Winner of Open Planet Ideas announced

volunteeringA week or so ago, I announced the eight finalists in the Sony / WWF Open Planet Initiative.

The aim of the initiative was to gather creative ideas from the public for ways to utilise technology to help us make the most of our planet’s resources.

After investigation by the expert panel, which involved consultation with the creators and additional investigation into their technical feasibility and overall potential, GreenBook was deemed the winner – it was felt that it had the most potential to impact the environment and communities.


The aim of GreenBook is to reinvent community activism to attract the Facebook generation; and we all know how popular and addictive facebook can be.

The idea is to allow friends with similar interests to locate one another in order to congregate to work together on short tasks. Individuals can post their needs and offer their services, as well as make donations, sign e-petitions, get information, win rewards for participation and share their stories.

Community Activism

The creator of the idea, Paul Frigout, now has the once in a lifetime chance to realise his concept working with Sony Europe’s R&D and design teams, WWF experts and members of the IDEO creative team.

The idea was chosen because of its huge potential to bring people together and motivate participation. The belief is that GreenBook will breathe new life into the age old concept of volunteering through the application of cutting edge social technology.


To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about the winning idea. There are already heaps of wonderful volunteering initiatives taking place through sites such as Facebook, Timebanks and Freeconomy. There are volunteering holidays, BCTV and local LETS groups that have been running successfully for years. Freecycle, Landshare and Care2 are enormously successful campaigns.

Although technology is a great way to unite with people you might never otherwise meet, the real solution to making change is getting out there, in the community and taking action. The easiest way to start is to learn a bit about the person who lives next door to you – A simple measure that many of us forget to do.

Green Technology

I wonder if technology gives us the opportunity to be a bit lazy – we can sign an e-petition, write an email or comment on a forum from the comfort of our sofa rather than stepping outside our front door and meeting our neighbours. I’m guilty of this myself – I’ll sign an e-petition but will I go and meet on the steps of my local council to petition against something? Probably not…

Transition Towns are a great example where the ideas behind GreenBook are already taking place in the ‘real world’. Why not visit an elderly neighbour, bake her a cake and have a cup of tea with her? You’ll make her day and you don’t need a laptop or ipone to connect!

What do you think?