Los Angeles Times Page One of "My Country" project on Instagram

First piece in the "My Country" project by Tyrone Beason, who is traveling a racially and politically divided nation for The Los Angeles Times.

It’s been just over two years since we wrote about Tyrone Beason, then a Seattle Times columnist who had fallen out of love with the city as its tech-fueled growth seemed to discard funk and character and anyone without hip money. Lots of hip money.

Beason had come to Seattle 25 years earlier, a Black man from the South who soon embraced the grit and progressiveness of a place that, for all that, was one of the least diverse in the country. Unsettled by his growing discomfort, Beason started walking the streets, smartphone in hand. He spent months posting images and reflections to his Instagram account and then, as he left to take a job at The Los Angeles Times, wrote an ambivalent farewell love letter to a rediscovered Seattle.

Storyboard’s interview with Beason probed those issues but also focused on what Beason, a dedicated print guy, learned about storytelling through the lens of his camera phone.

Tyrone Beason

Tyrone Beason

Those lessons clearly weren’t a one-and-done for Beason. I don’t know if he has the same phone (a Samsung Galaxy 8) or now has an updated phone or even a professional non-phone camera. But based on his new venture, he continues to see stories while moving and tells those stories through both words and pictures.

Beason’s work caught the attention of Kristen Hare at The Poynter Institute.  Hare’s piece is a short introduction to Beason’s latest project, “My Country,”  which launched earlier this month at The Los Angeles Times. His opening piece is graced with his photos and illustrations by Hannah Buckman. In it, he recounts the road trip he took to his origins in the South and then up to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. As Beason writes to open his journey and project:

I’d driven more than 600 miles from Charleston to Washington in search of what President Biden calls America’s “soul.”

Time and time again, I was forced to face the war raging in my own.

In the blurb that summarizes “My Country,” Beason writes this:

Join me as I explore the things that bind us, make sense of the things that tear us apart and search for signs of healing.

It’s a journey will be following, as much for what Beason continues to learn about his ambivalent love of the country as he does about storytelling. His Instagram account, @tyrone_california, seems to have become an essential tool.

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