Each holiday season, there is an undeniable spirit of giving. As any wise man will tell you, the best gift is to give. While I was in law school, I spent many study breaks enjoying TED talks, which kept my mind humming while diverting it from legal lore. It was a happy distraction; I owe TED for keeping me content during these years of grueling academia. Perhaps the most poignant discussion was given by Michael Norton just before I graduated, in April 2012, entitled, How To Buy Happiness. This presentation uses data to demonstrate that spending money on others’ benefit actually leads to an increase in your own happiness. Sound selfish? Hardly. This is just wisdom, which could be applied year round, not only during the holidays.
This year, I found myself giving my time and resources to various organizations. I am an Attorney Member of Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, which gave me clients ranging from children’s books authors, to international philanthropists, and family photographers. I also volunteered my time privately with a handful of artists. My volunteer work is not completely altruistic. As the example above shows how one can buy happiness when spending money on others, I paid my tuition with time to let clients teach me something to improve my overall knowledge. Whether it was their business acumen, marketing genius, or unique creative process, I appreciated each of their contributions, and was grateful for the opportunity.
Perhaps the greatest gift this year was my work with Album 88 Alumni, an organization, which I helped create, to preserve the tradition of college radio on WRAS Atlanta, 88.5FM, Album 88. I previously served as a college radio disc jockey in undergraduate and graduate programs of study, which required time sacrifices. These sacrifices were valuable to me because they paved the way to my career of service. The call to action arose on May 6, 2014, the day that the GPB takeover was announced publicly. Not sooner than one day before, I had ceased my contract work to devote all of my time and energy to my law practice. I could not decide whether the timing was irony, destiny, or a little bit of both. Never the less, there was a need for someone with my legal skills and experience, and it helped that I worked within the local music industry, which benefitted greatly from student-controlled programming. Add to that, I had deep-rooted loyalty to the station; thus, I was ready, willing, and able to give.
During the next six months, I volunteered almost 200 hours with students, fellow WRAS alumni, and local music industry, on a variety of issues to educate and inform the community of the value of student-controlled radio programming; to unite the graduates, who served at 88.5FM and were now enjoying successful careers in a variety of areas, including in journalism and broadcasting; and, to explore all possible remedies to reverse the decision made by the GSU administration to bargain away one of the most valuable resources in our state. Album 88 was the flagship college radio station that earned national accolades each year; artists as diverse as Outkast, Deerhunter, Indigo Girls, and R.E.M. credited Album 88 with launching their careers. We held benefits, published infographics, and distributed merch (what self-respecting music g33ks can entertain a cause without merch?!). One crowning moment was when the Atlanta community named the #saveWRAS movement in the “BEST OF ATLANTA” series, which is published annually by Creative Loafing, as Rabble Rouser/ Activist of the Year.
At the end of 2014, Album 88 Alumni achieved tax-exempt status, which validates its mission, “to preserve student-controlled radio programming at Georgia State University’s WRAS-Atlanta 88.5 FM (Album 88) by serving as an advocate for the nation’s first 100,000-watt student-run college radio station, strengthening the bond between alumni and current students for their benefit, and providing an association for former Album 88 staff everywhere.” The fight is not over. As a wise woman once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” Margaret Mead, anthropologist, writer, and speaker (1901-1978). For a comprehensive view of the story as told by local, regional, and national media, see #saveWRAS.
Happy New Year and best wishes in 2015.