Visionary Teen Scientist Gitanjali Rao and Activist Author Jeremiah Emmanuel Imagine the Kind City

In October 2021, we invited people from all walks of life to share their visions for the Kind City of the future. We then used sophisticated AI to transform submissions from around the world into a set of 10 crowd-sourced principles—the foundation for a more inclusive, empathetic, and empowering city. Ten big ideas, rooted in kindness, to propel us towards a better future.

Below, two visionaries living those principles and building a more inclusive and compassionate world explore the Kind City:

  • Inventor Gitanjali Rao, CTO of the Future in Lenovo’s Kind City
  • Entrepreneur Jeremiah Emmanuel, one of our Lenovo Innovators.

Gitanjali Rao

Gitanjali Rao standing in an open industrial area.

Gitanjali is a 16-year-old scientist and innovator and was awarded TIME Magazine’s first ever Kid of the Year in 2020. She served as the CTO of the Future on Lenovo’s Kind Council – a group of global leaders spearheading the Kind City initiative. At such a young age she has already used tech to tackle contaminated drinking water, opioid addiction, and cyberbullying.

Which of the 10 Kind Cities principles do you relate to most and why?

Nurture and help manifest innovative, kind visions for the future – I love this principle because it encourages and engages youth across the globe to not only think about their present, but their future generations. This principle directly affects me, my friends, and classmates. I believe if cities adapt this principle, it will motivate and help all of us to leave the world in a place better for our future generations.

What do you see as the most important priorities for a kinder city of the future?

The most important priorities are education equity and accessibility. The need to invest in education equity and accessibility to education should be a priority for all cities. Citizens everywhere, no matter who and where they are from should be given these opportunities. If every child is educated, then we all have the chance to become capable, responsible citizens of the future. An educated society means will live in a world where kindness prevails.

What barriers do we face for creating a kinder city of the future? How do we overcome these barriers?

A major barrier rural areas face is the lack of infrastructure for internet accessibility. Our political boundaries and access to basic necessities in developing countries are barriers we need to overcome before we invest in education and innovation. It is feasible to make this happen if internet access becomes a basic right just like food, water, and shelter. In addition, organizations and companies can start investing in underprivileged areas to make their economic conditions better. This will help us create a sound education system no matter what the unknown is, and education can start happening beyond school walls.

How does your purpose and mission help create a kinder city?

Today, I conduct innovation workshops for rural schools and refugee camps. This helps me gain an understanding of the lack of basic necessities in some schools and how we can support them. While I am in the right path, I have a long way to go to create an innovation movement where every youth can innovate with the central theme of empathy and kindness. (Learn more here: https://www.voicesofyouth.org/gitanjali-rao)

How do you think technology can play a role in creating a more inclusive and fair community?

We are living in interesting times where newer technologies are shaping our future. These also offer opportunities for innovation.  A 20Gig/sec 5G speed offers near real-time interaction with almost no lag. Surgeries can now be performed remote, or people can be in video conferences as holograms. Nanotechnology allows the development of bots that are smaller than viruses and can cure diseases.

In other words, not only are these technologies powerful by themselves but increasingly they are coming together to develop solutions we couldn’t conceive just a generation back. We could enhance these to include individuals whom we could not even connect without traveling hours a decade back. The optimism is that all these technologies, when used the right way, free us from the mundane and allows us to focus on solving harder problems.

We can take simple steps in our daily lives to recognize and empathize with the problems around us and try to solve them through interesting ideas and technologies that we already have.

Jeremiah Emmanuel

Jeremiah Emmanuel

Jeremiah is an author, entrepreneur and youth advocate based in London. He is a part of the 2021-2022 Lenovo Innovator Program. His mission is to support young people within his community and to inspire and enable them to chase their dreams.

Which of the 10 Kind Cities principles do you relate to most and why?

Create a deep sense of belonging for all – When I was younger it was quite hard to visualize what my future. I grew up in a place with a lack of opportunities and inequality, in a world that I felt was holding me back. This principle stands out for me because I believe everyone deserves to have a shot at reaching their full potential. If a deeper sense of belonging was given to me and many of my peers, we would look into the future only with a positive mindset.

What do you see as the most important priorities for a kinder city of the future?

At times, it feels like we live in a world that resembles the opposite of a kind city—especially in quite recent times. This means there couldn’t be a more important time to strive for a kind community, city, or world. In my ideal kinder city for the future, I want to live in a world where young people are listened to, our planet is looked after, equal opportunities for all, the elimination of inequality.

What barriers do we face for creating a kinder city of the future? How do we overcome these barriers?

There are several different issues that present themselves as barriers in the quest to creating a kinder city. War, a global pandemic, recession, climate change, hunger, and more. We are living in some of the scariest times in modern history. However, the fight to create a better world is not over. We need to find solutions, open dialogue, explore ways to work together. These are some the steps needed to make the world a better place.

How does your purpose and mission help create a kinder city?

I’ve always been passionate to find ways to create platforms for young people to use their voices. I believe a massive part of building a kinder city requires listening to young people and seeing things from their perspective. Often, they are eliminated from the important conversations, when they represent our future. It’s time to change this. It’s my mission.

How do you think technology can play a role in creating a more inclusive and fair community?

Digital inequality is an issue I witnessed growing up. Many young people don’t have a fair chance to progress in their futures due to the lack of access to appropriate technologies. By providing technology to those in need, and providing opportunities in STEM, we can support young people in following their dreams.

Learn more by exploring the Kind City, including an interactive podcast with 60 global voices, and following our bold and transformative 2021 Lenovo Innovators.

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