THE CONCERT FOR AMERICA

       AN OPEN LETTER TO: the Honorable Mayor David Briley, Vice Mayor Sheri Weiner, Nashville City Council and Citizens of the greater metropolitan area of Nashville, Tennessee:

       Nashville is in an affordable housing crisis. On any given night in our city, there are an estimated 4,000 people who lack a stable, affordable place to call home. Waiting lists are perpetually far above capacity and, people have literally frozen to death here in Nashville.

       As would be expected, the significant costs related to providing adequate affordable housing for the poor is a major concern for our city.  This proposal seeks to address and alleviate such concerns by offering a viable non-partisan alternative to providing such housing at taxpayersí expense.

       The City of Nashville has a vested interest in the popular music industry and likewise, the music industry is a significant part of the greater Nashville area community.  Because of this unique reality, there exists a legitimate and viable opportunity in our community to raise a considerable amount of funding for constructing low-cost affordable housing for folks who desperately need it.

       Community and civic leaders, in conjunction with the ownership of Nissan Stadium, could join with prominent music artists who reside in the Nashville area or who otherwise visit from time to time, to host a weekend benefit concert in the stadium, extending from a Friday through Sunday.  Due to modern communication advances, such an event could be broadcast in real time on a national and global level; videos, CDs and individual songs could be sold everywhere via digital technology.

       Many name artists have demonstrated a deep and ongoing personal commitment and desire to help in various large-scale and other charitable projects and events.  And, if Nashville area civic and community leaders and citizens would get behind such a project, perhaps major artists would be willing to participate in such a worthy cause as providing affordable homes for people who need them.

       Local business leaders and national corporate sponsors could be approached to help underwrite costs and otherwise raise revenue and awareness.  The City of Nashville could thus obtain more than enough funding to provide low-cost housing for impoverished people in our area.

       A model low-cost program, as has already been successfully demonstrated in other cities, could charge 30% of a participantís total income and require that they actively seek employment if not elderly or severely disabled, thus guarding against abuse and providing incentive to move on into private sector housing as their income increases.

       Additionally, the music industry and City of Nashville would be setting a fine and patriotic example of what could be done in other cities and nations around the world. Besides the immediate value of providing low-cost housing for the poor, there is an added and far greater potential value of setting a positive, caring example for our children and others in our nation and around the world to emulate.

       In the wake of 9/11 and various recent natural disasters, people of all beliefs and walks of life have demonstrated that the greatness of America lies in the combined efforts, dedication and willingness of her people to reach out and work together in times of adversity and need.  And, Americans of all religious, political and other beliefs could fairly embrace such an all-inclusive non-partisan event.

       Please help our homeless citizens, for we are all Godís children and we all have known and can relate to pain, hunger, loneliness, despair and suffering.  May God bless the City of Nashville and our nation, as we come to the aid of our sick, poor and most vulnerable among us.


VARIOUS IDEAS TO ENHANCE REVENUE AND AWARENESS

       Below are a few ideas which may or may not be useful for this particular event. The most important thing about this kind of event, is that it could set a positive example and inspire many millions of people to help other people.  The power of positive inspiration is immeasurable, causing both children and adults to become valuable citizens of our future.

       Take a year or more to carefully plan the event so that it occurs when most convenient to not interrupt artist tours and other scheduled events and, to not interfere with Titans football or other scheduled stadium events.  Determine a date that would be most accommodating to the the majority, as well as would likely be warm dry weather, rather than too cold or too hot for those attending.

       Rather than just viewing this as a music event, instead encourage the entire city of Nashville to become involved, with various organizations and community leaders working together with business leaders, professional and amateur athletes, churches, schools, clubs and other organizations.  ln particular, it is important that schools and universities be involved, encouraging children and young adults to care about our city and nation, while leaving a positive lasting influence and inspiration on them.

       Wire in feeds from other major U.S. cities hosting their own concert events in conjunction with the main Nashville event, as well as major cities around the world, similar to what has been done in some previous events.  Neil Young and Bob Dylan for example, might be willing to help organize an event to help Skid Row in Los Angeles, Bruce Springsteen for Newark, John Mellancamp for Indianapolis and other artists who call New York, Chicago, Detroit, Austin and various other cities home.

       Approach television networks for live coverage, similar to a Jerry Lewis telethon where some time is given to local outlets so people can donate in their own cities, as well as contribute to the national event.  Have paid commercials, a portion of the revenue which could then be donated to the event after subtracting a percentage for network compensation for use of air time.

       Approach corporations like Pepsi, Budweiser, McDonald's and other major brands to underwrite costs associated with the event and otherwise raise significant extra funding.  The price for corporate sponsorship could be a sliding scale based on number of viewers that the event attracts on a global level, which could be a larger number than the Super Bowl or World Cup and thus, highly attractive to large corporations and, they could be charged fairly based on the audience size.

       Encourage corporate sponsors to conduct their own campaigns at local outlets by various methods, such as offering free song downloads at fast food outlets, some grand prizes of premium seats to the event, autographed memorabilia and similar ways of marketing that are currently often used by various brands in conjunction with artist releases.  Involving corporations in various ways could be used as advertising compensation back to them for helping to underwrite the event.

       Ask a few conservative artists to go on Fox on the same day that a few liberal artists go on MSNBC and announce a national challenge for the audiences to see whether conservatives or liberals can raise the most funding to contribute to helping America's veterans, homeless and poor.  Offer various prizes, such as special signed items for certain amounts contributed, free tickets to events and other items like videos, CDs, t-shirts and similar for contributing a certain set amount or more.

       Ask various artists to appear on different television talk shows on the same date, making a coordinated national announcement of the event perhaps 3 months or so ahead of time.  This would create a very large media buzz, resulting in wide-scale free advertising for the event, as well as stir up public interest about helping the homeless and poor in their own various communities.

       Publicly challenge the White House and Congress leading up to the event, to draft special legislation to match the amount of funding the event raises.  This not only would double the amount of funds raised but also, funds from the special legislation could be used exclusively to help homeless veterans and their families, while funds raised from the event could then be used to help the rest of the homeless and poor.  This would result in veterans and families of veterans receiving 50% of total funding raised, as well as double the total amount of funding that could otherwise be achieved.

       One of the objections from record labels regarding past events is that using artists' regular songs for charity can interfere with revenue streams and created various legal issues.  A way to avoid this is to ask a few top writers and publishers to organize a side pool of songs, where every songwriter who wants to, could contribute a song written specifically for the event and then, the top writers and publishers could make final choices with perhaps middle people in-between to whittle the songs down to the best 100 or so.  Let artists choose which songs they want from the top songs selected and artists who wish could write their own songs specifically for the event. Publishing and writers' shares could be legally signed off to create ongoing revenue streams for additional funding. The advantage to a songwriter would be the prestige of having their song selected and, this could give some unknown writers a chance to be recognized, based on the quality of their song.

       Various schools, churches, organizations and other groups could make a combined group effort to raise funds and then contribute as a group.  Group efforts to raise funding can involve various activities within a group, including collecting actual money, auctioning off donated items, car washes and similar things that when combined, can result in considerably more revenue than when people just contribute individually.  Note how various groups like fire fighters, police, bikers and other groups do various things to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy and other causes; the power of combined group effort can be highly effective and should be encouraged.

       A special non-profit foundation could be set up specifically to handle funding for this particular event and, someone chosen to run it who has an impeccable public track record.  Another option could be to use a well-recognized established charity with a good track record, like Comic Relief or Habitat for Humanity, to set up a side program to handle funds collected that is separate from their other funds.

       Although there are many things homeless and poor people need, such as medical care, jobs, clothing and various intervention and other programs, it would be wise for this event to focus solely on affordable housing.  This is because if the focus becomes too broad, it can seem overwhelming and discourage people from wanting to help.  Most people who work with the homeless and poor agree that affordable housing is the number one priority and, it is wise to have a singular focus that the public can easily relate to and, where revenues can be more easily accounted for.

       It is important for the general public to be informed that the idea is not to give away free housing but rather, to charge 30% of someone's income and, to require they either have a job or actively seek employment on a regular and ongoing basis, if not elderly or severely disabled and, that they refrain from all illegal activity.  Most elderly and disabled people could also do things in return, such as monitoring housing units for rules compliance, record keeping and computer work.


POINTS OF VALUE FOR NASHVILLE IN ADDITION TO HELPING OUR POOR

       If the City of Nashville would endorse and help coordinate such a music benefit event as proposed, perhaps the greatest benefit to the city would be, that the community at large would then feel comfortable about getting behind and supporting a significant joint-community based effort to help not only those who are poor and have been severely harmed by economic recession, but to help our city as a whole become a more safe, friendly, caring and vibrant community-oriented place to live.

       Such an effort could not only involve music entertainers, but also include local civic and religious leaders, athletes, churches, universities, lower grade schools, clubs, civic, fire, police and fraternal organizations and a long list of other organizations and groups, coming together in a large community based joint effort. And in turn, inspire our adult citizens and children to view Nashville as our jointly shared community, that we should all love, respect and be proud to call home.

       This short list below, represents just a few of the many reasons why creating affordable housing would be a major plus for the entire Nashville community, as well as greatly benefiting the homeless and poor.

       1) There are many foreclosed, dilapidated and otherwise abandoned properties in various areas of Nashville and surrounding areas.  The police are concerned because they drive up drug dealing and crime rates in general and property owners are concerned because vacant properties cause neighborhoods to be less safe and drive down property values.  While many of these structures are houses, there are also abandoned larger buildings that could be turned into single apartments.

       2) If a large amount of funding was secured from a benefit event, it could be used to purchase many of these abandoned properties, fix them up and make them energy efficient.  This would create thousands of jobs and stimulate growth in construction and related industries.  A special non-profit could be set up to handle funding or, funding could be handled using a trusted name organization.

       3) The properties could then be used as affordable low-cost housing for the poor, charging them 30% of their income, regardless of amount, requiring them to maintain the properties inside and out and, requiring them to either work or look for employment.  Those who are elderly or severely disabled and unable to work could be put in charge doing office, computer and paperwork and, reporting negative behavior and making sure properties are maintained.

       4) Care could be given to moving homeless and poor families into neighborhoods that are family oriented, while moving single people into renovated apartment type structures or into areas that are more or less mostly abandoned or otherwise less family oriented neighborhood environments.

       5) Moving the homeless out of the downtown and other public areas and into housing would create a much more attractive, cleaner and safer environment for tourism, as well as for the Nashville community at large.  And it would greatly alleviate related public health and sanitary issues.

       6) Nashville would stand out nationally, as being a major urban community of citizens who decided to jointly do something significant to demonstrate our love and appreciation for our city, state and nation, a large joint community effort that would inspire cities all over the world to do likewise.

       7) Nashville is a very diverse community, where extreme conservatives, extreme liberals and everyone in-between live side by side.  And in spite of our religious, political and other differences, we know in our hearts, that helping our sick and poor is the righteous, right and patriotic thing to do.


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