(GUEST COLUMN) - After visiting 50 cities in seven days, the first thing people ask me is how the trip was. Without thinking, I often reply that it was a "good time." Quickly I realize the irony of defining a trip by the very song we spent hours listening to, practicing with every community and ultimately using to create a statewide sing-along.
When we created the Grand Rapids LipDub. last year, it was partly in response to Newsweek calling Grand Rapids a "dying city." What resulted was nearly 5 million YouTube views, worldwide broadcast media attention and an overwhelming sense of pride in our community.
This project was more ambitious. Not only in the number of cities but, more important, in attempting to bring an entire state together.
• Watch the Michigan LipDub video here.
There are real issues that face every community in Michigan. We know that a single project isn't going to change that. What it can do is change perception. It can change the way the rest of the country views us. It can provide a rallying cry for an entire state of hardworking and motivated people.
What impressed me the most was the excitement each community had about this project. We would drive into a town with no expectations and be continually surprised by the energy, the organization, the pride each community had in its own scene.
Flint closed off its downtown, lining the streets with a hundred classic cars and a thousand people. Newberry did the same with its downtown and fire department. Muskegon choreographed a dance. Grand Haven, where I grew up, packed the pier and used a helicopter.
I was stunned by natural beauty I had never witnessed. We woke up to a sunrise on Sugarloaf Mountain, kayaked past Pictured Rocks, made my business partner Rob Bliss parasail next to the Mackinac Bridge, went fishing in Grayling, stared up at a giant windmill in Holland.
I was in awe of places like The Henry Ford, Meadowbrook Hall and Saginaw's Temple Theatre. The history and the atmosphere in each place are unmistakable. They are places you have to experience at least once.
I had the chance to stare up from the 50-yard-line of a near-empty Michigan Stadium, drive around the track at Michigan International Speedway, join a toga party in Ypsilanti. I met Miss Jackson and did my best not to make an Outkast reference.
Most important, I had the chance to meet new people all over the state. I had the opportunity everywhere to hear stories and learn something new.
I'm energized. I'm grateful. I'm looking forward to sharing this video with everyone. We started a business in Michigan and hope to be one of its many success stories in the not-so-distant future.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. Even with 50 cities, we know we couldn't show every great part of Michigan, but we hope to show the rest of the world just how great Michigan is.
Jeff Barrett is the Co-Founder of Status Creative in Grand Rapids.
By Jeff Barrett