Proof of Concept

Community Pulse is all about providing regular feedback and making connections between four of our biggest environmental challenges:  waste, water use, energy use and CO2 emissions. Our mission is to assemble and organize utility and agency information that is collected but rarely used to help people understand where we are at now, how far we are from where we want to be, and how we can get there.

Individuals (and communities) in our society lack the adequate sense in real time of how well we are doing - how much energy we are consuming, how many negative environmental and social impacts we are creating, how many opportunities we are missing to create cleaner richer lives and communities. Not only is it out of sight, we have no sense of how much we are using, and no feedback loops that might show us how and when we can reduce our consumption[1].

Community Pulse is our effort to provide this information that is missing from our day-to-day lives. At the moment this website is just a proof of concept. We started Community Pulse in Sonoma and Napa counties because this is where we are from, this is where our network is based. Unfortunately, the resources are not currently available to ramp this concept up to the scale we have envisioned. We have always thought that the real potential of Community Pulse lies in providing this information for major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, as well as all of the states, allowing it to reach a wider audience and inspire a little friendly competition between communities and states. We would still like to see this happen, and if you would like to be a part of making it happen, please let us know!

[1] Newman, Peter, T. Beatley, and H. Boyer (2009). Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change. Covelo Island Press, Washington, DC.

Community Pulse aims to reach a mainstream audience and help them understand why it’s important and makes so much sense to start using resources more efficiently. We sort through and prioritize the barrage of “green” resources out there and zero in on the biggest opportunities. We connect consumers and businesses that want to be part of a new economy. Community Pulse can help create a more educated, empowered public aware of the direction we’re heading in and what we can do to change course.
In the late 1980s a Dutch graduate student by the name of Jan Hanhart came up with a novel idea. The government was planning to devote significant resources to reducing nationwide natural gas consumption by 15%. Hanhart proposed that they simply tell people what amount they were currently using, what amount they wanted them to use, and provide them with some suggestions of how they might go about reaching this national goal. The officials scoffed at the simplicity of his proposal, but he persisted.

Hanhart put an advertisement on the front page of a local weekly newspaper telling the community how much natural gas they were using and how much they should try to conserve, along with some potential ideas and suggestions for reducing their use. Soon he noted that the community was engaged in an ongoing dialogue. Everywhere he went people were asking their neighbors how much they were using and what they were doing to use less. Within just six months natural gas use had decreased by 18% - surpassing the goal.