Who’s Who in Collective Intelligence: Alex Steffen

Alpha Q-U, Collective Intelligence
Alex Steffen
Alex Steffen

Alex Steffen has been the Executive Editor of Worldchanging since he co-founded the organization in 2003, as the next phase in a lifetime of work exploring ways of building a better future. Steffen was also the editor of Worldchanging’s wildly successful first book, Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century (Abrams, 2006), a 600-page compendium of writings from more than sixty noted leaders around the world,

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Long Form Biography:

Alex Steffen has been the Executive Editor of Worldchanging since he co-founded the organization in 2003, as the next phase in a lifetime of work exploring ways of building a better future. In a very short time, Worldchanging has become one of the most widely-read sustainability-related publications on the Internet, with an archive of more than 10,000 articles by leading thinkers around the world. It’s played an important role in revealing formerly obscure innovations and groundbreaking ideas, thereby pushing forward the sustainability movement and assisting in the growth of its network. Worldchanging has also been integral in garnering major support for important causes, such as the post-Tsunami relief effort, for which Worldchanging raised $150,000 in partnership with Architecture for Humanity. The critically-acclaimed site won the Utne Independent Press Award in 2004, and was nominated for Webby’s (the Oscars of the Net) for Best Blog and Best Magazine, as well as for Bloggies for Best Writing and Best Group Weblog.

Steffen was also the editor of Worldchanging’s wildly successful first book, Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century (Abrams, 2006), a 600-page compendium of writings from more than sixty noted leaders around the world, with a foreword by Al Gore, an introduction by Bruce Sterling, and design by Stefan Sagmeister (winner of the 2005 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award). Worldchanging has been an Amazon bestseller in the US and Canada, and has gleaned wide acclaim from the New York Book Review, BusinessWeek, the International Herald Tribune, The Globe and Mail, US News and World Report, and countless other magazines, newspapers and websites. The book is currently being translated into French and German, and will soon be available in several other languages.

Steffen works tirelessly to share Worldchanging’s ideas and message worldwide through regular speaking appearances to influential audiences and at leading companies such as Weiden + Kennedy, Nike, Amazon, Ideo, Arup, Nau, Yahoo! and the World Travel and Tourism Council. He has also spoken and keynoted at the most renowned design and innovation conferences in the world, including TED, Pop!Tech, Tallberg, Design Indaba, South by Southwest Interactive and Doors of Perception, as well as at a number of environmental and sustainability conferences like Hungary’s prestigious Balaton Group Meeting, the sustainability venture capital conference ResourcePoint and the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Association. Recently he has been the subject of a CNN documentary which envisions possibilities for the future, and was featured as one of six leading innovators in the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s “Ecotecture” issue.

“We find ourselves facing two futures, one unthinkable and the other currently unimaginable,” says Steffen, “My beat is looking for ways to create a future which is sustainable, dynamic, prosperous and fair — a future which is both bright and green. WorldChanging is based on the premise that such a future is not a distant possibility, but a growing reality. We seek to connect worldchanging people with the tools, models and ideas for building it.”

Prior to founding Worldchanging, Steffen worked as an environmental journalist on four continents (where he wrote about everything from Japan’s fast breeder reactor program to the UN “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro). That work led him to provide strategic consultation to more than 50 environmental groups (on issues like the fate of endangered species, the future of “smart growth” and “reframing” the environmental movement) and many foresight projects (anticipating, for instance, paths for a Pacific Northwest transition to sustainability, what green neighborhoods of the future might look like, and how to prevent the next use of nuclear weapons).

He also served as president of the board of Allied Arts (the venerable Seattle urban design advocacy group), a co-founder of the Livable Communities Coalition and the Fuse Foundation, and has served on the boards or steering committees for numerous other NGOs and campaigns. Steffen’s media work extends into newspaper, radio, and on-air television, and he started the short-lived but influential magazine, Steelhead, in the mid-nineties.

Steffen has written for numerous publications and his work has been the subject of stories in the New York Times and New York Times Magazine, USA Today, the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, Wired, the Guardian, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, Fast Company, Red Herring, SEED, the Associated Press, the CBC, NHK, NPR’s All Things Considered, Living on Earth, Open Source and Morning Edition, as well as Amercan Public Media’s Marketplace and elsewhere. His essays have been widely reprinted, translated into German, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish, and anthologized widely, including in the 2050 Project’s book Choosing our Future and Das Science Fiction Jahr 2004. He guest edited the final issue of the Whole Earth Review.

The Book
The Book