Need help kickstarting your creative engine?

No problem—we have some ideas. These ideas are just a few of the infinite ways to share what you think and feel about What’s Going On…Now.

Use the site.

Get some ideas by browsing by the Song/Issue, or by the art you want to make.

The Songs

"What's Going On"

“Picket lines and picket signs, Don’t punish me with brutality.”

In “What’s Going On,” Marvin rails against the violence he saw being inflicted on protestors around the country during the Vietnam Era. What kind of protests are occurring now, and is there similar violence being perpetrated against these protestors? How can that violence be combated? Can a protest in today’s world be completely peaceful?

"What's Happening Brother"

“I wanna know, 'cause I’m slightly behind the time.”

Interviewing a veteran directly is a great way to get first-hand perspectives on the issues soldiers face coming home. Organizations such as the Iraq-Afghanistan Veterans of America have people who can help you research and even connect you to a veteran who is willing to talk about their experiences in and after their service.

A special note: Make sure you are well prepared to talk to a veteran about their experience at war, and respectful of their adjustment to being home. Prepare yourself using sites like the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.Their field kits are a great place to start.  

"Flyin High (In the Friendly Sky)"

“So stupid-minded."

Musicians have commented on drug and alcohol use in both positive and negative reactions. What are some examples of this difference? Has this changed over time? How do songs about drugs connect (or disconnect) from the notion that artists have a social responsibility? Listening to “Flyin’ High,” what do you think Marvin’s message is about drugs? Investigate songs that take a particular stance on drugs—pro or con.

"Save the Children"

“Who really cares? Who is willing to try?” 

How are you activate in your community? Don’t just tell us what’s going on….show us what you’re doing to make the world better than it was yesterday. is an online resource not only finding volunteer opportunities in your community, but also for creating your own. 

"God Is Love"

“And all He asks of us is we give each other love.”

Marvin speaks very candidly about his faith in this song. He suggests that all God asks us is to love one another. Often times, however, people of different faiths find themselves in conflict. Talk to religious leaders in your community about how they find love for those with opposing religious viewpoints, and how their faith influences their interactions with others. Ask how people of different faiths, or those who are agnostic or atheist, can communicate openly with one another despite their core religious differences?

"Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)"

“Where have all the blue skies gone?”

Marvin was born in 1939; he was 32 when he observed that “things aren’t what they used to be.” What changes took place in the post-WWII era (1945-1965) that impacted the environment? How did these changes lead to the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s? What has changed since then, and how did it lead to today’s Green Revolution? Research and assess the causes and effects of the environmental movement. Sites like the Earth Day Network are a great place to start.

"Right On"

“Love can conquer hate every time.”

In “Right On,” Marvin sings about solidarity and people caring for one another. There are many examples of people looking out for each other—even people who have never met—by donating their time or resources. What are some examples in your community of solidarity and caring?

"Whole Holy"

“Everybody together, together and holy.”

Has the technology that we use every day to keep in touch with one another dehumanized our personal interactions? Is there a way for us to use technology to communicate a message of authentic human connection?

"Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)"

[…] the recording now sounds like prophesy. In 2001, America is coming off a decade of economic prosperity unmatched since the boom years of the 50s and 60s, yet within walking distance of any towering monument to corporate achievement you will find desolate urban landscapes that “Inner City Blues” describes better today than it did thirty years ago.” Writer Ben Edmonds said this in 2001. How have things changed in the decade since he wrote this?

By Your Art Form

You can participate in this project no matter where you find your creative voice. This section shares some ideas for getting started in your art form.

Browse by:

Visual Arts

Put a visual to the ideas and issues.

Use your graphic design and communication skills to design an advertising poster or postcard to spread the word about the What’s Going On...Now campaign. Spend some time looking at posters from other eras and issues. Google Image Search is a good way.

Then, take a look at posters from the Occupy Movement. Consider the ways that this leaderless, multi-issue movement has “branded” its graphics and communication, and how the design community has responded.

Literary Arts

Display your writings.

Essays, poems, creative writing. All can be rendered more visual (think book arts) and included in this project. It could be as easy as taking a picture of your work. Or, you could go a step further by treating your words as a collage, as in Art Journals or search ‘art journals’ in Google Images.

Or, check out this cool idea (and gallery) from Good Magazine.


Document your world.

Read the article The New Documentary Tradition in Photography and think about ways you can push your photography skills in new ways. 


Capture someone's story.

Tell your story, tell someone else’s. People may want to talk about their own experiences during times of war, or express their observations and opinions on today’s times.


Use found sound.

Can sounds alone tell the story of an issue, then and now? 

A soundscape is an audio piece that comes from the world around us. It can be made up of sounds from nature (like animal calls or weather), or humans-made, like conversations, crowd noises,  and sounds from machines.

Go through sound libraries and news archives of crowds, news broadcasts, and audio from a specific place. Can you create the idea of time and place without traditional voices, like a narrator or an interview subject?

Performance: Spoken Word, Singing

Be a voice from the past.

You can give voice to history. There are thousands of texts from the Vietnam Era— poetry of soldiers that captured their hopes and fears, along with letters from and to the war zone, plus journals from protestors and blog posts of emotional memories. Can you bring one to life through performance?



Issues & songs

Learn the issues and listen to the songs on the What’s Going On album.