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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Power of an Idea... MPOW!



Everything in life starts as an idea.  A small thought that continues to fester in the mind until it must be released.  A seed so small that if planted could grow into a tiny plant or a rain forest.  Everyone has these inspired ideas but many refuse to plant the seed.  Look around you… ideas are everywhere.  The chair you sit on, the computer you’re reading this from, the electricity that’s powering your place.  Ideas are all around and there are truly remarkable when you think that it all started with a thought in someone’s head.  Well, yesterday I had the distinct privilege of seeing one of those tiny ideas manifest into something incredible. 
About four years ago when I was a senior at the University of Michigan I happened to stumble into an outreach program for inner city kids in Detroit.  I had no intention of participating; in fact I had no idea it was even going on!  I walked in that day dressed in sweatpants and a wife-beater ready to do a yoga class, or so I thought; instead, I stumbled into a room full of elementary school kids running around like wild animals.
Immediately one of my professors approached, “Oh, Alex!  I’m so glad you came!  You can help lead one of the groups…” 
Huh?!  “Oh yeah, right… that’s why I’m here…” the lie was probably more than obvious but I jumped right in.  I can’t even remember what happened that day because I was so thrown off guard and probably pissed that I wasn’t going to work out!  All I knew was that forty inner city school students from Detroit were staring at me and the six other volunteers.  Alright, let’s do this!  The idea was simple, “sharing the positive powers of the performing arts to inspire the urban youth of Detroit (http://www.mpow.net).”  Again, an idea.  An idea that had no idea what it would amount to or how much it would impact the lives of others, just an idea with a mission.
Four years later, I witnessed the power of an idea come to life with The Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop.  The seed, planted by Ashley Park, Laura Reed, and Linda Goodrich, grew into a beautiful rainforest where over 110 kids got to swing from the trees.  Four years ago, there were about 40 kids involved cramped into a rehearsal space, now an entire three stories of a giant building were given to the organization, and that rehearsal space was strictly the lunch area catered by Cottage Inn Pizza and Trader Joes.  The six or so volunteers from four years ago had multiplied into a hundred students from every discipline of the School of Music.  If you weren’t apart of MPOW, you knew it, and you were missing out.  And how could you not want to partake?
The 110 kids were bused in from Detroit where they were greeted by a herd of cheering students forming a tunnel like they were football stars running onto the field.  Their field was a majestic performance room where the game began with a dance troupe, a band, clowns, singers, classical chamber musicians, jazz ensembles, one woman shows, and even a boy band number set to One Directions, “What Makes You Beautiful.”  And it was beautiful… kids were crying, cheering, and smiling from ear to ear.  Then, all of the kids broke off into smaller groups where they learned how to make films, dance, sing, act, communicate, interact, and explore their creativity!  I was shocked to say the least and they were too.
An entire community of STUDENTS made this all happen… again, students!  There was hardly any faculty supervision, illustrating the power of community and that anyone can make a difference.  Many of the students from Detroit had never stepped on a college campus, let alone been exposed to anything artistic.  Some of them just wanted a free lunch.  Some of them just wanted a chance to break out of their shell.  Regardless of what they wanted, they all left with something, as did every person involved with the event.  This is what it’s all about, using our gifts to help others, and we all have gifts that can truly change peoples lives.  After MPOWs event some kid is going to go home and have an idea after an idea that was inspired by someone else’s idea.  If any one of those kids start planting their own seeds who knows what will grow from their gardens.  

How did MPOW affect you yesterday?  Do you have a seed waiting to be planted?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!   
Footage from yesterday:

2011 MPOW Event:
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 "If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein
"If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself." - Rollo May

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