributing factors to an imbalance of wealth and power that, unchecked, cannot be expected to effectively respond to the planetary crisis on our hands.

Instead, he used the film and its powerful images in tandem with statistics, science, and an evolutionary story-telling narrative to evoke some of the most basic messages about humanity and nature.

It was an absolute honor to meet him!

Planetary Philanthropy

Yann Arthus-Bertrand is much more than an artist and activist. A man with many facets, he’s also a planetary philanthropist, as his work is widely available, shared freely, and with no commercial sponsorship. Today, HOME is available on DVDs and free, via streaming on the internet (Arthus-Bertrand gave up his author's rights).

In my view, his work is an inspiration in the ways that it contributes to an exchange of ideas. Free of cost and wide in distribution, his work has a sense of accessibility that inspires action.

He explains in a statement from the Home Project s YouTube Channel:

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate. The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film. HOME has been made for you: share it! And act for the planet.

-Yann Arthus-Bertrand, GoodPlanet Fundation President

2011 Year of the Forest

For one of his most recent projects at the GoodPlanet Foundation, the United Nations appointed Yann Arthus-Bertrand to produce an official film for the launch of the International Year of Forests, 2011. Of Forests and Men is a 7-minute short film on forests filled with aerial images from Home and the Earth from Above television series.

The film was shown during the plenary session of the Ninth Session of United Nations Forum on Forests (24 January - 4 February 2011) in New York. It s currently available to the public, at no charge, for worldwide distribution.

The images are absolutely stunning and make me miss the mountain forests where I grew-up in Montana. If you've got 7.5 minutes, watch it here:

Of Forests and Men from GoodPlanet on Vimeo

You can download the film for free - I even uploaded it to my iPhone for regular viewing. Much like his personal sites, the GoodPlanet Foundation s other websites are loaded with information, all of which is freely available:

J’adore son site Internet!

Finally, in researching his accomplished career, I am seriously impressed with the content of his personal websites. It features thousands of photos, including free wallpaper images, along with enough reading and digital images to make a geek like me happy for so small amount of time!

Check it out and you’ll see the work of a living luminary.

Saturday
Feb192011

Carbon Consciousness & Carefree Clicking

Believe it or not, websites like this one actually contribute to climate change and carry a carbon footprint. Thankfully, there's a nonprofit organization that can help!

The mission of the Carbon Fund is to lead the fight against global warming, making it easy and affordable for any individual, business or organization to reduce & offset their climate impact and hasten the transition to a clean energy future.

Their trademark is effectively straightforward: Reduce What You Can, Offset What You Can’t™ — and they encourage everyone to continually strive to reduce their carbon footprint through sensible energy reductions, combined with cost-effective carbon offsets. Their offsets support third-party validated renewable energyenergy efficiency and reforestation projects globally that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of climate change.

Carbon-Free Commitment 

According to their delightfully informative website, CarbonFund.org, all websites have a carbon footprint. This footprint is created by many factors including operation of web servers, networks, and the computers visitors use. For example, the average small personal blog creates nearly a tonne of CO2 per year! Furthermore, the Internet is responsible for about as much CO2 as air travel, or about two percent of total global emissions!

I've decided to go carbon neutral in support of the Carbon Fund's  projects, thanks in large part because they are a nonprofit organization,  meaning their priority is fighting climate change, not profiting from it. Some for-profits charge more than twice as much, including for offsets that come from the same projects with the same certifications. 

Additionally, my contribution is tax-deductible, making it even more cost-effective to reduce the carbon footprint of this here website. Sounds great to me!

I also appreciate how their website provides much more than carbon offsets — they offer practical knowledge and resourceful online tools that educate people about how carbon offsets work, how carbon calculation are figured, and other ways to reduce your carbon footprint with energy efficiency and conservation. 

 And yes, there's an app for that!  It's available for Iphone and Android — cool!