In the wake of a tragedy, students help heal through the arts
By Caitlin Walsh, News Staff
In response to the Boston Marathon bombings that took place on April 15, students all over the Northeastern campus used their heartache to, in turn, contribute in whatever way they could to recovery efforts. In attempts to wrap their heads around a senseless act, students banded together in some cases, many trying to lend a hand in any way they could.
The day after the bombing, musician and middler journalism major Ryan Sweezey was leaving his apartment for the first time since the events to go to a cappella rehearsal for the UniSons, and it struck him just how much had happened since the last time he had been outside. He was inspired to jot down a few lyrics before setting off. By 11 p.m. that same night, Sweezey’s song dedication was complete, entitled “You Can’t Bring Us Down”.
“When I had it finished, I was compelled to put it to some good use,” Sweezey said. “I’m not someone who is particularly skilled for much volunteer work, so I figured this song was a good way to help out with something that I’m good at. I contacted my friend Brian Maes that night to see if I could squeeze in a recording session ASAP.”
Sweezey and Maes, a seasoned veteran in the music production world, worked on recording the song at the end of the week, and by late afternoon on April 23, Sweezey’s song tribute to the city of Boston was posted on his YoutTube channel as well as his profile on BandCamp.com, a website for artists where fans can purchase their MP3s. So far, Ryan has raised more than $400 — all of which will be donated to the One Fund.
Though this was far from Sweezey’s first public sharing of his music, this was certainly his most popular.
“As much as I hoped for such a response, I don’t think I really expected it to be as big as it was right away. It was up to 1,000 views in the first couple days, but has slowed down considerably, though it’s still getting passed around. Definitely my most successful song so far,” he said. “When I’ve posted things in the past, people have rarely taken the effort to share them, but so much of my Boston network on Facebook was affected by the bombings or supportive of Boston Strong that it gave a little extra incentive. People have said that it is an inspiring song, and I am quite proud of that.”
Sweezey was by no means alone in his efforts to support those affected by the bombings. Rebecca Miller, at the time a senior and a resident assistant (RA) for Kennedy and Smith halls, sent out mass emails to all her residents and their friends, encouraging them to join her in making cards for the first responders Monday, just three days after the manhunt for on the run suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had ended and a week after the Marathon.
The concept of writing thank you cards to strangers was not entirely new to Miller, but one that had been put to the back of her mind — until the bombings, that is.
“Since 2009, I have done Valentines for Veterans with my residence halls or student groups. With classes this spring, I dropped the ball in doing it one last time and we never did it in February,” she said. “Then everything happened in Boston and I saw it as an opportunity to show our appreciation to other heroes, our first responders.”
In a collective effort for both the first responders and troops overseas, cards were made by more than a dozen students in Kennedy hall alone, including Miller. Such thoughtful acts can hopefully be continued as Miller’s Northeastern days are left behind her.