We + You: A Call for Social Solidarity

Life has been quite different.  As we transition into new realities, we understand that life will continue to look different for a while.  Perhaps, for one reason or another, life will be different forever.  Uncertainty and change are going to be constants, adding challenging thoughts to our already complex lives.

Organizations and businesses will implement varying policies and procedures.  Families and neighbors will choose different ways of adapting.  Individuals will carry an array of perspectives on any number of approaches.  While this all may feel unprecedented, the fundament is nothing new.  The freedom to think, speak, and act in diverse ways is a cornerstone built into the foundation of this country.  Just as we’ve all experienced different scales of inconveniences and pains, it’s increasingly obvious that we will move forward with different beliefs and feelings about what’s too much, too little, or just right.  That’s OK.

With these diverse liberties, however, comes an obligation of mutual respect, patience and genuine care for one another.  While it’s almost difficult to remember, there were plenty of things that divided us before COVID-19 came on the scene.  Why do we have to let this virus be another one of those things?  Perhaps we can approach this differently.  Our opinions and thoughts don’t need to be aligned, but we can be united in our ability to give one another some space, some trust, some peace, and some hope.

Stronger than any amount of resource distributions, organizational efforts, corporate policies or government regulations, will be our individual responsibility to support and care for one another over the next several months.

In the grand scale of humanity, our ability to emerge from this global pandemic will not be remembered by social distancing but by social unity.  This doesn’t mean agreeing on everything, but it does mean leaning into our personal duty to remain compassionate, patient, and adaptable.

This sort of “collective strength” philosophy is one that our region has been positively experiencing more frequently.  Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of serving in various roles related to the Indiana Regional Cities initiative.  The goals have been to leverage assets throughout the state to create more livable and nationally recognized communities.  There is an incredible amount of talent and capacity in the South Bend Elkhart Region, and the people circling around this initiative are inspiring.   One of the more recent projects the team has shaped is a regional brand, which you can read about in full here.

The South Bend Elkhart Region’s new brand “WE + YOU” captures the spirit of collective impact coupled with individual contributions… and it’s recently taken on an expanded meaning.  We didn’t anticipate promoting a new campaign during such a complex and difficult time.  Nonetheless, it’s clear that our 47 connected cities and towns – spanning St. Joseph, Elkhart, & Marshall Counties – are leaning on one another for strength and support.  Just as this virus knows no geographic or political boundaries, our greatest strength is our ability to work, act, and respond as a region.

WE are together.  YOU are doing your part.

In that spirit, a group of creatives pulled together to produce what might be the first ever South Bend Elkhart Regional art project.  We contacted fourteen musicians across three different counties and gave them some simple instructions.  Now I didn’t interview each of them, but my guess is that just as their musical contributions differ, their perspectives on life, politics, religion – and yes even the virus response – differ as well.  Regardless, they were able to set those things aside and share their talents to create something very special.

After viewing the video, know that we’d like to feature your pictures through the creation of another regional project that will take the form of a photo mosaic. Learn more and submit your pictures here.

Please enjoy the talents of the South Bend Elkhart Region as we honor the recently deceased Bill Withers.  The critical message of solidarity will get us through these complex times while collectively making our communities stronger.


Produced by: chuckfry.com
Executive Producer: Aaron Perri
Edited by: Ryan Blaske
Mixed / Arranged: Eli Kahn
Drums: Nicholas Brabhan
Vocals: The Ember Jar
Violin: Caitlyn Marissa Faust
Harmonica: Greg Fry
Vocals: Joey Garcia
Rap: Heyzeus
Keys/Vocals: Kloe Je
Trombone: Max Johnson
Guitar/Beats: Eli Kahn
Trombone: Scott Lehman
Vocals: Dezha Moore
Bass: Buddy Pearson
Flugelhorn: Scott Senff


Aaron Perri works to provide quality places and experiences in the City of South Bend as the Executive Director of South Bend Venues Parks & Arts. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Aaron earned his undergraduate degree in Arts & Letters as well as a Master’s of Business Administration. Aaron is a published author, consultant, and a well-traveled speaker with extensive experience in the business development, event planning, entertainment, audio/visual, and food service industries. Prior to working for the City of South Bend, Aaron was the Executive Director of Downtown South Bend, Inc. where he focused on business growth and place-making efforts which included spearheading the city’s sesquicentennial celebration and the installation of South Bend River Lights. Perri is active in many local boards and has received state and nation-wide recognition for his community development efforts.