By Ashley Stewart With Contributions from Mark Taylor II
“How can you help 500,000 people facing eviction in gentrifying areas save money?”
This is the capstone question that brought a talented group of co-eds from Atlanta Universities and Colleges into a room at Morehouse College’s Kilgore Student Center for “Goodie Ideation for College Students”. The challenge came along with the Goodie Innovation incubator Fall 2016 task — to think like a technological innovator and mind map tech/tech-enabled moonshot solutions to problems that arise for people affected by gentrification.
Freely volunteering talent on a Saturday morning and brainpower for a creative lab takes sacrifice, gumption and, of course, coffee. Fueled by a complimentary breakfast from Panera Bread, students were welcomed by royal blue Goodie Ideation Changemaker Workbook, sharpies, post-it notes, and an arsenal of other brainstorming construction tools. Joey Womack and Justin Dawkins, Goodie Nation Co-Founders, kicked things off promptly at 9:30am with a simple question, “Why are we here?” “[We’re] Here to create ideas [that may evolve into] technological innovative apps to address gentrification “ said Alex Fanning, Junior Biology/Pre-Med Major from Morehouse College
With that quote, the atmosphere was set. Womack then took the baton and further established the purpose, session’s expectations, and defined an effective and thought-provoking process by which those ideas would move from a person’s painful experience to a clear pointed tech solution. Breaking into groups, the students decided to form three teams. One that targeted problems facing single-parent households and the other two targeting the issues of low-income households in pre=gentrified/gentrifying areas.
Team Coach Karen Young, a marketing analyst at The Atlanta Housing Authority, steered focus of the conversation by reminding the teams to think in terms of the complete
real estate ecosystem. “Balance the rights and humanity of families and property owners. [Consider] Solutions that are fair to both,” Young said.
With a foundation of education and motivation about the topic, students then thoughtfully moved through the ideation journey laid before them. Each team went through rapid rounds of crafting and refining their oversized sticky-notes of ideas, transforming imagination into real executable solutions. By the time 2pm rolled around, the teams had produced ideas for a product or service that addressed a problem created by gentrification. Packaged with a name and market position, the teams pitched their ideas to the room of professional coaches for consideration and feedback.
Plotting With Purpose
“Your idea has the potential to be fully developed by coders, marketers, and designers in 30 days…”
The students were encouraged to submit their ideas for consideration at Goodie Hack where their ideas could come to life. Concluding the session, students were awarded with superlatives based on their participation and leadership. Awards included gift cards to app stores and a Google Chromecast. Darian Nwankwo, a Morehouse student majoring in computer science and mathematics, was named the lab’s Most Valuable Player, winning $125 in the process and added, “I like the idea of combatting the problem of gentrification. I usually create things for fun in my free time, but this actually means something and affects our people.”