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Worldchanging was a charitable foundation and publisher of material about sustainability and social innovation whose strapline was A bright green future. In 2010 it merged into Architecture for Humanity, which has since closed.
Worldchanging was launched in October, 2003 in San Francisco by Alex Steffen and Jamais Cascio with a core of initial contributors. In 2005, Worldchanging moved its offices to Seattle, Washington. In early 2006, Cascio split off to form the website Open the Future. The same year Worldchanging became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
From 2005 - 2010, Worldchanging was headquartered in Seattle and led editorially by Alex Steffen, the executive editor, with managing editors Julia Levitt and Amanda Reed, and contributing editors including Jeremy Faludi and Sarah Rich, among others. It relied extensively on an international network of writers and correspondents, see list below.
Worldchanging was overseen by a board of directors, led by Worldchanging's chairman, the environmental photographer Edward Burtynsky. Worldchanging was supported by grants, book sales, speaker fees and reader donations. On November 29, 2010, Worldchanging announced that due to fundraising difficulties it would shut down. It has since merged with Architecture for Humanity, though detailed plans for the site's future have not been released.
Worldchanging practiced "solutions-based journalism," that is, the explicit goal of its work is to highlight possible solutions to what the editorial team sees as the planet's most pressing problems, rather than to spread news of those problems or critiques of their causes. Executive editor Alex Steffen was quoted in the Guardian explaining the value of this approach by saying "Cynicism is often seen as a rebellious attitude in western popular culture, but in reality, our cynicism advances the desires of the powerful: cynicism is obedience."
In its manifesto, Worldchanging declared:
Worldchanging is a solutions-based online magazine that works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. That plenty of people are working on tools for change, but the fields in which they work remain unconnected. That the motive, means and opportunity for profound positive change are already present. That another world is not just possible, it's here. We only need to put the pieces together. Informed by that premise, we do our best to bring you the most important and innovative new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future. We don't do negative reviews – why waste your time with what doesn't work? We don't offer critiques or exposes, except to the extent that such information may be necessary for the general reader to apprehend the usefulness of a particular tool or resource. We don't generally offer links to resources which are about problems and not solutions, unless the resource is so insightful that its very existence is a step towards a solution. We pay special attention to tools, ideas and models that may have been overlooked in the mass media. We make a point of showing ways in which seemingly unconnected resources link together to form a toolkit for changing the world.
Critical reception, audience and impact
Wired columnist Bruce Sterling called Worldchanging "the most important website on the planet," and architect Richard Meier named it as his favorite site and praised it as "a wealth of information on sustainability".
It won or been nominated for the following awards and prizes:
- 2005, won the Utne Independent Press Award.
- 2006, finalist for a Webby for Best Blog.
- 2007, finalist for a Webby for Best Magazine, as well as for Bloggie awards for Best Group Weblog and Best Writing for a Weblog; won the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature for its book; won Organic Design Award. Prix Ars Electronica nominee.
- 2008, named a Webby Official Honoree.
According to BlogPulse, Worldchanging was the 135th most cited blog in the world in July 2008. In 2008, Nielsen rated it the second leading sustainability site in the world, while an author for Time Magazine named it one of the world's top 15 environmental websites.
In November 2006, Worldchanging published a survey of global innovation, Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century with a foreword by Al Gore, design by Stefan Sagmeister, and an introduction by Bruce Sterling. It was a winner of the Green Prize for sustainable literature and saw translation into French, German, Korean and several other languages. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., the publisher of the hardcover edition, listed it among their 50 best selling titles in July 2008. The book was mentioned by BusinessWeek as one of the "Best Innovation and Design Books for 2006" and received positive comments.
Worldchanging, Revised Edition: A User's Guide for the 21st Century was issued in 2011 as a revision with updated technological material, relating to sustainable living, including some 160 new entries relating to food security, sustainable transport, carbon neutrality, ecotourism and updated information on the emerging local food movement.
- Steffen, Alex (16 September 2008). "Whole Earth in Hindsight".
- "Our Team: Jamais Cascio". Worldchanging.
- "Thank You for Seven Years of Worldchanging". Retrieved 1 December 2010.
- "netsquared - Worlchanging". NetSquared.
- "About Worldchanging". WorldChanging: Award-Winning Solutions Journalism. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- Lacey, Josh (2007-03-17). "Go bright green". The Guardian (London).
- Vanity Fair (31 January 2008). "My Sites: Architect Richard Meier". VF Daily. Vanity Fair (vanityfair.com).
- "BlogPulse Tools: Profiles Overview". Retrieved 16 July 2008.[dead link]
- "The Environment". Time. 2008-04-17.
- Tovey, Mark (12 October 2007). "Changer le monde!". WorldChanging Canada.
- WorldChanging Team (27 June 2008). "Das Handbuch der Ideen für eine bessere Zukunft".
- "(Unknown title)". Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008.
- Nussbaum, Bruce (6 December 2006). "Best Innovation and Design Books for 2006: We looked past obvious titles to compile a list of books that will inform the thinking about innovation beyond this year". BusinessWeek (BusinessWeek.com).
- Alex Steffen (2011). Worldchanging, Revised Edition: A User's Guide for the 21st Century. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0810997462.