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Flash Mobs for Social Good [UPDATED]

Imagine you are walking down the avenue and suddenly a huge crowd carrying mops and brooms start mopping and sweeping the side walk, picking-up garbage from the floor, and cleaning up gardens and public spaces.

Photo of Pedro Luís
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Think about an online platform to promote, organize(and maybe sponsor) flash mobs for social good.


Flash mobs for social good


The flash mobs could organized through an online social platform (maybe managed by a non-profit or a governmental organization) where associations, organizations, schools, private companies, etc., could register and organize a flash mob inviting the online community (everybody could register) to join-in. 

This could be a fun and positive way of collectively solve some problems facing our neighbourhoods and local communities, also motivating passive citizens become more active by participating in this kind of events, even if they only participate as a viewer (somebody as to be surprised by the mob).


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Update / refinement – some ideas to prototype a website/app interface

A) Homepage menu for unregistered visitors:

[1.ABOUT]    [2.BE A GOOD MOBSTER]    [3.CHECK MOBS]

1. About: short description of the app/site explaining the purpose and philosophy behind a flash mob for social good, etc.

2. Be a Good Mobster: registration page for members, with explanation of rules and how everything works.

(Note: I think the name flash mobster is cooler than flash mobber which is the commonly used name for a member of a flash mob.)

3. Check Mobs: page with past mobs videos, photos, forums, social media pages, etc.


B) Homepage for registered users:


[1. JOIN A MOB]   [2.ORGANIZE A MOB]   [3. MOB FILES]   [4.YOUR PROFILE]

1.Join a Mob: page with a list of the upcoming mobs.

On this page the registered mobsters will have access to a list of flash mobs currently open and for each mob a limited description of the mob idea/goals and theme. Certain details of the event will only be accessible after the mobster accepts to join the mob. Some kind of compromise, honor code or non-disclosure agreement will be needed. Also some kind of sanctions if rules are violated have to be in order (which can go from losing mobster points from being banned). To prevent information leaks, to keep the secrecy of the event and most importantly the surprise factor mobsters will know in advance the exact date & hour of the event (in order to be ready for action) but they will only know the exact place 48 hours before it happens.

There will be 3 levels of enrollment: mobster (for those who want to join the mob), mob reporter (for those who love/want to capture history through videos and photos of the event), mob organizer (for those who plan the mob and are responsible to make it happen, a mob should always be organized by a team).

Joining Mobs (meaning actually being there) will give online points to mobsters (with rankings, badges and special honors). To insure a certain level of commitment for the organization/planning of mobs a rule could be applied: only members with a certain level of mobster points will be able to organize mobs. (The first mobs should be organized by the platform sponsors to make it going and some kind of extra credit could be given to invited/special members).


2. Organize a mob: page where a member can post a flash mob idea, plan it, set date and place, describe the goals/themes, stipulate what is needed, etc.

After creating a flash mob profile and posting it, the mob organizer will need the support of the community (meaning: enough people to form the mob). Similar with the concept of crowdfunding where a project needs to raise a certain level of money to be approved, the idea here is that each flash mob will need to reach a certain number of supporters (mobster and mob reporters from the community) willing to join and participate. The support or no support from the community will also work as some kind of evaluation/approval of the flash mob idea being proposed. So the mob organizer will post and decide how many mobsters, mob reporters, and mob co-organizers will be needed to form the mob, and only when sufficient members pledge their support the mob will be approved.


3. Mob Files: page with past mobs videos, photos, reports, comments, etc. Maybe a timeline/calendar of past & future mobs could interesting to organize the info, also some kind of archive with galleries of videos & photos. Some tools to share and spread the word should be also in place. Each flash mob should have a dedicated section managed by the mob organizers and the mob reporters.


4. Your Profile: page to create a personal Good Mobster Profile with elements like name, profile pic, member since date, location, age, gender, etc. There could also be a section to show videos and photos of mobs joined. And a table or graph with the member's Good Mobster Points (inspired in the Design Quotient graph of OpenIDEO), that could be divided in 4 types of points/percentage: Mobster points, Organizer points, Reporter points, Spread the Word points.


Final notes – about the concept of flash mobs for social good:


A flash mob for social good might be a very simple mission or a big production event. Companies and brands might use the platform to organize and sponsor flash mobs, if they agree to keep the focus on social good, even if by doing it they are promoting their brands (example: imagine a crowd of people offering fresh bottles of water on a hot summer day for all the hard working people walking by). Opening the platform to companies and brands might be an interesting way to organize/fund bigger productions and more complex mobs.


Themes & ideas from the comments and some brainstorm appetizers (feel free to post more ideas):- offering flowers to seniors passing by;
- a mob of giant condoms running down the street for a AIDS prevention campaign;
- a crowd of butlers serving soup/sandwiches in poor neighborhoods;
- crowd of people with cameras, photographing and posting online everything that needs to fixed (like a broken fence, a hole on the sidewalk, a destroyed garbage can,...);
- a mob set to build homes, plant trees or urban gardens;
- returning trays at a hawker center;
- a crowd of people thanking the bus drivers/ cleaners/ police;
- youngster mobsters (with school groups);
- inter-generational flash mobs(like some kind of activity for grandparents and their grandchildren);
- etc...

(Note: this includes some ideas from comments that were lost).

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

The flash mob for social good concept besides being a great way of inspiring people to do some good actions and contribute in a positive way for their local communities while having fun, is based on collaboration between individuals and all type of organizations, from private or public sectors, that might be interested in participating in such kind of social activities. There's also a public awareness factor in a flash mob that if well conducted might be truly inspiring for local communities, even for those less active citizens that might just get caught by the mob while walking down the street on a regular day.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

The concept of a flash mob implies connection between people. First there's the connection between people joining the mob and second there's the connection between the mob and all the people out there on the street that will be surprised by it. One idea to scale the concept and create even more connections between people might be to document in film and photos all the flash mobs being organized – there's a big “going viral” potential in flash mobs – in order to post-produce interesting and appealing stuff to spread the message (sharing videos, photographs, blogging, etc.) and inspire others to join.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

Well the only way to experiment this concept is to actually organize a flash mob for social good. An example: The Flash “Mop” What? A flash mop is a flash mob for cleaning-up public spaces, streets, parks, beaches, etc., where an organized crowd of people with mops and brooms join in a public place at a certain date and hour and start picking-up garbage and cleaning up the neighbourhood for a fixed period of time and then like as it started the mob suddenly disappears. How? (using the app/website - see the refinement section above) Set a date and specific hour, spread the word, invite people to join, create a team to document everything, organize and instruct the mob, and have fun on the day. Then start the post-production phase of videos and photos and put it out there to go viral. Final step: start planing the next event, learn with past experiences (if they were successful more will be willing to join on a next-round). Some more flash mob ideas: - a silent flash mob to fight Noise pollution; - a “less me and more we” flash mob that grabs people from the streets to join the mob for instance a tango dancing mob; - a “senior” flash mob, imagine a crowd of grannies starting a Tai Chi session in the central avenue of the city (besides being a nice activity for the elderly to have some fun it's also an opportunity for them to do something different and be more active). (For more ideas see the refinement section above).

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Photo of Miriam Gubovicova
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Hi there!

I can really see this work in a place such as where I live - Bogota, Colombia. The streets are filthy and really education is missing here. However, I believe a Mob Party could show the citizens how to do things right. One idea that crossed my mind would be to organize a Flash Mob after, or better yet during, Sunday's Ciclovia. On Sunday's the local government closes kilometers and kilometers of main roads for people to go out for a run, bike ride or simply a walk with their dog. The amount of plastic cups and bottles simply thrown behind by the people is horrifying. I have a strong faith in humanity and I believe that using such events as a platform would help to carry the idea out throughout the nation. Good luck with everything, great idea!

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