Pedro is part of a collective of young people in Rio de Janeiro working on new mobile phone technology. He visits young people in Rio’s North Zone who lives in Mar and Alemao favelas to learn about their lives, and research the possibilities for new ‘apps’ that can help with green business initiatives in the community.
Social network apps can serve a dual purpose: They can increase awareness about a cause and enable users to take action. Social apps help users feel they’re making a difference. Pedro goes to Rio and meets Cad and Dinho, who work on community projects in the Mare and AlemÃƒÆ’£o favelas. They’re taking Pedro to meet young people from Rio’s North Zone, who can help him work on ideas for a Life App. Pedro’s never been in such a huge, poor favela before. The massive and uncontrolled growth of favelas is a major environmental issue in Rio. Here in Alemo and Mar alone, there are more than 200,000 people, with few proper facilities.
In Mar, Pedro sees an abandoned park which has been turned into a community vegetable garden. Elisabeth Sousa explains: “Everything that is planted and harvested is sold to the community. And I think is very important to have this project here, because people learn how to eat better, the children learn how to eat better.”
Pedro and his friends discuss how they could develop an app to support the community garden. They come up with a game that allows people to plant and grow virtual seeds. And for every virtual seed, there is a real one planted in the community garden. They explain to the community workers how the app ‘Plant and Harvest’ would work. First you must register. After that, you get to know about the social projects listed on a new screen named ‘Meeting the Projects’. Once a project is picked, a new screen opens and more information is seen, along with a short video. After donating to the project, you can choose seeds from a list of several different vegetables and fruits. These can now be planted and you follow their growth. On the last screen, the harvest can be delivered to you or you can give it to a family in the community. If you decide to donate the harvest, you receive the equivalent seeds back, so that you can keep on planting and playing with the app.
Pedro will continue to develop the ‘Plant and Harvest’ app – whatever the difficulties. His research in the favela has changed his life. He’s made new friends and found a way of using technology to help them.