In early March I received an interesting LinkedIn message from an old grade school peer. Her name is Logan Sander, and the last thing I had heard about her was that she had gone off to Princeton, and was back in Toledo to lead a media Thinkhub called Midstory. I was surprised by the entire situation; Logan’s message was to inquire about meeting for coffee, but I couldn’t help wondering why she moved back to Toledo from the East Coast, and why she would want to meet with me, the manager of a Toledo-based band.
However, all my questions were soon answered when Logan and I sat down at Brew Coffee near the University of Toledo campus. I realized that Midstory and Chloe & the Steel Strings are quite similar, and that Logan and I have similar goals, creative aspirations, and struggles when it comes to managing these creative businesses.
Reaching an Audience
The first similarity I noted between Midstory and Chloe & the Steel String’s missions are our continued pursuit to reach a broader audience in the Toledo area and beyond. I did some research on Midstory, and their mission statement says it all:
“Midstory dedicates its operations to curating a voice out of the Midwest through research, publication, public engagement, and broadcasting. In the midst of a noisy national canopy, our Midstory is a space of connection and intersection in the American experience.”
Though most people would not consider an Americana band to have a similar mission, you would be surprised. Our goal as Chloe & the Steel Strings is to use our music as a voice to inspire listeners, create community, and enlighten our audience on local and national issues. Midstory recognizes that the Midwestern city has been overlooked, and that productivity and cultural renewal through authentic social infrastructure are ways to make a change. In similar ways, Chloe & the Steel Strings as a group understands that the Midwest’s music scene is an important aspect of what makes this region prosperous.
Going Against What’s “Normal”
Let’s face it: starting a nonprofit and fronting an Americana band are not your typical life paths. In fact, Logan and I both shared stories of experiencing nonacceptance from “society” as a result of our career choices. Whether it was Chloe’s decision to decline a medical school spot, or Logan choosing to move back to Toledo (when she could have worked anywhere), it can be difficult as young college graduates to go against the grain, especially when we don’t have a family business or financial backing to turn to. However, we also recognize that our talents and passions in our respective fields give us the responsibility of sharing them with the world, and that if the current system doesn’t work for us, we need to build our own.
Making an Impact
Chloe & the Steel Strings has given my life an incredible amount of purpose, and I owe much of it to the opportunities we have to perform for worthy causes. In April alone, we will be playing three charity events to support local causes, including: the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition, Sleep in Heavenly Peace (an organization that builds beds for impoverished families, who often sleep on the floor), and the Lucas County Canine Care & Control center.
Midstory is also making an impact. Between their High School ThinkLab and College internship opportunities, they are working to inspire Toledo’s youth to think outside-the-box, and use their creative talents to highlight the region’s art and culture. Logan and I agreed that there are many dedicated business and nonprofit owners in the Toledo area, but that there is little collaboration happening within those organizations to improve the greater good of the city.
That’s why we are especially excited to have Chloe & the Steel Strings perform music at Midstory’s A City in Transit Gala on August 3, 2019 at the Downtown Toledo train station. The gala will be a celebration of everything Toledo has to offer: local businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions, and Toledoans from all walks of life will come together to support each other and our community.
If you would like to learn more about Midstory and get involved in the Midwest’s economic and cultural revival, I invite you to visit their website and consider attending their Gala in August.