As social media continues to become inundated with endless negativity, from COVID-19 death updates and drastic political opinions, to the demon squirrels attacking New Yorkers, the world is desperately in need of some good.
And Jonathan Sprout is trying to provide it.
On Feb. 1, the Southampton resident and Grammy-nominated musician of 40 years will release Innocence – the second album in a series of uplifting New Age compositions. Each song correlates to a short film on YouTube, encouraging viewers to become aware of global issues like homelessness and climate change. Beginning in February, a film will be released every other month through the end of 2022.
Additionally, each short film will coincide with a virtual fundraising event for a charity or nonprofit organization that’s working to create positive change on the topic of the film. On Sunday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m., the first fundraiser will benefit Snipes Farm’s efforts to provide healthy food to those in need at Levittown’s Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter.
All of these initiatives are being done under the umbrella of Force For Good, founded by Sprout to highlight the bright spots in our ever-darkening society.
“Our intention is to bring light to people and organizations doing great things,” he said. “I know that you get more of a reaction [on social media] if you get people angry. You get more likes and more retweets if you can come up with some fiery post that just really upsets people. That’s exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to do here.”
The Times first spoke with Sprout in February 2020 when he released Passions – the first album in the Force For Good music series. That project and Innocence are nearly four years in the making, and Sprout said he’s thrilled to finally unveil them. For Sprout, working so far ahead came in handy during COVID-19.
“The irony of all of this with Force For Good is that we had planned everything out long before the pandemic hit, so everything has continued to go on schedule. Most of it was already created, so we’ve just tried to rise above the state of crisis and continue releasing stuff,” he explained. “It was nice because it gave us an opportunity to be fresh and new to our people every month.”
“Homeless” will be the first short film for Innocence. The piece was inspired by Elvis Summers, whom Sprout met in Los Angeles, California. Summers is a passionate advocate for the homeless and builds tiny homes for those without one. Viewers can see Summers’ work, along with the endless scattering of tents on Skid Row. A coinciding fundraiser will be scheduled at a to-be-determined date in February.
“The gist of the film is to point out that homeless people are, of course, people, and they’re not much different than people who live in homes,” Sprout said. “Elvis explains that a lot of them have just run into perfect storms or a series of mishaps. One thing led to the other and they were without homes. The intent behind the film is to try to bring awareness to homelessness and help people like Elvis who are combating it.”
Upcoming films are “Natural,” which focuses on preserving parks and nature; “Vinyasa,” which is all about the practice of yoga; and “Plastic,” which urges viewers to reduce, reuse and recycle. There will be 11 films total for Innocence, the last being “Hunger,” which centers on the work of Philabundance.
As for the fundraiser on Jan. 17, the program will include a showing of the Passions short film “Organic” and a conversation with Snipes owners Jonathan and Melanie Douty Snipes. While the event is free, $10 donations are accepted and will be used to provide organic produce to the Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter.
As the only nonprofit educational, community-supported organic farm in Bucks County, Snipes provides food and educational assistance to underserved populations in the area, including the homeless, low-income residents, seniors and those who are facing increased food insecurity due to the pandemic. Its mission is to teach sustainable agriculture. An example of this is Snipes’ installation of a community garden at the Homeless Shelter.
“It is critically important for kids to have these experiences early on, to learn to love a piece of open space and feel a connection to the land,” said Melanie. “Kids who dislike vegetables and kids who have never had access to healthy organic foods feel a sense of pride and ownership in their homegrown produce. One boy was so proud of a squash he had grown that he carried it around like a baby all day long at camp.”
Sprout is planning to host a virtual fundraiser every other month in sync with the short film releases.
“We want to use our films as uplifters for individuals or organizations that we feel are doing marvelous things,” he said. “Being nice is good. Doing nice is better. Uplifting those who do good things is best.”
Register for the virtual fundraiser at tinyurl.com/y7xememl. For more information on Force For Good, visit forceforgoodmusic.com and facebook.com/ForceForGoodMusic. The music is available on Spotify and iTunes. Visit fsabc.org/program/homeless-services for more on the Homeless Shelter. Visit snipesfarm.org for more on Snipes Farm, located in Morrisville.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org