Last weekend’s Social Good Summit (SGS) brought together a vast array of thinkers, innovators, philanthropists, politicians, journalists, social activists and, of course, celebrities to discuss the power of technology and social media in doing good in this world. It’s easy for us to be cynical or high and mighty about the ridiculousness of tweets, vanity of Facebook, and the dangers of being online too much.
For once it was refreshing – no, downright inspiring – to spend three days immersed in a conversation about how the digital revolution is revolutionising millions of peoples lives and is a real agent for good in this world.
A first time initiative was the Global Conversation. Summits were concurrently held in Beijing and Nairobi with over 200 Meetups in 100 countries. But most impressive was the effort that like-minded individuals made to hold sessions in places such as Mogadishu, Somalia. A suicide bomb exploding at one of the only Internet cafes in Somalia’s capital last week did not deter the cafe’s owner from speaking on one of SGS Mogadishu’s Global Conversation panels. In fact he insisted, “This is even more important now.”
Other events were held in Rwanda, Uzbekistan and Bangladesh, who even provided live streams of their events. Bhutan broadcast its summit on national TV. The U.N. ensured the security of the meetups, hosting Juba, South Sudan and Kabul, Afghanistan’s sessions on its compounds.http://youtu.be/fAwsVNjgaBs
There were many high-profile people showing support at the summit. There were messages from Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Melinda Gates, interviews with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank & 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and surprise vista from President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim to name but a few.
Celebrities in their guises as UN Goodwill Ambassadors or to support their own causes filled out the field of high profile attendees. Presentations by big names included Forest Whitaker launching his PeaceEarth Intitiatve, Mira Sorvino premiering her film, Trade of Innocents on human trafficking, America Ferrera and Alexis Bledel discussing their work with the One Campaign in Honduras, and Maria Bello promoting her We Advance initiative in Haiti.
Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia was there, as was Clay Shirky (near and dear to the hearts of MCDM students). Deepak Chopra gave the audience things to think about in regard to spirituality in the digital age.
While it was fun to see all the big names, the cool part of the summit was the showcasing of people and project working hard to create social good.
With the 220 meetups, over 60,000 tweets, the Global Good Summit trended internationally for all three days and was “Largest Conversation About A Single Topic In One Day,” according to RecordSetter.com.
Over the next week on Flip the Media, we will profile 25 projects and the people behind them who are striving to make the world a better place using technology and social media. First are three projects focused around the Environment and Urban Living. Next week we will look at projects Women and Girls, Health, Human Trafficking and Refugees, Giving and Causes and Social Network Alliances and Tools.
Map Your World is a multi-platform project that puts the power of new technologies into the hands of young change agents, enabling them to map, track, and improve the health of their own communities – and then share their stories of change with each other and with the world. Map Your World was inspired by the feature documentary The Revolutionary Optimists. The film follows “The Daredevils,” a group of youth in one of Kolkata’s most notorious squatter’s colonies, who made a dramatic improvement in the health of their community, a place that cannot even be found on the map. The Daredevils undertook the project of making a map of their colony. They also have been painstakingly tracking and collecting data around health issues that impact them, such as water, sanitation, and infectious diseases. In 10 years, they have made dramatic improvements in their area: they’ve turned a trash dump into a soccer field, lobbied for electricity, and decreased diarrhea and malaria rates in their neighbourhood.
The Climate Reality Project is bringing the facts about the climate crisis into the mainstream and engaging the public in conversation about how to solve it. Founded and chaired by Al Gore, Nobel Laureate and former Vice President of the United States, The Climate Reality Project has more than 5 million members and supporters worldwide. It is guided by one simple truth: the climate crisis is real and we know how to solve it. On November 14th, join The Climate Reality Project for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report online. This is the second annual event showing how global climate change is connected to the extreme weather we experience in our daily lives. The entire 24-hour event will be broadcast live over the Internet. http://youtu.be/5y1eDtjiQyI
Charity: Water is a non-profit bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations with 100% of public donations directly fund water projects. Using a unique fundraising idea, people pledge to give up their next birthday, instead asking for donations in the place of gifts. The story of a 9-year-old girl from Seattle – Rachel Beckwith, who was tragically killed in a motor accident – highlights the power of digitally connected world to bring some good out of darkness. 30,000 people gave more than $1.2 million in one month in memory of Rachel.
Those of us who live at the cross roads of culture, media and technology are uniquely positioned to tell the stories of some of the great work that is being done to create a better world for so many. Check out the projects that caught your eye, spread the word about them and let us know of others – we would love to feature them here on Flip the Media.
Finally, keep checking back for further updates next week. Two more segments are scheduled to run Monday and Wednesday.