The news tends to focus on conflict and controversy, bombarding people with all that’s going wrong in the world and rarely covering what’s being done about it. Social entrepreneurs, couple and hosts Barnabe and Nisha spent years living in conflict zones, going beyond the headlines. They want to share a fresh perspective: Yes, the world is messed up… so what are people doing about it?

Barnabe is a risk-taker who likes to experience life’s extremes in order to better understand the world. Nisha is a boisterous people-person who is deeply passionate about social justice. Together, they seek out entrepreneurs and innovators tackling difficult issues head on—from a startup using drones to bring humanitarian supplies from Turkey into inaccessible war zones in Syria, to an engineer who has turned annual floods in Bangladesh into pathways to education and health with a fleet of solar-powered floating classrooms and medical clinics, to a firm in NYC turning former drug dealers into legit entrepreneurs.

UPLIFT features stunning cinematography, a conversational narrative tone and compelling stories. In each episode the hosts take viewers on intimate, gritty and thrilling adventures to difficult-to-access locations. They discover a country and its culture by spending time with people from all walks of life, understanding a problem from the perspective of those experiencing it. They then spend time with those working to turn the problem into an opportunity—looking at their tactics, their impact and the obstacles they face. With each journey, their relationship grows and is challenged in new ways.

In November 2014, Barnabe and Nisha took UPLIFT to the crowd and ran a Kickstarter campaign. The concept resonated and the campaign raised 250% of it funding goal and received international media coverage, including on UPWORTHY, METRO NEWS and RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

The pilot episode was shot in Myanmar at the beginning of 2015 and released September 8, 2015.

Why UPLIFT?

The world depicted by the mainstream media is mostly dark and daunting; as the saying goes, "if it bleeds, it leads." People are left feeling paralyzed and hopeless and find it hard to believe that the world is more tolerant and less violent than ever before.

Through our work and travels we’ve seen firsthand that despite some very tough realities, overall the human story is much more about resilience and innovation than it is about death and destruction.

We want to bear witness to the ingenuity and triumphs of the human spirit. We need more TV & media content that challenges our biases and shows respect, rather than pity, fear or condescension, for people with different experiences from our own. 

We know that generally millennials care about issues, want to be entertained even when it comes to news, and we want to talk about what actions can be taken to solve problems rather than to just be told how messed up everything is.

We believe TV can be used to:

  • build empathy by immersing viewers in other people’s realities and giving them a sense of what it’s like from different perspectives,
  • inspire by introducing viewers to the legions of community builders, artists, activists, social entrepreneurs and innovators working to make the world a better place. These changemakers come from all walks of life and operate in every country but all have something in common… they saw a problem and took action. We can feel inspired to take action ourselves, and
  • initiate positive change by learning about the many trends, tools and practices we can all take part in, such as crowd sourcing, micro loans, petition platforms, the sharing economy, the makers movement and others.

Sample Episodes

UPLIFT BECOMES STATELESS (Turkey/Mediterranean/Europe) - UPLIFT looks at the experiences and responses of the migrant crisis. In Turkey, we see different approaches to designing refugee camps. In the Mediterranean, we spend time on a boat with an organization rescuing migrants. In Eastern Europe, we travel with a family heading to Germany, and in that country we see how locals have mobilized to welcome refugees. With this unprecedented crisis, what are some of the more successful responses?

UPLIFT DOES DRUGS (USA/Mexico/Canada) - UPLIFT looks at the War on Drugs starting in Mexico with a journalist who has covered the beat extensively and often at great personal risk to understand the violence and corruption. In New York City, we spend time with former drug dealers turned into legit entrepreneurs through a unique startup lab. In Vancouver and back in Mexico, we see alternative ways of treating addicts in a more humane and effective manner than incarceration. Is there a better way of dealing with drugs?

UPLIFT GOES TO PRISON (Mexico/Norway) - In Mexico, prison is commonly referred to as the “university of crime,” a hard place where people come out harder. We spend time with a changemaker trying to change the system so that those born into families with criminal histories, poverty or born in prisons aren’t destined to a life of crime. We look at whether a prison system that is practically vindictive in nature has a positive impact on crime rates or recidivism. We then head to Norway to see a completely different approach where inmates have friendships with their guards, are treated like people, have quite a lot of autonomy, and reoffend at a far lower rate than the US or Mexico. What does the Norway model teach us, and can it be applied in societies with far greater inequality?

UPLIFT LOOKS AT HUMAN TRAFFICKING (India) - Almost half the world’s 30 million slaves are from India. We go undercover in Calcutta’s infamous red-light district. We meet survivors and a changemaker who has developed and implemented one of the world’s most effective anti-trafficking models, making a difference through prevention and prosecution, rescue and rehabilitation, and economic development. What needs to happen for human trafficking to end in the 21st century?

UPLIFT GETS EVEN IN BRAZIL (Brazil) - UPLIFT goes to Brazil to see how inequality is being tackled. We spend time with a group using hip-hop, art and entrepreneurship in the slums. We meet indigenous leaders fighting against the resource extraction industry. Finally we discover the Landless Workers Movement, a 1.5 million people-strong organization that occupies, develops and inhabits land it believes should be redistributed by law. Can these movements create a more equal society in Brazil and what can we learn from them?

UPLIFT JAMS OUT IN SIERRA LEONE (Sierra Leone) - UPLIFT looks at the music of Sierra Leone, its roots in the country’s brutal civil war and role in helping many move beyond the war’s atrocities.

UPLIFT SEES HOPE IN THE CONGO (Congo) - UPLIFT spends time with an extraordinary movement of youth in eastern Congo that take an uncompromising attitude towards non-violent action to improve social governance in Goma. They have started to speak out on a national scale on the need for youth to participate in the political and electoral processes. Could this small group of people change the course of Congo’s history?

 

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