Over the past two months, I had the pleasure to work on the first original storytelling series by Starbucks. Upstanders–a 10-part multi-platform film, written and podcast series–highlights the work of ordinary citizens doing outstanding work in our communities across the country. In collaboration with Jessey Dearing, we produced three of the short films featured on their website and mobile app.
In Homes for Everyone, we worked closely with Lloyd Pendleton to highlight the work he's accomplished over the past decade to eradicate the long-term homeless situation in Utah through a housing-first approach. Breaking the Prison Pipeline is Susan Burton's powerful story of struggle and triumph that led her to create A New Way of Life–an organization that supports formerly incarcerated women to reintegrate back into society and avoid returning to prison in Los Angeles, California. Finally, relevant in today's climate of policing in America, The Empathetic Police Academy looks at Susan Rahr's unique approach to police academy training in Washington State by empowering officers to be guardians and protectors of their communities. Upstanders goes further, expanding its coverage on topics of food waste, autism, wounded warriors, poverty, and hostility to Muslims.
This series marks an important milestone where a coffee company is investing in good journalism, NOT branded content. In the words of Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, "We've asked ourselves what is the role and responsibility of a public company and, as citizens, how we can catalyze hope in a time when we need more optimism, empathy, compassion and leadership...The upstanders featured in this series are inspiring individuals whose actions are emblematic of the American spirit and what is missing from so much of today's national dialogue. We have always been storytellers at heart, and more of these stories need to be heard. We are using our scale to share them as broadly as possible."
Watch the entire series online or on the Starbucks mobile app.
Links to additional reads:
The Daily Show with Trevor Nolan: Exclusive - Howard Schultz Extended Interview