Since the inception of the Buy Michigan Now campaign back in 2007, there have been a few ongoing observations that have gnawed at me, and I suspect many of you are aware of them too. First is the way our state, and especially its cities, are portrayed in local, national, and global news. Most of the time the stories are negative, and even when they are sharing good news, they can’t seem to do it without first talking about the depressed economy or showing abandoned buildings. Often national news covers stories about Michigan from afar, or uses a panel of so-called experts who have never even been here to debate issues of local importance. It can be quite frustrating.
Fortunately, one thing that now exists, that didn’t when we launched this campaign all the way back in the last decade, is social media. There are ups and downs with it for sure, but one amazing advantage to the existence of these new platforms is that they give a voice to the voiceless and some power to the powerless. Social media can be employed by ordinary people to tell stories in our own words. That is the premise of the Michigan Positivity Project. We intend to use platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., to share the good news that is happening all around our state. We invite you to follow us, share the videos and stories, and make uplifting posts of your own using the hashtag #MIpositvity. We have also engaged some famous faces in the project like actress Judy Greer, comedian Keegan Michael Key, and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer, Chad Smith, just to name a few. These Michigan natives are sharing their pride in the state, and also help us to reach important audiences outside of Michigan, to bolster the state’s image on a wider level.
That also leads me to the second issue that has bothered me for years. All too often we Michiganders play an active role in perpetuating the negative perceptions of our state. There is no doubt that we face a lot of challenges, but we also wouldn’t still be here without ingenuity, determination, and massive survival instincts. It may not always seem like it, but we are a state of optimists. We have stayed through difficult times because we know what we have–the beauty, resources, and values of our state and the people that reside within it are worth fighting for. We need to share more of that optimism with the world. Through the Michigan Positivity Project we are challenging you to actively demonstrate your pride and optimism. Use the outlets that social media provides to tell people about the amazing things happening in your community, share photos of the many stunning sights you take in across the state, brag about our food, beer, wine, etc. If, like me, you’d like to see more positivity in the world, then join us in being a bearer of that good news.
The other issue is that our children face a particularly unique challenge these days. Often when I speak with kids and ask them if they want to stay in Michigan they enthusiastically say yes, yet when you ask if they think they will, many say no. They are two to six years away from starting a careeer, but have already decided there isn’t a place for them. We need to help them find and prepare for the opportunities that do and will exist. We also need to show them that there is more to this state than its economy. For most of their lives they’ve been hearing phrases like “we need to make Michigan great again.” Michigan has never not been great. It has in recent times been a place that has struggled, arguably more than most, ECONOMICALLY. It has remained a place of exceptional beauty and people, and is a remarkable place to live, work, and play. We hope that as parents, teachers, scout leaders, community groups, you will help us actively engage the next generation in this project of hope and optimism. The world could use a lot more positivity.
We’ve already had our first big win. We asked Days of Our Lives star, and native of Walker, Michigan, Shawn Christian to participate in our first series of celebrity interviews. Shawn told us about his involvement in Arrow-Heart Adventure Camps. This unique mentoring program helps kids develop character and leadership skills, though outdoor adventures. Shawn said they were working on bringing the Idaho-based program to another state, and while he was excited about that, he was a tad disappointed that it wasn’t coming to Michigan. Within three months, we had Shawn and his co-star Arianne Zucker, whose brother runs Arrow-Heart, here in Michigan to explore bringing the program to the new Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit. They immediately fell in love with the city and the center, and said YES. We are now raising funds so that at-risk youth in Michigan can benefit from this inspirational program.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Donate gift cards, experiences, event tickets, autographed memorabilia, Michigan-made products, etc. for upcoming auctions that will raise funds for Michigan Positivity Project.
- Become a sponsor of Buy Michigan Now, Michigan Positivity Project, or Arrow-Heart Detroit.
- Introduce your social media team to the concept and encourage them to share positive stories happening around your organization and around the state using #MIpositivity and to follow @MIpositivity on Twitter and encourage others to do so also.
- Use internal and external newsletters to introduce people to the Michigan Positivity Project and let us know when you do so we can say “thanks.”
- Introduce us to any celebrities with Michigan roots that your organization works with who might be interested in participating in an interview.
Email info@MichiganPositivity.org to learn more or participate in any of the above.
- Become a Michigan Positivity Project social media ambassador. We will email you when new videos are released, programs and contests are launched, etc., so you can help spread the word.
- Help us promote the upcoming fundraisers to bring Arrow-Heart to Detroit. Gather friends and buy tickets for one of the fun outings we have scheduled from July 31-August 2 in Northville.
- Follow @MIpositivity on Twitter and encourage others to do so.
- Like our Facebook page, and invite friends. Adjust your setting so that our posts actually show up in your feed to see the good news we are spreading.
- Stay tuned to our social media for opportunities to vote and help Michigan communities, organizations, and individuals win honors and contests.