One Muncie native is hoping to bring change to the Muncie community's ongoing meth problem with the help of music.
Michael Martin of the band, Michael Martin and the Beautiful Mess, is starting a camp for kids is starting on June 10 to inspire the community this summer.
After reading an article in the Muncie Star Press, “Muncie: Meth City or Smart City,” Martin said he knew he had to do something. He grew up in the community and said it's very important to him.
“I just really care about Muncie and really wanted to see something different from my hometown compared to what you see on the news everyday,” Martin said.
Martin reached out to Mayor Dennis Tyler with the idea of a kids camp for community members to kick start the summer. As a result, the City of Muncie, the Parks Department, Muncie Downtown Development Partnership and Martin have put together a three-week camp program called "Make Music Not Meth."
Each week the program will be set up as a one-hour camp aimed towards kids from 7-8 p.m. and then end the night with a two-hour concert for all ages from 8-10 p.m.
Both the camp and concerts free to all community members.
Tyler said he is excited for the camp and what it will do for Muncie.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Tyler said. “Muncie and many communities like Muncie are dealing with this meth issue and to a lot of younger generations – both men and woman – music means a lot to them. Mike’s ideas to try and tie music into this initiative to reduce the issue and get kids interested in something else ... I think this is a great idea.”
Martin said the mission of "Make Music not Meth" is to inspire the entire Muncie community, starting with the kids.
“In the end, [the camp] could help change what [the kids] knew about meth,” Martin said. “Maybe there is a certain part of the community that thinks meth is cool or a party drug, or whatever they think. The message we want to get across is that meth is not cool.”
Harvey Wright, superintendent of parks said reaching out about the dangers of meth is not only important to the youth but also to families in the community.
“It’s not just a kids' issue. There are all ages effected by the drugs,” Wright said. “The adults need to know just as much as the youth do and if I had a child that young, if my kids were still small enough, I would want them to know about it. But at the same time, I would want to know about it as well so if I see symptoms I could help.”
Martin reached out to his band members and other musicians and entertainers for help and was happy with the responses he got. Mikial Robertson, The Shamaniacs, Cynda Williams, Katie Garringer and Caryn Egan will all also be a part of the program.
“I knew a lot of these people really well and it was more of a friend reaching out to a friend,” Martin said. “Everybody sees the issues with the meth and the drugs, and particularly within the youth. We all – between family and friends – have dealt with it so everyone really liked the idea of starting with the kids.”
Week one’s curriculum (June 10) will be “Rhythm by Mikial Robertson and The Shamaniacs” where The Shamaniacs will invite kids to join in their drum circle. The band will invite others to join them on stage as they perform from 6-7:30 p.m. before Mikial performs his own concert.
Week two (June 17) will be "Songwriting and Women in Business" taught by Katie Garringer, Cynda Williams and Caryn Egan who will all perform together after the lesson.
For the last week (June 24), the curriculum will be “The Music Business and Finding Your Own Voice," taught by Martin and his band.
After the last camp lesson, Michael Martin and the Beautiful Mess will perform.
Mayor Tyler said he's hoping for a large turn out and to make "Make Music not Meth" an annual event.
“We have some really talented people volunteering their time to participate in this,” Tyler said. “I am really excited to see how its going to work and if it does, hopefully we can expand it.”
Martin said he's already working on expanding the program. He's invested in The Muncie Community Market, located at 900 W. Eighth St., at the corner of Eighth and Hoyt.
The old building will be transformed into a general store, media center and music and entrepreneur center that will be made available to the kids and families of the community in June when the program begins.
“It was just something I wanted to do,” Martin said. "This is something that I wanted to invest into the community and give back to how good the community has been to me.”
Martin said the music camp and Community Market are all part of a series to change the City of Muncie.
“There may be some families around here who may be really feeling the effects of drug abuse or poverty and so on,” Martin said. “There is not a lot of positivity going around that you can get involved in and so the idea is to have the families come together. We are trying to encourage people that they can make a difference and show them that there are people who do care.”