Tech-Focused Ideas Drive Mario Armstrongâ€™s #More4Bmore Initiative to Help Baltimore
The events in Baltimore after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray–whether you labeled them as protests or riots–may have left you feeling rage, hopelessness and/or frustration, and wondering what you could do about it, especially if you live in the city.
“The whole idea for the hasthtag #More4Bmore was the ability to … put something positive out there–we want more for B-More. I wanted to create a positive hasthtag that people could get behind,” Armstrong says, noting the positivity happened on its own without prodding users to focus on the good.
Having grown up in Baltimore not far from where some of the most high-profile footage was filmed during the city’s unrest, Armstrong felt compelled to set the hashtag free during the height of the conflict, spreading it through social media ahead of launching the accompanying website.
Within less than 24 hours, nearly 200 people had signed up through the site to voice their feelings on the incidents taking place, including the state of emergency, and others suggesting things needed to improve Baltimore, such as beautifyingÂ decrepit areas, building recreation centers and fixing up parks.
But given the role technology played in Armstrong’s personal brand, ideas poured in from those who work in tech and STEM-related fields eager to mobilize. Among them: setting up a program to teach youth how to build houses; teaching agricultural techniques to grow food; a combination website, app and physical space to address the distribution of wealth; “reclaiming the political process in a Snapchat world,” and other ideas related to social justice and job creation.
“We need to target a specific need in order for tech engaging the community to work,” Armstrong says. “Right now, the first phase is to listen and be here for the community, and identify that largest need from the community. Second, (we need to) connect physically not digitally–go into the community, ‘Here’s what we’re hearing, are these things spot on, what are the top five?’ And third, what would make significant impact? We want to create small local partnerships and convert chatter into conversation, and conversation into action.”
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