Investing in ‘we’

Amid the tough moments in the news this week, there was a bright spot to grab onto.

And in light of all the bad that has happened, it is even more worthy to pause when good happens to good.

I’ve been a fan of local musician JD Eicher for awhile now. We have proudly used our Vindy platform the last couple of years to promote his talent.

Our current Greatest Golfer of the Valley TV commercials use his music. In fact, at month’s end, we will have a special collaboration to show off between JD and Greatest Golfer.

Sure, part of all this is that JD has a couple of fans here in the newsroom.

But it’s more related to our greater belief in the newsroom that for “local” to succeed, “local” must be invested in.

We need to invest in we.

Well, this week, that investment into JD got a huge payout not just for us, but also for JD’s growing local fan base, and especially for JD and his family.

It was announced this week that fiction writer Nicholas Sparks will feature JD’s music in his next book, “Two by Two,” which is due out in October.

Who is Nicholas Sparks?

He’s a romance-writing factory, having published 18 novels, with 11 being adapted into movies.

I’ve watched two films – his most popular is 2004’s “The Notebook” starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner and Gena Rowlands. I also watched Zac Efron in 2012’s “The Lucky One.”

(FYI – romance films make for a better home life over “Dumb and Dumber” films.)

Sparks’ work is usually an automatic for the New York Times best sellers list. His reach and impact in the literary world is such that this collaboration could be for JD what Oprah Winfrey’s impact was on the likes of Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and more.

Talking to JD this week – he was a mix of ecstatic, humble and awestruck.

How it happened is pretty cool, and supports what many of us have experienced with JD’s work.

Sparks wanted to produce a musical component to go with his next book, “Two By Two,” to be released Oct. 4. As part of that pursuit, JD’s management company submitted several of their artists for consideration, including JD.

Of all the musicians Sparks considered, he chose one: JD.

The romantic-relationship themes in both of their lines of work seem perfectly matched.

JD said so much of this seems serendipitous:

The novel centers on a father’s relationship with his daughter, and JD and his wife, Cathi, are expecting a baby daughter this year. And the book is due out on the couple’s wedding anniversary.

JD’s fans exploded onto Facebook and celebrated the news. Share upon share; Likes galore; and great comments.

For those who have invested support in JD, Sparks’ selection is a validation of sorts that JD’s artistry is unique and worthy. The difficulty in JD’s world is that there are 7,000 other singers just like him – unique and worthy.

In one of his new songs, he seems to allude to that challenge, writing “and the doubts I’ve held onto – like should I hang it up. Or should I hang it up.”

Support and advocacy are key. And then luck. The Sparks choice is a union of all three.

And stepping back to the larger theme I also noted earlier: We are the best investors of we.

With all our woes and all our heroes, it is up to us to address them both. I know it’s somewhat cliche now to tout “It takes a village.” But there is truth in that.

Fix what needs fixing. (Friday night on Oak Hill Avenue as I left the city, I happened upon a cool guy named Kevin who was trimming branches arching over a sidewalk coming from trees on a vacant city lot.

“This your lot?” I asked when I pulled over. “No,” he said. He pointed across Oak Hill to his house. “I’m just trying to keep the sidewalk clear for walkers.”

And celebrate what needs celebrating.

Amid some tough news in America this week, there are things to take note of that work and are worthy.

Here in the Valley, one such example is the investment in a local artist.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at He blogs, too, on Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

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