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Summary

  1. Our next destination is Lebanon
  2. We film story ideas suggested by locals and via social media
  3. Our team has travelled across the US, Canada, Kenya, India and Russia.
  4. Watch our videos above and enjoy this behind-the-scenes blog
  5. Send comments or ideas to bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk or use @bbcpopup

Live Reporting

By BBC Pop Up

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Gay, trans and illegal in Lebanon

Is a recent ruling a new dawn for LGBT rights in Lebanon?

Does a new ruling offer fresh hope for LGBT rights in Lebanon?

Homosexual sex is still technically illegal in Lebanon due to an article that prohibits sex against the “laws of nature”, but has a rare ruling in a recent case sparked a new future for the country’s LGBT community? Benjamin Zand finds out for BBC Pop Up.

This documentary idea was suggested by a number of you via social media, email and our online form. Your ideas are very important to us and we read all of them, so please keep sending them in.

BBC Pop Up is the BBC’s mobile bureau, we do documentaries based on your suggestions. You can get in contact with us about a story using bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk

We're going to Lebanon!

We'll be in Beirut for a month to make documentaries out of your ideas

BBC Pop Up is the BBC's mobile bureau. We make documentaries from stories you suggest.

We will be travelling to Lebanon this month to make documentaries out of the stories that you suggest.

We will be living and working in Beirut for four weeks and we are asking what stories you want us to tell about the country?

All our films are made from your suggestions - and if you live in Beirut, you can even help us make them.

You can submit your story ideas using the forms on this page. Or get in touch via email: bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk.

BBC Pop Up Lebanon

Here's how you can get involved

Benjamin Zand

Editor of BBC Pop Up

In February we will be travelling to Beirut for four weeks to tell the stories that you suggest. 

As always, we need your help.

We will be living and working in Lebanon for the whole month and we are asking what stories you want us to tell about the country? 

All our films are made from your suggestions - and if you live in Beirut, you can even help us make them. 

You can submit your story ideas using the forms on this page. Or by emailing bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk.

Goodbye dear friend, BBC Pop Up - from Matt Danzico

matt filming
BBC
Our team was filming in India this past spring

Hello BBC Poppers,

Thank you for watching this rather unusual BBC unit grow and transform over the past two years.

BBC Pop Up started in September of 2014 and has since been an on-again-off-again collection of video journalists in the company who come together to film your story ideas.

The group originated after a few BBC journalists helped create BBC Trending, a now full-fledged department that does the journalism behind trending topics on the internet. The idea behind Trending was and still is to use social media analytics to find a topic that is gaining momentum on Facebook or Twitter and do the journalism behind it before it became popular.

Pop Up was started for very similar reasons, to find stories being discussed that were still not yet caught by the media's radar. But instead of using social media analytics, we wanted to crowdsource story ideas from people from a specific geography to find out if journalists were missing specific topics that concerned or interested inhabitants of a region. Local journalism for a global audience, that was the idea.

Benjamin Zand and I carried out the first iteration of the programme through a six-month journey across the US and to six cities. We lived for a month in each, taught at local universities, had desks at local co-working spaces and tried to be fixtures of the town for 30 days — all while filming local story ideas for BBC World News at the company's website.

We’ve since been to Kenya, Canada, India and most recently Russia. What was originally called "the BBC’s travelling bureau” should have really be called its crowdsourcing unit. We’ve filmed dozens and dozens of viewer-submitted stories using creative and artistic treatments.

And it’s been a blast. We’ve found and filmed some truly fascinating stories, like our piece on a Russian orphan village outside of Moscow or our video on what it's like being black in India. And these great stories and process for gathering them is why BBC Pop Up will, with any luck, soon grow into a more permanent department in London. But more on that at a later date.

But with any great project, the goal is to see it fly off on its own and be self-sustaining. And that's what happening here. It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you I’m going to be leaving the BBC for another media company at the end of this month. But I am ecstatic that Benjamin Zand is coming back to take the helm at Pop Up. Pop Up will now become a more permanent fixture of the BBC.

I have no doubt he’s going to do amazing things, and with full-time staff no less! So stick around. There is going to be even more trips and great films coming your way. And if Pop Up lands in your hometown, say hello to Benjamin.

Until then, stay in touch with me on Twitter and other social media.

Adventures abound!

Matt Danzico

Banarasi sari-weavers are concerned about their future

Have hand-woven saris lost their value?

When we first announced our India visit on social media, Washington-based NJHillary suggested a story on the dying craft of weaving Banarasi saris. 

The saris hand-woved in the holy Indian city of Varanasi are world-famous - but when we went and met their creators, they shared how technology and cheaper alternatives are threatening their livelihood and the future of their craft. 

We also saw the weavers at work and here is a 360-degree view of them at work, spinning the handloom to produce Banarasi saris.

A photo tour of Moscow's underground

Moscow’s subway system was opened in 1935 and has since been heralded by many as one of the world’s most beautiful, with marble arches and statues dotting the complex underground network. 

Our team, BBC Pop Up, has been travelling across Russia the past month, filming story ideas suggested to us by viewers. Some of those finished short films can be found above.

During our last day in the country, we snapped some photos of the Moscow subway.

Our half-hour special on Russia airs around the world this Saturday and Sunday (10-11 Sept) on BBC World News television and in the UK on BBC News Channel. See those links for local listings.

Novokuznetskaya station
BBC
Forty-four of the 200 stations on the subway system are considered cultural heritage sites. Novokuznetskaya station is pictured above.
Subway car in Moscow
BBC
The system is also one of the world’s busiest, having seen more than two billion rides in 2014.
A subway station wall
BBC
Early designs of Moscow's metro were submitted to the city in 1902. But uprisings, political revolutions and WWI delayed the project.
A train station in
BBC
Stalin ordered British engineers, who had worked on the project, be arrested and deported. It was thought that the workers had gained too much information about the metro system. Teatralnaya station is pictured above.
A woman holding her dog
BBC
Moscow is expanding the metro network, adding an expected 90 miles (144km) by 2020.
A moscow subway entrance
BBC
A mosaic on the ceiling
BBC
Mosaics are a common type of artwork found throughout Moscow’s stations.
A mosaic on a station ceiling
BBC
The Soviet Sky is a collection of more than 30 mosaics on the ceiling of Mayakovskava station.
A train pulling into a Moscow station
BBC
Like other cities around the world, subway stations in Moscow were transformed into bomb shelters during WWII.
Novokuznetskaya station
BBC
Novokuznetskaya station, which sits in the centre of Moscow, was opened in 1943 and is decorated with ornaments honouring Soviet fighters.
painted sheep bones
BBC
While visiting the Altai village in Siberia featured in our most recent video, we were shown a children's game that involves painted sheep bones.

A glimpse at life in an Altai village in Siberia

The Altai people - who live in the Altai Republic in southern Siberia - are one of the hundreds of ethnic groups in Russia. They have been part of the region for 300 years.

We went to visit an Altai woman, Baba Tasya, to talk about her work and the Altai relationship with nature.

Our crew was in Russia for a month, filming stories suggested to us by viewers. This particular story was suggested by a viewer on Twitter.

Moscow's skyline
BBC

BBC Pop Up Russia is finishing up. We turned a half dozen of your ideas into stories for the BBC. And we'll release two more short films in the next two weeks.

Our team will also have a half hour special running several times this weekend on BBC World News television, beginning on 10 September.

Thank you for all your Russia-related story ideas! Stay tuned. More to come.

Journey to the Altai Mountains

baba Tasya
BBC
We met Baba Tasya and spent two days with her at her home

We have been asked by several viewers to show the ethnic diversity of Russia. So we journeyed to the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia a few days ago to make a short film on the Altai people. This group stretches into Mongolia, and in some villages people still live a traditional way of life. 

Story coming soon.

baba tasya
BBC
Baba Tasya taught us how to soften sheepskin
breakfast at baba tasya's house
BBC
We filmed Baba Tasya making breakfast from scratch using grains from her land

Welcome to my 'dacha commune'

We noticed something rather peculiar after arriving in Moscow, Russia. The city empties out on the weekend. We mean, really empties out. 

So where does everyone go? Luckily, Yvonne Wehrer recommended we take a look into dachas.

We put this rather unique video together for her.

Welcome to the curious world of Russian dachas.

Passengers on Russian rail talk US politics

We travelled across Russia via the Trans-Siberian Railway and asked fellow passengers about what they thought about the US presidential election - and the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Faces of the Trans-Siberian

We spent more than 50 hours travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway last week. And at some point along our journey, we got to thinking: "Who are the other passengers on this train and what brought them here?"

boris
BBC
Meet Boris. Boris is a military veteran from Satka, a town that sits near the geographical divide between Europe and Asia. His young grandson is going to school for the first time in a town a few hours away, and Boris wants to be there to see it. The 67-year-old now works as head of occupational safety and health at his company.
marina
BBC
Marina is a translator living in Melbourne, Australia. She was born in Russia but moved to Australia in 1958. She and her husband are now searching for her relatives across Russia. The couple also run a Russian Orthodox Church in Melbourne.
nikolas
BBC
Nikolas is an ice skater. He's just finished a competition and is travelling with his team from Krasnoyarsk, the third largest city in Siberia, to the formerly closed city of Chelyabinsk, located just east of the Ural Mountains.
aleksey and irina
BBC
Aleksey and Irina are ice skaters on Nikolas' team and are also travelling to Krasnoyarsk.
urly
BBC
Uriy is a retired engineer from Miass, just 100 kilometres west of Chelyabinsk. He spends his time these days painting. His art is currently hanging in galleries in 12 cities across Russia. He's on the train today because he's visiting relatives in Irkutsk.
vladimir
BBC
Vladimir builds and repairs computers in Novosibirsk, a city in Siberia known for science and technology. He is travelling back home after a work trip to Omsk, a city of more than a million in southwestern Siberia.
elena
BBC
Elena is from Kurgan, a former fortress town that originally served as a frontier post. She's travelling today with her son to Tomsk, where her son recently began studying at the local university.
egor
BBC
Egor is Elena's son. He begins medical school on 1 September and is "very excited".

Photos by BBC Pop Up's Maxim Lomakin

Zikr - prayer on the move in a Moscow mosque

This week, we went to see an Islamic Sufi prayer ceremony known as Zikr, and found out more about its background in Russia.

Chatting train philosophy

stewardess on the train
BBC

We just arrived at our destination this morning after a 31-hour trip onboard the Trans-Siberian Railway. At some point during our journey, our team asked the stewardess onboard our train what some of the crazier experiences have been on the railway. Her thoughtful reply was one that I think many journalists can relate to.

"You know we do such a job that one thing covers the other. You come home and remember everything and worry and tell your relatives everything, your mother, daughter and everyone. You go on another journey and the other story is wiped away. It fades away. If we had a routine job, you go to work and something happens, and you remember it your whole life. Here, every experience covers over the old one, so things don’t really stick in my mind."

We also spoke to some of our fellow travellers about US politics.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'Orphan village' helps Russia rethink fostering

Russia has long struggled with overcrowded children's housing and a large number of orphans in need of homes, due in part to continued changes in government during the past many years.

These challenges were further brought to the country's attention when in 2012, after years of international adoptions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on Americans adopting Russian orphans.

But for more than a decade, a small orphan village south of Moscow has been experimenting with what the founders think may be a novel solution to support both foster children and the families who take them in.

And now the Russian government is also pitching in financially to help support this experimental community.

We visited the Orion community village to film this story after receiving an email from a viewer asking us to looking into adoption and foster care.

Do you have a story you've always wanted filmed about Russia? Send your story ideas to us via Twitter using #bbcpopup or by email at bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk.

Dacha invite

This weekend we filmed a piece on dachas, a story which was recommended to us by a dozen or so viewers. Dachas are Russian country homes. To say they are hugely popular is a gross understatement. It seemed as if all of Moscow was in the countryside this past weekend at these traditional homes. 

We were told traffic is part of the experience. Story to come...

man holding children
BBC
the dacha
BBC
inside a dacha
BBC
people hanging out outside a dacha
BBC
traffic jam
BBC
A car flipped over
BBC
Dashboard cameras are commonplace in Russia. And there are good reasons why. We spotted this flipped car on an ordinary city street in Moscow at 6am.

Yesterday's shoot

We visited a Russian orphan village yesterday for a story suggested by a viewer on adoption and foster parenting. Below are some of the raw stills from our video shoot.

A child stands with a shield
bbc
Many of the children come from Moscow, a two-hour drive away, and are brought here by the organisation's head "to get back to nature"
two kids standing
BBC
During our shoot, the children were playing a game that tasked them with building forts out of found wood
a child climbing a fort
BBC
The kids often come from abandoned or abused homes in the city and are brought here to live
kids playing cards
BBC
The day we visited, there were around 100 kids on the property, some of whom were just visiting for a weekend camp
Kids playing cards in a Russian children's village
BBC
The children are pictured here taking a break from building forts by playing the card game Uno

What stories do Russians want to see?

We journeyed around Moscow, collecting one last batch of story ideas for our trip across Russia. 

Do you have a story you've always wanted filmed in Russia? Get involved with our team now through our website and send your story ideas to us via Twitter using #bbcpopup or by email at bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk.

Meet-up in Russia

Members of the meet-up in Moscow
BBC

Last night we held a meet-up in a venue in downtown Moscow, where we asked residents to think up stories they'd like us to cover while here in Russia. Some of those ideas ranged from a look at families separated by the conflict in Ukraine to a piece on nightlife in Moscow to a profile of a local psychologist.

But another intriguing part of the night involved screened a short film we made in rural Kenya for our new Russian friends. It was fascinating to bring those we've met around the world face to face for the first time.

People listen in at the BBC meet-up
BBC
bbc pop up meet-up group
BBC
Participants of the meet-up spent the evening watching past films and suggesting new story ideas for Pop Up Russia

Wheels down: Russia

A cab driver holing a welcome to Russia sign
BBC

We've arrived in Moscow. What a beautiful city!

Our team is working this month with Moscow-based producer Emma Wells and Russian video journalist Max Lomakin. You can expect a heap of fascinating and beautiful stories from these two.

Red Square in Moscow
BBC

It's day one in our new home, which typically means that it's time to comb through the story ideas you've sent us. We've received well over 100 suggestions from around the world, pointing us towards stories to cover in Russia.

The ones we're researching this morning include children's homes, mushroom picking, dacha culture and end-of-life cancer treatment. So we've started with quite a range of different ideas.

Remember, we'll be in Russia throughout the month, travelling by train to Novosibirsk and back. If there are any stories along this route that you'd like us to chase, please  get in touch using hashtag #bbcpopup or via email at bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk.

The train route between Moscow and Novosibirsk
Google

We're off to Russia

BBC Pop Up wants your Russia story ideas

Russia is our next stop! Our team of Russian, British and American video journalists are excited to film story ideas suggested by our audience. If you have a story you'd like filmed, please get in touch via Twitter or by email at bbcpopup@bbc.co.uk.

Where are we going next?

We'll announce our next stop in the coming days. In the meantime, here's a hint: this nation has quite a few statues of animals in public parks. One specific statue is of a rodent wearing glasses.

Any ideas what country we're referring to? Tell us on Twitter.

rat
iStock

The tattoos of India's former tribal headhunters

What is to become of the ancient tattoos headhunters in India once received?

For the former headhunting tribes of northeast India, tattoos were given using thorns and ink. These intricate and painful marks were symbols of each kill, given to the warriors by the women of the village. But now the tradition is vanishing as young people move away from the practice.

After this suggestion came up during our town meeting in Delhi, we travelled to the state of Nagaland and went on a 15-hour road trip across the state with tattoo artist Mo Naga to a village to meet a former headhunter.

Pusutsa, an 85-year-old former headhunter from Sangtam tribe, northeast India
BBC
Pusutsu, an 85-year-old former headhunter from Sangtam tribe, says he has "taken three heads"

Will Indians visit the US if Trump wins the White House?

BBC Pop Up asked Indians if they'd visit the US under a Donald Trump presidency.

What do locals from Delhi think of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's controversial statements on immigration? We hit the streets to ask if Indians would visit the US if Trump becomes president. Here's what we were told.

Tales from the rails in India

BBC Pop Up: Tales from the rails in India

On a train journey in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, our fellow passengers told us the perks of travelling on the country's extensive rail network.

Rapper spits Hindi lyrics to connect with all Indians

We shot a music video and interview with Mumbai rapper Divine

This story was suggested by a Twitter user, who asked us to cover the music scene in Mumbai.

We went where only film stars win elections

In India's Tamil Nadu state, film stars dominate the political arena

During BBC Pop Up's first week in India, we received hundreds of story ideas from different parts of the country - but we were lacking more suggestions from the south of India. So we decided to put a call out on social media.

Plotting which of your stories we'll tackle. We still need South India suggestions! bit.ly/bbcindiastories

Plotting which of your stories we'll tackle. We still need South India suggestions! bit.ly/bbcindiastories

Thankfully, it drew a huge response and we found one idea that seemed to keep coming up - the link between films and politics in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

At a time when reality TV star-turned-politician Donald Trump is bidding for a US presidential nomination, former film stars have been ruling Tamil Nadu for nearly five decades. Why are these celebrities becoming successful political leaders in the state? Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey travelled to the city of Chennai during the ongoing busy election season and here's what they found out.

BBC Pop Up attended a rally by incumbent Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayaram Jayalalitha
BBC
BBC Pop Up attended a rally by incumbent Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayaram Jayalalitha
Former film star Kushboo Sundar is now a member of the Congress party
BBC
Former film star and current member of the Indian National Congress party Kushboo Sundar

When we were sent on a dare to a "cursed" temple

The legendary temple is in India's western state of Rajasthan

"If you look over your shoulder, you turn into stone."

According to local legend, this is what happens to any visitor to the Kiradu temple in Barmer, Rajasthan, who stays at the temple after sunset. Would we be willing to go and check the place and the "curse" out ourselves, asked a student in our Delhi town meeting.

From transgender issues to people turning to stone, #Delhi students had great story ideas. bit.ly/bbcindiastories

After some hemming and hawing, Vikas Pandey and Christian Parkinson volunteered to take up this challenge on behalf of the Pop Up team. And off they went on a road trip to Barmer in Rajasthan. 

Pop Up's Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey before sunset at the Kiradu temple in Rajasthan
BBC
Pop Up's Christian Parkinson and Vikas Pandey before sunset at the Kiradu temple in Rajasthan

They met the chief of the village who still believed in the legend - but also met a local official who was worried because the legend was driving away tourists. He wanted Pop Up to disprove the "curse" so that tourism would develop in the area.

What happened in the end? Thankfully, Vikas and Christian made it out of there post-sunset without turning into stone - but not before a minor scare from a squawking peacock.

A dare led @imagejunkies & @BBCVikas to stay after sunset at a "cursed" temple in Rajasthan: bit.ly/bbctemplechall…amp.twimg.com/v/a856f654-9f9…

How lack of water is affecting marital prospects in rural India

Why is drought in India leaving some villages full of single men?

In our town meetings in Delhi, the ongoing drought crisis in the country was a story several people felt very strongly about. One member in the audience shared how in Bundelkhand, one of the hardest-hit regions, men were struggling to find wives who would marry them and move to the place. Why? Because in most households in rural India, the responsibility of fetching the water rests with the women.

Coping with lack of water in everyday life is a topic that resonated with Pop Up chief Matt Danzico, who is from California which has been in the midst of a long drought. But how does it affect lives in rural India? This question took Matt, Shalu Yadav and Neha Sharma 400 miles away from Delhi to a village of 5,000 residents - Gopipur in Chitrakoot district in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Women collecting buckets of water in Gopipur village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
BBC
Women collecting buckets of water in Gopipur village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
Drive four hours south from Varanasi, and you might find a small well that sustains life for 5k people. #bbcpopup

Drive four hours south from Varanasi, and you might find a small well that sustains life for 5k people. #bbcpopup

There, we met Shyama, who had married and moved to the village 15 years ago. She laughed when she heard about the drought problem in California - Shyama and other women in her village walk for five miles twice a day to fetch water. She told us of her body aches, and how her hair was thinning due to carrying heavy buckets on her head. "Don't get married and come here," that's Shyama's advice to the women back in her hometown.

Those are not empty words. About 80 percent of the men in Gopipur are unmarried due to lack of water. As a man in the village puts it: "Who would give their daughter to this village?"

The drought, according to the Indian government, is affecting at least 330 million Indians - and this water crisis is having surprising social consequences.