New Modality Contributor:
Helena Puig Larrauri, Digital Peacebuilder
Profile edited by Michael J. Seidlinger
Photo courtesy of Helena Puig Larrauri
Last update: February 20, 2020
Helena Puig Larrauri is the co-director of Build Up, a social enterprise dedicated to supporting alternative infrastructures for civic engagement and peacebuilding. She co-authored an article for our first issue, "How Do We Combat Polarization Online?"
How would you present your bio?
I would say: "Helena Puig Larrauri is a governance and development professional with over a decade of experience advising and supporting UN agencies, multi-lateral organizations, and NGOs working in conflict contexts and polarized environments. She specializes in the integration of digital technology and innovation processes to civic initiatives. She co-founded and currently directs Build Up, a non-profit that works with civic activists and authorities to identify and apply innovative practices that can prevent conflict and tackle polarization. She is also an Ashoka Fellow.
"Helena has been invited to speak about civic technology and innovation in venues including SXSW Interactive, Geneva Peace Talks, Geneva Peace Platform, The Hague Institute of Global Justice, IPI Vienna Seminar, Northwestern University, MIT's Centre for Civic Media, and the United States Institute of Peace. She previously served on the Boards of International Alert, ImpactHub Barcelona, and the Standby Task Force (a global network of digital volunteers available for disaster relief, which she co-founded). She currently serves on the Boards of Public Sentiment and Elva Community Engagement."
What’s a specific project that you’re excited about *right now?*
Throughout 2019, my organization Build Up had thousands of conversations with strangers, across some of the most polarized and polarizing topics on Twitter and Facebook in the USA. This is one of the most interesting pieces of work we've done at Build Up, and one that gives me hope for how we can build a stronger democratic societies in the digital era.
It was fascinating, impactful, and we want to do more of it. Here's a write-up of our results, impact, learnings and plans to depolarize digital conversations in 2020.
“Leonard Cohen says that poetry is just the evidence of life: if your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
What's a current cultural edge you're excited to see people pushing?
I love poetry. Leonard Cohen says that poetry is just the evidence of life: if your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. I'm kind of intrigued, sometimes appalled, mostly fascinated by Instapoetry (poetry written for sharing on social media platforms like Instagram). I don't know enough about it, I want to learn more, I'd love to understand whether and how it is changing how poetry is written and experienced.