What is Proximate?

About Proximate

Who we are

Proximate is a nonprofit newsroom, launched in 2023, that covers movements for participatory problem-solving.

We produce journalism about emergent participatory models that act on the systems level to shift decision-making power to people with lived experience – those proximate to the problem.

Launched by the team behind the award-winning book Letting Go, Proximate covers trends in participation across philanthropy, impact investing, policymaking and beyond.

Why we exist

Since 2020, there have been a growing number of demands around participation.

today’s challenges are too complex for experts to resolve alone, and instead require partnership with communities who can bring their lived experience to bear. Around the world, people are increasingly demanding more accountability from institutions, and more voice in the decision-making processes that affect them.

These demands have evolved into several advocacy movements and coalesced around movement hubs, like Shift the Power, People Powered, and the Participatory Grantmaking Community of Practice.

However, these movements’ success is far from guaranteed. We are in a moment of retrenchment from promises made in 2020; DEI cliffs; and the abandonment of public pledge and commitments around participation.

What we do

Proximate is a media platform that covers movements for proximate problem-solving. Our mission is to build a coherent, engaging and unifying narrative around participatory problem-solving. Our vision is a world where systems are designed alongside people with lived experience of the problem at hand. 

We aim to publish substantive and thought-provoking articles that are rooted in facts, written in clear and simple language, and commissioned by a knowledgeable editorial team with the support of proximate writers and content stewards.

Our editorial direction is independent of any funder, nonprofit or partner relationship. We hold ourselves accountable to highlighting issues that matter, regardless of whether they belong to little-known grassroots organisations or big-name funders. We write about what has worked but also what has not. And we showcase big ideas even as we cover the functional how-to of participatory decision-making.

We are structured around three core verticals:

  • Grassroots Grantmaking - covering the movement for participatory philanthropy
  • Proximate Investing - covering the movement for participatory investing
  • Beyond Elections - covering the movement for participatory democracy

We also run place-based newsrooms that span across our verticals:

  • Proximate Brasil - focused on participatory problem-solving in Brasil
  • Proximate East Africa - focused on participatory problem-solving in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
  • Proximate Samip - focused on participatory problem-solving in India

Finally, we run thematic collections structured around a topic or theme, like Working It or Localizing Loss & Damage.

In addition to our journalism, Proximate is also a hub for virtual and in-person convenings that bring together advocates to discuss these movements.

How we operate

Proximate is fiscally sponsored by the Movement Strategy Center.

We are a co-stewarded media publication; we are driven by a wide number of people contributing in different ways. We have three centers of power that balance each other out, as explained in the Proximate Handbook:

  • Accountability CircleProximate does not have a traditional Board. Instead, we are governed under an accountability group that guides us on strategy, values and editorial direction.
  • Management Team – Proximate is managed by a backend Management Team that keeps the machine up-and-running. This team holds a number of responsibilities, including people ops, editorial process and resource mobilization.
  • Content Stewards – The core editorial work of Proximate Press is coordinated by our Content Stewards. These are individuals (or organizations) that work with Proximate to steward campaigns on a certain topic – defined by theme, geography, identity or a combination.

Our People

Team

Meg Massey

Co-Founder

Ben Wrobel

Co-Founder

Kevin McClendon

Co-Founder

Advisory Circle

Ada Williams Prince

Seattle, US

Laura Valencia

Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Diana Samarasan

Boston, US

Joana Ribeiro Mortari

Brasil/Canada

Anna Patton

Margate, UK

Vincent Mwangi

Nairobi, Kenya

Katy Love

San Francisco, US

Eshban Kwesiga

Kampala, Uganda

Zach Grossnickle

Seattle, US

Tamira Benitez

Washington, DC, US

Ross Baird

Virginia, US

Sadiyah Ajanaka

Detroit, US
Proximate
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