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'United Breaks Guitars' shows one person can make a difference

As Haligonian Dave Carroll was interviewed on Canada AM last week, a smile stretched across my face.

As Haligonian Dave Carroll was interviewed on Canada AM last week, a smile stretched across my face.

Just in case you haven’t heard, Dave and his band, Sons of Maxwell, were travelling on United Airlines last year, when from the cramped aisle on the airplane they watched their luggage -- which included expensive guitars -- being tossed around below, suffering serious damage in the process.

After being stuck in the customer service hamster wheel with no resolution in sight, Carroll wrote three songs about his experience, recorded them, and released the first on YouTube. In less than a week, the video has gathered more than two million views. Since then, Carroll has been interviewed by TV stations and newspapers across North America.

What Carroll has done (aside from show us how poor his customer experience was) is remind us that we don’t need to be a large activist group to get attention and to make a difference.

We also don’t need to be a specific age or live in a major urban centre. David Shepherd and Travis Price, two Cambridge students, got their classmates to wear pink shirts to school after they witnessed a bully picking on a student wearing a pink shirt. The campaign spread like wildfire after a Facebook post engaged students across the country and even garnered comments from Ellen Degeneres on her talk show.

Every person has the power to do something to change the world and a great place to start is with something that makes you angry.

That’s what started Dallas Jessup (an Oregon student) to create Just Yell Fire. This freely distributed film was designed to teach young girls to defend themselves against attacks. Jessup wanted to make the video after she witnessed a brutal attack where a young girl who yelled “help, rape” was ignored.

She wanted to show girls some basic techniques to protect themselves and encourage them to yell “fire” to draw attention. The video currently has more than five million views, and has initiated self-defense and awareness programs in schools across North America.

These inspirational individuals thought the status quo wasn’t enough. They knew they wanted to make a difference and set forth to do something about it. None of them went out pursuing national (and international) attention. It just happened because they were doing something they believed in and pursued their passion.

So now it’s your turn — what will you do?

Christina Biluk is Director of Engagement for FUSION Halifax. Visit FUSIONHalifax.ca to find out how to get involved in shaping our city; theurbanscrawl@gmail.com.