Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


A Drop of Red Dye 

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When I first arrived in Winnipeg it felt like I was in a city that was happy to just be hiding in the middle of nowhere. At a welcoming committee I attended, one of the professors said to me, “Winnipeggers are proud of the many great things that are here. However, we like to keep quiet about them because we don’t want a lot of other people to come here and just take them away from us.”

Something’s changed here since then. I look around today and I see a flashy new stadium being erected at the U of M campus for the Blue Bombers—who, by the way, almost won the Grey Cup. I also see streets all over the city being repaired on a massive scale and unprecedented urban expansion with an IKEA springing forth on the south end. We’re also sporting a brand new airport and the return of the Jets. (The ones that play hockey!) The Marcel A Desautels Faculty of Music will be moving to the newly renovated Tache Hall as part of the Domino project on the U of M campus. The crowning glory of all this new growth is the new Human Rights Museum.

There’s some smaller scale stuff too. New boutiques and restaurants are emerging everywhere and now there’s a jazz club on Portage that everyone’s buzzing about. On an even smaller scale, the Wednesday Night Hang is just hopping with fresh new faces every week. Many of these young players already have with their own voices.

These changes don’t just happen. Individuals like you and me make them happen.

I was at a ceremony in October when the Governor General eloquently illuminated the power of the individual with this anecdote. Considering himself a witty storyteller, the Governor General was a taken aback to discover that his kids preferred the birthday party entertainment of their friends’ dad. He decided to attend the party as a spectator to see just what his rival was doing.

Turns out the guy performed a magic act, and one of his best tricks was changing water into wine. During the trick, the magician turned his back and dropped a tincture of red dye into a glass of water. That one drop turned the glass of water red and the magician was awarded with cheers of delight and thunderous applause.

To the Governor General, the drop of red dye is a metaphor for making a difference in the world. He spoke about Mother Teresa being one person caring for a very limited number of people in a vast population of needy, or Gandhi’s inspired concept of nonviolent protest.

It’s easy to imagine that one person can’t make much difference. Feeling like only one person against all odds can tempt us not to even try. But just like that drop of red dye, an idea can start a trend and who knows what can happen next?

Who are the critical drops in your circle of friends? Is it you?

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