VIDEO highlights: The Social Good Summit 2013 New York
MANILA, Philippines - "Are we connecting on behalf of changing the world for everyone?" Melinda Gates said she keeps coming back to this "deeper question, a moral question."
Speaking at the New York Social Good Summit last Sept. 22, Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said "40% of people now online." She added while its almost a cliche today to say that people are connected on their cellphones, she doesn't see people connecting to make lives better. "I think we're not there yet today," she said.
Gates said the reality is that people aren't moved by statistics. She spoke of her own journey-- she said that not until she took her first trip to India and Thailand in 2001 and met the families behind those statistics, did she realize that their hopes and aspirations aren't that different from ours. She says, "They dream about the same thing, but often they don't have the right set of tools..."
Gates said, "We have the power today with technology in our hands." She added, "Not everbody will have to take a plane to Africa, India or Thailand, but we can connect people to those stories and get people to move to action."
She took the example of DonorsChoose.org where people can visit schools online and see the problems of the US school system. Gates said people can see posts from educators on the site and the programs they need funding for. She explained, "You can go up and fund that science experiment and hear back from the kids what they learned."
She also talked about CharityWater.org against the backdrop of 800 million people around the world without access to clean water. "See a well being built and see the difference in people's lives."
Gates said it's not just happening between developing and developed worlds, but within developing countries. She cited the app "Circle of 6" that protects women in 26 countries today by sending a woman's GPS location to 6 friends.
She also told the story of Shamba Shape Up, that "hooked up" 10 million farmers in Kenya and East Africa and connected them to agronomy experts who give them advice on the best way to "keep their bees" and "plant potatoes."
Gates asked, "How can we use these connections to make the world a better place?" She said that by next year, 95% of the global population will have access to cellphone subscription. "I'm interested in how we can do advocacy and fundraising and storytelling better."
+SocialGood: From Connection to Action
Gates was the Social Good Summit's first keynote listener on Day 2 and highlighted +SocialGood in a discussion with 2 of its Global Advisors: Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition founder Esther Agbarakwe on the topic "+SocialGood: From Connection to Action."
She asked Ressa and Agbarakwe what they learned in the event that they could bring home? (PH+SocialGood Summit took place Sept. 21 in Manila, while the tweet-up in Nigeria was to take place a day later.)
Ressa said the +Social Good Summit is all about "disparate networks coming together and amplifying each other." She also said that common themes reverberate in the summit for those coming from developing countries. For places with weak institutions like the Philippines, she said there's greater opportunity for "top down governance to meet bottom up civic engagement."
Agbarakwe said that in Nigeria, technology is being used to push governance issues. "By bringing communites together, by bringing young people together... and how they can show the government that if they invest more in technology, they can make a bigger difference."
Ressa, a TV journalist, also discussed how social media connects traditional media with their audience in a way that goes beyond just telling the story-- to cross-over to inspiration and moving people to action. She noted how "poverty does not go into primetime news" but was surprised that in Rappler, the crime and entertainment news aren't the stories that get the most attention, but rather the stories with context and substance. She said "the internet's peer-to-peer networks can move faster, drill down, get people engaged and push it forward."
She also talked about social media's huge potential in disaster risk reduction by connecting volunteers. The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country to natural calamities in the world. She said of the volunteerism in the Philippines: "We've seen such frantic activity but it's not connected. Our problem now is can we connect them? We got national government, local government, private institutions, the academe, and about 500-700 volunteers."
Asked how they envision their communites by 2030, Agbarakwe and Ressa both see their communities highly empowered.
Agbarakwe said the end goal of using the tools is to build capacity-- capacity to raise awareness and give women access to affordable technology. Concretely she sees women in Nigeria with access to reproductive rights information and the treatment of malaria by 2030.
Ressa said she sees greater transparency in the Philippines by 2030. She took the example of the Reproductive Health Law that was passed late last year after languishing in Congress for 14 years. A very vocal online community helped push the law's passage. She said, "Greater transparency will lead to better governance and greater accountability for public officials."
Ressa added "In a developing nation, if government can't do it, why should people just sit back and lay blame? Why not jump in and fill the gaps?" She talked about Rappler projects "#Budgetwatch," an anti-corruption investigative drive to "follow the money," "Project Agos," for climate change adaptation & disaster risk reduction, and the "Hunger Project," a campaign to bring inclusive growth to the grass-roots.
The Social Good Summit in New York is a three-day conference that started on Sunday, Sept. 22. The event explored the possibilities of big ideas becoming concrete solutions. Mashable's roster of speakers included technologists, activists and influencers from around the world who shared how they feel new media can make the world better.
Below are some of the video highlights of the 3-day event.
DAY 1, September 22
Shift: How We Think Changes What We Do
Ben Keesey / Zoe Fox
Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey sat down with Mashable reporter Zoe Fox to talk about how his group redefines its role as part of the global media. The founders of Invisible Children started out as college students making a documentary on the Darfur war. Invisible Children produced the viral video "Kony 2012", to shed light on activities of the Lord Resistance Army and its leader Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony. Keesey talked about how the group impacts the lives of millenials by bringing them into "the cycle of engagement." He said, "How do we engage the unengaged? Through a story that impacts them - such that they want to start behaving differently because what you do proves what you believe.” Keesey said that by "proving the universal through the specific"-- by sheding light on Africa's longest war-- you engage people on the planet around important issues and "wake someone up" and "connect with their hearts."
Competing Pressures: The Struggle for the Future Attention
Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist at Bing talked about attention as a resource. He proposed that people should spend less time competing for people’s attention on campaigns about problems that people already know about and instead make it easier for people to take action. “The promoting pressures are already there.” He said, "We need to get motivated to reduce the inhibiting pressures. We cannot continue competing for the limited pie of attention. We must take the pie that we have and make it easier for two people to do great good.”
From passive to active. The Future of News: Combining Awareness and Activism
Bryan Mooser / David Darg / Ian Somerhalder
Bryan Mooser, David Darg, and actor Ian Somerhalder talked about Ryot.org a news and action site. “Ryot is as breaking as any news site out there. But the key with us, while the other news networks are reporting about it, we’re trying to capitalize on the emotion that you get when you read a news story, on our site there is an action.” Ryot works with different non-profit groups that are related to its content. “Up until now there’s been a lot of places (online) you can go, make a difference, to do change, we hope that our stories are that forward face that causes people to do an action.”
DAY 2, September 23
Session on Climate Change: Setting the Scene
In his introduction to the session on climate change, former US Vice President and Nobel Prize laureate Al Gore said climate change is by far the greatest challenge that fits into the goals of the Social Good Summit, to use technology to solve the world’s greatest problems. “We’re seeing the manifestation across the world.” His challenge, "Put a price on carbon, put a price on denial, and let's solve this problem."
We’re Already Paying the Cost of Carbon
What role does climate change play in super storms? This is the question that Joseph Romm, editor of ClimateProgress.org sought to answer after his brother lost his home during Hurricane Katrina. “Global warning makes superstorms more damaging.” Romm said that the lives changed by climate disasters are the stories of the century. "But the real story is, if we don’t start cutting carbon pollution sharply, superstorms will hit every single year. Every year we delay climate action it adds $500B to the cost."
Millennials Leading the Way
19-year-old polar explorer Parker Liautaud talked to former US Vice President Al Gore about his trip to the north pole at the age 15. Liautaud said he started becomming interested in climate issues when he was 12. “The arctic was a beacon for me, a symbol for global change, it could be a powerful mechanism to communicate these changes.”
Where We Go From Here
“Think about what you can connect personally to the challenge we face on climate. It’s hard to image that the things important to you might be at risk. How do you find the moral courage to stand up and face a crisis that many say is impossible to solve. Part of the answer is the generation that connects online and puts value in the truth, and values reality, and looks at the future and says we’re gonna make it the way it should be. Political will is a renewable resource.”
The Key Is We - Global Collaboration Now
Astronaut Ron Garan posed this question, “if it’s true that we have all the technologies to solve the world’s problems why do we face so many critical problems?” Garan answered the question via an orbital perspective, using his photos from the international space station.
He says one particular photo, the man-made border between India and Pakistan that is visible from space, is symbolic of our man-made barrier for collaboration. “The point is we can look down and feel empathy for the struggles that all people face. We can look down from our orbital perspective and realize that each and every one of us is riding through the universe through a spaceship we call Earth and that we are all inter-connected, that we are all in this together, that we are all family.” Despite the abundance of world changing technology, Garan said the primary reason why we still face problems lies in our inability to collaborate on a global scale. He said there is a lack of a unified coordinated effort, that there is a duplication of effort, and loss of efficiency. He said to address this, “the key is we.”
DAY 3, September 24
Why Business As Usual is No Longer and Option for Business: The Case for Plan B
Sir Richard Branson
Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson talked about The B Team, a group of business leaders who feel all businesses should become a force for good. Branson believes that, “if every business could adapt a problem we would get on top of most of the problems of the world.” He talked about how in the past the work of business leaders, social workers, and governments were separate. He called on all three to work together and for business leaders with entrepreneurial skills to step up.
Empowering 2030’s Change-makers: Millennials and the next generation of volunteerism
Jason Rzepka / Rachael Chong
Rachael Chong, CEO of Catchafier talked about the need to grow skilled volunteerism particularly among the millennial population. She said it makes sense to tap into users talents to give back. She said Catchafier focuses on corporate America, “we want to make sure talent in companies are able to give back talent.” Chong said millennials have it in their DNA to give but currently engagement is only 17% even if by the end of 2013, 40% of the workforce will be the millennial population.
Reimagining Online Activism for #2030
Mat Mahan, President & CEO of Causes.com spoke about reimagining online activism for #2030. He began by speaking about clicktivism-- the idea that with the click of a button you feel you have an impact whether or not you have. He said the problem with online petitions is that, “our experiences of human engagement online is shallow and transactional.”
“The Internet should be the greatest organizing tool that humanity has ever created, and it will be. Today we see glimmers of that opportunity.” Mahan said if we’re going to use technology, we have to look back at the timeless principles of grassroots organizing. This includes: 1. Bringing together people who have shared interests 2. Forming a common identity through dialogue 3. Building capacity by distributing responsibility to as many people as possible, and 4. Acting collectively to exercise influence.