Watching the news in 2016, you might assume that civic-minded Americans are only concerned with the upcoming presidential election. Just as often, they are thinking about loved ones in prison or on the street, the quality of their air and water, and how to pay the bills. Studs Terkel, WPA journalists, Jacob Riis and Barbara Ehrenreich—we used to have advocates who would hit the road to cover such topics. Now, we have pundits, campaign commercials, and other media to distract away from the situation at hand.
Tough years of economic and political warfare have inflicted great damage on working Americans. This election season, let’s draw attention to those living on the margins of not just our society, but national news coverage as well. NO PLATFORM: Scenes From Off the Campaign Trail will tell the stories of those who have no platform for their voices to be heard.
My name is Taryn Fivek, and I've spent much of my career reporting on wars in the Middle East. I have lived and worked in Palestine, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. Most recently, I worked for a UN-affiliated international agency, speaking with and documenting the stories of families forced to flee the combat and violence in their home countries. My job was to speak with people who had lost everything in order to raise awareness of their situation.
But the wars I’ve witnessed in my lifetime transcend geographical boundaries. I've worked for the most militant union in the US, marched against police brutality, helped organize youth groups aligned against war, spoke at conferences, and spent hundreds of hours (and almost failed out of school!) working in the kitchen at Occupy London.
Professionally, I have experience in television, radio, print and photography. Most importantly, I’m a writer, which is why I can embark on an ambitious multimedia project focusing on our very real class conflict here in the United States.
I want to use my experience and skill set to compile a snapshot record of the struggles that working class and marginalized people are fighting in the US in 2016. Leaving on July 4th, I plan to drive across the country in 90 days to tell the stories left off the front pages of newspapers, prime time television, and the bylines online.
I will speak to people living precariously—workers, the unemployed, teachers, students, activists, leaders, migrants, prisoners, elders, addicts and the homeless. I’ll ask people in Flint if they think democracy is working for them. I’ll ask people in New Orleans if they think news media are telling the real story of reconstruction after Katrina. I'll ask people how they think the fracking industry has changed North Dakota. I'll speak with these people to see if they still have faith in the way things are run.
I will create a collaborative multimedia platform that will be a “State of the Union” snapshot that stands in contrast to what media are clogging our eyes and ears with during the 2016 campaign season.
The end result will be a historical record of these stories, and I want you to come with me. That means I’ll be filing daily updates to social media, constantly tending a website that collects articles and interviews into a blog format that encourages participation, writing long-form articles, and finally, collecting it all into an e-book that synthesizes the experience and presents my findings.
Crowd funding also allows me to be completely independent. I’ll have no sponsors I need to please — except you. The stories you hear will not be cleared by legal or given the thumbs-up by the advertising department.
Despite the fact that more than 45 million Americans live in poverty, coverage of their struggle never seems to be included or discussed. Yet, the 2016 Presidential Campaign will be another billion-dollar venture. $10,000 is a drop in the bucket for what’s needed to bring these stories to light.
I don't intend to make money off this field work. The budget below represents the minimum I need to make it 90 days across the country.
Gas and Oil Changes: $1000
Motels (I will be staying with friends when I can, but just to be safe): 90 X $60 = $4500
Food and incidentals: $30 per day X 90 = $2700
Travelers insurance, repairs and AAA membership: $1800
May 20 - 75%! - Stretch goals!
We are well on our way to $10,000 – so I wanted to float some stretch goals at you.
When originally conceptualizing my fieldwork, I wanted to go out for 120 days. I thought this would give me more time in cities to get a feel for the environment and people. The projected cost came to $15,000. At the end stages of this proposal, I decided to cut it back $5,000 and shorten the trip to 90 days, thinking it would be easier to raise. I would love to be on the road for an extra 30 days – this would also end the trip closer to Election Day.
If NO PLATFORM makes it to $20,000, I will be able to visit the DNC and RNC conventions in July. I will also expand my itinerary to include Puerto Rico, where 3.5 million US citizens suffering from crushing debt and poverty are not allowed to vote for president in November's election. Would be interesting to hear what they think about US-style Democracy!
Risks and challenges
Traveling across the United States for 90 days is no easy task.
There could be breakdowns or accidents. I could fall ill. I'll be medically insured and my car will have insurance, and I've budgeted for money to be included in case the car needs repairs. I'll also be buying a AAA membership.
Gasoline is a volatile commodity. If the price of gas increases significantly during this summer, I may need to skip planned stops, cut the trip short, or figure out another way to get around.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)