Sharing Music and Making This Place Our Home with Micah Hendler: PYP 283

Micah Hendler is the founder and director of the YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus, and one of Forbes' magazine's “30 under 30” (global leaders and change-makers under the age of 30). He founded the chorus to promote connection and peace between the teen communities of East and West Jerusalem; that is, inaccurately but roughly speaking, Palestinians and Israelis.

We met at a Seeds of Peace concert in New York City in May, and Micah graciously agreed to be on the podcast. I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to “shoehorn” this theme into Plant Yourself, but the wiser part of me whispered, “Who gives a shit? Just have an inspiring and wonderful conversation!”

So I did. And while it's not about antioxidants or inflammation or TMAO, I think you'll agree that the themes of music, peace, discovery, curiosity, and compassion are all related to human health and wellbeing. And that the plant-based community can look for models of engagement and progress outside of our own kraal.

Here's a video of their “anthem,” the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips.

Micah and I chatted about:

  • growing up Jewish in the US and seeing only one side of the conflict
  • discovering “Seeds of Peace” and finding his direction
  • how music builds community, even in conflict areas
  • how to weave together a transformational dialog process and music
  • starting a non-profit in a foreign country after graduating from Yale
  • “If you don't do it big, you'll be wasting your time”
  • getting mentored by Ysaye Barnwell of “Sweet Honey in the Rock” on how to create instant community through choral singing
  • getting the Youth Chorus off the ground
  • marketing to young people: “this will be the coolest thing you'll do while you're in high school”
  • selecting singers not just from the “peace camp”
  • how chorus and dialog support and reinforce each other
  • space for dialog on the micro (personal) and macro (political) levels
  • “Home,” by Phillip Phillips: the Youth Chorus anthem
  • how the participants have changed and grown – and how they've starting changing their communities
  • giving the students a leadership role
  • traveling the world
  • the significance of appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: “our voices matter”
  • the 50-year plan
  • how you and I can help
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Talk Back

Links

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus

Seeds of Peace

East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem documentary – iTunes download (also available to stream on Netflix)

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

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