Can One Person Make A Difference?

Contributed by Michael Consalo

The age old question: Can one person, who can see a gap in our community, really put forth time and effort in a beneficial manner? 

Too many times we see great programs fall in the name of financial sustainability. In our schools, music programs are the first to go. In our colleges, the arts are the first to go. Even in our homes, less and less kids are spending time doing arts and crafts. In ancient traditions, people couldn’t even communicate ancient tales without song and dance. So what happened? 

Fast access to entertainment has kept countless families at home, flipping through endless movie apps and programs while music venues struggle to draw a crowd. How can we look at this with hope for future, especially if you are an aspiring musician or artist? While problems will always exist, it really only takes one person to stand up and ask… Why? Why do people prefer to stay at home versus heading out to a fun concert, art exhibit or festival? 

The answer? Time. Our time on this planet is short and I’m sure if you are like me, you want to make sure you spend your time doing what will be most beneficial or most enjoyable for you. But how can we really know what is "most" enjoyable or "most worth our time" if we repeat the same patterns of watching TV, hanging out at home watching movies, etc. And how can we expect great businesses and activities to stick around if we don’t get out and utilize them? 

Every day, I hear parents complain about their kids on tablets and computers, unwilling to go outside because they’re bored. This is what our reduction in music and art programs and our impatience has created. 

With music, you can’t simply "beat" it in a week or two like a video game. It takes persistence to get better and better, patience to be willing to work at something, and creativity. It also gives adults and children alike a way to vent or express deep emotions. Parents also have to be patient. Instruments aren’t cheap and lessons are not free, especially with school programs being cut. So what’s happening? 

It seems to me at least, programs are cut, kids loose interest, kids develop habits that are not related to music and arts, less bands develop in the area, kids grow up and are looking for entertainment in the form of music, there are no bands to go see because it’s made up of the small group that pushed through regardless of financial and community support… and thus the loop continues. 

I love the Matsu and I love music. I want them together. Don’t get me wrong, things are happening, but are they happening in the right place? So, what can one person do? 

I have made it my sole mission to bring music and arts back to our families. With the support of great organizations like Hatcher Pass Radio 95.5, The City of Wasilla, The People’s Paper, Alaska Midnite Scents, Alaskan Sweet Vapes, Diagnostic Health Alaska, Wasilla Physical Therapy, MTA, MEA, Matsu Central School, Reading Write Alaska and Surgical Specialists of Alaska, this year we will have The Pass @ The Park. 

The event will bring families out of their homes and into the parks for three hours from 6pm-9pm during June 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th! This free community event, will hopefully encourage more people to fight for our music and art here in the Matsu! 

We want this year to kick off with live local music from right here in the Valley, to give local musicians in Wasilla a new venue. We will also have local food trucks and vendors, to help drive a little local economy. And of course, all the activities at Iditapark/Wonderland Park will be available. 

The art portion of this event is what I would like to grow next year with art vendors, art exhibits and an art submission contest for the poster! This year we had local artist, Sara Squartsoff-Mckinley, paint our poster and she did an amazing job as you can see by the poster next to this article. And this is just the beginning. 

Right now, I am in the process of working with United Way, Matsu Health Foundation, Valley Arts Alliance, The People’s Paper and many more to develop a youth music program, once a month in Palmer and Wasilla. This new adventure will help the youth not only have a safe, substance free environment to develop their skills, but it will also help drive the future of the music scene. 

So yes, one person can make a difference, and my ultimate goal is to show everyone that. I also hope that these efforts will encourage others to do the same. Fight for what you believe should be available in the Valley! Hope to see you at this year’s The Pass @ The Park at 6pm-9pm, Friday nights in June! 

If you are interested in joining my mission to bring music and arts to our youth in the Valley, feel free to contact me - Michael C. 302-632-8591. And thank you for your time, hope it was worth it!