Dream it Forward – John Bunn Tells His Story of Being Jerked Around by the System and How He’s Approaching Life Now


A Stroke of Courage for Standing Tall

In the space of a week, two stories hit front page news that have people shaking their heads and demanding accountability. First came the tragic death of Botham Shem Jean who was killed in his Dallas apartment under questionable circumstances. His family wants answers as co-workers grieve his loss.

Then came the viral video of John Bunn who was recently released from prison after 27 years for a crime he didn’t commit. These stories once again brought front & center the challenges of the justice system. One person is taken out by a law enforcement officer and the other is jerked around by the system.

It’s hard to imagine being one of those individuals, but it could have been. With Bunn having the murder charge wiped from his record he’s trying to stay positive about his future. In one sense it feels like the system is ‘sorry but not sorry’ when situations like these keep happening. What can we learn from it?

Well there’s the hometown tale of a tourist wanting to know more about making Jerk Chicken. That person asked the question, how do you know which chicken is the jerk before you cook it? But the gravity of these justice matters asks, ‘how do we know the system is jerking folks around before it happens?’

Bunn explained that he was intimidated by a police detective who was someone in a position of power. Some people are made to believe that if they confess that they’d be taken care of. Others have even been tricked into going on record with information that wasn’t really the facts of what happened.

But Bunn is a model of courage that makes him stand tall even in the eyes of J.K. Rowling. Maybe that’s because his new lease on life gives inspiring lessons for living life forward, understanding it backward and enjoying the now. He did time for a wrong he didn’t commit. But he also spends time doing right by:

  1. Setting the record
  2. Dreaming it forward
  3. Squeezing the moment
  4. Breaking the clouds


(Photo Credit: CNN)

During the court hearing prior to his release Bunn was heard telling the judge that he was confident of his innocence. He knew the truth was on his side and that it would eventually come to light. It’s been said that when you do right it will come to light. Bunn was setting the record straight for himself and the system.

While behind bars he remembers falling in love with reading. He says this gave him the chance to take his imagination beyond the walls. He may not have seen how paying it forward could be of any help at the time. But he made it through his nightmare situation by expanding his mind and dreaming it forward.

Bunn says he wants to use his experience to fulfill a greater purpose. So he started a library program for prisons. He also spends time speaking to elementary school kids about the importance of their education. He’s squeezing the moment by turning tears of pain and anger into life-juice that’s like liquid gold.

These situations tend to leave a cloud hanging over those affected. But Bunn’s doing what pilots do on an overcast day. They use on-board instruments during takeoff. That’s their go-to move for breaking through the clouds. Bunn is using his talents and other human/social instruments for breaking the clouds as well.

The system can never replace the time taken from Bunn. There’re still gaps in justice that can make a grown man cry and should make a caring nation weep. No matter the complication or indignation we have for a lowly or unfair plight, Bunn chose to ‘breath out, breath-in’ to keep his spirits up from the neck up.

Tracks: Zion I Kings – The System ft Pressure & Akae Beka  – https://youtu.be/3ZaHo_UFW0o

Rihanna – American Oxygen – https://youtu.be/Ao8cGLIMtvg


Rihanna and Senator Susan Collins turn a ‘Song & Dance’ into Giving People and Communities a Real Chance #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Ray Lewis, TV Sports Analyst & Retired Football Player

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Curtis ‘Wall Street’ Carroll, TED Talk Presenter


#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

These days pop star Rihanna is going big on making her voice heard. Sometimes this shows-up on the mainstage but recently it was in meeting with the new French President on the world stage. She and Senator Susan Collins are turning a ‘song & dance’ into giving people and communities a real chance.

Collins was one of the key players with the recent healthcare vote. She’s been a steady head on doing some things to stabilize the health insurance market. While others tried a tactic of making ‘threats to see them sweat,’ she continues to believe that the ‘repeal and replace’ song & dance is played-out.

Meantime, when Riri isn’t working with top-notch record producers, she’s busy working on her Foundation efforts as well as the Global Citizen initiative. She’s hoping to gain support from the new French leader on creating educational opportunities that can benefit those beyond her pop culture community of fans.

As a public official, Collins is aware of the American landscape known as the Rust Belt. This area includes places where industries like steel, coal and automotive once played a major part in the economy of those regions. It’s as if officials who understand these communities qualify for the Rust Belt Award.

What we have today isn’t just Rust Belt related, but also could feel like the rusting of community or the American Dream. It’s why Collins sees her vote and approach to public service as central to her ‘We the People’ oath. So the choices presented to gov’t officials, ‘party people’ and citizens everywhere involve:

  1. Leading to change the system or aiming to destroy the system.
  2. Serving to play politics or committing to advance sound policy.
  3. Winning to score important points or wrecking the country to make a political point.
  4. Moving things forward for the better or rolling things back for the worst.

There’s a push to get fresh blood in the political arena. This means having new people running for office across all levels of government. They will have a chance to focus on leading to change the system or aiming to destroy the system. It takes leadership to help change things while storms often destroy things.

Think about how we relate to storms. One view is based on radar image which shows the spread of rain. The other based on satellite image showing the spread of terrain. Having a positive impact on the social system means dealing with the ‘rain of issues’ over the terrain of communities in order to change things.

In every sports league there’s a system of rules and relationships that keep things jumping. Whether it’s through the NFL’s front office or the NBA’s referees and fan clubs, various individuals have a role to play in its success. But what would happen if the hype of the game exceeds the return value of the game?

That could be what’s clouding public service. Politics is good for selling ideas in media. But policy is good for selling results in government. When hype of politics exceeds purpose of policy we end up with people choosing to play politics over advancing sound policy. It’s a kind of ‘Make America Constipate Again.’

Yea it’s no secret that winning is part of playing the game. There’s a time to play offense and a time to play defense. There’re times to score points and times to hold the other side from scoring points. All this happens within the rules of the game. Those rules are there to protect players, the game and the brand.

When rule changes come up, it’s about improving without wrecking the game. The idea of changing rules or flipping the script can be good for effectiveness. It shouldn’t simply be about trying to score political points or possibly wrecking the country to make a point. The Constitution & Rules protect our institutions.

It’s often said that the difference between an optimist and a pessimist is in how they see a glass of water. The optimist sees it as half-full while the pessimist sees it as half-empty. This is also true for how public officials might view their proposed policy, whether it’s in moving things forward or rolling things back.


Collins probably realizes that if things involve some kind of repeal or rollback to darker times then that might present a pessimist view. But if the idea is to move things forward to the next version-in-time then that might offer a more full and optimist view. Isn’t that what the American Dream should be about?

Rihanna understands that if there were such a thing as a fill-up station for the American Dream, that education would be an important part. Even beyond that, it’s about achieving a fuller measure of equality, healthcare, justice and empowerment. That’s not just in having a better deal. It’s going after a fuller deal.

History has shown that progress takes small steps by man (woman) and giant steps by mankind. It’s what can happen if we let Community 3.0 bring a new ‘song and dance’ to politics, everyday people and the American Dream. This could deliver fresh effects in the Rust Belt and United Streets of America.

So if public officials as well as the rest of Americans are serious about doing the right thing for citizens in town and country then there’s a next-level choice they’ll have to make. They can choose to keep seeing things rolling back in time or moving forward to something beautiful that’s fueled by American Oxygen.

Block Talkback: Can the Rust Belt regions or other communities forge a new identity or will we see more rusting of America?’

Groove-tracks: Rihanna – American Oxygen – https://youtu.be/Ao8cGLIMtvg

Eminem – Beautiful –  https://youtu.be/lgT1AidzRWM

Alicia Keys & Rihanna as Artists Known for their Hot Tracks and Humanitarian Hearts – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
Rev. Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Drum Major

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
Rihanna, Global Music Artist


#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

This year’s Oscars had major confusion as to which movie won for Best Picture. With the awards season in full effect other artists are looking forward to their own time in the spotlight. It’s great to celebrate chart toppers and emulate performers like Alicia and Rihanna known for their hot tracks & humanitarian hearts.

But the Oscars also had a down home moment when folks from a city tour bus were invited inside the hall. The ‘star’ of this surprise part of the program was ‘Gary from Chicago’ who was busy taking pictures with Hollywood celebs. The mix of folks from the bus was a good reminder of America’s rich diversity.

From our history to the outlines of the American flag we see what can happen when stars and stripes come together. In a sense it was stars and stripes that came together in that Oscars moment.  Alicia might see it as the workings of a blended family while for Rihanna it’s shining bright like a diamond.

As artists they’re walking in shoes of past icons, including Nina Simone and Mahalia Jackson. Simone sang about being young gifted and black. That was a kind of anthem during times of unrest and upset. Jackson was there in the trenches using her voice to lift spirits and move the needle on social activism.

Alicia & Rihanna know social impact is more than just working that body but also having a body of work. It’s more than just a singing voice but also a social voice for greater good by seasoned citizens and an engaged next generation. Having stars & stripes come together in Community 3.0 (call it C30) means:

  1. Giving no more reasons that leave ‘small change’ on the sidelines.
  2. Bringing lots more ‘We the People’ potential to the frontlines.
  3. Having a more ‘turnt-up’ mindset in hometowns over time.
  4. Moving a ‘C30’ vision into something primetime.

Most people can think of a time of walking over ‘small change’ in the street. It might have been a nickel or a dime. For someone who’s well-off, small change will have lower value than for someone less-off. For a less-off person, small change can be the difference maker in buying a bottle of water to quench thirsts.

There’re ways to have small change in smart community make a big difference. It might be small change when we plug our smart phones into the outlet. The power increases in small percent jumps. But before you know it apps get updated. Before you know it the phone is fully charged and ready for smart use.

When officials offer the same old same old to the community, then ‘We the People’ have to get plugged-into some new ways. We learn this from early human history in two kinds of social uplift situations. There was one where the powers-that-be was told ‘Let the People Go’ and the other told ‘#LetThePeopleKnow.’

If Moses and Pharaoh or Joseph and the King don’t ring a bell then at least modern civil rights history should. What they have in common is how folks stepped-up their true calling and hometown game. They brought more ‘We the People’ potential to the frontlines in every little step they took and move they made.

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made news saying people don’t fully appreciate what makes America great. It’s not simply in the cars we drive, homes we live in or towering skyscrapers we build. It’s in the down home ways we function as a melting pot of diverse ideas and breakout talents.


When diamond is mined there’s a breakout process before it has market value. It’s all about how the diamond in the rough gets ‘turnt-up’ into diamond in the bling. Having a more ‘turnt-up’ mindset in community is in a ‘stars & stripes’ diversity that empowers consumers and citizens for more street value.

This will make us better by doing things to move a C30 vision into primetime. Remember when AOL first came on the scene. It was like an add-on feature with a new computer. It wasn’t there to compete with the computer but to connect the user (through the computer) to a broader space called the World Wide Web.

AOL partnered with computer makers to give more options to the consumer. The same could happen if C30 were to partner with urban radio to connect ‘block talk’ with the world of streets and beats. The same is true if C30 produced civic dream features connecting hometowns with ‘destiny’s dots’ in the community.

During the Montgomery Bus Boycott the powers-that-be weren’t ready to respond to ‘Let the People Go.’ So those in the movement also went with the ‘Let the People Know’ strategy. Along the way folks were told by movement leaders that there comes a time when time itself is ready to make a change.

In the days ahead if there’s ongoing confusion about civic affairs it might be baffling when certain officials remain hardened to their positions. But there’s sure to come a time when even time’s ready to make a change. Even in having to ‘Let the People Know,’ there came a time when ‘I Have a Dream’ took shape.

So to move C30 into primetime as in days gone by, there’re times to work with key decision makers and times to affect other powers-that-be. There’re times things might be well said but not well meant. There’re times to fight the power and times for plugging-in the power to be ‘turnt-up’ as young, gifted & stacked.

Groove-tracks: Snap – The Power – https://youtu.be/j1BNcSBApOU

Common & Lalah Hathaway – Young Gifted & Black – https://youtu.be/pPfgjNjLZ9I

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Reverses Her ‘Thug’ Description


Trivia: Which retired boxer learned to box from cops in the police athletic league? (Answer below)

Things have calmed down some in Baltimore. After a week of peaceful protests leading up to the burial of Freddie Gray, there was a turn for the worst. In the heat of battle cars were set on fire and buildings looted. As authorities deal with the fallout, Baltimore’s mayor has reversed her ‘thug’ description.

Community leaders were saddened by the violence and lawlessness. Even President Obama had strong words for the actions of the ‘thug’ elements. Unlike Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Obama is sticking with his description of the destruction. Maybe some people feel more comfortable with the word ‘hooligan.’

This back and forth could go on because of the racial tinge that the word ‘thug’ brings. It could also miss the point of doing effective root cause analysis. It’s like those times when software developers have to determine if a program has a ‘bug.’ Their root cause analysis will zero in on the cause of the ‘bug.’

To fix the bug in software some changes are made and a new version released. To move beyond the ‘thug’ label in our culture, we can look to the slogan for Baltimore; ‘B-More!’ Without getting too technical we can challenge ourselves to ‘Be More!’ We can be more exceptional citizens and examples for our kids.

Maybe Obama sticking to his statement is about ‘calling a spade a spade.’ He’s no longer running for office and can be quite direct. With the mayor, she has a re-election on the horizon. Maybe her view is one of distinguishing spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. She’s not putting all residents in the same suit.

So talk about ‘thugs’ in community or ‘bugs’ in software is always a sensitive matter of deep debate. It might even be said that there’re thugs in high places and bugs in our social system. If a turtle in England can get wheels after losing its legs, then urban communities only want wheels to roll into a brighter future.

Answer: George Foreman

Groove-track: Rihanna – Diamonds – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWA2pjMjpBs