Social entrepreneurs are hard at work every day to help the Atlanta community prosper, but often their hard work goes unnoticed. Content startup Gather Good is here to provide a megaphone for those entrepreneurs working behind the scenes and put their civic issues and solutions up front and center.
Kristyn Back, along with her co-founder Lara Wagner, is ready to highlight vibrant communities and the leaders making it better from within. “We are the neon green Echo Mic for people and causes creating vibrant communities throughout Atlanta, no matter what your day job looks like,” says Back.
From initiatives within the local art community and profiles on leaders at the helm of the city’s bike-friendly routes to how-to articles on how to get your hands dirty in your community, Gather Good is here to inspire you and get you involved.
Back shares more about Gather Good’s vision and how their coverage aims to encourage collaboration. It’s seriously good.
What is Gather Good and how did you get started?
Gather Good has been in the making for the better part of two years but was merely a thought preserved for reverie. The idea came front-of-mind after watching Hype’s then Editor-in-Chief (and my kindred spirit), Trish Whitlock, in the startup hustle painting a colorful narrative around the tech community. I remember thinking to myself, ‘this is exactly the type of publication the civic sector needs,’ but creating it was completely unfeasible with my full-time job. Much like the startup scene, working in the social sector is the not-so 9 to 5 struggle.
Not too far down the beaten path, I met Lara Wagner, my stunningly talented co-Founder, through a mutual friend of ours. Lara had a very similar vision and we met up for coffee at our go-to spot, Park Grounds. Being the millennials we are, we decided to accomplish more by collaborating and GG was born.
To play our own devil’s advocate for a minute, just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. So in the last year, we’ve talked to anyone willing to listen. Over the summer, we pulled the trigger on a survey and received raving optimism about creating a digital space for the social sector. To us, the dynamic of Gather Good lies within the audience we want to reach. We’ve met people who may not live and breathe the nonprofit life, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t civically involved.
In essence, GG is the source for all social good whether you’re the suit-wearing corporateer advocating for your local park, the program director working 70 hours per week, or the garage-band of the grassroots community.
What is your background?
Lara is a well-travelled bleeding heart who worked with high-performing, low-income teens for two years in Western Mongolia through the Peace Corps. She’s also a recent diploma-totter as an Emory graduate with a Master’s in Development Practice and the real first female president leading the charge at Skylight Consulting.
As for me, I’ve been the confetti queen celebrating victories in the tech sector for Hypepotamus as a part-time writer turned interim editor turned assistant editor turned part-time writer. I received my Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia State University in 2013 and a BS in Communication Studies from Ohio University back in 2009. I also managed life as a cheddar chaser aka fundraiser for both Park Pride and Kate’s Club.
Together, we are two rebels with a cause.
What do you hope to accomplish with Gather Good?
We hope to create meaningful impact in a few different ways. To start, connectivity isn’t always a strong point for the social sector. Not that people are unwilling to try, but it’s easy to stay heads down in the trenches of your own cause. Our hope is to build a central place for folks to connect whether they’re passionate about youth services, homelessness, animals, or the arts.
We also strive for collaboration. Maybe it’s the millennial blood coursing through our veins, but to us, it’s essential in order for the collective ‘we’ to make significant strides on the often-tasking civic issues we face. Our main purpose is storytelling, but it’s also about that call to action. We envision a platform that captivates readers enough to create an altruistic itch worth scratching whether they’re an armchair advocate or willing to get their hands dirty.
Do you have any competitors?
There are certainly well-known and respected publications like Creative Loafing and AJC who share stories on social good, but it’s not their main objective. They may pick up a piece about a cause or social entrepreneur, but oftentimes, readers already know who those folks are or what civic dish they’re serving. Undoubtedly, there will be overlap with some of our content, but we strive to go beyond the cut-and-dry angle of household favorites and also tell stories about the unknown activists with their boots on the ground.
What is your vision for GG?
The combination of being a startup in the social sector equates to the ultimate struggle but we are unabashedly optimistic. We definitely aspire to create enough momentum to monetize and not live life digging for change in our pockets. For now, our focus is on creating strong features and building our readership. We’ve got reoccurring content in the works that we’re eager to roll out. We’ve also started partnerships with folks like Community Bucket to highlight volunteerism. We don’t want to recreate the wheel if something already exists and shows sound participation. For us, that’s the perfect opportunity to join forces.
Long term, we’ve set our eyes on building out interactive maps, a bookcase of resources Beauty would envy, and an events calendar that goes beyond the black-tie ticket sales or the 5k everyone is lacing their sneakers up to run. But, to channel Bob Wiley for a minute, it’s all about “baby steps.” We’ve got to take our growth in stride with our current capacity. But hey, dreamers gotta dream and the sky’s just the start.
How does Atlanta shape your story?
Lara, being the true unicorn she is, hails from Atlanta. She’s an OG who lovingly owns that she’s from Virginia Highlands before it was ‘cool.’ Because of her homegrown roots, she is very well connected and effervescent about giving back to the city.
As an Ohio native (Go Bengals!), I moved here after undergrad for the sunny skies of opportunity. After experiencing the personal loss of my father when I was twelve, I yearned to help others the way my community did for me. I have wholeheartedly adopted Atlanta as my home. We have such a strong civic heartbeat that captivated me early on.
For both Lara and I, we want to be on the pulse of the city’s social good scene. No place is greater than the A in our hearts!