All Aboard the Innovation Express: The Millenial Trains Project

Get on board with a whole a trainload of millennial college students who have just settled into a an antiques coach in San Francisco called the Millennial Trains Project. I call it the “Innovation Express.”


Join these milllenials as they tour the innovative edge of the changemaking celebration on The Millennial Train Project as it tours the US. Watch and see how these aspiring innovators respond to this Express innovative adventure!

“Dreaming and Scheming” on the Innovation Express!
“‘Last call for the Innovation Express!” The conductor’s voice echoed through the station on a sunny San Francisco morning in 2013, and twenty-five millennials began boarding a vintage 1950s train complete with a domed observation car, an elegant dining car, and sleeping cars.

The Millennial Trains Project, a nonprofit organization supported through crowdfunding and other contributions, is one of the most imaginative expressions of the new changemaking celebration. What I found most fascinating about this trip—the first in a series of transcontinental train trips with the same function—was its design as an innovation incubator on wheels. The twenty-five millennial passengers were selected on the basis of their current and potential work as social innovators. Each Millennial Train stops in seven key cities to visit new expressions of social innovation in the United States.


The train also serves to create a space for learning and invention, as key entrepreneurs and innovation leaders are invited to mentor their younger counterparts in their new ventures, some of whom were already at work creating new innovations, while the rest brought creative possibilities to work on during their trip.

Remember that the millennials—those born between 1981 and 1997—are the first generation of “digital natives.” (Excerpt from Live Like You Give a Damn: Join the Changemaking Celebration)  As we have seen they tend to be more globally aware. They care about the well-being of the igniting our imaginations.

They care about the workers who make their clothes. They also they care about issues of racial justice, social justice, and environmental stewardship. Not surprisingly, the passengers on this Millennial Train trip were eager to learn about innovative ways to use their lives to work for change.

The train stopped in strategic cities that are experiencing a resurgence of entrepreneurship and innovation. For example, in Omaha, the innovation has primarily been driven by creative leaders who have purchased rundown warehouses and converted them into workable, livable spaces. In Denver, the Downtown Denver Partnership is creating hubs for startups with the intention of making the city the number one destination for young entrepreneurs in America.

Listen to the insights of a sampling of the millennials who were a part of this first transcontinental venture: “We created a community that valued creativity, curiosity, collaboration, and introspection and we pushed each other to push our ideas further,” Travis Korte reported. Web Barr expressed surprise: “What I thought would be a cool trip across the U.S. by train was so much more. It was an incredible way to learn about the intersection of innovation, community space, entrepreneurship and philanthropy.” And Autumn Carter added, “I felt like a part of a community and network that believe in the vision of this generation.”


Several of these young innovators actually gave birth to new forms of changemaking during their cross-country journey: “Daniella Uslan . . . met with local food purveyors to understand how they recycle their food waste and subsequently launched a social enterprise to repackage and sell salvageable food waste. Jenny Gottstein used a fictional zombie apocalypse as a framework for disaster preparedness training.”

Doesn’t this innovative train journey whet you appetite to join the millennial generation and become more a part of this changemaking celebration…maybe without Zombie apocalypse disaster preparedness training?

Tell us about how you are creating new forms of changemaking and churchmaking so we can all join your changemaking your celebration!