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From Tweet to Street: Anti-Poverty Campaign Takes Supporters' Messages to Camp David

A robotic activist lobbies world leaders to take action against global poverty with tweets painted on the pavement.

Political magnates on their way to the G8 summit at Camp David near Thurmont, Maryland today may barely notice the scenery —mostly freshly planted fields and historic homes—of a small town on a spring day. Yet there's one attraction designed to catch their eye: an activist "chalkbot" whose golden-hued messages about taking action on global poverty now coat the pavement leading to the presidential retreat and leaving from the White House.

The "Street Tweeter" is the work of anti-poverty nonprofit ONE. A "hydraulic robot" towed by a pickup truck, the machine culls Twitter for messages that mention the handle @ONEStreetTweet, and uses 80 jets full of nontoxic paint to take the text to the streets. ONE is asking its supporters to send along 40-character notes encouraging the G8 to take a stand on poverty in Africa and throughout the developing world.

“We urge the G8 to create a new global framework for agriculture and nutrition, centered on investment in smart, country-owned plans,” Michael Elliott, ONE's president and CEO, said in a press release for the project. Elliot says Africa is positioned to become a leader in global agriculture if it gets the "smart and highly targeted aid" and investments from African governments and the private sector it needs.

Three years ago at a G-8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy President Obama urged world leaders to help poor countries execute on grassroots plans to boost poor farmers' productivity and help pull them out of poverty. The idea was to focus aid on projects developing countries wanted instead of what rich countries thought they should have. Now the challenge is getting the notoriously fickle G-8 leadership to stick to its guns when it convenes this weekend.

Want to get involved? Visit the project's Twitter feed.


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