We are currently planning for a great reunion in Tucson this summer. Dates are set and registration will open in early 2016!
by Pat Murphy ('72A), USA
A discussion on racial and ethnic inclusion was held this summer during Up with People’s Celebrate 50! Reunion 2015 in Orlando. The forum, “Does It Really Matter?,” was presented twice to standing-room-only overflow crowds and answered this question with a resounding YES!
The primary goal of the forum was to be a solution-driven discussion addressing the issue of under-represented races and ethnicities at all levels of Up with People. The inspiration to organize this event came from fellow alums Mario Romero and Tim Clark following discussions I had with them in the months leading up to the reunion. Realizing I’d need help organizing the event, I contacted another alumnus, Michael Knowles, who designed the format and agreed to moderate the discussion.
Session #1 opened with a brief video account of the civil rights movement of the ‘60s and ended with recent images from current headlines (special thanks to Alana Murphy–Alum 2010 B). The discussion featured panelists Nicole Magloire (African-American–UWP Admissions Counselor–Alum 2011), Humberto Alabado (Mexican-American–UWP Show Director–Alum 1975) and Tim Clark (African-American–Owner/President of Clark Connection Group–Alum 1987). Each panelist was asked questions about their cast experience and to share comments. Tim Clark commented: “coming into the UWP environment as an African American male, the load was heavy and it took a while to let your guard down… I felt alone… often no African Americans in the towns you visit and the only perception people had was what they see on television… I realized I had a mission and what made it so heavy was that there wasn’t enough representation in the cast where I felt I had help…” A succeeding discussion probed UWP’s ability to meet the challenges of an increasingly diverse global population.
Session #2 began with a PowerPoint presentation by Michael and Francine Knowles summarizing input from the first session. Leaning more towards an open discussion, attendees shared personal stories, observations and comments. Although this opened the door to a wide variety of noteworthy issues and concerns, the desire to increase participation of under-represented races and ethnicities in UWP remained a high priority.
Up with People President & CEO Dale Penny provided inspiring closing remarks briefly commenting on Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston, he then shared a personal experience he had with his cast in the 1970s. Dale spoke about a performance in the Boston school district after court-ordered desegregation–an assistant superintendent spoke with the cast afterwards saying: “I hope you understand what you did today. For the past year these students have heard mostly negative messages because of their race…. What you did is to let them know that they are important for who they are.” [they matter]
In conclusion Dale stated that “We, as Up with People, have had this discussion on diversity and inclusion many times in the past but this is the first time that so many different UWP era’s have had the discussion at the same time–together. I’m in, we’re in, the board is in, let’s all be in–together…”
So now, what’s the next step? Several great strategies are already in the works but there are two quick ways each of us can swing into action immediately:
- Find a student candidate, tell them about UWP, mentor them through the admissions process
- Make a donation to the "Does it Really Matter" Scholarship Fund by clicking here. Be sure to write ‘Does it Really Matter’ in the comment section to ensure that your gift is applied to the correct fund.
A Facebook group page has been established by Sebastian Hesse (Does it really matter–Up with People Alumni Group) and an email address (email@example.com) established by Michael and Francine Knowles. Join the conversation and be part of the solution on Facebook–and if you have specific ideas for contacts, partnerships or fundraising possibilities, feel free to send us an email.
by Linda Erley, E78, USA
All of us have sung “Up with People” so many times in so many ways, but how about singing it with the original songwriters almost as if you and 300 of your closest friends were in your own living room? This is what the crowd at a very special sold-out performance in Broomfield, Colorado had the good fortune to do in January, when the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen presented an unforgettable two-hour show, raising an estimated $10,000 for scholarships for future Up with People participants.
Here’s a brief history. Last summer, a group of alumni calling themselves Cast 5280 in a nod to Denver, CO’s altitude pooled resources to win this very special auction item at the alumni reunion. The Colwell brothers and Herb Allen initially agreed to donate their time and talent to perform in someone’s home, but when they realized the potential, they decided to take it a giant step further. A venue was found, the word was spread, tickets were sold and alumni came from as far as Germany, Arkansas, California, and Illinois to be a part of this incredible evening! A big thank you goes out to Cast 5280 for their time and generosity. Without you, this event could not have taken place.
The Colorado Rocky Mountain alumni gave a warm welcome to Steve, Paul, Ralph, Ted, Herb, and Ralph’s wife, Debbie. Alumni pulled together to make the show and logistics happen. That old UWP PR team training kicked in as we organized housing, meals, performance needs and, of course, parties. (Ok, maybe we didn’t plan quite as many parties while we were on the road!). It was truly a collaborative effort and a big thank you goes out to all alumni involved!
On performance night, the opening act featured UWP second-generation alumni Breton Shepherd (son of Rajean and Stu), Matthew Erley (son of Linda and Bruce) and Brodie Kinder (son of Sammie and Jeff). The trio performed a tribute song they had written to honor the legacy that the Colwell brothers and Herb created. A brief video montage created by Breton Shepherd followed the song, offering a look back on the lives of the Colwells and Herb spanning from the days before Mackinac Island to the present day.
The video ended with the words, “Their melody is all around us,” giving the Colwells and Herb the perfect cue to take the stage. Instantly, the audience was on its feet and the house shook with their applause. The audience roared with delight when Ralph leaned into the microphone and said, “We haven’t done anything yet.”
With Herbie on piano, Paul on banjo, Ralph tapping the base and Steve on guitar, they took us on a bluegrass tour through their early years, backed by alumni Glenn Johnson on drums and Bob Huff on lead guitar.
The always-charming Herbie delighted the audience with stories and played a sentimental rendition of “Ain’t Misbehaving” dedicated to Jane, his bride of 57 years. He brought the audience to its feet with his famous and extraordinary xylophone performance of “Flight of the Bumble Bee” (or as he calls it, “Plight of the Humble Bee”).
The audience got to experience the easy camaraderie between these artists who have worked together for 61 years. Just as they began a song about Colorado’s Wolf Creek Pass, Herbie casually wandered over to the brothers and asked what key they were going to use, then smiled, nodded and strolled back to the piano. Such a delightful moment!
Pat Murphy, another key player in Up with People’s musical history, then lit up the audience and reminded us of our common bond with his adaptation of “Reunion.” The updated tune has become the theme song of UWP’s 50th anniversary celebration this summer in Orlando, Florida.
The last surprise of the night was the appearance of Ted, the fourth Colwell brother. Ted carries on the legacy along with his three brothers as he sang and performed in the 1960s as Sing Out and UWP were starting out. Ted, who chose a career as a doctor, is a very talented guitar player and sometimes performs with his brothers on special occasions.
Helping to close out the show was a local children’s choir called P’zazz. The kids performed the 1967 UWP tune “Colorado” and were later joined for “Sound of Peace” by alumna Jill Lentz, wife of UWP Senior Vice President and Executive Producer Eric Lentz.
The show ended with Ted leading the enthusiastic crowd in “Up With People” with all the energy and joy that this landmark tune has been sung with around the world for 50 years. Clearly, no one wanted the evening to end. Thank you to the Colwell brothers and Herb Allen for the generous donation of their time and talent in creating such a priceless evening!
The Colwells and Herb Allen created a spark in our world through music five decades ago and continue to ignite our alumni community today and to touch the lives of millions of people across the globe. Today’s UWP cast members keep that spark of hope burning bright, building bridges of understanding that link us “One 2 One” in our unsettled world.
I feel the relevancy of UWP’s mission holds strong today and the relevancy of UWP alumni across our globe is more important than ever before. Can you hear it? Their melody is all around us. Let’s play it forward!
Special thanks to the members of Cast 5280 who were the underwriters of the show; Louisa Davis, Bruce and Linda Erley, Jeff and Sammie Kinder, Tim and Charlotte Lane, Mark and Hillary Langston, Joel McColl, Dale and Mindy Penny, Skip and Kay Searcy, Breton Shepherd, Reed and Jen Thompson, Steve and Terry Woods, and Bill and Phyllis Worcester.
A DVD of this special performance, including the video montage presented at the show, is now available for purchase at ushop.joycomultimedia.com/upwithpeople.aspx, with part of the proceeds benefitting the UWP Global Scholarship Fund. A special thank you to Bob Coffin and Joyco Multimedia for his generosity and expertise in taping the performance.
My name is Emily Mongeon and I’m traveling in Cast B 2015. I currently live in Farmington, Connecticut with my loving and supportive family. At home, I spend most of my time writing. My journals never leave my side, and are filled with poetry, prose, and what I hope to someday be parts of a published book. Aside from writing, I play acoustic and electric guitar and the ukulele. Though I have spent the past year attending a local university, I will be taking a six-month leave of absence from school to travel in Up With People!
For the past three years I have attended Camp Up With People in Harrisonburg, VA, USA. The purpose of the camp is to give the campers an idea of what life in Up With People is like over a three week time period. From the time I have spent there, I have gained insight into what I will be encountering for the next six months of my life. Because of the experience I already have, I know that I am more than ready for the hard work that is ahead of me!
On June 28th, I will be flying from Connecticut, USA to Denver, Colorado to begin staging for Up With People. I have traveled many times on airplanes, but never have I done it by myself. My mother told me that when she traveled, her entire family came with her to say goodbye at the gates before she boarded her plane. However, since the recent air travel protocol is to go through massive amounts of security, I’ll be doing quite the opposite. Natural human instinct in a situation like this is to be afraid or anxious. However, I am nothing short of excited to be setting out on my own to start a new part of my life.
I am lucky enough to already be friends with some of the people that I am traveling with. Thanks to Camp Up With People, I will be traveling with over a dozen past campers! There is comfort in knowing that I will never truly be alone, especially with people that already know me so well. I have but a short amount of time to wait before I am reunited with old friends, and include new people into my circle. There may be over one million words in the English language, but I could never string enough of them together to describe how excited I am to be a part of the Up With People journey.
I would like to say a massive “thank you” to the UWPIAA for the incredible scholarship to help me along in my travels. My participation in Cast B 2015 would be impossible without the extreme generosity of the Alumni Association, and their will to make dreams a reality.