José González Shows Us Its Cool to Be Kind

Jose Gonzalez - eTown

I read a very sweet thing the other day. The wonderfully talented comedian, author and musician Steve Martin was quoted as saying one of the many things he loves about his wife, Anne Springfield, is that she’s a genuinely kind person.

Kindness. What a concept. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I have to say that I, too, value kindness as a quality in others (my dear husband, Nick Forster, is truly one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve ever known and I adore him for it).

Jose Gonzalez / Mandolin OrangeThese days, it often feels like kindness is not particularly being promoted as a personal characteristic to be sought after and cultivated, as least in this country. Used to be. But lately, maybe not so much. Try driving in rush hour for example, you’ll get what I mean. Or listen to your child’s sad tales of suffering at the hands of mean girls in class, or bullies on the playground. Its funny, it goes beyond being rude or thoughtless. It’s almost like nowadays its often not considered cool to be kind.

Well, maybe its time to bring kindness back as the ‘way to be.’ To embrace the concept that being kind is cool. I’d love to see a ‘kindness’ movement. You know, where being kind is a priority. Where we show by example and recruit each other to participate (that’s how movements grow right?). Where we teach our children well. Because kindness begets kindness. It spreads like wild fire. And it can be contagious.

You know, someone who embodies kindness is Swedish indie folk artist José González. He and his band join us this week for their very first visit to eTown, and it’s a pleasure to get to know him a bit. I’m struck by his gentle and kind nature. Considering his nearly year-long worldwide tour is completely sold out, Jose is pretty cool (we feel grateful indeed that he’s taken the time to be with us in our little solar-powered hall). Fans respond to his music and his manner, both of which exude kindness. And its real: amidst all the pressures of nonstop traveling and the relentless pace of the road, he and everyone in his group remain the sweetest, kindest people. Yup, Jose is a perfect example of ‘being kind is being cool.’

Jose Gonzalez / Mandolin OrangeAlso with us is the North Carolina-based duo, Mandolin Orange. These two young talented musical collaborators (and sweethearts) are reaping great press and earning an ever-increasing number of fans wherever they play (I’m now officially one of them). They’re also very nice – some might even say kind (there’s that theme again). And smart. And funny. Keep an ear and an eye for them, including tuning into (or podcasting) eTown this week.

IMG-1116Its great music as always, plus an eChievement Award story about a woman keeping office supplies out of the landfill and getting them into the hands of teachers whose students desperately need them but cannot afford them.

As you might imagine, she does this largely out of the kindness of her heart.

– Helen