Leaving New York to come back to Columbus, Ohio, was one of the easier decisions I’ve made in my life. A continually growing city with a heart of gold, the community is one where collaboration not only happens, but continues to make the city stronger.
I’ve written a few times about collaborating with like-minded organizations and individuals who can help you further your mission. When I get to experience the amazing results that this provides, I often wonder why this isn’t happening more.
Upon my return to Ohio, I rejoined one of my favorite organizations in the entire world – The Harmony Project. I’ve talked about Harmony Project before and all of the things I got to be a part of. But in the two years I took to be in NYC away from the organization, it grew…immensely.
While I was gone, a partnership with the Tapestry program launched and grew. The Tapestry program is comprised of inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and provides rehabilitation to 90 women who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. David Brown, the Founder and Creative Director of the Harmony Project, and a team of volunteers join the women each week for singing and music. And just this past spring, a video of the inmates was recorded and played during another Columbus organization, The Central Ohio Women’s Fund’s annual Keyholder fundraising event. The women sang A Little Bit of Me, by Melissa Etheridge. And I hope you’re able to guess who the Keyholder was at the event (Melissa Etheridge).
After an inspiring evening, the singer went on her way. But after some ideas were tossed around, Melissa’s agent received a call from a member of the Harmony Project, asking her to make a pit stop before she performed a concert in a nearby town. And then something really cool happened.
Melissa spent the afternoon behind the barbed wire fences of the Ohio Reformatory for Women along with nearly 2500 inmates. She performed a 30-minute concert and shared wisdom and encouraging words with women who may not be empowered regularly, offering a life changing experience for many. The only other time a famous recording artist performed behind prison walls? Johnny Cash in the 60s.
A prison that focuses on programming that rehabilitate and reintegrate its inmates is living proof that prison reform can work. The collaboration and relationships responsible for pulling off this amazing day give hope to those who are incarcerated, their families, and their communities.
So the bottom line here? If you want something cool to happen, sometimes all it takes is a little innovation and an ask. You can read more about the performance here.