Imagine if you could be inspired every day for a whole year.
What if instead of reading or watching bad news, each day you could read about or watch something uplifting, positive, inspiring?
What if these were ordinary, everyday people, doing extraordinary things. People just like you, in communities all over the country.
In 2008, then a single mother of two, Dafna Michaelson Jenet had a ‘crazy’ idea.
She wanted to quit her job and travel to all 50 United States within the 52 weeks of one year to find the stories of those ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’.
She started a non-profit (501c3), formed a board of directors, and wrote a business plan.
Remember 2008? That was the year the bank collapse happened; the year the recession hit. In fact, the first bank collapse began on the very day that Dafna Michaelson Jenet left her job. Her friends and family pleaded with her to beg for her job back. Her answer was simple:
“If I thought this was important before the collapse of the economy, how much more important is it now?”
With potential donors now focused on helping those in need from the collapsing economy Dafna Michaelson Jenet liquidated her 401K account. Beginning January 7th 2009, she travelled each week to one state (plus Washington DC) searching for problem solvers and idea generators. She interviewed and captured their stories on video, posting them to her website for everyone to see. An antidote to bad news, if you will.
Now, it may sound crazy in a less than stellar economic period for someone to purposefully quit their job and set out on such a ‘crazy’ journey. Or, perhaps this is just what we needed in this country. Great ideas are often scoffed at before they become great. What better time to take everyone’s focus off all the negatives that they heard about each day and instead re-focus on the positives. Every day, in every city, in every community, there are people doing amazing things. People who identify a problem and find a solution. People who are making a real difference in the lives of those in their communities, and even in some cases, the whole country. Dafna Michaelson wanted to find them and share their stories to inspire others.
This was more than just a crazy idea. It was a journey about helping people, about giving something back, about shining the spotlight on what truly makes this country great. The people. It was about meeting the people who don’t do what everyone expects. The people of this great nation who buck the trends, fly in the face of adversity, and move this country forward.
It wasn’t easy. She travelled only on the days her children were with her ex-husband, flying out at dawn on Wednesday mornings, driving on average 800 miles in each state from dawn until midnight; only to catch a few hours’ sleep (often on someone’s couch), only to get up and do it again the next day.
She would fly home late Friday evening and become “mommy” for the next four days. Then the cycle would repeat itself.
It was worth it though. She met roughly 500 people across this country. Captured 375+ videos of them. She blogged almost every day she travelled. What she found was a plethora of races, creeds, religions, and ethnicities. People who look like you, sound like you, and have the same socio-economic background as you. Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things.
Dafna wrote a book about her Journey; what she learned, what she lost, and the amazing people she met along the way. It’s called, appropriately enough, “It takes a little crazy to make a difference”. You can find out more about the book here:
Dafna’s mission is “To change the mirror we use to reflect who we are as a society”.
We hope these video stories will help you see that who we are as a society has little to do with what you hear in the media or read in the news. It has little to do with movies and rock stars. It has to do with ordinary people who make up the society we all live in. They live in your community. They share the same challenges and have similar dreams as you do. They are the ones who raise their hands and say, ‘I have this problem and so do other people. I’m going to solve it for myself and for them.’
Watch. Be inspired. Take action.
And keep In touch with us. Let us know how you’re moving your community and this country forward.
Together we can change the mirror.
Together we can make a difference.