MIT Center for Civic Media | Innovating civic media tools and practices together with communities

Hero Reports/Crónicas de Héroes

Hero Reports is a web based campaign of positive thinking established in New York during 2001. The most successful instance of Hero Reports --a Spanish version called Crónicas de Héroes--is deployed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, since December 2010 and currently implemented in other cities: Monterrey and Tijuana/San Diego, the first bi-national platform of the initiative.

Crónicas de Héroes is civic platform of positivism which through technology, art, education, grassroots activism, and other media focuses and promotes social values - responsibility, honesty, equality, respect, dignity, kindness, solidarity, cooperation. Crónicas de Héroes provides to citizens both on- line and off-line tools to make public, carry out and share with other positive contributions to society. We seek to guide citizens participation towards positive activities and attitudes, that can drive social change.

Some of the main objectives of this initiative are:

  • Local: inject positive energy, provide tools as change agents for strengthening social ties, values and education, promote citizen participation, civic pride, recover and give rise to optimism.
  • International: Modify the existing image and narrative, showing the other side, the other story that also exists in these cities/regions, create links and promote diversity.

A short term goal for Crónicas de Héroes is the inclusion of new applications on the websites, allowing individuals to send reports via mobile devices, including SMS and MMS as well as voice mail. These tools, which will be incorporated into a geo-location system are currently being developed with support from the Center for Civic Media.

Crónicas de Héroes is a non-profit project. We work with the support of the community; therefore, we want to invite more institutions, groups, NGOs, ACs, etc. to contact us. Everyday there are heroes among us and they did not sit around to wait for better times, thus lets follow their example and grow together for a better present.

Project Status: 
Associated tools: 
Hero Reports
For more information about using this tool, contact: 


I have been looking at issues specific to Boston in order that Hero Reports offers the greatest civic benefit. This is a brainstorm; any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

As I often espouse, fear fractures communities and Hero Reports rebuilds these fractures. By building trust Hero Reports supports the health, education, peace, public transportation, and real-estate values of a city. In short, Hero Reports particularly interdisciplinary nature cuts across many city goals.

Following are four such initiatives:

- AIM FOR PEACE (, a gun buy back program, and the unsuccessful confiscation of the STOP SNITCHING designs, are two non-violence programs that address Boston's high crime rates. Both campaigns respond to Boston violence, and the power of "the people" to make a difference. A description of the stop snitching controversy (below) illustrates how important it is to build constructive, rather than destructive, measures.

- Similarly, a number of Boston health initiatives, including the VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PREVENTION (VIP) INITIATIVE ( and the HEALTHY BOSTON BUILDS STRONG COMMUNITIES ( support community health through inclusive and collaborative means. Excitingly, VIP connects media, youth, health care professionals, local schools and peace groups to create expressions (e.g., pictures, poetry, art, design) of trust.

My thesis evaluation of Hero Reports shows preliminary results that support these goals "neighborhood social health." Most strikingly, the areas in New York with the highest crime rates, also have the highest hero rates. I will include
this data at a later time.

But, Hero Reports not only aligns with these initiative but also offers something new. First, it offers maps; visuals that broadcast to the rest of Boston the difference we make for each other. Second, and related, Hero Report aggregates this difference. There are various civic benefits of these two means, which I won't delve into now. But, in general, Hero Reports provides a dialog to shift POSITIVE social norms. People are starving for this dialog. Even the success of Obama speaks to this hunger.

There are many ways Hero Reports could be implemented for Boston. It can support already existing initiatives or stand-alone. In either case, I believe building relationships with already existing media outlets is key. Hero stories exist. We see them and often, the media reports on the most dramatic. But they carry an entirely different weight if we bridge hero stories and ground them local geographies. We can understand each other and our communities with a cultural memory built from the that best of human nature: love, hope and understanding. I believe this is something Boston is already trying to do and it is something we--the Center for Future Civic media---believe in as well. Extending what Henry Jenkins wrote about Hero Reports, we are all trying to reverse the mean world syndrome.

So I end with the excitement of possibility. In times when fear and unrest (e.g., economy, war) might undo us, we instead build tools for a discourse guided by respect and trust.


Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Acting Commissioner Al Goslin, in conjunction with the Boston Police Department and numerous community and faith-based organizations, is pleased to announce that the 2006 Boston Gun Buyback "Aim For Peace" was a major success. "Aim For Peace" has taken 1,000 firearms off the streets of Boston. "The gun buyback program exceeded our expectations," Mayor Menino said. "The citizens of Boston stood together and sent a loud message to criminals: We are not going to allow our streets to be overrun with violence and fear."

You've got to hand it to Boston mayor Thomas Menino: not everybody could face a 34 percent rise in shootings, the highest homicide rate in a decade, and a widespread sense of despair in the city, and come up with a plan that draws the ridicule of ultraconservative talk-show host Michael Graham, the American Civil Liberties Union, and local rapper Akrobatik. But that's just what Menino did last week by declaring a mayoral fatwa against the popular "Stop Snitchin'" T-shirts. According to Menino, the shirts ' with the catch phrase inside a red octagon on the front, and YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT imprinted on the back ' help foster a culture of noncooperation with authorities, preventing the cops from solving crimes and getting the bad guys off the streets.
"We are going to tackle violence for what it is - a public health issue," Turner said.

Using a combination of proven strategies and programs, and by focusing collective effort in small areas, we believe that we can rebuild and strengthen these neighborhoods that have been affected by violent crime. Those strategies will include direct, door-to-door outreach, surveying residents about their needs and connecting those residents with City services. Additionally, the City will form Peace Councils, which will provide a forum for community engagement and problem solving around issues of safety in these communities. Dates for the neighborhood outreach and peace councils are below. (

Healthy Boston is a bold and innovative initiative that focuses on making things happen in communities in an inclusive and collaborative manner. The vision for Healthy Boston was to use a 6 million dollar fund to help self-identified communities within the city establish coalitions, define their own needs, use their own resources better, and be in a stronger position to negotiate with the city government and other outside agencies regarding resources and services.

Nobody has done more in recent years to illuminate the problem of civic disengagement than Robert Putnam. During the mid-'90s, he published a series of articles that provided quantitative evidence for the decline in participation, and he explained it as part of a more general fraying of the social fabric. America, Putnam contended, was experiencing a general loss of social connectedness-or, to use the term that he adopted, a loss of "social capital"-as membership sank in social groups of all kinds, not just those explicitly directed at civic ends. In what became the defining example of his enterprise, Putnam observed that even though bowling was increasing, bowling leagues were declining, and so Americans were "bowling alone." (">

*- OTHER *

As we extend your project from New York to Boston, we will keep these good points in mind.Any more information about the methods you used to solicit hero reports would be helpful. Have you documented how you reached out through social networks and WNYC, scanned the news, and otherwise tried to get people to participate? The way you did this will of course affect the quality of your findings about who participated (the notion that more reports came out of high crime areas).

Civic courage something so lost in this present world. This is what it takes to tell someone in authority over you something they might not want to hear. She said it takes this even to tell a waiter that he has brought you the wrong food.

I absolutely love the term, and it also just opened up a whole way of thinking about democracy and the cultural differences that I've experienced. Civic courage at different parts of the world has different shapes. Anyway, at the end of the day, it is standing up against what you think is wrong, and support what you think is ethical and right, and being honest to one's conscience.

I think this is an incredible idea for a project. There are many unsung heroes in our midst, and this in a small way can acknowledge the brave people among us. Will there be plans to take this concept Internationally?

Wow. Absolutely genius idea. I have a cousin at MIT as well, and I think he's involved with this.