Blog Post

Mobile Action Lab - The Conversation Begins

Greetings from Youth Radio's Mobile Action Lab!

Our charge: to engage 25 young people in collaboration with pro developers to create 5 apps that serve real needs in youth communities. Check out the video for a three-minute version of what we have in mind (and we'd love your feedback). 

So far, we've been tapping our advisors and collaborator, Mark Kantor--25-year-old co-founder of Graffiti, one of the biggest apps on Facebook--to plan the year. And we've been hooking up with partners who've got great community projects going that could use youth-generated apps to make them even better.

Like Asiya Wadud, who created the amazing Forage Oakland project, a fruit bartering system Asiya's set up to gather and redistribute produce that would otherwise go to waste (here's a NYTimes story about her work). Right now, it's a ton of work for Asiya, riding around the neighborhood on her bike, harvesting fruit from people's trees before it rots, and delivering the fresh produce around town. We're talking to Asiya about creating a mobile app that automates some aspects of the distribution process and engages sites like schools, food banks, and youth organizations as destinations for food delivery. Youth Radio could be one of those sites, especially our Youth Radio Eats project, where young people prepare meals for one another and produce media on topics including food equity, health, and their entertaining and informative W.T.F.-What's This Food? Series.

Another potential partner we've been talking with is Youth Speaks, the nation's leading non-profit producer and promoter of spoken word performance and education. The community need this work addresses is threefold: 1. The world needs to hear the provocative insights young people have to offer on the most pressing social issues we face. 2. Young people need tools to overcome widespread fears of public speaking, to compose powerful messages, and to distribute their analyses and points of view to significant audiences. 3. With local journalism defunded and in crisis, spoken word provides a means for young people to share dispatches from their neighborhoods with regional, national, and global implications. We're talking to Youth Speaks about building a mobile app that enables young people from around the country to record and upload poetry that would populate a user-generated poetry map of the United States (seeded with stellar work from award-winning Brave New Voices poets).

Asha Richardson, David Hunter, and I--the team that traveled from Youth Radio to the Digital Media and Learning competition gathering in DC last month--were totally inspired by the work of other participants. We're looking forward to staying in touch over the course of the year. To learn more about how Youth Radio frames and strives to promote digital media and learning, you can check out my recent posts on Boing Boing (especially this one) and Drop That Knowledge: Youth Radio Stories. Onward!  




Good luck with this.  I love your post!


I'm so impressed with all the collaborations, Lissa -- it's really inspiring to hear how nimble your work can be, and how equally inspiring the people and projects your collaborators are. One of our 2008 Digital Media & Learning winners wrote in a blog post that people would "lean in" to hear more about their project, Mobile Movement, when they gathered with friends, and I have never forgotten that image of leaning in to each other when we are inspired, or moved, or highly engaged with meaningful, innovative work. So imagine all of us leaning in while reading your post :)

And thank you for making me think about the "driveway movement" as the beginning of engagement, and what that means for youth who must navigate public, often anonymous and even hateful online feedback. The social media policies around comments is an area I'm really interested in, and how it influences engagement. Thinking about the impact of those policies on youth adds an entirely new dimension.

Great post, looking forward to hearing more!