The Love Mob Is Saving the World With Group Sing-Alongs
Preston Smiles, Allison Kunath and Mustafa Shakir
Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." The Beatles said, "All you need is love." The Love Mob, in essence, combines these two concepts.
The Los Angeles-based group performs a capella covers of classics. Their goal? Nothing short of creating a cultural/social/spiritual revolution, by facilitating organized acts of love. (No, not that kind you maniac.)
It comes down to this, say Love Mob founders Preston Smiles, Allison Kunath and Mustafa Shakir: Love makes everyone feel good. And therein lies the answers to our web of societal challenges: violence, greed, sadness, loneliness, etc. Happy Valentine's Day!
"There's already organized crime, why not organized love?" says Shakir. "This is about creating moments where people can see that they have more power than they think. That they don't just have to go into their bubbles and be a battery in a machine that they don't even like."
What they do is this: 1) Get a bunch of people together to sing a popular song about a positive emotion 2) Dance a bit 3) Feel good 4) Carry that good feeling out into the world.
"As a society, we're in this place where everyone feels like they need to do something, but they don't know where to go," says Smiles. (While Smiles is not his last name by birth, he is currently in the process of legally changing it). "The Love Mob gives people a place to go and to deal with that energy."
The group's first event was on December 15, at the Hollywood and Highland mall. There, on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, 500 people assembled, flash-mob style, and sang "All You Need is Love."
"If you've ever been to a rave when everyone's at that peak moment," Smiles says, "that was the feeling in the air that day." By chance, the event took place a day after the Sandy Hook shooting. "To have a moment," Smiles says, "to celebrate life as opposed to wallow in the sadness was cool, and beautiful."
The Love Mob received thousands of emails in response to the event. People wrote to express their gratitude and ask how they could organize their own Mob. The ripple effect was in motion.
"Thinking about everything that's going on in the world can be really overwhelming and disempowering," says Kunath. "What we do is create accessible opportunities for people to come and get a charge and re-evaluate how they're thinking in their everyday lives. That's the only place change begins."
The next Love Mob event is on Saturday, on Skid Row downtown. Working in conjunction with a local organization, the Love Mob will hold a cold weather clothing drive and block party. The goal is less to facilitate a charity program and more to provide an opportunity for locals and visitors to mix, mingle, dance and see that they might not actually be all that different. Simultaneous gatherings will take place that day in San Diego, Eugene, Oregon and New York.
"We're going to Skid Row to experience each other, rather than trying to 'help,'" Smiles says. "We want to demonstrate the understanding that if you're hurting, so am I, and to change the consciousness about this place that's thought of as 'scary.'"
Oh yeah, and there will be singing. Theme songs for the gathering will be "Don't Worry Be Happy" and Bob Marley's "One Love."
"We picked music by these prophets like Bob Marley and The Beatles who have channeled something and dropped music that will live forever," Smiles says. "Music is the one thing that transcends everything."
"Music disarms people," Shakir continues, "and when you sing it with conviction it gets into the subconscious and becomes more true and affects all of the molecules around you. In that way it becomes a radio transmission. When we all do it together, it's the biggest speaker box ever."
And while it may seem fundamentally goofy to assemble a bunch of relative strangers and sing and dance and play en masse, there is a method in getting folks to take off their cool and open up to the warm embrace of this collective consciousness.
"Jumping around next to a stranger and knowing that what's in my heart right now is the same thing that's in your heart," Kunath says, "creates a pretty amazing experience."
The Love Mob event on Saturday, February 16 takes place on San Julian Street downtown, beginning at 12pm. Those with clothing to donate should arrive between 10:30 and 11:45am. More information is available at The Love Mob's Facebook page.