What is Parallels?

Parallels is a project created to address a few major issues in the world and do our small part to help correct them: the rise of xenophobia, the narrowing of viewpoints resulting in accelerating polarization, the vanishing of cultural history, and the decline in literature in general. 

There is quite a lot to unpack here, but the hope is that this project can help address each of these issues in some small part. This will be done through a variety of media: original short stories, travel writing, featured works of worldwide artists, podcasts, novels, and audiobooks, among many other ideas.

Foundational pillars


Denounce racism and xenophobia

Xenophobia, racism, and even underrepresentation are all systemically being brought to light in the new digital age. These issues span millenia, but with global communication exponentially accelerating our interconnectedness, the cracks in our pristine self-image are beginning to show. Pockets of previously dormant and malignant hatred and misunderstanding are rising to the surface, their leaders finding followers and radicalizing them in echo chambers. A huge source of these misguided beliefs lies in a lack of exposure to the people the beliefs are aimed at, perpetuating an idea of the “faceless other” as opposed to seeing them as real people with authentic struggles, desires, and emotions. 

Furthermore, privilege and the lack thereof must be recognized and addressed. Posts on this issue are forthcoming, but it is top of mind as this project coalesces into form.

In order to help build up the dam against the toxic floodwater, we must humanize, illuminate, and share the rich history of the world’s people. For each “those people” uttered blindly, we must expose human struggles or triumphs. For each “don’t go there” said from atop a well-worn couch, an on-the-ground report about the magic and wonder of a city or country can shed light on the dark corners of a xenophobic mental map. We can weaken these narrow opinions by emphasizing commonalities and the humanity that exists in all people. The world is a kaleidoscope of human trials and emotions, each unique and yet much more familiar than can be seen from great distances.

Preserve cultural history

Every forty days, on average, one language is spoken for the last time in its existence. History, culture, and stories are being paved over by mass media output and consumption at a similar or even greater rate. 

A pillar of the Parallels mission is to uncover these hidden stories, forgotten culture, and lesser-shared history. We aim to not only preserve them, but to highlight them as a part of our collective world culture.

Highlight the untold

The homogenization of mass-market media has created several formulas that are repeated ad-infinitum to great commercial success. The suburban family sitcom, the police procedural, the courtroom drama; staples of the modern media landscape to the point of appearing as carbon copies, each iteration slightly more blurry than the last.

Additionally, the aggrandization of the police, the military, and armed groups in general, have become all too commonplace. We take a very peaceful stance at Parallels and find that these organizations overwhelmingly don’t promote those values, despite sometimes claiming to protect those very things. Media involving these subjects will not be featured on this platform unless we feel that it is being realistically portrayed and is valuable to share.

Rekindle a love of literature

The only reason to write a novel in the modern age is as an exercise in self-flagellation, for all you will find is agony and empty pockets. A thousand recent quotes parrot this idea. Literature has been declared effectively dead; the money is gone, the reader’s attention focused elsewhere. Yet as I watch the great sea pull back and reveal a barren beachside where once a plentiful ocean of words resided, I see a new intrepid beachgoer emerge and take a tentative step out towards the fresh horizon. Then another. In this age of snapshot digital stimuli and rapid-cut films, I’ve noticed a pushback beginning to form, an ever so slight flow in the literary tidewaters. Some people have become overstimulated with rapid-fire quick-consumption content, and crave deeper and more insightful work. There may yet be a place in this world for the layered, the complex, and the slow-burn. At least an audience is beginning to reemerge. But, that doesn’t put food on the table, which in turn doesn’t incentivize would-be authors to try their hand at longer-form writing. 

Here is where Parallels comes in. This project will experiment with many forms of monetization and incentivization in an effort to test the digital oceans, to find out what works in an equitable and ethical way for both the readers and the content producers. At the moment, almost nobody is willing to pay for journalism, deep content, or anything not bound in paperback with a famous person’s name plastered to the outside. But, this new audience proves that there are people out there who crave more. Despite the current landscape, there is room for a solution that can foster growth in this space and help create a new digital storytelling field.

So please, follow, share, and support this journey as we endeavor to address these issues in hopefully authentic and engaging media. Welcome to Parallels.

Cory Hess
Traveler and a creative. I'm currently on an open-ended journey around the world, meeting interesting and authentic people while running Parallels.
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