This post was originally published on the Accion Medium account. You can see that here.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I step into the back of the van, its dark windows a blissful respite from the hot Haitian sun. Back in Boston, there’s still about six feet of snow on the ground, and my sweater and corduroys seem almost as out of place as the group of Canadian doctors riding in front of me on the way to their respective hotels. Our driver masterfully winds through the mountainous streets, gripping the wheel as he avoids at least three head-on collisions at the last minute. Rock outcroppings shoot out of the ground with wild abandon, a natural majesty usually absent from cities as big as Port-au-Prince. The city seems to wrap itself around the hillsides and cliffs, roads nestled into the rock just enough to avoid a steep fall, if one can manage to avoid the barrage of oncoming traffic, wandering farm animals, and wayward soda salesmen who seem to dance around every corner. The dance of their movements belies a deep understanding of, and comfort with, their surroundings.
Hop off the elevated JMZ train at Myrtle Ave. in Brooklyn, and it all looks like a wasteland of industry—the tracks flanked by a Popeyes, KFC, Dunkin Donuts, and what seems like hundreds of bodegas and delis, their neon color palettes lighting the street, each indistinguishable from the next. You walk further down Bushwick Avenue until you hear the din, a cluster of voices and chords and feedback emanating from what is not, in fact, an abandoned gas station, but Brooklyn cultural hub and renowned music venue, The Silent Barn. You know that any band you see there could be everywhere by next year. You know that you will fit in here, maybe by virtue of the fact that you usually don’t. You know that The Silent Barn will be a safe space for you and yours. You know that, whatever happens, it’ll be a good night.
This post originally appeared on Accion’s Medium account. You can read that here.
When I think about the impact of technology on the world, my mind leaps to the few usual suspects — iPhones, Google, Facebook, Firefox — you name it. I think of the technology that I interact with every day, the technology that improves small processes within my life in an American city. I even think about how to use my technology intentionally, so that it doesn’t become overwhelming — I turn off email push notifications after a certain time, I set up automatic bill pay, and I try to end my night by reading a book instead of staring at a screen. I live in a developed, endlessly connected world, and I’m always looking for little ways to unplug from it.
Today, according the United Nations, is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and this year’s theme is “Leave no one behind: think, decide and act together against extreme poverty.” This got me thinking about technology — not about iPhones or Firefox — but about technology that we can activate to help the underdeveloped world, about technology that can help include people who have been left behind.