An NBA Team With A Kind Voice

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A Kind Voice on Sports was honored to talk with Dan Mahoney, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations with the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team. In his interview with host Demetrius Means, Dan shared the remarkable story of Lorelei Decker and her victory in her battle with cancer. Please click here to read the full story of how she has been inspired by the Oklahoma City Thunder and how she has inspired them. You don’t want to miss the very touching video at the bottom of the story.

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He also discussed the wonderful community of Oklahoma City and their special relationship with the team. To spite being the third smallest market in the NBA, their season ticket sales and renewals are among the highest in the league. The organization is never satisfied with where they are and is always trying to get better. As a community Oklahoma City has been through a lot of disasters, which have helped bring the community closer together.

What jumped out at me, during the interview is his desire to get every detail right and give credit to others. When discussing the Lorelei Decker story, Dan was quick to point out that all the other NBA teams do great work and talked about the NBA Cares program. As we work to tell the stories of people and organizations doing positive work, we have invited other professional sports teams to come on our program and tell us about how they help in their community. A few have accepted our invitation, but the Thunder was the first. If you listen to the interview (below) you will hear an authentic kind voice who is part of an amazing organization that is a source of positive energy both on and off the court.

Thanks to Dan Mahoney and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

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The Alchemy of Kindness

Alchemy is to separate and to join together. Alchemists combined common metals into gold. The transmutation of common metals into gold symbolized evolution from an imperfect state towards a perfect state. At A Kind Voice we believe in the Alchemy of Kindness. Two strangers joining in a conversation, with the intention of sharing and being kind to the other are practicing the Alchemy of Kindness.

Alchemy is turning common metals into gold. Kindness on Russian Dashboard Cameras contains examples of people who responded to the odd shaped circumstances life offers us, with the kindness in their hearts and created something better than gold.

 

If there was an Anthem that captured the spirit of The Alchemy of Kindness this would be it.

It is inspiring how one lone kind voice can transform an entire arena into a beautiful symphony of kind voices. Using the kindness in our hearts to connect with strangers in their moment of need, large or small, could have an amazing impact on that moment as well as a ripple effect impacting future moments.

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The Alchemy of Kindness
 

 

Games

Games are played for fun and the challenge of doing our best. The processes used by games, such as Scrabble, can be transplanted into other endeavors making those endeavors more fun and efficient. In Scrabble the objective of each turn is to take the random letters on your tray and create a word that connects with the pattern on the Scrabble board in a way that scores the most points.

The tiles on each player’s tray can be metaphor for the thoughts and energy that live inside him or her. Each day we try to connect those thoughts and energy with other patterns, say business patterns, just as the Scrabble players try to connect his tiles with the pattern on Scrabble board.
 
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By connecting with a business pattern we get dollars instead of points. Learning new skills places higher valued tiles on our trays, that when connected with a business patterns will get us more money. More lucrative businesses leverage our energy, as placing ones tiles on a triple word score multiples ones points in Scrabble. IBM’s Serious Games uses processes found in games to make businesses more efficient.

At A Kind Voice we are creating a kind of Scrabble board. The shared experiences of movies, books, sports, music, etc… create a common frame of reference for people to connect their tiles with. Volunteers available to discuss personal issues or experiences also create a place for those who need to talk, to connect with. Our game has been designed to create a bridge allowing callers to connect with a pattern of hope, love and kind energy.

It also has the randomness of some of our favorite games. A call can connect a school teacher in Portland with a construction worker in Albuquerque. Speaking with a stranger from a different place, can be both fun and a good learning experience.

When people connect to share the kindness in their heart, no individual scores need to be kept as the objective is to create community prosperity, so that everyone who plays wins. Each call fulfills our mission of making the world a kinder, more connected place, one conversation at a time.

A Kind Voice is just getting started, each conversation, radio program, song created, piece of social media content shared, is helping to create a web of kind voices. The end game is for there to be a kind voice will be available whenever and wherever one is needed.
 

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Travels with Charley

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Travels with Charley was one of John Steinbeck’s final novels. It’s about a journey he made across America with his dog named Charley in a vehicle called Rocinante, named after Don Quixote’s horse. He wanted to see America first hand, so he could write from experience. He aimed to “tell the small diagnostic truths which are the foundations of the larger truth.”

His journey starts in New York, heads up to Maine, then West to Washington State. He is a master story teller, telling us of the colorful people he met along the way, brilliantly mixing interesting conversation with insightful narration. It is a warm book, with some humor mixed in.
 
One of the most thought provoking sections of the book occurs in New Orleans. He arrived there during the Fall of 1960 to attend a demonstration against Ruby Bridges, a six year old girl who was courageously becoming the first African American to attend an all white elementary school in the South. He was sickened by the hateful words and actions during the demonstration, but would “not let illness blind me after I came so far to look and to hear”.

He acknowledged that there are many haters in the world, but asked “Where were the others?” and concluded “I don’t know where they were. Perhaps they felt as helpless as I did, but they left New Orleans misrepresented to the world. The crowd, no doubt rushed home to see themselves on television, and what they saw went out all over the world, unchallenged by the other things I know are there.”
 
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Writing so beautifully in the America of 1960, was his way of challenging the hatred, that was left unchallenged on that day in New Orleans. His words inspired some of the other things he “knew were there” to materialize.
 
His words continue to inspire today and are one of the inspirations for starting A Kind Voice. His question, ‘Where were the others?’, can be extracted from the circumstance he was writing about and placed into the circumstances many of us encounter in our everyday lives.
 
At A Kind Voice we share stories about people using their kind voice to make our world a kinder, more connected place, one act at a time. We share these stories to honor those who lived them and to inspire others to use their stories as source material, to create their own stories.

 

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John Steinbeck and his Travels with Charlie are there for all to read. Rocinante and some of the authentic articles from their journey are in a museum. His thoughts, their journey, live on and continue to inspire new stories. The story of A Kind Voice is one of the living stories their journey has inspired. We hope that you join us on this journey.

 
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A Kind Voice Conversation with Dug Feltch, Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes

On November 12th, A Kind Voice Radio talked to Dug Feltch, one of the master puppeteers at Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes. Dug uses his kind voice, creativity, and imagination to bring joy to kids of all ages. Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes has been in operation since 1963. Over time, Bob has created more than 1000 puppets in exquisite detail. Puppetry is not just work… it’s a passion. Dug and Bob work countless hours crafting puppets just to put smiles on children’s faces. But that’s not the only thing they do. They also spend time planning elaborate performances that involve singing, dancing, and acting. Dug feels these elements are important and just as valid as ‘legitimate’ theater; they are authentic platforms for people to express themselves.

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Before a performance, Dug talks warmly to the audience. Bob and Dug are genuinely interested in every person they meet. They also take the audience through the journey of puppet-making. It isn’t a dry presentation. Just like one of their performances, they infuse a lot of life and involve everyone in it. They also encourage active participation from the audience; most notably, they want the audience to use their imagination. At the end, there’s also a chance to take pictures and look at some of their puppets up close and personal.

Imagination, creativity, and genuine living are the biggest takeaways from their performances. They are genuinely interested in living beings, and nothing can substitute that. Admittedly, Dug is not big on technology. Although technology has made our lives easier– and in some ways more connected– we have disconnected in other ways. Some people substitute online activity for social lives; they abhor activities like going to a live performance, or socializing in person. Dug encourages people to get out, talk to one another, and experience life.

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Dug and Bob strive to create awareness about puppetry and theater arts. They dedicate their lives to the art of puppetry so future generations can enjoy. Dug shares more about his hopes and dreams with us during a high-spirited conversation.

 

 

A Kind Voice Conversation with Abby Guyer, Children’s Cancer Association

On November 5th, A Kind Voice talked to Abby Guyer, the Vice President of Brand for the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA). Abby uses her kind voice to raise awareness of the various programs and events of the CCA. The CCA focuses on the transformative moments for the children’s cancer. They want the children to experience a momentous life, no matter how long they have to live.They use music and friendship to create high-impact moments of joy. CCA differs greatly from other cancer organizations: while some strive to find a cure for cancer, CCA lives in the moment. It is all about creating joy in the present.

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CCA has three staple programs. One is Chemo Pal, a program that provides kids with compassionate adult mentors to accompany them on treatments. To acknowledge the diversity in our country, the mentors includes bilingual individuals. Chemo Pal volunteers often become members of the families; they are often included in graduation celebrations. Abby feels that kindness motivates them to volunteer.

Another staple program is Caring Cabin, a getaway from hospital stays. It provides children and teens in treatment, along with families, with a place to rest, relax, and create special moments outside of the hospital environment. It is a holistic space focused on creating connections with each other.

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The third program is MyMusicRx. MyMusicRx is comprised of specialists that play music for hospitalized children, to reduce stress and anxiety. It uses the healing force of music. One of its many services is Song Prescriptions, an on-camera interview with kids to talk about songs that bring them comfort. One of MyMusicRx’s biggest events of the year is Bedstock, an online music festival featuring bands performing in bed to show solidarity with kids hospitalized during the holidays, for Giving Tuesday. Bedstock raises money and awareness for MyMusicRx and its no-cost music programs for hospitalized kids across the United States.

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The CCA strives to give terminally ill children and their families respite. Abby shares that one goal for CCA is be recognized as Best Practice in Pediatrics Health Care Settings across the countries and around the world. She shares more about the future of CCA during with us.

 

 

A Kind Voice Conversation with Cathy King

On October 29th, A Kind Voice talked with Cathy King, founder of Canines With A Cause. Cathy uses her kind voice to connect and heal veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with shelter dogs. Before creating Canines With A Cause, Cathy worked in animal rescue for 20 years; she always looked for ways to save dogs in high-kill shelters. She found it disturbing that 3-4 million dogs a year were being euthanized. She views Canines With A Cause as a ‘Match.com’ for pets; where they can find their forever home with humans.

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Pets can certainly enhance people’s lives, especially those who are suffering. The average person can not tell who suffers from PTSD because it is often invisible. Veterans may be out in public and begin to have an episode. The specially-trained dogs can help move veterans to a safer public space by licking their faces and bringing them into the present. The dogs can help them connect with their feelings and manage their day-to-day activities.

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Canines With A Cause is unique because its help is threefold: it saves the lives of the veterans, dogs, and prisoners. Women inmates in Utah train the dogs. This opportunity gives them responsible roles and a chance to feel redeemed. This can be therapeutic especially if the women can not see their own loved ones: they nurture and give love to the dogs, and the dogs love them back. It can be a very enriching experience; the inmates are giving back and feel better about themselves. There is a lot less fighting in the prisons and more smiling since ‘Penitentiary Pups’ have been adopted.

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Sometimes, the most loving thing someone can do is to be there for others. Most living beings yearn for connection, and compassion goes a long way. In 2016, Canines With A Cause launched a new program called Pals With Paws, which places trained dogs with children suffering from long-term illnesses. Cathy candidly shares more about her programs and vision with us.

 

 

Play Well Africa: Giving Underprivileged Children the Gift of Childhood

Dolls, action figures, teddy bears… these things all seem like an integral part of your life when you’re a kid. However, not all children have the means or even know what they are. In some parts of the world, some children are destitute. Most of the time, toys are not a factor in developing countries. Yes, there are basic needs to be met, like food, shelter, and medical… but what about play?

Play Well Africa fills that need. It’s mission is twofold: to recycle used Legos by donating them to children in Uganda so they can play. Recently, Dennis Hong, CEO of Play Well Africa talked with us about the organization’s mission.

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AKV: Why is there a need for Play Well Africa?

DH: There is a big deficiency for kids in Africa. There are very important items going to Africa like clothes, clean food, water, etc. But one thing that is not going to Africa is toys. Children are playing with toys made out of mud. A tin can is a toy to them. There was a stick with a torn piece of fabric on it. They’re playing with whatever they have on hand. So having toys like Legos over there helps the kids’ creative minds; they play with something tangible.

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AKV: There are a lot of organizations that are in existence that address the basic needs. That’s what makes Play Well Africa different: most people don’t really think about playing being a critical part of childhood.

DH: It’s really important. There is a lot for kids to develop at a young age. They need to develop their minds for education, creative thought… everything.

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AKV: On your website, it says that “Lego is a language.” Could you go into more detail as to how Lego is a language? What do we understand by playing with Legos?

DH: Well…maybe it’s not so much a language like English than it is a good communication tool. It’s easy to communicate with the kids. These toys are very intuitive. It doesn’t make a difference whether they’re live in the United States, Africa, or Europe. Kids understand how to play with these toys. It’s a shared interest.

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AKV: How do the children benefit from playing with Legos?

DH: They’re using more of their creative minds. Kids want to play. Play is beneficial for kids. It’s a very social thing… a lot of kids play with them together. They look forward to it.

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AKV: Do you have any stories about toys built with the Play Well Africa’s Legos?

DH: Kids build what they see… they build what they see around them. So one of the things that the kids would build is a cellphone tower. One kid built a house, just like the ones in the village. The way this Lego house was built, the roof wasn’t straight– it was built like housing they see in their world. It’s interesting. With Lego bricks, you can make perfect right angles. But they don’t see that… they don’t know stuff like that. It’s just building, just putting the Legos together, so they’re trying to understand what to do with them. First you have to teach the kids a little bit. Most kids build with the bumpy sides up. But they put the bumpy sides down and build it that way. They understood how it worked… it just interesting how they thought the opposite.

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AKV: Will Play Well Africa plan an exhibition to showcase the children’s creations?

DH: I’d like to do that at one point. It would be nice to bring some of this stuff from Africa back to show what these kids are doing with them. It’s something that we’d have to plan. I’d even like to bring back some of the toys they played with– like a mud car– and show people this is what they play with before Legos came in. One thing that excites me is one of the kids now inspires to be an engineer. Now kids there have a goal. That inspires me too.

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AKV: What are some of the biggest challenges that Play Well Africa faces?

DH: The biggest challenge we face are getting funds, getting donations. It is really expensive to get the Legos to Africa. Shipping UPS, 50 pounds of Legos to Uganda is $1200. So our biggest thing is expenses– getting Legos over there. Our biggest challenge is getting money just to operate what goes on. We also need a storage place to store Legos, and that takes money. We have to process, store, and get them ready to go to Africa. Getting Legos is one of the easiest things to do. I think for any nonprofit, it’s securing funds.

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AKV: What are you learning during your time with Play Well Africa?

DH: That there are a lot of challenges. There’s just a lot stuff that I’m learning as I’m going about charities and with business. Charities are a bit of a different animal, so there’s a learning curve to operating it. I’m starting to understand that finding the right people to put a good team together is essential. I’m learning I can’t do it all… which I feel like I’m trying to do but is not very effective. So I’m starting to let go of the other stuff and distribute it out. One thing I did learn is there are a lot of generous people out there. People really want to help. It’s good to be in a realm where you see that.

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AKV: In what ways has Play Well Africa made you a better person?

DH: It brings out the better in me. I just want to help people. It fosters compassion… I just don’t want to help Play Well Africa, I want to help other people surrounding me too. It brings out the philanthropist in me, I guess. There’s a little girl who is our new ambassador. She motivates me because she’s done so much already as a 10 year old, probably more than I’ve done in my lifetime. I get inspired from other people. Right now kids inspire me. There’s a lot of good to be done out there. There’s more things I want provide…and donate my time to.

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AKV: How will you take what you have learned with Play Well Africa and pay it forward?

DH: It gets me going a little bit more. I want to help more people. I’m glad to be with people that give up a lot of their time to help with something they believe in. Being with Play Well Africa, I now have the mindset of trying to help because I believe that’s more important. What I learned in my short time with Play Well Africa is to be more mindful, and also try to help people.

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AKV: Any final thoughts you want to share us?

DH: If you like, help Play Well Africa. If not, go out and do something just as impactful in your community. Help your neighbor… lend a helping hand.

To learn more about Play Well Africa, please visit PlayWellAfrica.org

A Kind Voice Conversation with Kari Riedel, Founder/Mayor of Bookopolis

As the saying goes, reading is fundamental. On October 22nd, A Kind Voice talked to Kari Riedel, founder/Mayor of Bookopolis. Kari uses her kind voice to give children a platform to choose and recommend books– “kid choice and kid voice.” Inspired by her two sons, Bookopolis is a social network and book discovery tool created specifically for kids ages 7-13. She realized the impact of peer recommendations when her sons enthusiastically read books suggested by their friends.

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Bookopolis is also touted as a ‘Goodreads for kids;’ it helps them find books they’re genuinely interested in reading. Kids want to feel empowered and share their books and thoughts with people they trust. The kids are building community with their friends. Kari wants reading to equal fun. Instead of someone forcing them to read, they choose the books they want to read. Bookopolis also provides opportunities for kids to share their opinions with peers. Through friends, kids get inspired and excited to read. Bookopolis boasts of being kid certified, meaning that it is kid appropriate. Everything that is written by kids is humanly monitored by Kari. Today, over 225,000 students and 8,000 classrooms use Bookopolis, creating a vibrant online community.

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In today’s world, reading faces stiff competition. Children are faced with many digital distractions vying for their attention. Kari believes that books act as mirrors for children; therefore we need more diverse voices in books. Books can teach us about empathy, and learning about self and others. Every kid should see themselves in books because stories increase empathy. Books can also show children the world outside their neighborhood. They can be entertaining, while simultaneously changing the lives of kids.

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Eventually, Kari would love for Bookopolis to be integrated with bookstores. She would also like to see more book clubs around the world. If she inspires people to go into their communities, get involved, and make an impact with their actions, it brings her joy and inspires her to keep going. Kari explains her vision in detail during our conversation.

 

 

A Kind Voice Conversation with Cecilia Nadal of Gitana Productions

On October 15th, A Kind Voice talked with Cecilia Nadal, CEO/Founder of Gitana Productions in St. Louis, MO. Cecilia uses her kind voice to connect people through music and plays, promote healing, and create community in the St. Louis region. Gitana Productions is a non-profit organization that is multidisciplinary in their arts. It has plays, international concerts, and an educational program. Cecilia is sincere and very passionate about her mission. The soul of Gitana’s mission is to use music, dance, and drama as a way to bring people together, who under normal circumstances, might not normally come together.

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When Cecilia talks, it is genuinely from the heart. She strives to break down walls that divide people. She cares about the quality of community dialogue and how St. Louisans from different cultures relate to one another. She addresses the community’s disconnectedness and provides interconnectedness. Gitana wants to make a difference by providing original productions and thereby maintaining an original voice. It delivers high-impact productions because it stays in touch with the community; it’s the guiding light for the focus of the productions. Gitana has a mix of professional, semi-professional, and those who love the arts and demonstrate some talent. Fifteen percent of production comes from the community. They work side-by-side with professional talent. Gitana embraces inclusivism and gives opportunities to those who can not receive them. Most productions feature people who age ranges from 7-72. Gitana taps into the current social climate of St. Louis and beyond and addresses it through performances.

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The spark for Gitana comes from Cecilia’s personal experiences. Having a multicultural background and traveling the world, she sees the world as fortunately being on the same platform despite cultural differences. She also discovers through her experiences that people don’t come by empathy and cross-cultural engagement easily. She believes an effort must be made and help must be given to people that don’t usually cross cultural boundaries.

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Cecilia’s ultimate goal is to see Gitana continue to thrive after she retires. She also wants to take her future successor under her wing and giving him/her the support needed to keep going. In a spirited conversation, she talks with us about Gitana Production, its aims, and its future.

 

 

A Conversation with David Rowen

Music is one of the great communicators. It transcends all barriers and boundaries, and is understood by everyone. Musician Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Our guest on October 8th, actor/musician David Rowen, echoes this sentiment: He uses his love of music to uplift and instill joy in people.

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David is very clear about his mission; his passion is apparent and genuine. Being a musical theater performer, he is no stranger to the immediate and intimate effects of music on live audiences. Now he is transmitting those same effects to a larger audience through his YouTube channel and music videos. Currently, he has an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a music video with a special purpose. The video is David’s interpretation of the Sister Act 2 song, ‘Joyful, Joyful.’ He has chosen this song because it resonates with so many people and fosters a sense of community.

About 40 of his friends volunteered their time and talents to bring his project to life. The people featured in the video are from different areas of David’s life, and are now forever interconnected thanks to ‘Joyful, Joyful.’ He feels this song is vital due to America’s current state of social unrest. He simply wants to make people happy, feel unified, and give them a sense of hope.

Originally, David created his YouTube channel as an outlet for his musical creativity and collaborations. However, when his Facebook newsfeed was inundated constantly with people upset with today’s social climate, he altered his plans. He wanted to showcase cultural diversity, hope, and people united by a common purpose.

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David also wanted to impact something tangible that could change and save lives. Consequently the music video benefits TAPS (Teen And Police Service) Academy, an organization that promotes trust and fosters relationships between at-risk youth and police officers, by raising awareness and support for the organization. At first, David was uncomfortable asking people to donate to his campaign. But he soon realized that the mission took on a life of its own, and was more important than his comfort level. If it was just for self-serving purposes, David believed he wouldn’t have done it. However, it was through this process that he found his authentic voice, and used it to spread more kindness and joy.

David hopes to inspire many people and affect change through the power of music. He feels that music can impact social change because it transcends language. People can understand the emotions conveyed, therefore making music a powerful tool that is enjoyed by all. He eloquently shares his insights about his project, society, and hopes for the future during his conversation with us.

 

 

Party.o

The college experience… a time of growth and exploration in one’s life. As young adults gain independence, they are faced with life-changing choices. For example, the choice to drink or take drugs. A typical view of college life includes partying with alcohol. But what if a person doesn’t want to drink? Jake White, our October 1st guest, challenges these norms. His organization, Party.0, offers college students an alternative to drinking with ‘sober parties.’ The name ‘Party.0’ is a play on a breathalyzer test, hoping that students will blow ‘ .0’ and remain alcohol free. Currently, Jake has an Indiegogo campaign to support his crusade: to travel across the USA and help one college per state start their own Party.0 chapter.

Jake is very enthusiastic and focused about his mission. The 25 year-old Oshkosh, Wisconsin native was inspired to created Party.0 based on his own college experience. He didn’t drink or do drugs, which made him feel like a campus outcast on the weekends. In fact, he hid the fact that he didn’t ‘party’– as in drink or do drugs– for two years because he feared what others thought. It was this feeling that led him to create a party alternative to drinking and drugs. With his friend Steve, Jake threw his first sober party. They spread the word about the first party, and only expected about 30-40 students. He was surprised– and caught unprepared– when twice as many showed up. In Jake’s opinion, he thought the first party was terrible. However, over 90% of the students who attended told him they enjoyed it. At that moment, he knew he was onto something. He started to hold parties once to twice a month and taught it to others.

Party.0 differs from other sobriety programs because it is peer-led and sustainable. Jake believes change begins with the students. To change the prevailing campus culture that believes drinking and good times go together, the students must show there are alternatives. Also Party.0 is simply not telling the students, ‘Don’t drink.’ Activities like music, games, and food are provided to keep students entertained.

Jake is planning for the future. He believes Party.0 is more than an organization; it’s a movement. Although he is currently focused on colleges, Jake is also piloting a high school program. His goal is have young people be positively engaged, feel comfortable with themselves, and not succumb to peer pressure. Jake has learned a surprising lesson from this experience: By standing out, he didn’t have to seek people out to fit in. He created an environment– a community– that attracted like-minded people. Because he was true to himself, it allowed others to feel comfortable and be themselves. Jake wonderfully articulated his vision during our program.

 

 

A Dancing Celebration of People and Place

Renowned choreographer Martha Graham once said, “Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery.” Our September 24th guest, photographer Jonathan Givens, seems to know this first-hand. Like the pioneers of yesteryear, he also explored the land of America– but with a twist. He danced across the USA.
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Yes, Jonathan danced across the USA. Jonathan’s photography project, called Dance Across The USA, celebrates both the beauty of dance and US national parks. His warmth, humor, and enthusiasm about his project is boundless. Through his CrowdRise campaign, he is raising both money and awareness for our nation’s arts education and parks. With his camera, dancers, and a reliable RV nicknamed ‘The Mighty Buford’ in tow, Jonathan road tripped for 3 months across the continental US, and flew to Alaska & Hawaii. The shutterbug took pictures of dancers of all skill levels, from ages 3-61, in various dance movements in national parks and historic sites. Jonathan deliberately chose dancers from various backgrounds to show that dance is accepting of everyone; he wanted the pictures to appeal to people from all walks of life.

Although the project was planned, Jonathan shares that it wasn’t without its challenges: weather, location changes, lost equipment, dancers dropping out at the last minute. Through it all, he maintained a positive attitude because he never knew what would happen. Spontaneity wasn’t necessarily bad; in fact, sometimes it helped his project. Thanks to spontaneous moments, the environment lent itself to certain styles of dance. If an environment was serene, for example, the dancers would do subtle gestures. It showed how dances blend with the environment.
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One of the things Jonathan loved the most was the creation of family atmosphere. He and the dancers created a community so they would keep in touch after the project. He was also inspired by the perseverance and strength from one the dancers–Shannon from Florida, who danced despite discovering she had a tumor (that she affectionately named ‘Pablo’) in her leg.

Jonathan reveals that throughout his journey, he learned people are awesome. He discovered that sometimes you can depend upon the kindness of strangers. During one of his shoots, he had a conversation with a curious bystander. The same curious bystander left a cup of coffee on his vehicle; Jonathan was touched. He was also moved by the support of his wife, Leigh-Ann, who is also the source of his inspiration. She makes him a better person, which inspires him to use his voice for kindness. It was a weird and wonderful journey, as Jonathan beautifully shares his story during our show (below).
 

 

Building Community One Lawn at a time

Today’s story is really interesting, it comes from Huntsville, Alabama where a man named Rodney Smith who is an average guy who grew up on the island of Bermuda, where he watched his dad help people build houses and that spirit of giving got ingrained in him from a young age. Rodney is a college student is soon to graduate and he decided to start a lawn cutting service in Huntsville, Alabama called “Raising Men Lawn Care Service”.

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This is not your average lawn care service though, the focus for this company is on helping people that are less fortunate and may struggle to cut their own lawns. The pivotal point that made Rodney realize he needed to help the less fortunate in this area was when he witnessed an elderly man in his neighborhood struggling to cut his grass, and he said quote” I thought I needed to do something about it” and he decided to cut lawns for the elderly, disabled and single mothers for free. His initial goal was to cut 40 lawns for free, however he reached that goal in 6 weeks and soon after reached 100 lawns.

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The number of people he desired to help was overwhelming for just him, so he decided to join forces with a guy in his neighborhood, Terrence Story and together they started recruiting the young men and women in their neighborhoods to help with the lawns. They didn’t stop there though, they realized that they also had an opportunity to teach the kids they were recruiting, responsibility, respect, and giving. Rodney says “I want boys to follow in my footsteps and be better than me and give back”.

Naturally once the news of this movement started spreading around Huntsville, Alabama, not only did they get more requests for lawn help, but they also received an outpouring of kindness from across the country, including receiving lawn equipment, gasoline and even free maintenance on the equipment, as donations from people who really want to see this organization go bigger. One of their big contributors has been Briggs & Stratton, the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment; they provided the men with lawn equipment and paid off the original GoFundMe goal of $2,000.00, and more and more donations are pouring in, in support of their vision.

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The reason I chose this story this week is because it’s a story of humanity, and it’s a story of kindness. There is something special about sacrificing your time to help someone else that you see needs your help, and these men and doing that every day, they are choosing to go help the elderly that struggle with cutting the grass, and help the single moms who may not have time or the resources to cut the grass themselves, and to help the disabled, who for physical or mental reasons are not able to do it themselves. It’s fascinating that they realized early on that cutting peoples grass is part of their mission but that the other part of the mission is to mentor young men, and teach them respect and kindness, and work ethic.

The time these men and putting into the helping their neighbors and the young people in their neighborhood, is priceless. The homeowners are never going to forget their kindness and I’m sure they will want to pass on the kindness they have received, and the young men and women that volunteer will never forget the mentorship and lessons they will learn, and I’m sure they will carry them throughout their lives, and continue passing on the spirit of kindness throughout their journey. This story is super inspiring, and really touches the heart of humanity and shows that, kindness is contagious and that there is no payment needed to make a small difference in a person’s life.
Quote of the Week: “Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” by Desmond Tutu.