Back in April, we launched our Global Neighborhood Challenge to find five innovators from around the globe with creative and scalable projects that strengthen the social fabric of their communities. The response from the GOOD community was incredible. We received 190 applications from 42 countries, including South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Kosovo, Tunisia, India, Guatemala.
We're happy to announce our five winners, who will be coming to Los Angeles for a week-long pop-up fellowship at GOOD HQ: Kurt Shaw from Brazil, Regina Agyare from Ghana, María Morfin from Mexico, Coralie Winn from New Zealand, and Bruce Good from South Africa.
In college, Kurt Shaw dreamed of becoming a non-violent Che Guevara for the end of the 20th century, so after graduating with a degree in philosophy, he headed to Central America and Colombia... only to find that he had come five years too late. He spent two years working with refugees, labor unions, and human rights groups, before returning to the US for stints at Washington think tanks and Harvard Grad School. Unsatisfied with academics or the life of a Washington activist, he first counseled street kids in New York and Santa Fe, then founded Shine a Light, a network of grass-roots organizations serving marginalized kids around Latin America. Over the last decade and a half, Shine a Light has helped these programs share ideas and inspiration, playing a role in the radical reduction of the number of children living on the streets, and allowing the network to move toward addressing the marginalization of rural children and issues of urban violence. FavelaNews, one of SAL's most important current projects, uses digital media to change the economics of prestige in some of the most violent favelas of Recife, Brazil, so teenagers can be recognized for the good things they do, instead of seeing gangs as the only way to become visible to a wider society.
As a young child, Regina Agyare was very passionate about Science and Technology. She wanted to build a robot and was told that was impossible. As an African child and a girl she was told her place was in the kitchen. She didn’t allow that to hold her back and graduated university as one of the top software developers in her class. After graduation, she was hired by a prestigious international bank in Ghana as the first and only female in the IT department. She saw firsthand how rural children in her community due to poverty, lack of resources and low quality education lacked the skills to solve their daily problems and had to rely on AID or donor funding. She also saw how young girls were not encouraged to reach their full potential.
She quit her job to start a social enterprise that equipped the youth in her community with STEM skills through an interactive learning platform accessed on laptops and mobiles. She also designed a special mentorship program to encourage more girls to study technology and take advantage of all the opportunities available in this digital age. She even went on to introduce deaf children to technology and worked with them to build apps that help promote communication in a society where the use of sign language is limited allowing the deaf to integrate fully in the community. She believes in driving human potential and that skills development in STEM can help fight poverty, change lives and develop the community and economy in any country.
María Morfin lives in Tepoztlán, Morelos, a town in the mountains in the center of Mexico. She specializes in children’s and adolescents’ right to participate. She has been a consultant for many local and national institutions, advising them on the implementation of programs that promote child and youth participation. Additionally, she has directed multiple courses, seminars, and workshops for professionals around this theme. She is the author of various books, guides, and reference articles about child and youth participation.
Coralie Winn has a mixed and varied background in the creative arts. She holds degrees in Health Science (Public Health) and Arts with Honours (Theatre and Film Studies). In recent years she has run a university public gallery, led and developed an Artist in Residence Programme, worked for festivals and performed with experimental, physical theatre troupe Free Theatre Christchurch. After being made redundant as a result of the September 2010 earthquake in Christchurch, Coralie and two others created urban regeneration initiative Gap Filler to bring creativity, positive energy, opportunity, and life to Christchurch’s post-quake vacant spaces. Revised and expanded in light of the deadly and destructive February 2011 Christchurch quake, Coralie is now the full-time director of the five-person initiative.
Gap Filler has realised more than 30 projects in two-plus years all around the city with the help of more than 250 volunteers. From a cycle-powered cinema, to community spaces, artworks, a Dance-O-Mat, and a Pallet Pavilion made from 3000 pallets, Gap Filler is bringing ideas to life in Christchurch city amongst the rubble and vast empty lots that were once buildings. Gap Filler gives people a stake in their city here and now by getting everyday people involved activating vacant sites with temporary projects. Gap Filler is the engine behind the exciting Transitional City movement in Christchurch city that embraces vacant spaces as places for experimentation, innovation, ideas, and people.
Coralie has also been involved in creating Life in Vacant Spaces—another post-quake organization that brokers access to vacant spaces in Christchurch—and the Christchurch Transitional Architecture Trust that delivers the incredible annual Festival of Transitional Architecture.
It was while completing an MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business that Bruce Good appreciated the positive impact that clearly defined, branded neighborhoods have on life on New York City and beyond. Armed with the evidence, he set about improving life in South Africa.
Upon returning to his native Cape Town, he realized that, for myriad reasons including the heinous Apartheid system, cities and townships in South Africa had never had such a clear system of neighborhood identity. Furthermore, communities could be built, empowered, and connected by starting with the simple act of allowing the public to participate in naming their own neighborhoods.
He set about building digital and other platforms to allow the public to name unnamed neighborhoods through an inclusive, interactive, and democratic process. The campaign is called Name Your Hood; to date, more than 20 neighborhoods have been named by the public and hundreds more are set to benefit from the campaign.
Name Your Hood transcends socio-demographic groups, language, age, digital penetration and education levels. As a concept, is appeals to the most fundamental human needs—to be a part of a community. The campaign is set to have far-reaching benefits for communities in South Africa and around the world.
Join us for a party to celebrate our global fellows, 20 local organizations, and the collective effort towards improving our neighborhoods in Downtown LA on Friday, August 23.