When I meet Carleton entrepreneur-in-residence Giovanna Mingarelli in the 1125@Carleton living laboratory, she is armed with a laptop, an iPad and her cellphone. After I take her photo, she picks up her iPad and snaps a shot of us high-fiving on her newly launched mobile application startup PlayMC2.
The photo is one of thousands that young people all over the world are shooting as part of a quest to crowdsource small acts of dignity.
“When the micro-actions of young people are combined,” says Mingarelli, PlayMC2 CEO and co-founder, “it permeates out into the world and reduces the negativity we see.”
Mingarelli, who graduated from Carleton in 2007 after studying political science and international relations, is aware of the widespread cyberbullying and general negativity that pervades our lives.
Her startup, officially launched Sept. 15, is partnering with the non-profit youth empowerment organization Global Dignity on its first ever mobile campaign Less. More. The campaign encourages students, educators and others to become involved in the MC2 “dignity quest” – by picking up a piece of garbage, smiling, or helping an older person cross a street, for example, – which are grouped together with #dignity on the app.
Pointing to a Global Dignity YouTube video that illustrates the magnitude of negative and aggressive content shared on social networks, Mingarelli notes, “Fifty per cent of young people worldwide are experiencing online bullying in some way. And that negativity often gets all the exposure.
“While it doesn’t have to be that way, the way many of us share our content is often harsh and hurtful,” says Mingarelli, who took on the role as Canada country chair for Global Dignity after attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland in 2012.
Global Dignity was co-founded in 2006 by HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, a Finish professor and an American entrepreneur to empower youth with dignity.
The position of country chair for Global Dignity “resonated” with Mingarelli who wanted to help youth achieve their potential. As chair, she hosts dignity workshops and invites students to talk about what dignity means to them.
“When the opportunity arose, I was delighted. I knew it would be a lot of responsibility, but I was in a place in my life where I knew I could do it.”
The New York-based BBDO advertising agency created (pro bono) the Less. More. mobile campaign. More than 400,000 in 68 countries will celebrate the culmination of the campaign on Global Dignity Day which is Oct. 15. In Canada, 2,000 students in eight schools will share their dignity stories through a video conference in the 1125@Carleton lab.
“It’s a great location,” says Mingarelli, who notes the celebration has in the past been held on Parliament Hill, “because students and seasoned executives all mingle together in this living lab. It will bring a sense of innovation to Global Dignity.”
Mingarelli is surprised at the results of her dignity tracking application. “What we are discovering is that students want to share their own ideas of an act of dignity. Students in France have taken photos of themselves playing rugby to share their love of the sport. A Grade 3 class in Ottawa did a class high-five.”
During the Geneva Peace Talks at the United Nations last month, Interpeace launched its own globally crowdsourced peace campaign on PlayMC2 in support of the Global Dignity and the Less. More. campaign.
“We can make a difference,” says Mingarelli. “Each of us is responsible for living with more dignity and supporting the people around us in doing so too.”
To learn more about the Global Dignity campaign, go to globaldignity.org and globaldignity.ca. Information about Mingarelli’s application can be found at: playmc2.com and PlayMC2 can be downloaded from iTunes.