Lebanon is known around the world for its hashish. In the Beqaa Valley farmers grow it with impunity, making millions of dollars a year. Backed by armed militiamen, the country's drug lords have became untouchable. Benjamin Zand visits one of the biggest drug lords, and finds out how the civil war in neighbouring Syria means the farms have been able to flourish. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Our next destination is Lebanon
- We film story ideas suggested by locals and via social media
- Our team has travelled across the US, Canada, Kenya, India and Russia.
- Watch our videos above and enjoy this behind-the-scenes blog
- Send comments or ideas to email@example.com or use @bbcpopup
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
Photos by BBC Pop Up's Maxim Lomakin
This week, we went to see an Islamic Sufi prayer ceremony known as Zikr, and found out more about its background in Russia.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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...
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
We've arrived in Moscow. What a beautiful city!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
This story was suggested by a Twitter user, who asked us to cover the music scene in Mumbai.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.