Interview: Arié Moyal, HugTrainUSA
I recently had the opportunity to connect with Arié Moyal, the force behind HugTrainUSA. You can learn more about the project in the interview below.
Arié Moyal is a community builder focused on interconnecting business, people and solutions for a sustainable and empowered society. He has worked on environmental and social initiatives ranging from Montreal's Twestival Global and cupcakecamp events to international projects like JNF's GoNeutral climate change program and the o2 Global Foundation network's System Reload conference. Arié is also the founder of the everydayactivist.org challenge and a community management coach for BESTCoaches. His friends say he gives great hugs!
What is HugTrain and where did the idea come from?
Since I am travelling by rail around the US before I move to England, I decided to find a fun and easy way that I could make a difference while travelling and that's how I came up with the idea for the HugTrain.
The holidays can be a difficult time for a lot of people so I figured hugs are a good way to cheer people up and doing something like this could help raise awareness about mental health.
What do you hope to accomplish with the HugTrain?
I hope to spread some holiday cheer, bring attention to mental health in a positive way, with a focus on solutions and help raise spirits a little bit!
Where will you be stopping?
The HugTrain starts off in New York on the 27th and stops in Albany, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, El Paso, San Antonio, New Orleans, a very quick stop in Greenville to hug someone without whom HugTrainUSA wouldn't have gotten up and running so quickly, Jennifer Smith from Eco Office Gals, then on to Washington, D.C., back to New York and then a finale in Boston on January 10th. The details about time, place and date are on our website at http://www.hugtrain.org/itinerary
How can people get involved and follow along?
The most important thing is that people who want hugs get them, so the best way for people to get involved is to get the word out and help people get to the station. That means tweeting, blogging and just telling people. We also have facebook events set up so people can invite their friends.
I will be blogging on hugtrain.org as much as possible from the road and uploading videos and pictures as well so people can follow along.
What else are you working on?
I am currently working on the everydayactivist.org daily challenge. It's a social media platform for social change that challenges eople to take on small everyday actions and document them with videos, pictures and slideshows to share with their friends on the different social networks and visitors to the site. This allows people to be creative and be empowered by finding their own solutions to the challenges we face as a society. We hope to not only effect change but to connect people with each other and with businesses that also take responsibility for their social and environmental impacts to bulld hyperlocal communities.
It is currently in private beta as we redesign the site.
On a personal level, I am moving to the UK in mid-January and hoping to help businesses strengthen their ties to the communities that exist around their companies through online and offline means through coaching, training and consulting.
What do you think will be coming in 2010 as far as social change work online?
I believe that the advent of geosocial networking will facilitate community building and allow people to connect offline and take on bigger challenges together. Also, as businesses and NGOs get more active in social media there will be an opportunity to redefine how things are run and how they connect to the people in their community.