VisualFizz Talks for the Greater Good Series: Poverty and Homelessness Recap
VisualFizz is on a mission to explore beyond the digital marketing space and look into what makes people feel emotional connections and make decisions based on those emotions. The concept that is a cornerstone to the way VisualFizz was born is a concept that entrepreneurs and engineers have always known – you have to use the tools available to you and not worry about the obstacles that are in your way (at least, in the early ideation phase). We applied this same thinking to some of the harsher realities of being a human and took a look at how we could use our entrepreneurial way of thinking to make an impact that is different than anything else.
We asked ourselves: What Actions Can We Take In Our Communities to Combat These Social Issues?
We know that the brains of marketers and entrepreneurs are hardwired to solve old problems in new, innovative, and creative ways. How can we use these unique brains to fight Poverty and Homelessness?
For this event, VisualFizz released a limited number of tickets to ensure that each group of participants was small, intimate, and engaged during the length of the event. We wanted to keep the group under 30 people; we’ve found through our Experiential Marketing techniques that this is about the ‘sweet spot’ for a group large enough to feel inspiring but small enough for participants to feel comfortable enough with each other to share new ideas and thoughts.
Participants came from all industries and all definitions of ‘entrepreneur’, from librarians to architects, from event planners to students, and even some community members who are retired from their careers. It was wonderful to have a diverse group of experiences to pull from when brainstorming. Each of us had unique viewpoints, personal experiences, and knowledge of what can and cannot happen, which is exactly what the VisualFizz was hoping for when organizing this project.
Access to affordable healthcare is obviously cornerstone to a person’s physical and mental well-being, and this category of human need often gets back-burnered when a person becomes or is consistently homeless.
Basic needs is a general category under which many factors fall. The team decided that basic needs, disregarding food and a living income, include factors such as shelter and clothing. Safety, a sense of security, and the ability to have possessions all fell under the category of shelter + basic needs as well.
Food is, of course, one of the most obvious and basic human needs, and malnutrition and the uncertainty of where the next meal will come from fall under this category as well.
The ability to buy basic supplies and food is a key factor in poverty. Understanding monetary systems like interest, rent, and expenses also is key to income’s role in poverty and homelessness.
Many solutions were discussed, and many valid points were made about limitations and restrictions around what can and cannot be done. Between both teams’, solutions were centered around awareness/education and prevention. We asked ourselves: how does someone become homeless in the first place? Is it a sudden turn of events, or is it a series of occurrences with one final outcome? Is it preventable?
These questions lead to a fantastic discussion about how we can leverage our knowledge of digital media and the web to improve education focused on preventing homelessness. The discussion continued to highlight the factors that cause homelessness, such as income, and what steps can be taken to ensure a person is able to get, and more importantly – keep, employment.
The concepts that made the most sense to the group(s), with fewer barriers to entry and implementation, were the concepts of education and prevention. Preventing someone from becoming homeless is easier than trying to solve the problem altogether. Preventing someone from losing employment prevents someone from being unable to pay their rent. Preventing someone from being unable to pay their rent prevents eviction.
Education solutions were centered around helping the homeless or those in danger of becoming homeless learn how to prevent this. The teams found that there already are many of these services and tools already available through a variety of organizations. This streamlined our Education solution to include spreading the word about the systems and safety nets that are already in place to prevent and help support homelessness. Landlord/tenant mediation services, access to internet and job boards, health care options, and services to help meet basic needs exist already, especially in a metropolitan city as big as Chicago. How can we improve the awareness of these services to those who need them the most?
Charity Chosen to Help
The group as a whole chose ChicagoCares.org as the charity chosen as the solution of the VisualFizz Talks for the Greater Good. The group found that many of our ideas and solutions were already in play with ChicagoCares.org, and we felt involvement in Chicago Cares would have the most “bang for our buck”.
The group as a whole felt inspired to continue to make an impact and fight poverty and homelessness in Chicago. We knew the conversation couldn’t end here, however. That’s why for VisualFizz’s next community event, we’ll be designating 20-30 minutes before the next event for the team that came together to discuss further development and implementation of the solution agreed upon. We’ll discuss working with ChicagoCares.org and where we can continue to use our entrepreneurial brains for the Greater Good, both in our current local community and wherever we see the need. We encourage you to follow ChicagoCares.org, help where you can with the resources you have, and continue to think outside of the box!