Crowdsourced site records good deeds in an embattled city
A man helps an old lady cross the street. A young girl decides to give away some of her toys to children who need them more.
Those are some of the good deeds that residents of Ciudad Juarez, a city of about 1.3 million people in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, share in “Juarez Hero Reports," a website that encourages residents to focus on the positive actions people do everyday.
It's an effort to see the glass half full in a rapidly-growing city that has been called "the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones."
The idea is simple: Any resident who has witnessed an act of kindness can log on to Juarez Hero Reports, tell the story and pinpoint it on an interactive map. The project was launched on November 2010 and has registered 933 good deeds to date.
The project began when Christopher Csikszentmihályi, director of the Center for Future Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, visited Ciudad Juarez in 2009 as part of a delegation sent by the U.S. Department of State to devise ways to help the embattled city.
Based on a similar project in New York City after the September 11 attacks to boost the morale of locals, MIT decided to launch “Hero Reports” in Ciudad Juarez.
Known for its raging drug cartel violence and sex-related murders, Ciudad Juarez earned the infamous title of being one of the most violent cities in the world. Authorities reported 7,386 people were killed in this border city in the last three years, according to Fox News Latino.
But some believe that the random acts of kindness taking place every day in the city are also worth noting in a public tally.
“Through foreign media we learn about [one side of] Ciudad Juarez, the one that is portrayed as a brutal city,” wrote Yesica Guerra, leader of Heroes Report Mexico, in a blog related to the project.
“This blog wants to discuss that other face of the city, that other story that also exists in the city, in which more than a million residents keep on living their lives in a peaceful and responsible way.”