Massachusetts author launches The Good News Experiment with Mothers for Justice and Equality

Initiative to spread news of compassionate acts of neighborhood innovators

BOSTON — Two former public affairs colleagues have announced the upcoming launch of The Good News Experiment, an initiative to recognize neighborhood innovators with feature stories that will be publicly distributed through blog, social media and traditional media formats. The first honoree will be announced on Thursday, December 21, 2017.

“While news stories have always featured tragedies, violence and other unsettling content in order to inform the public, a typical news cycle today might leave us feeling as though news is even more unsettling and overwhelming than in any other moment in our lifetimes — regardless of our political affiliations,” said Andrea Cale, creator of The Good News Experiment and author of the novel The Corn Husk Experiment. “I often hear friends say they are occasionally tempted to choose silence over a favorite radio program or a sitcom over a typical viewing of the nightly news. Our new initiative is designed to uplift and inspire through these emotionally-charged times with the simple act of sharing real stories about neighborhood innovators; the helpers.”

The Good News Experiment is being launched through Cale’s partnership with Monalisa Smith, Founder and President of Mothers for Justice and Equality in Boston. Prior to their present positions, the women sat back-to-back in a public affairs department of a large bank in Boston. Smith, who had a background in lending, and Cale, who had a background in journalism, had frequently collaborated to share bank news ranging from community reinvestment grants to loans for community development. Cale stepped out of her public affairs post in 2008 as she became a mother and started working on her first novel. The pair had lost touch until Cale heard her former colleague’s voice on the radio as Smith spoke about the loss of her nephew to street violence in Boston in 2010 and her creation of Mothers for Justice and Equality.

“I kept her unexpected story and her new work in my thoughts,” said Cale. “I think there is an urgency for us to partner once again.”

As part of the partnership, Smith will leverage her knowledge of community work to gather ideas about potential honorees across a range of service areas. In turn, Cale will leverage her background in journalism to write and share the feature-style stories on neighborhood innovators. They will begin recognizing innovators in their home state of Massachusetts, but they welcome nominations from throughout the country, Cale said.

“This initiative helps unite us by starting from the most basic place,” said Smith. “The vast majority of us don’t want harm. We don’t want our loved ones harmed. We don’t want neighbors harmed — no matter whether they share the same political views, look like us or have a different lifestyle than we do. The Good News Experiment is an effort to start right there, emphasize our likeness — no matter how basic — and inspire one another with gestures of compassion.”

The Good News Experiment stories emphasize the connections we share with each other, a message similar to a theme of Cale’s novel, The Corn Husk Experiment, which will be released in May 2018. The novel explores the lives of five fictional strangers, all struggling to overcome what most defines them. Their paths eventually collide in a stadium of more than 75,000 others who are silently and secretly sharing many of the same ups and downs of everyday life. 

To nominate an individual or group for the neighborhood innovator recognition, please send ideas to Cale and Smith via andreacalebooks@gmail.com. For more information on Mothers for Justice and Equality, please visit mothersforjusticeandequality.org. For more information on the novel The Corn Husk Experiment or to follow The Good News Experiment stories, please visit andreacalebooks.com.

About Mothers for Justice and Equality

Mothers for Justice and Equality was founded in Boston in 2010 by Smith and other mothers who had lost family members to community violence. Today, more than 500 members come to MJE’s “kitchen table,” an office space in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where neighborhood mothers receive tools to become community leaders. In the last several years, the organization has provided a variety of innovative initiatives to work toward ending community violence, including:

  • Events and discussions that have featured political leaders ranging from former Governor Deval Patrick to most recently, a 3rd annual mothers against violence national conference that featured City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; 
  • “You Matter: Personal Leadership Training,” a youth peer leadership program and a workforce readiness initiative;
  • Financial literacy curriculum to inmates at the Suffolk County House of Corrections to address the needs of young adult inmates coming back into the community; 
  • Training to new Boston Police Cadets and Boston EMTs to prepare them when facing individuals dealing with trauma;
  • Voter engagement drives;
  • Parent/Police Partnership advisory group;
  • Being recognized as a Department of Transitional Assistance work service site;
  • Becoming an approved provider of services for the Boston Public Schools;
  • Receiving a $30,000 grant from The Boston Foundation’s StreetSafe Program, allowing the organization to make changes including the passage of an ordinance to restrict selling knives to minors; and
  • Running dozens of billboards across Boston in an awareness campaign that depicted young victims of homicide with the group’s motto: “It’s not OK.”
 MJE Volunteer Lola Alexander, MJE Founder Monalisa Smith and writer Andrea Cale at MJE's headquarters in Roxbury, Mass.

MJE Volunteer Lola Alexander, MJE Founder Monalisa Smith and writer Andrea Cale at MJE's headquarters in Roxbury, Mass.