Changing perceptions, starting conversations, hood after hood
Hoodr is a hyper-local community platform developed specifically to strengthen the social fabric of low-income immigrant neighbourhoods, providing its denizens a means to debate and express local events and opinions while combating the often one-sided picture portrayed by the media. Users snap pictures, upload stories and geo-tag events in their neighbourhoods, uploading them to a common site accessible by locals, outsiders, media, municipality and other stakeholders.
Neighbourhoods with a high percentage of immigrants in Denmark are often stigmatised in the media and by society – portrayed as violent slums and examples of integration policies gone wrong, with it’s citizens often bearing the brunt of a political debate that has become increasingly xenophobic. A stigma that often results in a number of negative results: from poor self-perception amongst it’s citizens, to low property values and other factors that often serve to sustain social ills and prevent positive growth.
However, in truth these areas often sustain complex and thriving local communities and street life, far from the bleak portrayal one sees in the news and the papers. Hoodr posits, that bringing these communities to the surface, we can combat negative perceptions both internally and externally and ultimately empower and de-stigmatise these neighbourhoods and their citizens.
Hoodr was born from the hypothesis, that there is true strength to be found in the local – and that local integration and empowerment are far stronger tools for creating positive and reciprocal integration than attempting to force people into contrived notions of “Danishness” – a concept that even Danes have difficulty agreeing upon.
Through interviews and co-creation sessions, the concept has gone though a number of different iterations – from personal stories dealing with softer issues, to classic citizen journalism to the current community platform that enables the low-level chatter that makes communities vibrant and vital – offline and online.
Process – creating a design framework
Hoodr is an open platform capable of sustaining any number and type of users, but is developed specifically to involve local youth from immigrant backgrounds, since they often are the most stigmatised while also being potentially one of the strongest and most vocal resources.
The backbone of Hoodr is a design framework consisting of 5 principles gleaned through interviews, co-creation sessions and prototyping with 3 sets of users: extreme, expert and core. The framework is an engine; a system and a set of guidelines for setting up projects that deal with youth from immigrant or refugee backgrounds that is free of political agendas and inadvertent discrimination, while sidestepping some of the inherent flaws that the political and municipal system bears now.
There is a prototype available at www.ulrikhogrebe.com/proto. Please contact me for further details and access (the prototype has restricted access in order to respect some of my users request for privacy and anonymity.)
Hoodr and especially the analysis and process work behind it was very well received by examinators Mike Albers, Golan Levin and Matt Cottam at my final exams at CIID.