With an exalted example like Wikipedia to demonstrate what can be done through minimally organized and uncontrolled collaborative knowledge sharing, it’s tempting to think that small, focused groups will thrive and progress through such an open online environment.  Indeed, some of the Transition Town efforts seem to be bearing fruit.

Here’s another budding example: Place Based Grass Roots Groups Political Action Web. It’s set up on Wikia, a free public access wiki platform, which also hosts Sustainable Community Action and Water Wiki. The Place Based wiki is clearly based in North Carolina, with places named including Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill – the university towns in the central part of the state.

Place Based wiki provides a How-To page where groups are invited to share the secrets of their organizational success. So far only one group has provided content for that page.

More active is the Global EDAP Resources page where “energy descent action plans” are shared, broken down into details like Youth and Community, Education, Local Energy, Local Economy and Livelihoods, Food, Government, Housing, etc.  Another breakdown allows individual “places” to describe their specific EDAPs, which are plans to systematically reduce energy usage along the same lines as post carbon cities and transition towns follow.

Perhaps the most realistic and practical approach to preparing for local impacts of climate change is the Transition Towns model being adopted widely across Great Britain. As the movement describes its purpose:

The transition model emboldens communities to look peak oil and climate change squarely in the eye and unleash the collective genius of their own people to find the answers to this big question:

for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how are we going to:

  • significantly rebuild resilience (in response to peak oil)
  • drastically reduce carbon emissions (in response to

On April 2, I blogged about using the wiki platform for local and inter-local organization. Recently, the Transition Towns networked moved its online activity to a wiki platform where its registered members can now collaboratively author web pages to plan and coordinate their initiatives. On this page you’ll find a list of designated transition town communities. Totnes is considered the “flagship” of the movement. Its web site is not a wiki, but gives a good overview of what a truly active community can be. There are also about 600 local communities “mulling it over” – communicating with Transition Towns about the possibility of joining the movement.

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Appended:

How timely. This article on Transition Towns just got published and distributed by the Yorkshire Post.

I’ve been doing some work lately using a wiki to design a proposal for training organizations to adopt wikis. This has given me an excuse to research how wikis are being used for a variety of purposes. One good example that compares in many ways with the task of finding best practices for local adaptation planning is Flu Wiki, a self-described “experiment in collaborative problem solving in public health.”

The self-organizing, inclusive and collaborative nature of an active wiki community lends itself perfectly to the distributed, common-but-different needs of geographical communities dealing with variations of shared problems. Flu Wiki provides a good model and an established learning path that local adaptation planners might adopt. Here is some of the text from the About section:

The purpose of the Flu Wiki is to help local communities prepare for and perhaps cope with a possible influenza pandemic. This is a task previously ceded to local, state and national governmental public health agencies. Our goal is to be:

  • a reliable source of information, as neutral as possible, about important facts useful for a public health approach to pandemic influenza
  • a venue for anticipating the vast range of problems that may arise if a pandemic does occur
  • a venue for thinking about implementable solutions to foreseeable problems

No one, in any health department or government agency, knows all the things needed to cope with an influenza pandemic. But it is likely someone knows something about some aspect of each of them and if we can pool and share our knowledge we can advance preparation for and the ability to cope with events. This is not meant to be a substitute for planning, preparation and implementation by civil authorities, but a parallel effort that complements, supports and extends those efforts.

While we will continue to administer and maintain the Wiki, we are turning the wheel over to the community, to take it where the road leads us. There is a bit of a learning curve to driving this rig. We hope you will find the instructions sufficient to get started. You’ll soon be learning on your own.

What the Flu Wiki is not

It is not..

  • a news filter
  • a discussion board
  • a place to promote commercial products
  • a soap box
  • a place to advance pet theories

There is nothing wrong with these things. Many of us have blogs that do some or all of them. The wiki is not a replacement or competition for any existing blog or site. We hope existing sites will continue to grow, flourish and generally continue to carry out the important functions they have already done so well.