I don’t think we’ll tire of uplifting stories where advertising executives using their industry intel, real-life social networks and resources to do some good outside of their day jobs. Fellow Brooklyn native Kenji Summers’ Passport Project is one of them.
I briefly worked with Kenji last year at innovation shop, BBH Zag, just as he was beginning development of this personal passion project. Kenji’s now working hard to shift youth behavior from materialism to experience by using the passport as the instrument. In 2009, on what he proclaimed to be a life-changing trip to Barcelona, he had an enlightening desire to mix hip-hop, design and social media to help kids get off their computers and out into the world. While listening to Lupe Fiasco’s Paris, Tokyo (Remix) Kenji intently reflected on the line, “Let my people go, to broaden their horizons” and the idea was sparked.
Sadly, today more Americans have a Facebook account than they do a passport–that’s less than 30% of the 308-million plus Americans with passports. Not all that surprising I suppose, but still unfortunate considering that this comparison was vastly different less than a decade ago. International travel is undoubtedly not cheap and in the US alone, those who do travel are really only the privileged, blessed with higher-incomes and a subsequent willingness to go abroad.
We also continue to lack (and long for) real-time tangible experiences and human interaction in general. As many are aware, the term ‘interactive’ these days is usually just the default word for anything ‘digital.’ Many of us are already aware of the “craving real experience’ insight, but usually relegate to chatting about it over drinks on a Friday night to keep ourselves mentally engaged or feel like we’re being ‘socially conscious’. So what are we actually doing about it?
According to Kenji, “Passport Project embraces an age where hip-hop and Givenchy are bedmates and teenagers grow up with dreams of creating culture rather than simply consuming it. The goal, in addition to increasing passport ownership, is to inspire and empower young people to consider their existence in relation to the rest of the world as opposed to their immediate reality.”
Kenji aims to provision passports to at least 51% of young Americans age 18-29.
To get involved or find out more information about the project visit Passport Project’s newly relaunched website or follow them on Twitter: twitter.com/passportlife
(Photo: Alyxaundria Sanford)