About Atlas Workshops: The Traveling Journalist

Atlas Workshops’ co-founder John Hrabe spends his time traveling the world as a freelance journalist. In the past two years, he’s interviewed South Korean officials about the landmark US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. He’s chatted with a Member of Parliament about how technology is transforming campaigns in the United Kingdom. And he’s toured Bangkok with a former national police chief, who is working to clean up Thailand’s notoriously corrupt politics.

Sunset from a Container Ship

A sunset from John’s trip aboard a container ship.

You’ll usually find John on some form of transportation— plane, train, or even a container ship.

“When I boarded the ship in Brussels last December, the German captain asked me if I was crazy,” Hrabe recalled. “The captain laughed, ‘I don’t know where to go, this way or that way, the whole North Atlantic is stormy.’”

While he doesn’t recommend a transatlantic voyage in winter, John sees parallels between the experience and the uncertainty facing, what he believes is, a lost generation.

“For fifty years, the deal has been simple: Go to college, get a stable job, buy a house and then retire with the gold watch,” Hrabe said. “That playbook for life won’t work for a generation that is unemployed, underwater on their mortgage and unable to escape massive student loan debt.”

John believes that his generation needs to take more risks, increase its global competence and embrace the flexibility offered by new technology. That’s what sparked his interest in Atlas Workshops.

“We need more international programs that engage students in global affairs,” Hrabe said. “There’s more to the world than just museums and monuments.”

Much like his transportation choices, John’s education has been unconventional.  After dropping out of high school at the age of fourteen, he enrolled at Moorpark College, where he racked up general education credits. John helped pay for the $11 per unit tuition with his job at the school’s cafeteria.

Eventually, John transferred to Cal State Long Beach, where he also competed in speech and debate. In his senior year, John and his debate partner were ranked the top parliamentary debate team in the country.

After graduation, John moved to Sacramento and worked in the State Capitol as a legislative aide. He also spent time working at the state’s tax agency, before going back to graduate school at the London School of Economics and University of Southern California.

When he isn’t on an international flight, John writes about state and national politics forCalWatchdog.com, FlashReport.org, Huffington Post and the editorial pages of the Orange County Register. John’s most recent high-profile investigation uncovered the questionable labor practices of Goodwill Industries, the nonprofit organization famous for its secondhand clothing stores.

John believes that Atlas Workshops will replace traditional summer sight-seeing with research trips focused on contemporary global issues.