Neighbors entertaining neighbors while enjoying
the company of other neighbors.
Research tells us that “hope” requires three ingredients: Goals + Pathways + Agency. Our goal—a rainbow that attracts and draws our attention—must be valuable to us and/or our community. A pathway—a plausible route to the goal—must be present. And, we intuit (in some way or another) we have the ability (at some level), the power, and the talent to reach that goal.
Mentors assist along the pathway. They help us discover the agency we have not yet recognized. We typically think of mentors as solo entities; individuals sharing expertise. If one mentor can change a life, think what a community of mentors can do. That’s what the Atlantic Beach, Florida Songwriters’ Night provides.
As cliché as it might sound, Songwriters’ Night (SWN) started on the back of a cocktail napkin. In 2003 I served on the Atlantic Beach Cultural Arts and Recreation Advisory Committee. That body approved my suggestion for the city to sponsor an outdoor music event for our community. I went to the best person I knew who could deliver as both the MC and musical muse for the event, Mike “Shack” Shackelford. As a singer-songwriter, Shack brought the musical chops needed to produce a professional event. He could mentor me (the promoter) and the stage performers (the talent).
At the time, Shack’s band was playing at a lounge in Atlantic Beach. I met him there one night and our plan came together in a matter of minutes. With the backing of our city government, we would provide a free, family-friendly music event for our community. It would be for amateurs and professionals alike. No auditions required. All welcomed. Respectful performances (read: G-rated; family-oriented) only.
We hoped to provide a musical pathway for our community. An opportunity for songwriters to share their talents, gain confidence, connect with like-minded creative types, and entertain community members. Neighbors entertaining neighbors while enjoying the company of other neighbors.
Over the years the adults have shared the stage with children of the community. These young artists test and hone their musical skills in a true listening room environment.
One such aspiring singer-songwriter shared her experiences with me. Twelve-year old Izzy Moon Mayforth told me she likes that people listen to her music—and that she gets to listen to others and learn from them for her songwriting and performing. When she hears the heart-felt applause after her performances she says to herself, “Glad that I did it!” She gains confidence—and that strengthens the agency needed to move toward goal completion.
Shack (who, BTW, is a few years older than 12) believes one of the most beautiful results of the monthly events is to see people, who were petrified at first, come back as part of the regular rotation of artists. One who helped me perform (singing and with a tasteful lead guitar) one of my songs when he was about 10 years old, now records and acts in Los Angeles.
For the audience, the event builds the community’s “social capital.” It serves as a community laboratory to help young and not-so-young, of varying musical abilities, wing toward their dreams. In between songs, before the event, or after the lights go dark, the audience talks about things other than music like neighborhood schools, workplace opportunities, home improvement projects, or important community issues. Spin-off events to other parts of the county have occurred as well.
A beach venue for dreams helps create a pathway for other venues.
And hope lives. When people take time to listen to, and give gratitude for the gifts of others, respect builds, and community strengthens. As Izzy sings in one of her original compositions, “You’re my friend, and I love you.”
Video recommendation for the week.
Izzy will be a part of a podcast on The Growth and Resilience Network podcast channel later this fall. When we spoke, she graciously agreed to perform her song “It Rained Today.”
For more about community building and sustainability, look for my new book due out the end of 2018. More information to come.
Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
For information about and to order my 2017 book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.