‘People • Place • Power’ Podcast Explores Big Questions

In January 2021, CC’s Creativity & Innovation officially launched the Student Seed Innovation Grant program, designed to provide grants of $3,000-$8,000 to empower students to investigate questions and solve real-world problems.

One of SSIG-funded projects, “People • Place • Power,” a new longform podcast that explores big questions about activism around the world, has launched its first episodes.
When longtime friends Benjamin Swift ’22 and Trisha Mukherjee (Columbia University ’21) were sent home due to COVID, they knew they wanted to make the most of their newfound free time and create something original. Because they met while traveling in South America during their gap years in 2016, they originally planned to create a travel podcast to virtually take people around the world during a time when most forms of travel were impossible. After innumerable iterations of ideas, however, they realized what interested them most about travel was not the traveling itself, but rather the activists that they met while traveling. Thus “People • Place • Power” was born.

The SSIG program, whose grants are donor-funded, seeks to be an idea accelerator by providing resources for students to be creative problem-solvers, embrace ambiguity, and iterate a project or idea forward. According to Swift and Mukherjee, the SSIG funding was foundational to moving their idea forward.

During the summer, they lived in New York City and worked on the podcast full-time, which would have been financially impossible without the support of SSIG. Living in New York not only allowed them to dedicate the necessary time to their project, but also to network with experienced radio producers in the area. The grant enabled them to purchase essential equipment and software, and place advertisements on other podcasts, which is essential in creating both a high-quality product and gaining listeners. 

In its first season, “People • Place • Power” will bring listeners stories about how activists from India to Haiti to Afghanistan to Oklahoma are reclaiming their power. In episode one, “Can Humor Heal?” comedian Adrianne Chalepah jokes about being Native in the U.S. to help her communities heal from the trauma, past and present, that the U.S. government has inflicted on Native people. The second episode, “We Are All Manorama’s Mothers,” chronicles Binalakshmi Nepram’s work to dismantle state-imposed violence in Northeastern India. The third episode, “An Accidental Activist,” brings listeners to the mountains of Colorado to learn how citizen scientist Billy Barr has fundamentally contributed to climate science — simply by observing the world around him. 

Other episodes will feature stories that explore how people question gender and sexuality in ultra-orthodox religious communities, how citizens can use online platforms to keep their representatives in check, and how music can be used to process police brutality. “People • Place • Power” will be releasing episodes every week, alternating primary episodes with shorter “Activist Chats,” a bonus series with short, candid conversations with activists about why they do what they do.

Report an issue - Last updated: 11/11/2021