Daniel Island resident Earl Bridges is a self-proclaimed “philanthropologist” — a term he coined to describe a person who studies the behaviors, characteristics, and pursuits of those who participate in philanthropy.
He’s the producer and co-host of a raw, edgy, and inspiring docu-series, “The Good Road,” airing on PBS. Locally, SCETV will carry the series beginning Sunday, May 3 at 5 p.m. The show follows two best friend's who travel to little-known pockets around the globe while uncovering stories of extreme philanthropy. According to
Bridges, “The Good Road” focuses on the messy business of global charity and melds travel, adventure, and doing good deeds with a dash of the unexpected.
In “The Good Road,” Bridges and his childhood friend, Craig Martin, set their sights on Thailand, Myanmar, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Alabama to report on some of the world’s greatest challenges. Their first season takes them to border camps for refugees, third world neonatal intensive care units, and fully armed anti-poaching teams. Layers of community, culture, and compassion are uncovered in each of the four, one-hour episodes.
Bridges moved to Daniel Island in 2000 and began working for Blackbaud. A career opportunity for his wife, a pharmaceutical representative for veterinarians, brought their family to the area.
“After spending several years in the nonprofit software industry, I started my own company, Good Done Great,” he said. “We managed the ‘workplace giving’ programs (grants, volunteerism, matching gifts, etc.) for some of the largest brands in the world (Nike, Whole Foods, AIG, Home Depot, Toyota, etc. — 60 total companies with around 3 million employees). I was trying to find a way to engage this large employee client base to be interested in causes around the world, and to engage with the charities as well as give/volunteer themselves.”
Bridges grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, as the son of a U.S. Air Force pilot and missionary. When he was 9 years old, he met Craig Martin, who became a filmmaker. Bridges invited his childhood friend on a trip to Nepal, Myanmar and Vietnam, with a goal in mind: to fix storytelling around social impact and nonprofits.
“We felt that most media done by charities felt agenda-driven, and therefore no one watched them,” explained Bridges. “Craig and I were inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s style, and landed on a formula of extreme travel meets doing good.”
The duo chose to distribute the show through PBS so they could have creative control and maintain ownership of the content.
Back at home, Bridges supports Metanoia, a charity directed by Rev. Bill Stanfield that invests in neighborhood assets to promote leadership and economic development.
“It is a faith-based ministry in an impoverished section of Charleston (around the Cherokee/Chicora neighborhoods),” he said. “Bill has lived in the community for over a decade, and he and his charity are deeply rooted in that work. But it is not hard for me to be interested in most work where people are putting their backs and hearts into helping others.”
for air times, episode previews, and to view a trailer of the series.