“Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama launch podcast together” shouted a Fox News headline this week.
The project is titled ‘Renegades: Born in the USA’ and it launched Monday, exclusively on Spotify. The show promises to explore their “parallel journeys…their lives, music, and enduring love of America—despite all its challenges.”
At the risk of being too two-dimensional, I love the promise of unexpected pairings—a chance to see different perspectives side-by-side. Goodness knows that’s been the premise for many a buddy/comedy/action/cop movie. (And more than a few menu offerings at Taco Bell.)
More interesting, however, was how the show came about. Did the Boss call the Prez? Did a bigwig at Spotify dream it up? Turns out it was created by former President Barack and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions.
The New “If You Want Something Done, Do It Yourself”
In the “olden days” the phrase “if you want something done, do it yourself” had an implied insult–it meant everyone around you was incompetent and you could only rely on yourself. Today it means something different. If you see something wrong, change it. The power of one. How can you pursue your own dreams and create opportunities for others at the same time?
That seems to be the case with Higher Ground. The Obama’s introduced it in 2018 in a multiyear deal with Netflix (NPR, 2018). Their goal was to tell the stories that weren’t being told, and to “promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples.”
Just looking at the company’s leadership team and their initial program offerings there is a level of diversity and inclusion that’s unprecedented in movies and media. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag that first appeared in 2015 highlighted a problem. Higher Ground is a solution. (And note that they won an Oscar in 2020, for Best Documentary with “American Factory.”)
When you see something missing in the world, do you say “I wish someone would…” or do you create something yourself?
Today on Intercultural Spark I talk to Dr. Izabel Olson. She saw that 70% of women who were incarcerated at Cook County Jail had been victims of human trafficking. And there were no services to help them recover and thrive. So she created the Salt and Light Coalition to fill that void.
Next week, sisters Elizabeth Ann Atkins and Catherine Marie Atkins Greenspan and their mom, Judge Marilyn Atkins, will talk about what it’s like to be a multi-racial family in the US. The sisters are the founders of Two-Sisters Writing and Publishing. They created the company when they couldn’t find someone else to publish the books they wanted to publish—young adult fiction with a multi-racial protagonist, stories from diverse leaders of color who faced naysayers and discrimination as the rose to the top.
If You Want Something Done….
Granted, not everyone can go launch a huge company in response to a need in the world. But there are many actions to take in between waiting for someone else to do it, and getting it done entirely yourself.
What’s something you wish were different in your sphere of influence? What can you do today toward making a change?