In October 2014, at the invitation of U.S. Consulate Toronto, activist blogger Lucy Gao joined the Sharing-Economy Media Tour organized by the Department of State’s Washington Press Center. During this 10-day reporting tour Gao and her cohorts spanned the United States, traveling to New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco. She participated in on-the-record meetings with entrepreneurs, prominent sharing-economy enterprises, members of the academic community, and local and state government officials. Through these meetings Gao deepened her understanding of the sharing economy and its critical role in both the U.S. and global economies. Tour members also visited U.S.-based companies that represent the vanguard of the sharing economy, both in the United States and abroad. Gao tweeted resolutely from her meetings and blogged boisterously about the companies on her group’s itinerary. She talked at length about the New York Fiscal Policy Institute, where she and her colleagues engaged Institute members in an exciting, educational discussion about how the sharing economy affects the job market, unions, and the labor force. Gao said she had learned valuable lessons from visits to companies such as Meetup, Zappos, TechCrunch and Uber.
Upon her return to Canada, Lucy published a series of blog articles on Collaborative Consumption, describing the companies and cities she visited in the United States. She collaborated with several websites and companies to publish her articles, and looked for other ways as well to share the knowledge she acquired during the tour. The Press Center’s well-wrought media tour sharpened Gao’s interest in the sharing economy, whetting her appetite for a deeper experience of this burgeoning business field. Gao even quit her job in Canada and joined a ride-sharing company called BlaBlaCar — in Paris, no less. “I just wanted to thank you again for all your help and support,” Gao said to the Public Affairs team at the U.S. Consulate Toronto. “The trip definitely helped me meet some incredible people, companies, and made me realize that the sharing-economy field is where I want to be.” Cultural exchanges bring change – often dramatic change. Just ask Lucy Gao. Best of luck to her as she moves on to new adventures in Paris.
This story was taken from the July 2015 edition of the U.S. Mission to Canada Alumni Newsletter. To view it, please click here.