The Same Thing Project, founded in 2016 by Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame inductee Mark Cutler, is taking its innovative community songwriting workshops to college campuses for the 2022-23 academic year in a tour titled Community Songwriting for Mental Health. This first-of-its-kind college tour has been developed with support from the National Museum of Mental Health Project (NMMHP) as a means of addressing the mental health challenges being faced by today’s college students.
The Same Thing Project is one of the first organizations in the United States dedicated to community songwriting, which it defines as “discovering one’s voice, alongside others, to create words and music for shared experiences and emotions—everyone becomes a songwriter. No music experience required.” Recognition of the mental health and well-being benefits of community songwriting is increasing nationally. During the summer of 2022, the City of Detroit kicked off an effort that uses community songwriting to create conversations about mental health and well-being. With the goal of creating positive emotions on campus, the Community Songwriting for Mental Health College Tour is believed to be the first effort of its kind to focus on colleges.
In March, The Same Thing Project held a community songwriting workshop at Dean College in Massachusetts under the direction of Mark Cutler, who is also a songwriter-in-residence with NMMHP. Over 20 students attended and co-wrote a song entitled “What’s Gonna Happen.” Michael Adamowicz, Director of the Morton Family Learning Center at Dean, observes, “Mark Cutler…is an expert at working with students with learning differences; his gentle, encouraging approach allowed everyone to participate and feel included. Building community through music, is there anything better?”
NMMHP Board member Anne Walton explains, “In any form, art speaks the unspoken. The Same Thing Project offers participants the opportunity to explore thoughts and feelings through words and music. This collaboration is a natural extension of the work of NMMHP.”
The Community Songwriting for Mental Health College Tour emerged, in part, from work performed by MBA students at Assumption University and from the work of Emily Taylor, College of the Holy Cross ’22, who is an advisor to NMMHP. The tour is expected to focus on Southern New England during the Fall ’22 semester but has already received an inquiry from a large university in Texas.
The Same Thing Project is named to represent the same joy, laughter, and sense of belonging that are experienced by all in its workshops, with each contribution from each songwriter, however small, having the same importance.
Reflecting upon the positive impacts the tour can have at colleges, author Bill Flanagan, a Sirius XM host and former MTV executive says, “The Same Thing Project is a great idea, helping people from all walks of life deal with all sorts of emotional problems by turning their thoughts, hopes, challenges, and troubles into songs. It’s a sort of emotional alchemy.”
More information about the Community Songwriting for Mental Health College Tour can be found at www.thesamethingproject.com or www.nmmhproject.org/collaborations. Anyone seeking to book the Tour for a campus group should contact Mark Cutler at 617-791-7942, or email@example.com.
About The Same Thing Project & Mark Cutler
The Same Thing Project is one of the first organizations in the United States dedicated to
community songwriting and holds weekly community songwriting workshops at the Outsider Collective in Pawtucket, R.I. that are free and open to the public. The workshops include people from all walks of life – musicians, non-musicians, artists, retired folks, people with disabilities, and blue-and-white-collar workers.
The roots of The Same Thing Project stem from a collaboration between Mark Cutler and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jim Wolpaw on a film project related to the Ladd School, formerly a residential institution for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Rhode Island.
Mark Cutler is founder of The Same Thing Project and an inductee in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame for his work with the bands The Schemers and Raindogs and his solo work. The Schemers received national exposure on MTV. Mark’s work with Raindogs included experimental collaborations with Iggy Pop and the actor Harry Dean Stanton, and Raindogs toured nationally with the likes of Bob Dylan, Don Henley, and Warren Zevon. In 2014, Mark wrote the soundtrack for a PBS documentary about George Washington and Gilbert Stuart.
About the National Museum of Mental Health Project
The National Museum of Mental Health Project is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization and virtual museum whose mission is “strengthening mental health literacy through the arts nationwide by bringing the exhibition to you.” The roots of NMMHP connect to a research fellowship at Assumption University, and to several other colleges and universities.
n 2022, NMMHP was recognized in the American Alliance of Museums TrendsWatch report for its collaborations at the nexus of mental health and the arts. Alexandra Orlandi and Paul Piwko, co-developers of NMMHP who met at Assumption University, have been published in the DesMoines Register, Coloradoan, Omaha World Herald, and elsewhere. During 2022-23 the National Museum of Mental Health Project is curating a virtual exhibition and mosaic about mental health and wellness in the 2020s named “I Get It.”