Millenial Train Project – Interview

Millennial train Project

Lisa: I’m interviewing Patrick Dowd from The Millennial Train Project, the second journey of which will be starting out on March 16th from Los Angeles to Miami.  Tell me a tiny bit about the history, how you came up with the idea and, and a little about the essence and the vision.

MTP:   Sure.  The project originated in India, where I helped lead a similar project as a Fulbright Scholar which has become a really big sensation in India.   When I came back to United States I was working in investment banking in New York and when occupy Wall Street began I felt that the train journey concept might provide a platform for channeling people’s discontent .

I believe that journeys build leaders, which is important in every culture and is especially strong in India and I think it also resonate here in America, where this concept is central to our history. It provides a great platform for discourse and dialogue, something the internet really doesn’t do well enough.  It provides plenty of opportunities for people to get information but real dialogue and space for dialogue is essential for encouraging democracy as well.  So we are repurposing trains to provide that space on a transitional basis.

Lisa:  Fantastic. Love it.  So, it sounds like you’re addressing the fundamental issue of community, you’re addressing content, you’re addressing customization or individualization.  One of the other issues in education, and it’s kind of the big one, is Credentialing.  How will the participants translate their experience into something that is communicated to others and serves as a signal?

MTP:  Well, I think the key thing is experience and credibility comes with experience.  We’re giving people an opportunity to have a transformative experience giving them credibility and leadership skills at a young age.   Young people are often dismissed because they are depicted as not having enough experience or basis to speak or lead.  This idea of the pioneer’s journey offers real and direct experience.  And some really great connections that they’ll build with other people on the train and folks on the community as well as the people who have supported them through crowd funding.  They will have a network to advance their ideas beyond the train journey if that’s what they decide to do.  Alternatively, some participants may realize that their idea didn’t have as good legs as they initially thought.  And it’s not a lot of risk, cause it’s just ten days, so it’s not like you have to quit your job or drop up school to test your idea.

Lisa:  What does a typical day look like for the participants?

MTP:  We wake up at 6 a.m., eat breakfast, and we arrive in a new city at dawn almost every single day.  We’re ready to go at 6:30 a.m., when we head off to a local creative design studio or to hear from a local civic leader or innovator entrepreneur.  We want to understand the vision for the future of this city.   We want to hear where this place is headed, and be a part of that progress.  Then there’s six hours of free time where participants can go and advance their projects (which they had to crowd fund to get into the project.  Around 4 p.m. everyone comes back together and we do a debrief on the day and what we heard and discovered and experienced and learned about the city.  That’s really powerful moment in the day, because we get this kaleidoscopic view which is a much richer picture of a place than anyone would get on their own. 

Pickup here.

So, well, actually it’s interesting cause our host, who are the heads of these design studios and sort of labs, they always say: well, I can believe you’re just here for six hours, because I’ve been here for ten years and you just discover all these different facets of the city that took me of quite a well to recognize where the different things are. So, there’s that.

Then we get back on the train, we’re heading there, cooks start making dinner, we have a young chef who provision local ingredients so

Lisa: so he’s gonna do the shopping, right?

MTP: yeah, exactly, so dinner that night and then we’ll have two lectures from entrepreneurs who entering people from different fields and they come on the train and they lecture this class, it’s really a wonderful setting for listening and learning and quite inspiring as a countries goes invite you, and everybody turns up to those cause everybody wanna hear every speaking that night.

And then, after that, we just have dinner, there’s a lot of fellowship that has built through the meals on the train and everyone sits with someone different every night, and then that’s basically the end of the day around ten, 10 p.m. and we get up early the next morning, at 5:30, so, some people stay up but, that’s the typical day.

Lisa: great, and what does an applicant need to, what, what, what is available or successful applicant look like? You said, you told me yesterday how to crowd source themselves once is, one of the, having crowd source? $5,000 for their project, so that 5,000 goes to you or that 5,000 partly goes to you and partly goes to your project or

MTP: it goes entirely to empowering the train, and it covers about all the money that we crowd funders about 2/3 of the costs of the whole project, so, you know, we are just what the cost of participation actually is to just make it more accessible to people and using crowdfunding so we plan together crowdfunding to support and incorporate sponsorship so make the whole thing work. And, yeah, so that’s where that goes.

Lisa: and, so what besides having $5,000, what else has an applicant have to do to be successful and to be accepted?

MTP: Well, they need to put a concept for project that’s, you know, genuine and that’s basically it. It’s pretty obvious, we’ll have no problem, we only get good idea, because it’s fair amount of working commitment to do it, so people take its seriously they get the idea that they can learn through journey and

Lisa: and the crowdfunding cause less effort for you, cause basically people are gonna support it as probably crush into the top, is that the idea?

MTP: yeah, because the thing is their ideas are gonna get crowdfunding support doesn’t have to brought a peal. So we, the crowd, and admissions committee, we’re not disappointed at all, we’re really impressed of just letting, trusting the crowd to that

Lisa: so, once they’re raised the $5,000 how much money do they have to have to be able, you know, for the ten days, just whatever they wanna spend or not?

MTP: well, all the meals are covered and all the is covered so, I don’t think they really need

Lisa: not much

MTP: more money

Lisa: cool.

MTP: yeah

Lisa: okay, awesome. And how, and then, that’s it actually, that’s good

MTP: Okay

Lisa: yeah, awesome. Thanks so much.

MTP: sure.

Lisa: that’s good, I’ll send you the…did I just stopped it or not stopped it?