Posts tagged with "Fast Company"

BuzzFeed will pay creators of viral content up to $10,000 per post

June 16, 2021

BuzzFeed, the Internet kingpin of viral quizzes and meme-stuffed listicles, is testing a new way to gamify its content production, Fast Company reports.

The website, founded in 2006, earned Internet fame for its trending entertainment and celebrity news, clicky headlines, and library of unscientific quizzes promising to reveal such truths as your Harry Potter doppelgänger predicted from your favorite dessert foods, or whether or not you would be invited to the Met Gala based on an outfit crafted from the Asos clothing catalog.

To build its empire of content, BuzzFeed has long relied on an army of fan contributors—who create essays, lists, and quizzes free of charge via the BuzzFeed Community portal. In the past, it has doled out virtual “trophies” and “Internet points” to top content creators.

But now, for the first time, it’s offering  to pay these community members. Last week, it introduced a new programdubbed the BuzzFeed Summer Writers’ Challengethat offers payments of up to $10,000 per post for top creators, Fast Company reveals.

Users who publish posts that achieve a minimum number of page views between June 15 and August 15 will be compensated on a tiered scale, with payouts starting at $150 for stories with 150,000 views, and rising to $10,000 for stories that hit 4 million views.

Outsourcing content creation to the public is a business strategy that has been leveraged effectively by a number of publications in the past, including Forbes Media, which began paying all contributors in February 2018. That amount was whittled down a bit amid the coronavirus pandemic last year, with the current rate standing at $250 for those who author at least five posts per month as well as a half-cent bonus for every new reader a post generates.

BuzzFeed may be on to something similar: The company’s executive director of growth and trends, Peggy Wangtold AdWeek, “If we see positive effects from the challenge, it’s certainly likely that we could make the business case for extending this initiative, or bringing it back in other new forms.”

While the publication originated with a focus on viral content, in recent years it has invested in growing its investigative journalism unit and reporting hard-hitting news features. It won its first Pulitzer prize in 2021 for a series on Uyghur internment in China.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Nearly 200 companies join Time’s Up to reimagine the U.S. caregiving economy

May 24, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic revealed some alarming deficiencies in U.S. infrastructure—including caregiving policy. When schools across the country closed their doors, nearly 75 million children were suddenly stuck at home. And with quarantines limiting contact to close family members, the burden of caregiving was largely shouldered by mothers—over 2 million of them, many of whom were juggling full-time jobs, Fast Company reports.

But 24/7 motherhood is a full-time job, and that’s a lot to balance. According to a report from Harvard Business School, 33% of all U.S. employees have left a job during their career to handle a caregiving responsibility—a dire statistic backed up by the experience of families during the pandemic.

The National Women’s Law Center reported that women have lost more than three decades of progress in labor participation in just one year—and just the first month of the pandemic erased a decade of gains following the Great Recession.

In an effort to rewrite the story, the Washington, D.C.-based Time’s Up Foundation—which advocates for “safe, fair, and dignified work for women of all kinds”—is partnering with a coalition of nearly 200 companies to better support working caregivers. Major names include Spotify, Pixar, Levi Strauss, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, and Care.com.

Together they’re forming the Care Economy Business Council, with the goal of reshaping workplace practices and cultural norms that force women to choose between flourishing professionally and tending to family. Members will also advocate for public policy that offers federally funded family and medical leave and affordable child and elder care.

“Monolithic solutions built for a 9-5 era must be replaced with flexible care options accessible to all regardless of where, when or how a family lives and works,” Care.com CEO Tim Allen said in a statement. “More than [$11 trillion] of unpaid care work is done annually, primarily by women and women of color, and the lack of care solutions is driving them from the workforce. To stem that tide and fuel female workforce participation, the government and business communities must work together to drive the change we need.”

For businesses, Fast Company notes, it’s not just ideological; it’s a matter of cold, hard cash. During the pandemic, nearly 50% of manufacturing companies struggled to reassemble staff—whether furloughed or new hires—because workers had to stay home to watch their kids.

And when employees are denied caregiving benefits, employers pay hidden costs in turnover and absenteeism, impacting the broader economy. According to a Time’s Up report, a $77.5 billion annual investment in paid leave over 10 years would translate to 22.5 million new jobs and $220 billion in new economic activity.

“Sadly, we saw millions of women downshift their careers during the pandemic as daycares and schools were closed or disrupted,” Christy Pambianchi, the chief human resources officer at Verizon, said in a statement. “Together, we can build a brighter future with a caregiver framework that works for all and allows women to reach their full potential, personally and professionally. Because when women rise, so does the world.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

White Castle’s new designer uniforms include a doo-rag

April 16, 2021

When fast food forerunner White Castle asked its employees what they wanted in their newly redesigned uniforms, many asked for a doo-rag. So, the brand—famous for its hamburger sliders—commissioned the award-winning Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens to create one.

It’s the first time a fast-food chain has issued this hair accessory as part of its uniform, Fast Company reports.

Clemens first launched his label in 2005—making a name for himself with his androgynous garments and democratic approach to design, encapsulated by his tagline: “It’s not for you, it’s for everyone.” In 2017, Clemens won the top prize of $400,000 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the Vogue Fashion Fund, cementing his status as one of the country’s most significant designers.

This week, White Castle and Clemens unveiled the updated look as part of the burger joint’s 100th anniversary celebrations. For the occasion, photographer Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. captured employees wearing the outfits in an intimate portrait series that offers a glimpse into the their lives during the pandemic. Like much of Clemens’ work, the collection pushes the boundaries of inclusivity in fashion, making the case that fast-food workers—whose labor is wildly undervalued in the American market—deserve great design.

What’s more, Fast Company notes, Clemens has a longstanding relationship with White Castle. In 2015, while gearing up for New York Fashion Week, his after-party sponsor pulled out and his team rushed to find an alternative. They gave White Castle a call to see if the company might step in, partly because Clemens has always loved the chain.

Jamie Richardson, VP of marketing at White Castle, was on the other end of the line. “It was such an intriguing proposition,” he says. “We’re a family-owned company and didn’t have an enormous budget, but I suggested we have the after party at the White Castle on 8th Avenue in New York. He laughed, thinking I was joking.”

But Richardson wasn’t joking. On September 15, Clemens hosted an unforgettable party at the White Castle in Hell’s Kitchen, DJed by the cult musicians Joey LaBeija and Michael Magnan. There was a do-it-yourself bar, along with plenty of sliders. “The cool kids of New York showed up,” Richardson says. “I was there in my suit flicking the light switch up and down to create a disco.”

White Castle has used these uniforms ever since, but Clemens has made several updates. In 2018, he released a shirt with the word “family” on it and the year after, he released one that said “true.” Richardson says that White Castle updates its uniform every 18 months, which is typical in the fast-food sector, but he points out that brands usually takes this opportunity to highlight a new slogan or product. Rather than treating workers as a human billboard, White Castle worked with Clemens to make each update feel like a limited-edition drop.

The brand frequently surveys employees about the uniforms and these latest outfits reflect some of this feedback. Some said their aprons covered up their designer T-shirts, so White Castle asked Clemens to  create an apron that would complement the outfit. Others asked for a doo-rag, a quintessentially African American hair accessory originally worn by enslaved people in the 19th century that went on to become a fashion statement in the Black Power movement in the 1960s. He designed one in White Castle’s iconic royal blue.

Clemens also created a limited-edition collection sold through his own brand, featuring a mashup of White Castle’s and Telfar’s logos, with proceeds going to the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Liberty and Justice Fund, which provides bail to imprisoned minors.

One quarter of White Castle’s workforce has been with the company for over a decade and, since these uniforms launched, employee engagement scores have tracked upward. As Richardson tells Fast Company: “We wandered into this relationship, but we’ve found that it’s a rich, creative partnership.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

A family death can mean a nightmare of forms—but this app wants to help you through the process

April 13, 2021

When a loved one dies, there’s suddenly a long to-do list to slog through: You have to make the funeral arrangements, probate the will, and cancel services such as cable and internet—all under the heavy cloak of grief.

Indeed, 540 hours of work typically are required to settle a loved one’s estate—often with little help or support . But now, a new company called Empathy aims to guide people through those logistics, and also provide emotional support for their loss, reports Fast Company.

“Grief is made hard by logistics, and logistics are made even harder by grief,” says CEO Ron Gura, who cofounded the company with Yonatan Bergman, after meeting on-the-job at WeWork.

Now available in the United States on IOS and Android, Empathy serves as a digital companion for those dealing with a loss—part “Headspace for grief” and part “TurboTax for estate settlement,” Gura told Fast Company.

The app starts by asking users questions, such as their location, because states have varying probate laws; and religion, in case there are traditional arrangements of which the app needs to be aware.

Then, it guides the user down different paths—from Immediate Arrangements, to Searching for Documents, to Bills and Debt.

Throughout the estate-managing process, it can feel like you need to become an expert on all different laws and procedures. “You read about the rules in Florida and the rules in New York; what to do with five kids, what to do with one; with a will, without a will. We want to take that clutter away and only show you what is relevant to you,” Gura says.

“It’s almost like a second job, and it’s painful, it’s overwhelming, and you don’t know what to do first,” Gura says, noting that the hope is that Empathy can provide a one-stop way to complete all of those tasks. The platform breaks down each into different steps, and pre-fills or even automates some for you—like closing a Comcast account, or checking eligibility for veterans benefits.

“We can, with your permission, do a lot of the heavy lifting for you,” Gura says. “That’s the difference between sympathy, flowers, and condolences to empathy, technology, and services. Not just saying the right thing but actually taking some of it off your chest.”

Users can upload documents to Empathy’s “vault,” an encrypted drive on the cloud, and reach out to the Empathy helpline to ask questions or find a therapist, lawyer, or other service. Those answering the helpline have been trained by a legal and grief team, and the founders worked with not only software developers and product designers, but also estate lawyers and grief experts to create the Empathy platform.

The app is free for the first month, and then costs a one-time fee of $65. Gura says there are no added fees or extra charges that come up for completing tasks, and articles that outline different steps are also available online for free. “We’re trying to build a trustworthy brand in this nontrivial category,” he says. “The last thing we want to do is lose the trust and support from our families.” That one-time fee also lets users go through the estate process at their own pace, without worrying about a monthly charge. (It’s also deductible from the estate.) h.

The end-of-life industry has slowly started to become updated, with online platforms to help people write their own wills and companies focused on starting conversations about death and all the planning it needs.

Gura hopes Empathy can upend it even more, challenging the traditional market that, he says, “leaves a lot of families overcharged and overwhelmed,” by democratizing estate settlement and making it an easier process to go through. After a funeral, “eventually you’re home, looking at, say, your father’s desk, piles of paperwork, tedious tasks, a lot of bureaucracy—and at that moment, you’re alone,” he says. “We don’t want you to be alone.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Heads up! Mr. Potato Head is getting a rebrand for the 21st-century

Febraury 26, 2021

Next fall, you’re cordially invited to Mr. Potato Head’s wedding. He’s marrying his partner of many years, another Potato Head. And they promise it’s going to be the party of the year, with—you guessed it—plenty of spuds on the menu.

The Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based toy giant Hasbro is rebranding its iconic Mr. Potato Head toy by dropping the “Mr.” from the name, reports Fast Company.

On the surface, it may seem like a subtle shift, but it is designed to break away from traditional gender norms, particularly when it comes to creating Potato Head families—which is how toddlers frequently play with the toy, according to Hasbro’s research. But when the new brand is unveiled, kids will have a blank slate to create same-sex families or single-parent families. It’s a prime example of the way heritage toy brands are evolving to stay relevant in the 21st century.

Hasbro launched Mr. Potato Head in 1952 for the princely sum of $0.98 (or $10 in today’s currency). Back then, families had to supply their own real potato, which kids could then turn into little people thanks to plastic pieces in the box, such as hands, feet, and eyes, and accessories such as a pipe, and felt pieces that were meant to be mustaches.

The following year, Mrs. Potato Head launched with feminized accessories, such as hair bows and red high heels. The Potato Heads were the first toys to be marketed directly to kids, that strategy worked like gangbusters: More than one million kits were sold in the first year.

The enduring success of Potato Head comes down to its sheer silliness, Kimberly Boyd, an SVP and GM at Hasbro who works on the Potato Head brand told Fast Company. The idea of a potato person with an enormous mustache is universally hilarious, particularly to the sensibilities of small children. But after that initial laugh, Boyd says that kids continue to engage with the toy because it provides a canvas onto which they can project their own experiences.

“The sweet spot for the toy is two to three years old,” she says. “Kids like dressing up the toy, then playing out scenarios from their life. This often takes the form of creating little potato families, because they’re learning what it means to be in a family.”

Over the decades, the Potato Head brand has explicitly played into this tendency to create families. It has sold Mr. Potato Head family sets, with a male and a female character, along with smaller potato children. In 2012, Hasbro celebrated the 60th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head with a boxed set featuring the couple.

But eight years later, the brand wants to stop leaning so heavily into this traditional family structure. “Culture has evolved,” she says. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists—with the “Mr.” and “Mrs.”—is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

The brand’s solution is to drop the gendered honorific title altogether. This means the toys don’t impose a fixed notion of gender identity or expression, freeing kids to do whatever feels most natural to them: A girl potato might want to wear pants and a boy potato might wear earrings.

Hasbro also will sell boxed sets that don’t present a normative family structure. This approach is clever because it allows kids to project their own ideas about gender, sexuality, and family onto the toy, without necessarily offending parents that have more conservative notions about family.

Research contact: @FastCompany

A breakthrough face mask detects COVID

January 28, 2021

The greatest challenge of containing COVID-19 continues to be that a carrier can be contagious for two days before developing symptoms. It’s impossible to know whether you or those around you are sick at any given moment. By the time it’s become apparent, one infection could have spread to dozens of people.

But what if there were a way to monitor for the presence of COVID-19 where people go, all day, every day? And not by contact tracing in some smartphone app, but through an actual mechanism that can detect the presence of the coronavirus?

That’s just what Jesse Jokerst, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego, is developing, according to a report by Fast Company. Working under a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, his lab is testing what he calls a “smoke detector” for COVID-19.

The mechanism is a small blister pack—yes, like the disposable casing that holds pills—that attaches to any mask. It features a bit of tubing that collects the tiny droplets in your breath all day.

“Think about breathing on a cold windowpane,” Jokerst says. “Amplify that for eight hours, scrape it off, and put it in a tube. You’d be surprised how much liquid there is.”

After a day of collection, you squeeze the blister pack to crack it. The droplets mix with a pool of solution. That solution can detect a biomarker from COVID-19 (not the virus itself, but a protein that’s known to be present alongside it in saliva). If the biomarker is detected, the clear solution turns blue instantly. If it’s not, it turns scarlet. There’s nothing vague about the notification at all, and there is no wait time for your results.

The blister packs can be produced for a few cents apiece, meaning that they could literally be disposed of and worn anew every single day. But Jokerst doesn’t imagine the blister pack being used as a personal test so much as a tool for area surveillance.

“The value of the wearable is it’s also monitoring your environment,” Jokerst explains. “If you spit in a tube, you’re only testing yourself. If you’re breathing in and out . . . you sample not only your own saliva but your environment, too.”

In other words, Jokerst wants to turn people into walking COVID-19 detectors who, yes, could activate the strip if they are sick, but could activate the strip simply if they are breathing and walking through an infected environment. That means you wouldn’t use this strip at home. Instead, it could be worn by groups stuck together in confined places, like people in prison and essential workers in grocery stores. Hence the smoke alarm analogy.

“In a prison, every [guard] shift could do surveillance,” Jokerst says, noting they might spot COVID-19’s presence in various wards to isolate spread. “At the end of every shift they test . . . that sets the stage to stop an outbreak before it gets going.”

Unfortunately, the promising research is still being validated. By the time the paper is published later this year, Jokerst believes that the U.S. may have vaccinations under control, rendering his product (which he imagines would be produced by some yet-to-be-determined commercial partner) a bit less useful for our nation, notes Fast Company.

However, he notes that in the developing world, some projections have shown that COVID-19 may linger into 2023. And on top of that, Jokerst says that the biomarker he’s detecting has been part of the original SARS and MERS viruses as well. So while this mask-worn blister pack might not do much to quell the spread of SARS-CoV-2, Jokerst believes it is likely to work for “the next coronavirus.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

Wall-to-wall tomatoes: A state-of-the-art indoor farm is transforming Appalachia into an agricultural hub

January 20, 2021

Inside a sprawling new indoor farm near the small eastern Kentucky town of Morehead, a harvest of tomatoes—the first ever at the facility—is being readied to ship to grocery stores across the country, Fast Company reports.

For AppHarvest, the startup running the farm, it represents a key step in proving that the hydroponic model of agriculture—farming without soil—is sustainable and offers a way to bring new jobs to a region that has struggled as the coal industry collapsed.

The 2.76-million-square-foot facility, designed to grow as many as 45 million pounds of tomatoes in a year, uses far less land and water than traditional farms. (All of the water it does use is filtered from rainwater captured and stored on-site.)

It doesn’t require pesticides. Unlike some other indoor farms that use LEDs calibrated to make plants grow, it relies mostly on natural light, saving energy. And while tomatoes are often trucked to the Midwest and East Coast from California or Mexico, the central location in Kentucky can also shrink the carbon footprint of delivery.

“Our big picture thesis is that most all fruit and vegetable production at scale, globally, will end up being grown in a controlled environment,” founder and CEO Jonathan Webb told Fast Company. Agriculture faces multiple challenges. Climate change is leading to more drought, flooding, and extreme heat. At the same time, as the global population grows, demand is quickly growing. (

Soil is another challenge, as agriculture is now depleting fertile topsoil so quickly that it could be gone in 60 years. “When we talk about other extractive industries, the one thing we’re not talking enough about is what we’re extracting from our soils, and how badly we’re degrading those soils to a point to whether or not they’re fertile,” he says.

The startup spent 2020 building the facility as COVID-19 spread. “Six hundred semi-trucks of materials is what it took to build it out,” says Webb. “And we were shipping those materials around the world during a pandemic.” Because the company works in agriculture, it was allowed to keep working with suppliers even as various shutdowns happened. The first tomatoes were planted in late October and early November.

As the company begins to ship its first deliveries to grocery stores, it’s simultaneously building two more farms: another 60-plus-acre facility near Richmond, Kentucky, and a 15-acre indoor farm for leafy greens in the small city of Berea. It aims to add a dozen indoor farms in Kentucky and other parts of Appalachia by 2025.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Zoom, Peacock, and TikTok lead the fastest-growing brands of 2020

December11, 2020

While the pandemic has been anything but good for most U.S. businesses (think: restaurants, bars, air carriers, movie theaters, and gyms), some brand names actually saw rapid growth during the shutdown; as Americans relied on digital and vehicular delivery of food, prescriptions, cleaning products and masks, pet products, entertainment, and even business and casual meetings.

Now, Morning Consult has published its annual “Fastest Growing Brands” list, which it describes as “the definitive measure of brand growth for both emerging and established brands, showcasing a wide range of companies and products that have accelerated their consumer appeal and awareness in 2020.”

On this year’s list, the top spot was claimed by digital meetings provider  Zoom, Fast Company reports. No need to guess why, right? Surprisingly NBCUniversal’s fledgling video streaming service took the number-two spot. Less of a surprise was the brand that claimed the number-three honors: TikTok, a leading destination for short-form mobile video.

Morning Consult says that all the brands on this year’s list were shaped by changing consumer behavior resulting from the pandemic: “Nearly every brand that occupies a spot on the Fastest Growing Brands list is meaningfully connected to pandemic-related behavior, from at-home entertainment to cleaning products to pharmaceutical companies.”

The top 10 on Morning Consult’s fastest-growing brands of 2020 are:

  1. Zoom
  2. Peacock
  3. TikTok
  4. Instacart
  5. DoorDash
  6. HBO Max
  7. WhatsApp
  8. Microsoft Teams
  9. T Mobile
  10. Pfizer

You can check out the full list of brands here.

Research contact: @FastCompanyTop b

Airbnbee? This company rents you a beehive for your backyard

November 5, 2020

Across the Triangle in North Carolina—a region that includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill—at least 55 residents have voluntarily devoted a section of their backyards to bees. These residents aren’t beekeepers themselves, but pay a fee to Buddha Bee Apiary to host the hives, Fast Company reports.

For its part, Buddha Bee Apiary, based in Durham, installs each hive, visits monthly to inspect and care for the bees, and harvests the honey.

The honeybee population in the U.S. has been declining; beekeepers here lost 37% of their colonies in 2019—a matter of concern, experts say, because of how crucial these bees are to pollinating crops and wild plants. Beekeeping can help build that population (and even help wild bees) to pollinate your local flora, but can be expensive and time consuming to get into. That’s where Buddha Bee Apiary, founded in 2020 by Justin Maness, comes in, to bring the benefits of bees to people without them needing all the equipment or any knowledge of beekeeping.

Buddha Bee Apiary also harvests the honey, and the host gets half for his or her own family’s consumption and use. But Maness says that’s not the main draw. “There’s some folks who are interested in the honey and some who are not,” he says. “I think the real big value that people get out of it is the fact that they can get invested in the hive, learn more [about bees], and also know that they’re contributing back to something that’s going to be good for our environment.”

Before you can host a hive, an expert from Buddha Bee Apiary will assess your yard to see if it’s suitable for bees. The biggest needs, Maness says, are enough space for the two-by-three-foot hive and about an eight-foot low-traffic radius around it to give the bees some calm. Sunlight helps, too, because it can keep away a pest called the small hive beetle (it’s important that you don’t use mosquito sprays on your lawn).

Once a yard is hive-approved, Buddha Bee Apiary makes the installation an event—a “welcoming of the bees,” Maness says—telling the host to invite family and friends. Neighbors or friend groups have gone in on the $150-per-month fee for a hive together, too. Some of the hosts eventually want to take over the beekeeping duties, and Buddha Bee Apiary will help with that transition. Others don’t, but want their kids to be involved in the inspection; for those groups, the beekeeper will bring an extra protective jacket so they can get up close.

“Once people get invested into the bees, their health, and the hive as a whole, it’s interesting to see people take on projects of converting their yard,” Maness says. “Taking a green space and completely digging it up and planting wildflowers, or taking a list [of plants] that we send them and removing some of these plants so that they can put in plants that are pollinator-friendly.”

Grass lawns aren’t that environmentally friendly, since they’re a monoculture that requires a lot of care (and grass is pollinated by wind, not bees). A side effect of bringing beehives to backyards, Maness says, is that people have been transforming their grass yards into something more impactful for the environment.

The bees pollinate plants within a three-mile radius of their home. With 55 installations of 60 hives, and each hive home to about 45,000 bees, Maness estimates the company has helped install more than 2 million bees all over the region, Fast Company notes.

Buddha Bee Apiary isn’t the only company to do a host-a-hive program. Maness started the company after working with Bee Downtown, which installs and maintains beehives on corporate campuses in North Carolina. “It was amazing to experience this one-on-one interaction with people who have never had this experience with bees, and see their eyes light up and just be absolutely in awe at how beautiful the inner workings of a beehive are,” he says.

He wanted to bring that directly to people at their homes. Other beekeepers have done the same. Best Bees manages hives for both corporations and residential homes in Boston, Houston, Chicago, and other cities. Hive hosting also has taken off across Australia and in the U.K.

Research contact: @FastCompany

The strange story of the Southern town that Hollywood insiders are building from scratch

October 13, 2020

It’s not a studio set for a movie—but on a 235-acre location just outside Atlanta, a small town, retail businesses, parks, and a huge media production facility are going up rapidly, with funding and boots-on-the-ground support from U.S. and U.K. film insiders, Fast Company reports.

When the British film studio company Pinewood—located just outside London—opened a production facility in the suburbs of Atlanta in 2014; it framed the venture as a one-stop-shop alternative to the mature, but spatially fragmented, system in Hollywood.

With a high-tech media center, soundstages, offices, prop houses, and set builders all co-located, Pinewood Atlanta was a turnkey space for filming. An early relationship with Marvel Studios led to a steady stream of big-budget superhero movies such as Ant Man and Captain America: Civil War, and Pinewood Atlanta quickly became a contender in the film business.

But some of its local investors wanted it to be more than just a production facility. They wanted the entire business to have a place at the studios, with development of new shows happening where they’d eventually be filmed, and local workers able to easily commute to jobs on the site.

They broke ground on the town in 2018.

“Originally the idea of it was to do a mill town, a company town, which just meant get some housing here because people have got to live somewhere, and we want to make it convenient. And it grew into, if you’re going to build a town from scratch, what would you do?” says Rob Parker, president of what is now known as Trilith, a 235-acre town built within the 900-acre site of the studios.

According to Fast Company, Pinewood recently left the project, amiably, and the studio and town are now fully in the hands of local founders, who have accelerated Trilith’s development. Planned with New Urbanist design principles, Trilith is a dense, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use village, with a commercial town center, more than half of its area dedicated to green space and forest, and room for an eventual population of 5,000.

About 500 people are currently living in the town, which is planned to have a total of 1,400 townhomes, apartments, co-housing units, and 500-square-foot “microhomes.” Housing is available to rent or buy, and Trilith’s developers say it’s luring residents from within the film industry, as well as people from other walks of life.

The studio side, now  named Trilith Studios, is also being redeveloped, with new facilities geared toward more parts of  the business, such as development offices and space for tech companies. These spaces are intended to bring in new types of companies in addition to the 60 vendors already providing production and ancillary services to productions on-site. The town side feeds into this ecosystem, creating the kind of place where people can work on months-long productions or years-long TV series without feeling like they’re living out of a suitcase.

“Instead of just being a soundstage facility that you haul people to when you’re ready to shoot, it can be a place where the development team can live and work, or have a second home at,” says Frank Patterson, president and CEO of Trilith Studios. “In some cases we have producers and production managers and coordinators that are now just living here because there’s so many shows coming.”

“We’re not talking about some kind of fantasy nirvana,” says Parker, noting that residents include firefighters, schoolteachers, and pilots working out of nearby Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, as well as film industry professionals. “We’re talking about a real town, with the grit of a real town, the authenticity of a real town, all different housing types, all the way down to making sure all of your teams can afford to live here.”

How diverse the town ends up being remains to be seen as more of its homes and commercial properties come online. For now, it’s undeniably centered around film and TV production. Patterson, who’s worked in film since living in Hollywood in the 1980s, says Trilith is hoping to create a new kind of ecosystem for creative people to both work and live in, an industry town that’s as much about the town as it is about the industry.

“I know a lot of industries work this way, but it’s particular to the film industry that we like to make stuff together, we like to hang out together, we like to drink together, we like to raise our families together,” he says. “It just wouldn’t exist without the town.”

Research contact: @FastCompany