Network Hub: coworking and sustainability gathering

Last night I was among the many guests of Recollective on their brainstorming session on what a Vancouver Network Hub would be like.

First a little background info, coworking or office sharing is not a new idea and has been successful in many locations for years. One of Vancouver’s coworking/shared office spaces, perhaps the most popular one closed down suddenly. It had served as people’s office and also as an asset to the tech community in particular.

There was no opportunity to save it.

So a variety of people are interested in how to replace it and how to make sure it is sustainable and appealing to a wide variety of folks. As I alluded to above the gathering was well attended with a mix of artists, professionals, IT folks, there were several speakers, very little beer, and it was cramped further demonstrating the need for a co-working space.


A working group was ultimately formed, I took a few pictures but there were others who hopefully have a summary of the various suggestions, some are expensive, I think to make it sustainable it can’t be too luxurious which is why we’d like to see it remain in the inner-city, reusing some of the empty space already here.

Raul typed up much of the early discussion, but no summary of the most desired features and the true, true must haves has emerged. I also tried to get a sense of how much space would be needed and how much people would pay per month, I’d like to see more work on that.

There was more than a few groups representing Chinatown which has cheaper rents than Gastown yet is mere blocks away and accessible by bus, skytrain, and bike. It even has a huge parkade or two for those who need their car for their business. Chinatown could very well be the location of the next “network hub” or “coworking space” to open in Vancouver. Here is a mockup of one space I did. It is totally not to scale…



Green News

Some green news stories have been crossing my desk so I thought I’d make a little post.  BOB and the Green Inner-city Cluster are working on stuff, more news when it becomes official and for public consumption.

Here are some other stories until then:

Urban Strategies for Transition Times

That is the subtitle for the upcoming Resilient Cities conference.  Building Opportunities with Business is one of many official sponsors (we may yet have an official shoulder event, I will bring it up at the next Green Inner-city Cluster meeting, which is on September 9th, contact if you’re interested in learning more).  The conference continues to secure speakers and coordinate sessions and the organizers sent out the following message today which I’m passing on to our readership:

You could hardly attend a more timely conference than Gaining Ground/Resilient Cities.

What is driving this conference is the conviction of the organizers that cities have a unique and special leadership role in the sustainability agenda: to implement urban strategies for a green world and to spread knowledge city-to-city.

Yes, state/provincial governments and nations are also charged with these responsibilities, but the more abstract and political these concerns become, the more challenging it is to deliver effective policy or to leverage inter-jurisdictional agreements.

Cities and city-regions are where the rubber hits the road-literally and figuratively. Their scale is right and the culture of local interaction is direct and immediate. Collectively, cities are where most of us live, consume and produce.

Because of this immediacy, the conference hopes to play a meaningful role as a platform for Vancouver’s emergence as a green city. The timing is right, and the city is poised.

Some take the view that cities must become resilient to respond adaptively to imminent ecological changes and to energy and other imperatives. We’re not denying that need-and the conference will have much to say about these matters. But in using the word “resilient,’ the conference title implies something else, too: that cities as social and economic units are nimble; can hold meaningful local conversations; can work with constituent interests in productive collaborations; and can do this quickly.

In Vancouver, this is being expressed in part through a plan for a green economy. We believe that this is an intuitive approach, as opportunity will drive more things faster than paralyzing worry or issues that divide interests and force people to take sides.

We hope that this is a conference that will make-or more accurately help you to make-history. Vancouver needs the green economy and a deep sustainability plan for its own sake, but North American cities need an urban exemplar. We will never know the extent of Vancouver’s recent influence on other cities in Canada, the US and elsewhere, but “Vancouverism”-the city’s branded urban planning and design miracle-has powerfully influenced politicians, planners, architects, developers, writers, and advocates from other cities. And in the process, Vancouver has developed a critical piece often missing in other places: a culture of trust, self-confidence about its innovation skills, and belief in its ability to deliver change.

Resilient Cities heralds all of this and hopes to be a milestone in sustainable city progress. We look forward to seeing you there.

Gene Miller
Center for Urban Innovation

Hope to see some of you there, stop by the Building Opportunities with Business booth and say “hi”.

10 Ways to Support Charity Through Social Media.

This post is a collaboration between Mashable’s Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell‘s “10 Ways” series. The post is being simultaneously published across more than 100 blogs.


Social media is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues such as greening the inner-city. That’s one of the reasons non-profits can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite charity or causes you are passionate about through social media.

Below is a list of 10 ways you can use social media to show your support for issues that are important to you. If you can think of any other ways to help charities via social web tools, please add them in the comments. If you’d like to retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Write a Blog Post

Blogging is one of the easiest ways you can help a charity or cause you feel passionate about, we started Greening the Inner-city to raise awareness on the work going on in Vancouver’s DTES. Almost everyone has an outlet for blogging these days — whether that means a site running WordPress, an account at LiveJournal, or a blog on MySpace or Facebook. By writing about issues you’re passionate about, you’re helping to spread awareness among your social circle. Because your friends or readers already trust you, what you say is influential.

Recently, a group of green bloggers banded together to raise individual $1 donations from their readers. The beneficiaries included Sustainable Harvest, Kiva, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and Water for People. The blog-driven campaign included voting to determine how the funds would be distributed between the charities. You can read about the results here.

You should also consider taking part in Blog Action Day, a once a year event in which thousands of blogs pledge to write at least one post about a specific social cause (last year it was fighting poverty). Blog Action Day will be on October 15 this year.

2. Share Stories with Friends


Another way to spread awareness among your social graph is to share links to blog posts and news articles via sites like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, and even through email. Your network of friends is likely interested in what you have to say, so you have influence wherever you’ve gathered a social network.  Building Opportunities has a Facebook page, become a fan.  Toby Barazzuol is an ethusiastic tweeter, follow him, apparently Gregor Robertson does.

You’ll be doing causes you support a great service when you share links to their campaigns, or to articles about causes you care about.

3. Follow Charities on Social Networks

In addition to sharing links to articles about issues you come across, you should also follow charities you support on the social networks where they are active. By increasing the size of their social graph, you’re increasing the size of their reach. When your charities tweet or post information about a campaign or a cause, statistics or a link to a good article, consider retweeting that post on Twitter, liking it on Facebook, or blogging about it.

Following charities on social media sites is a great way to keep in the loop and get updates, and it’s a great way to help the charity increase its reach by spreading information to your friends and followers.

You can follow the Summer of Social Good Charities:

Oxfam America (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube)

The Humane Society (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr)

LIVESTRONG (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr)

WWF (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr)

4. Support Causes on Awareness Hubs


Another way you can show your support for the charities you care about is to rally around them on awareness hubs like, Care2, or the Facebook Causes application. These are social networks or applications specifically built with non-profits in mind. They offer special tools and opportunities for charities to spread awareness of issues, take action, and raise money.

It’s important to follow and support organizations on these sites because they’re another point of access for you to gather information about a charity or cause, and because by supporting your charity you’ll be increasing their overall reach. The more people they have following them and receiving their updates, the greater the chance that information they put out will spread virally.

5. Find Volunteer Opportunities

Using social media online can help connect you with volunteer opportunities offline, and according to web analytics firm Compete, traffic to volunteering sites is actually up sharply in 2009. Two of the biggest sites for locating volunteer opportunities are VolunteerMatch, which has almost 60,000 opportunities listed, and, which also lists paying jobs in the non-profit sector, in addition to maintaining databases of both volunteer jobs and willing volunteers.

For those who are interested in helping out when volunteers are urgently needed in crisis situations, check out, a site which helps register and educate those who want to help during disasters so that local resources are not tied up directing the calls of eager volunteers. Teenagers, meanwhile, should check out, a site targeted at young adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their communities.

6. Embed a Widget on Your Site

Many charities offer embeddable widgets or badges that you can use on your social networking profiles or blogs to show your support. These badges generally serve one of two purposes (or both). They raise awareness of an issue and offer up a link or links to additional information. And very often they are used to raise money.

Mashable’s Summer of Social Good campaign, for example, has a widget that does both. The embeddable widget, which was custom built using Sprout (the creators of ChipIn), can both collect funds and offer information about the four charities the campaign supports.

7. Organize a Tweetup

You can use online social media tools to organize offline events, which are a great way to gather together like-minded people to raise awareness, raise money, or just discuss an issue that’s important to you. Getting people together offline to learn about an important issue can really kick start the conversation and make supporting the cause seem more real.  We used social media extensively to promote the launch of the Green Inner-city Cluster.

Be sure to check out Mashable’s guide to organizing a tweetup to make sure yours goes off without a hitch, or check to see if there are any tweetups in your area to attend that are already organized.

8. Express Yourself Using Video

As mentioned, blog posts are great, but a picture really says a thousand words. The web has become a lot more visual in recent years and there are now a large number of social tools to help you express yourself using video. When you record a video plea or call to action about your issue or charity, you can make your message sound more authentic and real. You can use sites like, Vimeo, and YouTube to easily record and spread your video message.

Last week, the Summer of Social Good campaign encouraged people to use video to show support for charity. The #12forGood campaign challenged people to submit a 12 second video of themselves doing something for the Summer of Social Good. That could be anything, from singing a song to reciting a poem to just dancing around like a maniac — the idea was to use the power of video to spread awareness about the campaign and the charities it supports.

If you’re more into watching videos than recording them, enables you to raise funds for charities like Unicef and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital by sharing viral videos by e-mail.

Building Opportunities got some UBC planning students involved in revitalizing the inner-city and they produced the following video about Save On Meats.

9. Sign or Start a Petition


There aren’t many more powerful ways to support a cause than to sign your name to a petition. Petitions spread awareness and, when successfully carried out, can demonstrate massive support for an issue. By making petitions viral, the social web has arguably made them even more powerful tools for social change. There are a large number of petition creation and hosting web sites out there. One of the biggest is The Petition Site, which is operated by the social awareness network Care2, or, which has collected more than 79 million signatures over the years.  There is a petition on this site to save Pantages Theatre in Vancouver’s inner-city.

Petitions are extremely powerful, because they can strike a chord, spread virally, and serve as a visual demonstration of the support that an issue has gathered. Social media fans will want to check out a fairly new option for creating and spreading petitions: Twitition, an application that allows people to create, spread, and sign petitions via Twitter.

10. Organize an Online Event

Social media is a great way to organize offline, but you can also use online tools to organize effective online events. That can mean free form fund raising drives, like the Twitter-and-blog-powered campaign to raise money for a crisis center in Illinois last month that took in over $130,000 in just two weeks. Or it could mean an organized “tweet-a-thon” like the ones run by the 12for12k group, which aims to raise $12,000 each month for a different charity.

In March, 12for12k ran a 12-hour tweet-a-thon, in which any donation of at least $12 over a 12 hour period gained the person donating an entry into a drawing for prizes like an iPod Touch or a Nintendo Wii Fit. Last month, 12for12k took a different approach to an online event by holding a more ambitious 24-hour live video-a-thon, which included video interviews, music and sketch comedy performances, call-ins, and drawings for a large number of prizes given out to anyone who donated $12 or more.

Bonus: Think Outside the Box

blamedrewscancerSocial media provides almost limitless opportunity for being creative. You can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of innovative ways to raise money or awareness for a charity or cause. When Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he created Blame Drew’s Cancer, a campaign that encourages people to blow off steam by blaming his cancer for bad things in their lives using the Twitter hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. Over 16,000 things have been blamed on Drew’s cancer, and he intends to find sponsors to turn those tweets into donations to LIVESTRONG once he beats the disease.

Or check out Nathan Winters, who is biking across the United States and documenting the entire trip using social media tools, in order to raise money and awareness for The Nature Conservancy.

The number of innovative things you can do using social media to support a charity or spread information about an issue is nearly endless. Can you think of any others? Please share them in the comments.

Special thanks to

vpsnet logoA special thanks to, who are donating $100 to the Summer of Social Good for every signup they receive this week.

Sign up at and use the coupon code “SOSG”to receive 3 Months of FREE hosting on top of your purchased term. honors a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee so there’s no risk.

About the “10 Ways” Series

The “10 Ways” Series was originated by Max Gladwell. This is the second simultaneous blog post in the series. The first ran on more than 80 blogs, including Mashable. Among other things, it is a social media experiment and the exploration of a new content distribution model. You can follow Max Gladwell on Twitter.

This content was originally written by Mashable’s Josh Catone.

Building your Green Building Brain

At DemoCamp 07, which took place last night at Workspace in Vancouver’s inner-city, a number of new web platforms, frameworks, tool kits, and websites were presented and discussed including staff from the maker of this blogging platform.  However the presentation of most interest to this blog’s audience and mandate is the open source, copyright free, information network being built around green buildings and green architecture called the Green Building Brain.

The Green Building Brain is the brain child of the Vancouver Design Nerds and Recollective.  They are looking for help in building their website, finding bugs, and suggestions on how to make the Green Building Brain a useful resource for professionals and folks interested in learning more about greening an existing building or designing and building a green building.

I think this is a record for using green and building in one post/paragraph.

Resilient Cities: Vancouver

This upcoming conference (October 20-22) is bringing some exciting speakers to town to speak on: green jobs, ecology, urban renewal, many of the things we blog about and are working on in Vancouver’s Inner-city.resilientCitiesOnePager

Building Opportunities with Business is going to have a booth and likely several other authors of this blog and green cluster members will be present and participating.  Here is the official promotional blurb:

Resilient Cities: Urban Strategies for Transition Times
A Gaining Ground conference in association with Smart Growth BC and in collaboration with the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics.
Date: Oct 20-22, 2009
Location: Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC
Web site:
Tel: 250-858-4600
Registration: Register online or by calling 250-472-4747

North American cities are facing transformational challenges in sustainability, economy, and urban management. Sustainability imperatives, the call for climate action, the prospect of a quickly shifting energy future, pressure for new approaches in almost every urban system, and the shock of the economic downturn have North American cities scrambling to comprehend and manage the shift toward ecological practices and greater resilience.

The conference will explore strategies to make cities more robust, and will enable participants to advance their thinking on three key subjects:

  • innovation in sustainability governance and best current practices for managing sustainable urban systems;
  • capturing opportunities in the green economy;
  • strategies for building widespread sustainability collaborations that engage the community level.

The speakers listed on their webpage include: Anita Burke, Gregor Robertson, Bill Rees, and Majora Carter who we had give the keynote at Sustainability 2.0.

« Older entries