Working on a Web of Change

Thursday September 06, 2012
Article by Camille Jensen, Axiom News

Ajay Puri and I were at a Vancouver social innovation beach party when I mentioned I would be attending this year's Web of Change.

The natural networker was one of the first people I met in Vancouver, and in my opinion is synonymous with using the Internet to generate real-world action. Ajay runs seven Twitter accounts, has over 2,500 Facebook friends, and has rallied people to causes as diverse as sustainability to healthcare innovation.

Gasping with excitement at the news, Ajay exclaimed "Did you know Web of Change is where I had my transformational experience?"

I didn't, and yes, people living on the West Coast talk like this.

Ajay went on to share that prior to attending his first Web of Change conference in 2009, his use of the web to organize people was secondary.

Get togethers and protests is where people forged relationships. Facebook, which was the only social platform Ajay used at the time, came second, a place where people became "friends" after meeting and connecting on shared issues in person.

Attending the four-day conference for digital leaders at Hollyhock on Cortes Island,  Ajay learned the philosophy of rooting all change initiatives on the web first, and using multiple platforms to recruit, cross pollinate and take action.

Weaving a web of change, so to speak.

For Ajay, it completely revolutionized his thinking. He returned from the conference on the heels of the climate change summit in Copenhagen. If you think back three years, you'll remember the Copenhagen climate change talks as a period of immense hope followed quickly by disappointment at the failed lack of leadership by countries to adopt comprehensive carbon reductions.

Ajay wanted to make a statement to Canadian leaders to properly represent Canada. He wanted them to know Vancouverites were asking them to take a stand on climate change.

Ajay had started his first Twitter account at Web of Change. He decided to put this and his other learnings to work.

What happened was nothing short of spectacular. Ajay, along with a  handful of other climate crusaders, were able to organize Bridge to a Cool Planet - a day of action which called on people who cared about global warming to take a stand on the Cambie Street Bridge.

Nearly 10,000 people came, fillling the Cambie Street Bridge to unfurl a gigantic banner reading "Canadians Care. Climate Action Now." It was the biggest event in Vancouver since the peace march in 2003.

This story is legendary, and part of the reason why I'm so excited to attend this year's Web of Change conference Sept. 5-9.

At Axiom News, we've pioneered some exciting advancements in online media. For 10 years, we've demonstrated that generative, stakeholder news is one of the best ways for social-purpose organizations to engage their community and co-create the story they live into together.

The model also allows us to pursue our social mission, engaging even more organizations working on social and economic transition to be newsmakers, content you'll find at

While we're proud of how we contribute, we are also keenly aware that our work could be making an even greater impact.

We are now delving into video. We're also exploring how to repost stories from our clients' websites, which often need greater contextualization and meaning making when not posted on their sites.

Fortunately for me, Web of Change is full of digital leaders diving deep into discussions that get to the core of this work: truly engaging people so they feel, and act, as part of a movement; building a holistic understanding that issues and social change organizations are connected; and creating innovative change campaigns.

I'm looking forward to my four-day immersion with this crew from across North America representing a broad spectrum of skills: web developers, digital strategists, communications directors, social change leaders, marketing gurus and political organizers.

I also look forward to sharing and showing you these insights in the near future.

Join the conversation at #woc12.