Every day, we are bombarded by negativity. Whether it’s a horrible tragedy we see on the news, an ad that makes us worry about our physical appearances, a snide comment on a website, a fight with a family member or friend or simply one more thing gone wrong on a day when nothing seems to go right, we’re constantly discouraged by the outside world and ourselves.
AP and the non-profit Hope For The Day are very much aware of that and want to encourage you. Instead of focusing on the negative, we'll be bringing you a bi-weekly list of stories, things and people that give your favorite artists hope, starting today with Hope For The Day founder and executive director, Jonny Boucher and our editorial staff. Our goal is to remind people to that no matter how bad things get, there’s always something to hold onto.
MEET HOPE FOR THE DAY
A longtime member of the Chicago hardcore scene who has run the gamut of jobs in the music industry from booking shows to touring in bands, HFTD founder Jonny Boucher says the idea for Hope For The Day started to take shape during a trip to Mexico in 2010, when he got the news that his boss, a man whom he idolized, had killed himself. Filled with the dread that he would be returning home to a funeral, and with the constant reminder of the impact of suicide in his friend Mark Ehlert, a drummer whose failed attempt to shoot and kill himself in 2004 left him blind, Boucher knew he had to make an impact; he could turn his love for music into something positive. When he returned to the States and found himself immediately in an argument with a colleague in the industry over a couple hundred dollars, the need for a change was solidified.
“It really made me realize that what I was working for was not something wholesome. What I was doing was not what I really wanted to do anymore, because I wanted to give back and I needed to care for others,” says Boucher. “I didn’t want to care about record sales. I didn’t want to care about profit margins. I wanted to care about the people that we were all depending on to sell these records. I wanted to care about them personally because they all have stories, and they shouldn’t be looked at as consumers. They should be looked at as humans.”
He set to work immediately, researching non-profits and building Hope For The Day, a movement that champions music and arts as a defense mechanism to suicide. Despite the high expense of growing a non-profit in Chicago, Boucher stuck to his roots, both in the city and within the music scene, but now with a more positive focus. “It’s just a community I’ve always loved to be a part of because we’re the ones that took that chance,” he explains. “It takes a lot of chance to do something like being in a band and stepping out of a comfort zone of a job that pays you well and hopping in a van with some of your friends.”
He has leaned on music and art to express himself for so long, gathering stories of musicians willing to speak up and sharing that way of coping with those who are struggling became a natural mission. “We go backstage for a different reason now, and it’s a better reason, because we’re serving something more than just a party, and we’re not just trying to get people on board to sell our product. At the end of the day, yeah, we are a product, but we don’t sell branded items. We sell hope; we sell recovery.”
Though only a little more than a year old, Hope For The Day has reached thousands by providing outreach at concerts, festivals and community events, where they talk one-on-one to those who take an interest and provide them with recovery information and resources. While traditional medical professionals may scratch their heads and wonder how on Earth to reach youth, HFTD have found a way to get out and do it, using music and the arts as their medium.
“I would rather be the person who jumps in front of a situation and gives someone a talk rather than having to hear a story about someone committing suicide and no one paying attention to that kid or paying attention to that person,” Boucher says.
THE MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE VIDEO SERIES
In October, we partnered with Hope For The Day to bring you the Music Saved My Life video series, which you can catch every other Tuesday on our YouTube channel. Artists such as the Gaslight Anthem, August Burns Red, Title Fight (embedded, left) and more have sat down with HFTD to tell us about the impact of music on their lives. The series allows Hope For The Day to spread the message of music as a pathway to recovery on a much larger scale. And it’s just the first of several far-reachins projects, including documentaries and music lessons, they have in the works.
“You get to hear someone’s story, and that allows you to relate to them more deeply than you already feel that you could relate to them because you passionately care about the music or art that they produce,” says Boucher. “You, all of the sudden, can care about them more and get more in-depth with that song because you realize that that person who wrote it was going through the same stuff that you’re going through. So, maybe there is a way that we can get through this.”
SO, WHAT GIVES US HOPE?
What inspires you to carry on? What helps you see the good in the world? On page two, Boucher and the AP editorial staff share some of the things, people and stories that shine a light on the positive in the world for them. Give us your lists in the comments. Who knows? You might inspire someone today.
Click through below to read our lists
So, what gives us hope?
Jonny Boucher, Hope For The Day founder
The fact that there are so many different genres and so many styles and feelings that you get from music is beyond my No. 1 thing that gives me hope. The fact that I have services like Spotify and YouTube and other things to be exposed to the music I really love is like the main thing that gives me hope for the day.
PERSONAL GOALS AND CHALLENGES
Sometimes we get away from who we are. The ability to overcome the challenges that people put in front of me, the possibilities and what-ifs and the setting of personal goals that allow me to become more compassionate for others as well as myself gives me hope.
The art of adventure and exploring the world—the possibilities in it are endless. That’s such a driving thing for me. I’m never going to be one of those people that gets into a habit or a routine and is satisfied with it. I know there’s so much out there, and what sucks is that I won’t be able to see it all. But the moment I go out, I’ll be screaming and holding on for dear life so that I can maybe see just a little bit more of it before the lights go out.
Scott Heisel, AP managing editor
Sigur Rós' "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur"
Sigur Rós are experts at evoking the strongest, most visceral human emotions without having to resort to using the English language, but I think my all-time favorite moment of their entire catalog is "Inní mér syngur vitleysingur." It's a triumphant march guided by sweeping strings and a punchy horn section, and if you ever find yourself walking in lockstep to its beat (as I did one night in 2008 as I exited a plane), you'll unlock the song's secret and understand just why it can give so much hope.
Out of my personal top 20 releases of 2012, nearly half were debut albums records made by new bands. Some were young (Young Magic, Masked Intruder) others were built out of the ashes of legendary bands (forgetters, Classics Of Love), but it all gave me hope that music isn't a field completely devoid of new ground to be broken. There's nothing more exciting than listening to a debut album by a brand new band and marveling at how creative and moving the music is. I don't know what I would do if the world ran out of new music.
THOSE WHO FIGHT FOR LGBT RIGHTS
I'm a straight, white male. In today's society, that's practically akin to being born with a silver spoon in my mouth. But I am eternally grateful for those who continue to fight for the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people the world over. I wish I had more time in my life to help the cause along, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of people have banded together in recent years to push through human rights legislation aimed at giving everyone the opportunity to love whoever they like without fear of discrimination or violent reprisal is truly inspirational, and it gives me long-lasting hope that the future will be a better place for those who follow me.
Brittany Moseley, AP associate editor
I know it's not very punk-rock to actually get along with your parents, but it wouldn't be my first offense against the music gods. My parents have always believed in me and whatever goal I set for myself—whether it was my childhood dream of becoming the first woman president or my much more thought-out dream of becoming a writer. When I graduated college and moved home with no job prospects beyond the local Gap, my parents' support never faltered. After one year and three months spent working part-time jobs and completing 209 job applications, followed by 10 months of Corporate America, I finally landed my job at AP. My parents always said it would work out. As usual, they were right.
Like many of my favorite bands, I discovered Say Anything through AP. I didn't know much about the band, but after their December 2007 cover story where I read about Max Bemis' struggles with bipolar disorder, I immediately bought ...Is A Real Boy (plus the bonus CD, ...Was A Real Boy.) At the time, I was dealing with my own issues, and when Max sang, “I am stuck on your bedroom floor/With the thought that I may not be/As great as those who came before,” I felt reassured. It sounds odd to say these melancholy, angst-ridden, personal lyrics reassured me. Max reminded me that all of us have problems and god-awful times in our lives. He also gave me hope that I wasn't alone. We're all a bit weird and messed up, but eventually, things will get better. They did for Max and they did for me.
MY FAVORITE COLLEGE PROFESSOR
Jacquie Marino introduced me to narrative journalism, In Cold Blood and Hunter S. Thompson. She understood why Lester Bangs was so important to me, and although I've never told her, I have a feeling she would know exactly what I meant if I told her I want to be like Anna Quindlen when I grow up. I already knew I wanted to be a journalist before I walked into Jacquie's feature writing class my junior year, but after that class, she made me want to be a better journalist. Esquire magazine has her to thank for my subscription. She constantly referenced the magazine in class, and it wasn't long before I picked up a copy and fell in love with the writing of Tom Chiarella, Chris Jones and Tom Junod. I don't know if I'll ever see my name in the pages of Esquire, but because of Jacquie, I think I've at least got a chance of it happening.
Jason Pettigrew, AP editor in chief
POLITICIANS WHO PUT PEOPLE OVER PARTY LINES
The most telling thing about the last election wasn't President Obama securing a second term. It was the Congressmen and women who acknowledged that no forward motion could be made in those quarters and decided not to pursue re-election. Plenty of people are quick to sneer the term "career politicians," so what does it tell you about people who are willing to walk away from their alleged cushy occupation? These gestures give me hope Americans will realize exactly how bad the impasse is between the branches of government and that they will hold their elected representatives to a higher regard than ever before.
BANDS WITH SOMETHING TO OFFER
Nothing fills my heart with hope more than bands or artists with enough determination, vision and hunger to want to raise the bar creatively, instead of following in the gloppy, muddy footsteps of what is currently selling. I hope this year, Heisel bounds into my office at least twice a month roaring, "You of all people, need to hear this, like, right now."
If Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman and Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore taught us anything this year, it's that finding unconditional love from another human being is finite at best. But if you've ever had a horrible day/week/month, you'll find the darkness can be lifted by the presence of another species. On reflection, I've had two smokin' girlfriends that had worse breath than my dogs and they left me far more rudderless than the four-legged skinheads that wake me up at 6 a.m. to get fed. Go to an animal shelter and help yourself—and someone else.
Cassie Whitt, AP web content administrator
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
14 is a miserable age for everyone, myself included. In 2004, I became so emotionally desperate that I couldn’t have named one thing that gave me hope—until I saw the music video for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” on television one day. I saw and heard myself in the music and could sense that my life was about to be turned around and that I was going to be a part of something amazing and much larger than myself by becoming an MCR fan. MCR gave me something to hold onto that day. They continue to inspire and teach me daily. The fact that artists who can make art that powerful even exist gives me hope.
THE INSTINCT TO HELP OTHERS
For me, it’s much easier to spot things that are wrong with me or that I dislike than it is to see the good. However, when I feel the instinctual pull to want to help someone who asks for advice or to carry groceries for a random, struggling stranger in a parking lot, I know I can’t be all that bad.
Everyone talks up the ones they love, but I genuinely believe that my grandmother (Meme, as I called her) was one of the best humans in the world. I spent much of my childhood at her cabin, where she taught me to value and use art as a comfort and way to express myself. She used to let me pound away on her typewriter and ruin all her paintbrushes just because I loved to create, and she loved to see me create. When she passed away two years ago, I felt for a long time that I had lost the only person who truly believed in me. I felt lost, but as I used my writing and art to cope, I realized she left me with a beautiful gift that I’ll never lose. The love she left with me makes me want to pass it on in her memory.
Stay tuned for Hope For The Day lists from artists in the coming weeks.