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A Tiziano mentor (L) assists as Madara Krevica (R) interviews a prison camp survivor in Latvia. (Photograph courtesy Jon Vidar/The Tiziano Project)

Power to the People

Democratizing the internet, while paved with good intentions, often backfires.

Trust me. It was only a year ago in New York City when I had to wade through people my own age tweeting “Down with corporate greed!” on their iPhones, while munching on $12 kale chips and moving to the beat of a drum circle headed up by Kanye West.

But then, it tilts back – back to the good that can happen when people who have important things to say — to share — are given the tools to do it. Take, for instance, the huge role social media played in Cairo last year. Firsthand accounts from real people in the midst of the revolution were transmitted to billions of other people who were far away, in real time. No advertisers, no content parameters – stories.

Real stories — and that’s what we need more of.

Enter the L.A.-based Tiziano Project.

What are they all about? Providing people all around the world – namely those in conflict, post-conflict and areas ignored by mainstream media – with gear, training, and platforms to tell their own stories.

When you consider that 42 million people in the world have been forcibly uprooted from their homes and that YouTube reaches more than 100 million viewers, you begin to see the revolutionary potential of this idea.

Tiziano’s creed: “It is morally unacceptable to have YouTube and undocumented injustice in the world at the same point in human history.”

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Students in South L.A. edit a piece about their community's response to the Trayvon Martin case. (Photograph courtesy Jon Vidar/The Tiziano Project)

Unlike many organizations, Tiziano goes right into the – shall we say, spicy areas of the worldspicy areas of the world — from teaching basic journalism skills to people in Iraq, to teaching folks how to edit audio and video in post-war Rwanda… and countless countries in between.

That’s not all – Tiziano is also striving to reach people like you, like me, sitting at home. In their mind-bogglingly intense and impressive 360 Project, you can spend hours clicking on photos, videos, and first-person narratives about what going on around the world.

How good is it? It just got an grant from the Knight Foundation to expand, which is being used to develop StoriesFrom — where “citizen journalists will be able to build their own 360-like story walls,” explains Tiziano member Mara Abrams.

Simply put – everyone gets a platform.

And Tiziano will ensure that everyone has the know-how and support they need to report their stories, in real time, to the world, and improve their lives in the process.

Suddenly, the Instagram-ed photo of my lunch today seems slightly inconsequential.

Follow the Good Traveler’s adventures on Twitter @GoodTraveler and on Instagram @GoodTraveler.