Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues, when she’s not out in the real world (ok, sometimes even then).

What inspires people to do something about the environment? Often, it’s knowing what we can do to make a difference, and that we’re not alone in our efforts.

This past Saturday I attended Social Capital Ottawa, a conference bringing together people using social media in Ottawa. It was a great opportunity to meet other Ottawa bloggers and Twitterers “in real life,” and to learn more about using social media effectively. (Sessions covered everything from writing to selecting social media tools, using social media for social change, making sense of social media metrics and more.)

One of the main observations I came away with is that with Ottawa’s social media users, the whole really is more than the sum of the parts. That is, bloggers, Tweeters and Facebook users – although using social media for different purposes – aren’t just putting stuff out there for others to read; they’re creating conversations, connecting people – and building community.

Glen Gower of Ottawa Start, who gave the conference’s keynote address, said a couple of things that stuck with me. One is that blogging and Tweeting enable people to channel “collective community energy,” which Ottawans have been doing for a long time, just in other ways. Another is that people in Ottawa, through their use of social media, are building our city.

This got me thinking about the people who are helping connect those of us who are concerned about Ottawa’s environment – using blogs and Tweets to share ideas and challenges, and to encourage us to inspire each other:

(These examples are the tip of the iceberg, so to speak – please share others you know of.)

Building Ottawa as a community of people living sustainably takes more than a few social media tools. But people using these tools help us learn and share what’s possible.

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