WiserThe social network, as most of us think of it, is nothing more than the likes of Facebook or Orkut, among others.

But to the world at large, it’s not just about Facebook (or the related movie), but a community that has been built over the years around a common interest or topic.

So I’m using this post to showcase such a community that has been actively working around sustainability.

Operating for over five years, this online community is called Wiser, also known as WiserEarth or WE.

As the name goes, WE is actively helping a global movement of people and organizations working toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship to connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and build alliances. WiserEarth (which runs the Wiser platform) is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code.

Check out the video below (or here) to learn what Wiser is all about:

Last I checked, there were 2,946 online community forums where members could engage in discussion, exchange knowledge, and collaborate on projects. In addition, Wiser also conducts local meet-ups around the world. WiserLocal is a local face-to-face gathering, supporting collaboration across sectors working towards social change.

I remember my first WiserLocal meeting, to which one of my friends invited me via Facebook. I was enthused with the idea of meeting like-minded people to  discuss how one can bring about a social change in the community. We asked:

What are the issues we see around us and how can we tackle them?

What are we doing to bring about that social change?

Do we just think about bringing about a change or are we really working towards it?

Well these were some questions that popped up in everyone’s mind, and I still remember meeting people from corporate execs, to college-goers, to entrepreneurs, all of whom joined in the discussion.

Talking and tweeting

While the discussion went on for a long time and everyone shared their opinions, it was highly engaging as all of us were simultaneously sharing our thoughts on Twitter. There was an LCD screen in the room where we all had gathered and we could read, tweet, talk and discuss at the same time using the right hashtag!

It is also fascinating to see volunteers across the globe helping this community grow… there are people who are involved in growing its social media presence, working on SEO, volunteers organizing local meet-ups regularly to build the community… all-in-all, this is the first such social network for sustainability that I have come across.

Additionally, Wiser organizes events on a regular basis across countries to educate, collaborate and connect with like minded people. It has about 16 K  followers on Twitter, and everyone is inspired to do their bit to build a sustainable community.

On + Off

The Wiser community has been using online as well as offline platforms incredibly well. While there are volunteers around the world who are building communities through regular WiserLocal meet-ups, there are others who are helping grow the community through online mediums.

Similar online communities include World Green, Carbonrally, Celsias, Make Me Sustainable, Care2 & the Albemarle Foundation; they all bring people together from across the globe and help in making the world a better place.

All in all, it’s a great example that social networks can be used not justs by MNCs or brands for profitable motives, but that they can also be used to bring about social change!

Readers: what you think about this community? Do you think this is a great step towards building a global community for sustainability… or not? And either way, why?

Image: cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr, CC 3.0