We like to keep tabs on our VentureBeat alums, and here’s a report from former VB startup beat reporter Bekah Grant: She’s traveling around South America “chasing change.”
And she’s doing a really cool subscription journalism project along the way. (More on that in a bit.)
So, what does it mean to chase change? Here’s Grant’s thesis:
I spent 2.5 years in the Peace Corps where I experienced how difficult it is for a minimally-resourced outsider to create change. I then spent two years as a reporter at tech news site VentureBeat where I covered thousands of startups trying to “disrupt” things for the better. In both cases, I found people obsessed with solving important problems, but using dramatically different approaches.
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“Social innovation” or “social enterprise” sits between these two worlds. It is a movement built on the idea that innovation can save the world. Beacon will help fund reporting trips to developing countries where I will cover these ideas.
Currently, Grant and her partner, Cullen Wilson, are en route to Chile, where they’ll be participating in the upcoming Startup Chile accelerator batch. Their startup is Lomaki, a mobile, social platform for personal philanthropy. Ultimately, it’s perfectly in line with the idea of bringing change to far-flung parts of the world — and using simple technologies to do so.
“More people than ever before are dedicating their lives to making a difference, and technology is changing the way we address tough problems,” Grant writes.
“There has never been a more interesting time to cover the solutions, and yet we are rarely presented with thoughtful commentary on the why and how of change.”
As both a change agent and a skilled writer, Grant is using publishing/crowdfunding platform Beacon to serialize her experiences during her travels and startup-building. Her stories will be “about the solutions, experiments, lessons, successes and failures that happen when striving for social change.
“I hope that by telling these stories, people will not only be more aware of these problems, but more empowered to start solving them,” she writes.
Beacon itself is an interesting use of technology to support this kind of journalism. Grant’s missives can come via low-costs subscription, or you can make a larger contribution toward a short documentary and longer feature-length articles.
Side note: As Grant’s former colleague and editor, I can vouch for her: These articles are not something you want to miss. I’m already a backer, myself, and I can’t wait to see what stories she has to tell.