I have had an amazing couple of weeks. It has been extremely busy and has ended up being somewhat of a social experiment for me.
Two weeks ago I was asked by a friend if I would be interested in helping her put together a video. It was designed to be a “Happy” video and would be shared with the world along with a rapidly growing number of communities who are doing their versions (www.wearehappyfrom.com).
Currently Kelowna is one of two communities in Canada and the only community in Western Canada who have done a video.
It didn’t take any convincing for me to be a part of the project. Finding the time was a challenge, but I had the ability to help my friend in her quest to show the world that Kelowna is indeed “Happy”.
During the filming I commented to my wife that the people (who volunteered their time to be in the video) astounded me with their genuine happiness. There is one clip that I would always hear one of the dancers laughing out loud as I was editing the final product yet that wasn’t in the sound track. I have several hours of footage of people, young and old, laughing, dancing and generally having a good time in the our beautiful city.
Curiously, there was no purpose for the video other than to let people around the world know that we were excited to be a part of Pharrell Williams movement to unite the world in happiness. Nobody is making money, in fact everyone involved has lost money and many of those people cannot afford to do that. Nobody had enough time and had to work additional hours to make up commitments to the employers, university or business. Nobody can win an award. It was just for fun!
I had the chance to get to know some of the dancers and hear their personal stories of who they were and why they were in Kelowna and in some instances the things in their life that were not happy! Those people had some of the biggest smiles on their faces. Their passion for dance was infectious and the pure joy they derived from dancing together was something that I have rarely witnessed. It was very cool.
In some respects it reminded me of going to Africa and visiting a community that had nothing. The people I met had no water, little food, no school and barely a roof over their head. They had no possessions and yet what they freely gave away was a broad beaming smile when I said “Jambo” to them.
I am pleased to say that every person in the video was like that and I have been privileged to make some new friends. We launched the video a few days ago and it has been received very well. It is a popular video on YouTube and is receiving lots of comments. I meet people randomly in Kelowna now who tell me they are having a happy day because they played that “Kelowna Video” a few times before they left their house and danced to it while they prepared for work…. that is cool and I think if you asked my friend Lucy what she intended from the video, that would be it. A chance to bring a little sunshine in to someone’s life.
Then the forum trolls appeared from nowhere again.
They have been absent for some time. But this video pressed their button. It was a happy video. A target. A chance to rain on someone else’s parade.
To put things in to perspective. The article on Castanet received somewhere close to 25,000 views in half a day. Almost as popular as the Dragon’s Den article. Of the 25,000 unique views 30 or 40 people posted comments that were less than positive. In fact some of them were rude, unprofessional, childish and frankly hurtful to anyone who was involved with the video.
Thankfully with that ratio, Kelowna remains a very happy place 24,960/25,000 people seem to think so and the remainder have the option to decide to be happy, because after all happiness is a state of mind!
I have raised my children with the understanding that when they meet someone, or make a comment to someone, they have one of two choices. To make that person feel better about themselves, or to make them feel worse. I am glad they choose to make people feel better about who they are and what they can achieve in this world.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to three classes of Grade 8 students at their Harmony Day program at school. We were talking about various issues and the experience I had had with the Happy video. I explained that some people had decided that Kelowna was a very unhappy place and I asked them how a City could be an unhappy City. They explained to me that Cities cannot be unhappy, only people!
I love it how our teenagers and young adults have a better grasp on life than many other people and yet we have a habit of defaulting to blaming them for our problems!
To anyone who wrote a negative comment about the cast or crew, if you are brave enough to reveal yourself from the anonymity of your comment, you should feel free to call me personally and I can help you understand how your thoughts about the cast and crew that volunteered to make a few people’s lives a little happier are entirely incorrect. My number is 250 859 4893.