I totally sign up for the mantra “I love New York.” The bright lights, the energy, the smells and sounds, all mixed into a constant hum. I especially love taking the train into the city. After a brief few minutes underground, surrounded by darkness, you arrive to the chaotic, hustling Penn Station. Coming from Washington, D.C., the city of what is, it’s like truly arriving into the city of what’s possible.
Which is why New York City is the perfect spot to host Social Good Summit. Put on by the U.N. Foundation and Mashable and hosted by 92Y, the Social Good Summit brings experts from around the world to speak about using technology and social media to make a positive impact in the world. It showcases how the possible is becoming the reality.
In its third year, the Summit sparked broad conversations, both within the walls of 92Y as well as beyond. Live stream events held in Beijing, Nairobi and Mogadishu and more than 200 Social Good Summit Meetups around the world made it a real global conversation. And the American Red Cross was there.
Wendy Harman, director of social strategy and guru of all things social media at the American Red Cross, participated in the Digital Disaster Relief panel. Speaking about her experience monitoring disasters from a social media perspective, she shared with the audience how it informs the Red Cross response. Hearing her reaction to tweets and posts from people stuck under rubble in the aftermath of Haiti or trapped by floods during Isaac gave me a deeper understanding of just how important social media plays in our disaster strategy, and how it connects people living on opposite sides of the world in such a tangible way.
Also speaking to using technology in disaster response was Neil Laslett, a senior officer for technical innovation at the Red Cross. In his position, Neil works as part of the International Response Operation Center team, guiding and supporting technology efforts during disasters worldwide. Neil shared his real life experiences with a group of press fellows that were part of the summit.
Sophie Blackall, a children’s illustrator, spoke during the Summit at the Disappearing Degrees of Separation: Creating Community Connections panel. Sophie is working with Measles & Rubella Initiative, of which the American Red Cross is a founding partner, to help promote awareness around measles. Approximately 380 people die from measles-related complications each day, most of them children. Yet it can be completely prevented with two doses of a safe and effective vaccine that costs about $1.
In May, Sophie traveled with the Initiative to the Democratic Republic of Congo to see measles vaccination campaigns and did a series of illustrations inspired by her trip. The results are stunning and have gotten people talking about measles and the importance of vaccinations in a new and creative way. You can see the full series here.
For me, Wendy, Neil and Sophie represent exactly what I love so much about the American Red Cross. We do incredible and significant work around recovery and relief when disasters happen. But we are also preparing the world to be a better place. Helping communities become resilient, collecting blood for those who will need it later on, teaching invaluable safety skills to those who may use them to rescue someone down the line. The American Red Cross is helping to make this world a better place, a place where what’s possible becomes what is. Just like my favorite city.