Welcome to another edition of #SummerSearcherMade -- a blog series to lift up our Summer Search students and alumni who are business-owners, leaders, entrepreneurs, activists, artists, and creatives!
Lawrence Phillips: Traveler, Engineer, & Entrepreneur
To describe Lawrence Phillips, Summer Search Boston alumnus, as having a passion for travel would be an understatement.
After graduating from Georgia Tech with an Engineering degree, he worked as a consultant, which allowed him to travel for both work and pleasure.
"I was using all those travel points and frequent flyer miles to go all over," Lawrence explains.
However, after a few years, Lawrence reevaluated his demanding professional pursuits and began prioritizing his well-being.
"My mental health is more important," he emphasizes. "I decided that I need to do something else. So, I left my job and traveled the world for a year."
In his epic travels, Lawrence visited more than 30 countries and all seven continents -- yes, even Antarctica - by the time he was 30!
Green Book Global
That's where the idea for Green Book Global, Lawrence's travel website, was sparked.
"I was taking a lot of time to plan for each city/destination, but I couldn't find one platform to plan everything, or find out things like what are the local favorites versus the touristy stuff. And honestly, as a Black traveler, I had to think to myself, 'would I be ok if I go here?'"
Lawrence's platform pays homage to the original Green Book -- written by Victor Hugo Green as a travel guide for African Americans in the United States during the Jim Crow era.
"My vision is to eliminate the concerns of every Black and Brown traveler and inspire them to confidently explore the world," Lawrence proudly states.
He continues, "Essentially, we are making a Black TripAdvisor with some unique twists. We provide comprehensive city guides with a custom rating tool where our users rate their overall experience of a destination. Each city has a score for Things To Do, Relaxation, Adventure, and even what it's like Traveling While Black. It helps Black travelers with recommendations so they can be prepared for anything. For non-Black travelers, it not only provides useful tips, but also honest accounts about the culture and environment of a location."
Lawrence is fostering a true community feel with Green Book Global. His website showcases more than 5,000 city reviews and lifts up the voices of Black travel writers. Plus, the Green Book Global Instagram account is a beautiful collection of #BlackTravel and #BlackJoy.
Check out the Green Book Global Black Travel & COVID Survey >>
"It's important for Black travelers to see themselves out in the world, which inspires other travelers," Lawrence reflects. "It's important for our mental health. Not just about getting a great photo."
That being said, there are some pretty amazing photos, too.
Planting the Travel Bug
Lawrence credits his experiences in Summer Search with "planting the travel bug" in him, as well as supporting the development of his self-confidence.
"I was a good student, but still wasn't confident. I didn't know what my options were for my future. When joining Summer Search, you have to be vulnerable to get in. The mentoring forced me to unravel what made me myself, to understand more about me."
His first summer experience was a hiking program with NOLS in Washington state. Lawrence reflects how that trip helped him appreciate where he came from, saying, "after hiking and sleeping in the woods, I think to myself, hey if I've got a toilet, I'm good!"
Plus, he felt his confidence grow after accomplishing something he had never done before, exclaiming, "I just did 90+ miles, what else you got?"
Today, besides growing Green Book Global, Lawrence is giving back to Summer Search through his involvement with the New York City Associate Board.
How Can Our Community Support?
In the spirit of empowering, uplifting, and keeping our Summer Search community connected, we asked Lawrence if there was anything that people in our network could do to support his work with Green Book Global.
"I would say our two biggest needs right now our awareness and sponsorship. When users get on to the site, they love the content but so many Black travelers do not know what we have built. So, any help in just getting more press exposure in travel publications (i.e. local publications, Conde Naste Traveler, Travel & Leisure) or Black publications (i.e. Black Enterprise, The Root) would be very helpful."
He adds, "Also, we are launching a cash back program in 2022 where we will actually pay users to leave reviews and allow them to earn cash if they book trips starting from our website. So, any sponsorship to help support this initiative would be great as well!"
We're grateful to have alumni like Lawrence who are using their incredible talents to innovate, inspire, and bring people together all over the world!
And if you're planning a trip, or want to leave a review of a city you visited, you know what to do!
Stay tuned for more #SummerSearcherMade stories.