Building Johego: Purpose

In a previous post, we discussed an article from Harvard Business Review, which identified four essential elements of a successful social movement. In this post, we will focus on the first of these elements as it relates to Johego: clarity of purpose.

In the most general sense, the purpose of Johego is to make it easier for people to become more constructively engaged in their communities, so that more people participate in activities that strengthen their communities. We believe that our smartphone application will do just that. Here’s how:

First, our app will make it easier to directly help people in need. By leveraging publicly available databases, we will provide users with a directory of social service providers — from food banks to job training centers — so that, with the tap of a few buttons, users will be able to find nearby services, review testimonials about their quality and availability, then refer members of their community to those providers that meet their needs.

  • You can try out a demo version here.

Second, by leveraging social media and other platforms, our app will make it easier to find formal volunteer opportunities that match users’ interests. It will also enable users to rate the quality of their various volunteer experiences, and it will even allow them to schedule their own events with friends or with the general public.

  • Tell us a little bit about your interests, and we will find volunteer opportunities that match.

Finally, our app will make it easier for researchers and advocacy groups to study the nature of poverty in their communities. The app will confidentially record the time, location, and nature of social service referrals and volunteer events created with the app. Such data will enable service providers to target their efforts with an unprecedented level of precision.

It is our hope that, taken together, these innovations will empower and inspire greater participation in activities that help build stronger communities. Be sure to stay tuned for discussions on why this is so important, and how we plan to accomplish our goals.

– Michael

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Building a Social Movement

Last week, on Facebook and on other social media platforms, I shared an article from Harvard Business Review regarding the elements required for a successful social movement. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I highly recommend that you do.

Photo: The March on Washington (1963)
Photo: The March on Washington (1963)

Comparing a variety of social movements, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring, the article identifies four elements that are required for these endeavors to be successful: clearly defined goals and objectives, shared values with key constituents, an effective plan of action, and a nurtured connection to the mainstream.

In many respects, although Johego has been spending a lot of time developing a smartphone application, it is also engaged in building a kind of social movement. After all, our success is dependent on how much our application is used. To that end, in the next couple of blog posts, we will be sharing some of our intentions for addressing the four elements identified above. As we do, we will want to hear from you: connect with us on social media, or send us a message directly on our Contact page to let us know what you think. Your feedback is extremely valuable. We look forward to hearing from you!

– Michael

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Why Choose the Name “Johego”?

It’s a question I’ve been asked more frequently than I’d like to admit, so I thought I would share our reasons.

I first seriously considered founding a nonprofit while I was living in Seattle. During my deliberations, I chanced across the Iroquois story of The Three Sisters, which relates to the ancient practice of companion planting squash, corn, and beans in order to increase their yields.

Squash, corn, and beans
Companion Planting: Squash, Corn, & Beans

Companion planting involves carefully controlling the spacing of seeds and the timing of their planting, so as to maximize their various physical and chemical compatibilities. Physically, the corn provides a vertical structure for the beans to climb, while the squash prevents sunlight from reaching the soil, thereby making it harder for weeds to compete. Chemically, the beans pull nitrogen from the air and store it in the soil, where the corn and the squash are able to utilize it.

As interesting as these biological insights may be, their philosophical implications were, for me, even more profound: with a little careful planning, these plants grow considerably better together than they do separately. After all, that is the function of human community as well: we organize ourselves into groups, in large part, because we believe we can build a better life together than on our own.

Inspired by this story, I reached out to a scholar of Iroquois languages, and he indicated that the Seneca people, who are one of the six Iroquois nations, refer to The Three Sisters in ceremonial speeches as Jöhéhgöh, which literally translates to “what we live on.” In order to make our name easier to spell, but still wanting to honor the story of The Three Sisters, we decided to name our organization Johego.

We hope that, with careful planning and hard work, our smartphone application will help us build stronger communities together.

– Michael

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What Inspired Johego?

Although it’s impossible to identify everyone and everything that inspired us to start Johego, it definitely involved free coffee and donuts.

Coffee (Not Pictured: Donuts)
Coffee (Not Pictured: Donuts)

On one Sunday morning, I decided to stick around for free coffee and donuts following a meeting in my community. Little did I know that I would witness a conversation that would change my life:

Over the course of a few minutes, an elderly man introduced himself to a haggard stranger, patiently inquired about his needs, and effortlessly directed him to various facilities where he could get a hot shower, a warm meal, and other assistance. It was clear that the elderly man had been active in his community for a long time, and that the knowledge he shared was able to improve his neighbor’s life in a very meaningful way. It was also clear that I wanted to possess such knowledge myself.

Unfortunately, such valuable information can be incredibly hard to obtain and even harder to keep up-to-date. Johego was created to make this process easier, so that everyone with a smartphone can be empowered to become agents for positive change in their communities.

– Michael

Want to support Johego or learn more? Follow us on social media & let us know what you think:

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