Annual Report 2016
How To Make a Difference in the World Through Storytelling
The Flyways is a Social Impact Story Publishing company. We’ve been a registered Benefit Corporation for the past 3+ years, and we welcome you to our Annual Report 2016.
It is a true pleasure to share our growth from the past year with you. This is a conscious effort to construct an ongoing story of our work, as a company and as part of a bigger moment in time. It’s something of a cliche to say that we are at a crossroads, but there’s so much truth in that as well. We have crucial choices to make, and we have nothing but opportunity to make the most of those choices. We choose to create a more beautiful world through storytelling.
Our company brand is Stories Drive Impact. We do this most effectively through our culture of Create, Collaborate, Share.
Culture is accomplished by our forward-facing customer activities, of course, which includes creating custom media packages and providing platforms for creating storytelling opportunities. Within the organization, our culture grows when each collaborator contributes something incredibly valuable: their own story.
We will endeavor to tell this collective story by building a scintillating tale of Impact and Innovation in 2016. So without further ado...
Our social media feeds:
How We Made Ours in 2016
As a digital publishing company, an enormous element of our success is in social media outreach. We began the year with what can best be described as a “startup audience.” There were a handful of loyal and brave supporters, willing to support the idea that Stories Drive Impact before we even launched our first publishing product.
It’s therefore incredibly gratifying to announce that we more than quadrupled our social media reach through Facebook, Instagram, and Medium in the span of twelve months, thanks to working with Katie Stanton of The Good Lemon.
As you’ll read later on in this report, we beta-tested the theme for our second iteration story platform, with the hashtag #popupstorytelling, to great success through an exciting Instagram partnership. Our publication on Medium, Emerging (Stories), has steadily gained readership throughout the year by featuring thought leadership on topics ranging from mothers in business to innovations in social impact and Systems Entrepreneurship. Our Facebook feed has become a go-to destination for information on the company’s projects and professional activities, like livestreaming from SOCAP16. Occasionally, The Flyways makes waves on Twitter as well, such as participating in Rare Bird Chats with those collaborators that truly inspire us (see below).
Building Our First Story
Our first interactive story platform, The Story is Evolving..., was built in early 2016 to support a wonderful, magical book written by Chiara Condi entitled Guardians of the Sacred.
This subscription-based project enabled people to do two things simultaneously: actively engage with the author of a story by contributing creative works to it, and financially support a non-profit organization, Led By HER, of which Chiara is the Executive Director. The program helps women recovering from violence and trafficking with entrepreneurship development.
From the Led By HER website:
“Led By HER seeks to encourage women’s entrepreneurship by providing vulnerable women with access to the education and tools necessary to succeed in their projects.
Our courses, workshops and individual mentoring sessions together are designed to transform their talents, passions and experience into business competences that will enable them realize their full potential.”
How did we create such a cool interactive project? Our team built the website during the spring of 2016 and posted one chapter of Chiara’s book every two weeks, beginning with a product launch on June 1, 2016. We encouraged our audience to subscribe to the project, and once they had, they were given the opportunity to respond to social media prompts to add story elements such as illustrations.
Dozens of people were subscribed within the first few days of the launch, and hundreds more by the end of the first two months. By the time the final chapter went live, several thousand people had read Chiara’s book. The Flyways is donating 25% of all profits from the subscriptions to this story project to Led By HER’s entrepreneurship programs.
This interactive method of storytelling was the cornerstone of developing 2017’s Social Impact Story Publishing goals: building a super creative, second-generation storytelling platform for social impact projects that want to achieve epic goals. It’s a fabulous way to make sure the story about social impact is ABOUT all of us!
Follow up on this story:
We were so inspired by the success of this project to attract both creative contributions and financial support for Led By HER that we will be curating the best media pieces we received and creating a print and e-book version of Guardians of the Sacred in 2017. Copies will be available through The Flyways website and Amazon.
This is an absolute dream come true!
Made In L.A.: Local Food, Infinite Value
The last half of 2016 saw some huge partnership opportunities for The Flyways. One of these is with FoodHub.LA, a startup bringing a local, healthy, values-based food system to the people. Based in Los Angeles, the Food Hub is an innovative company doing amazing things. And we have their story!
This project is going to touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles residents in its first year, which will ripple out over generations to come. The Food Hub’s flagship facility will officially open in the fall of 2017. Here is a little snippet describing the process of creating a custom-build media platform for this exciting Food Justice initiative.
Love. Radical Love. Universal Radical Love.
Leah Garza had an immediate premonition that The Flyways was going to give her podcast, The Love Cast, a real home. Indeed, it was obvious from our end too that producing this podcast was a no-brainer. How could we possibly pass on the opportunity to give voice to the fundamental principle of social justice: love?
Over the course of 2016, Leah reached out to her interview subjects, in many cases cold-calling them and convincing them by the strength of her conviction to participate. The Flyways, in turn, provided the tools for publishing the recordings and the audience to hear them.
The first episode of Season One aired on Monday, November 28, 2016, and the final episode of Season One is scheduled to air on Monday, January 9, 2017. Season Two recordings will begin airing in the spring of 2017.
The Love Cast’s guests have included high school teacher Alejandro Trujillo (see below for more about Alejandro’s work with his students), Black womxn activist and university professor Dr. Amina Humphrey, Latinx body positive activist Gloria Lucas of Nalgona Positivity Pride, and prison reform advocate Sarah Ball.
The Love Cast is serving as the basis for teaching young people that radically loving themselves is the root of social justice...
That’s the question that Alejandro Trujillo, a high school history teacher, began to ask himself after speaking with Leah Garza for Episode One of The Love Cast.
Alejandro, who is head of the Social Studies program at a Los Angeles area charter school, has a class composed entirely of young people of color. Part of the year-long community project Alejandro oversees is to create outreach opportunities in the neighborhood around important issues such as healthcare, the school-to-prison pipeline, voting rights, and reducing sugary drink consumption in school.
This year, Alejandro and his students were inspired by The Love Cast to approach social justice with the lens of Radical Love. The students journal on a regular basis and listen to his interview with Leah to learn ways to shift perspectives. The kids have really been opening up to this, Alejandro says.
They are learning to truly love themselves as the first step in expecting the rest of society to love them too. That’s radical love.
2016 was rounded out by a fabulous project for Sandy Simmons, the creator of Bright Reality Entertainment. Our CEO met Sandy at SOCAP16 (which was also where we debuted #popupstorytelling), and it was immediately obvious that our two media companies needed to partner up.
The Flyways is working with Sandy to create custom-build media solutions, including the script for an upcoming OpEd piece about Bright Reality’s newest project, Redemption Stories. We’ve made a short story about the project and how it has been coming together. In 2017, this media partnership will grow to include more content and social media feeds, touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of potential audience members.
How We Pushed Beyond Our Limits
Yes, there was quite a bit of innovation going on around here.
First up: Creating an Innovation Lab framework.
What exactly are we trying to innovate? The political, social, and economic empowerment of women. This is one of the cornerstones of the social justice story The Flyways is telling. (We’ve got a ton of stories on Medium to prove it.)
The Innovation Lab framework has since grown to include multiple stakeholders and the collaboration of Rodham Consulting, based in Illinois, and the Womanity Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The foundation of the Innovation Lab began to take shape after a spirited Twitter chat with the creator of Secret Birds, Jo-Ann Hamilton:
How to Use Medium to Publish an Entire Book
In early 2016, our CEO used Medium to post, chapter by chapter, an e-book on the basics of Social Impact and Innovation. This will be the first in a series of thought leadership books on topics related to the roles of entrepreneurship and storytelling in the field of social justice.
Excerpt from Chapter One:
Social Impact and Innovation is near and dear to me. I grew up as an Empath whose heart was daily broken by witnessing inequity; I’m a passionate, driven person who longs to find the best target at which to lob all of this effort, and an integrator who wants to make the world better. Lofty goal? You bet- and often very nebulous and hard to explain. But it’s possible to create the foundation for making that goal a reality, without attracting the scornful glances of people who will tell you that you can’t change the world, because just who do you think you are?
Here’s the answer to that: we are Innovative Impact Engineers. We’re going to be walking through all of the steps to make this a part of your reality about yourself.
Read the entire book on Medium, beginning with Chapter One.
A Story Heard Around the World
Ayuma Michelle is a Leadership Coach from Nairobi, Kenya; she and CEO Hillary Strobel met as members of +Acumen Corps, a membership mastermind for highly engaged social impact practitioners. Read more about Ayuma’s leadership story from +Acumen’s blog.
2016 turned out to be a special year for developing relationships that cross experiences and geo-political borders. Ayuma and The Flyways have been building a program that will serve her leadership trainees-- girls and young women in Kenya-- by collecting and publishing their stories of struggle and triumph.
Each story will serve as a starting point for a global conversation around empathy, skills development, and cooperation in the face of adversity. The Flyways’ story platforms will facilitate the sharing of these experiences and cultivate the connection between girls and young women around the world. The program is known as Story Pods.
Each Story Pod represents the roar of a lioness; one roar can be heard for miles around. We look forward to hearing lionesses connecting to, supporting, and empowering each other across the globe in 2017.
I Shine, She Shines, We Shine!
If there’s something powerful I’ve experienced in the last two months, it’s got to be that of women working together.
Create, Collaborate, Share
The Flyways exists for facilitating collaborative storytelling as well as creating opportunities for collaborative social impact. This is the heart of our culture: Create, Collaborate, Share.
First, we want to thank our team for holding it down with The Story is Evolving... as we develop the second iteration of the platform. We began this sister website as a home for publishing Guardians of the Sacred by Chiara Condi, and as of the end of 2016, we are building the next incarnation to launch in early 2017: a place for individual storytellers (both fiction and non-fiction) as well as entrepreneurial brands to come and play in developing their unique story worlds.
As the name indicates, The Story is Evolving... platform provides a dynamic story-building environment. This serves individual storytellers who are eager to collaborate with other creatives on the development of story worlds, and it serves brands who are eager to co-create the story of their social impact directly with their customer base.
Collaboration is, in our opinion, the best and only way to operate as a business. To this end, in 2016 The Flyways became a participating partner in the Fabulous Fempreneurship Community, creating opportunities for up-and-coming women entrepreneurs to share experiences, learn from seasoned businesswomen, and complete time-bound projects like writing books of expertise (such as an e-book on Social Impact and Innovation!).
Indeed, the entire Flyways team works with favorite causes to make a positive social impact.
A few examples:
- Our CEO serves as a one-on-one mentor to several young women entrepreneurs, leading to the creation of a strategy mastermind for developing strong female leaders.
- Our Communications Lead works closely with the group The Africa of Things to “share knowledge and resources and partner to help African markets reach their ... potential.”
- Our Legal Advisor works with Force for Good, a social impact investing fund, designed to fund women- and people of color-owned, high-impact, “Best for the World” B Corporations.
We must give huge thanks to our outside media partnerships, allowing our social impact to grow so much in 2016. Our awesome friends at INDHE Community need a special shout-out for allowing us to take over their Instagram feed during our week at SOCAP16, where we debuted the #popupstorytelling project (look for a big “#popup” expansion in 2017!).
This year, we also need to thank SheOwnsIt.com for featuring our CEO as a regular contributor, and the Empower Women community for creating the Champions for Change program in partnership with UN Women. The Flyways will be actively participating in Empower Women’s fantastic social media project the #HerStory campaign in 2017.
Honey as Money:
What Comes Next
What will The Flyways be focused on in 2017?
Continuing 2016’s projects:
We will launch the second iteration of The Story is Evolving... in the first two months of 2017. Of course, we’re also putting Guardians of the Sacred out as a book!
Season Two of The Love Cast will go live in Spring 2017.
Expanding the Innovation Lab is an ongoing priority, of course!
We will continue to build specialty media solutions for the FoodHub.LA and Bright Reality Entertainment brands, and begin seeking out more brands to create custom media/storytelling packages.
New in 2017:
Breaking News! We’re in talks with the Womanity Foundation to publish the English language version of their book Bold and Beautiful: A Feminist Manifesto in 2017. This is some incredibly exciting news!
The Flyways will strengthen its collaboration with The Africa of Things, as this market is ideal for both Story Pods and the expansion of the Innovation Lab.
As a spin-off from The Love Cast, we’re bringing the stories of Alejandro Trujillo’s high school students to the world.
#socialimpactTuesdays is a weekly mastermind kaffeeklatsch hosted by Flyways CEO Hillary Strobel. Every Tuesday in the kaffeeklatsch, Hillary has an innovative and impactful conversation with guests who are changing the world in wild and wonderful ways.
Participants will be contributing to future Flyways story projects, which in turn contributes financially to social justice around the world. Recording for new episodes begins in January 2017.
The kaffeeklatsch podcast is in collaboration with LA+Acumen, the Los Angeles chapter of +Acumen.
The Flyways Team
We are extremely proud of our woman leaders!
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