No, not Jazz Jennings. As another trans woman, I would, of course, love to meet such a celebrated soul in my community. Pero no.
While stopping at a local laundromat to clean my soiled clothes, I couldn’t help but multitask. My phone was charging on the other side of the long, machine-lined room, so I flipped through my Canon DSLR’s photo gallery. I usually do this or write in a notebook, because I’m all about process.
“Do you do videos?”
Now, I won’t lie, an attractive man my age saying anything to me at all gave me butterflies. The fact that he seemed interested in something creative — and that he wasn’t asking something sexual — was the icing on the cake. Hallelujah!
I didn’t know that it was about to get even better though.
“Yeah, but I mostly shoot animals, nature, events, stuff that falls under photojournalism.” I said something to that effect. And knowing me, I probably over-explained.
That’s when he introduced himself: Jazz, a 27 year-old entrepreneur from California, who was asking for a band he’s producing.
If you’re reading, Jazz, I want to reiterate: f*** yeah, dude.
We got to talking on a lot of subjects when I told him that I had just backpacked over 200 miles to volunteer to help refugees. He was intrigued by my goals to help others, explore, and create something for myself. Especially that I wanted to create a nonprofit to change the world.
We may have had differing opinions on how to fix democracy and what policies were necessary, but that was the most fun about talking to him.
We dove deep on this subject especially. His inner father of two came out. You could see the passion, like fire in his eyes.
He believed, as I do, that we can talk things out and get involved, and leave the world a better place for our children.
It was refreshing to have such a critical discussion and debate without any altercation, conflict, or negativity.
Jazz described himself as a conservative in the policy sense, otherwise a devout independent with liberal social leanings.
We agreed on a lot, but we had to work out exactly how a moral capitalist society could grow. A lot of the issue, we found, was in a lack of values, geared towards the greater good. That, and the hypocrisy of our current political system and the leadership therein, including corporations.
As a small business owner, he enjoyed tax breaks. However, as an individual executive, he knew that doing good meant something too. His background growing up helped inform this desire to help others.
We also found common ground on businesses like music, media, and utilities. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Sony, etc. They’re taking over markets and don’t appear to be doing their fair share to mitigate nepotism and other forms of corruption.
Back to democracy.
We agreed on something that seems like it would be a basic necessity in governing: local democracy.
However, even in local democracy, there too we cited nepotism. The hiring of friends and family for self-enrichment rather than hiring people who could do the most good in the public interest, is an endemic issue in every U.S. city.
If people could spare the time, make the space to research, and had the funds to pitch in, local democracy would surely be more direct.
Maybe with integrity in local news and constant communication, officials and voters could share the burden of the work.
Perhaps everyone could be paid for their contributions to society, no different than elected government, receiving benefits in equity.
This is where Jazz seemed most interested in my proposal for a nonprofit.
I tried to describe the concept in as few words as possible.
Basically, to find volunteers, and the people willing to struggle to make a difference — independent journalists, teachers, nurses, first responders, and activists — and unite them.
Not stopping there though!
In creating an open university between them, a location independent newsroom, and a free-formed space to train volunteers and those hoping to build more resilient communities.
This idea, he brought back to my attention, was something I’ll likely be working on for the rest of my life, especially if I don’t build my team quickly.
So that’s my next mission: in addition to helping where I can, photographing, and journaling, I’m looking for those people that want to travel with less of a negative impact and more of an empowering one.
Jazz, that sounds like you. We’ll see where your band fits in. I can’t wait to chat again.
Are you like Jazz? Are you creative or interested in creating something that benefits a larger community? Leave your story in the comments below!