United way

Today’s meeting with different people that are the heads of different areas in Merced is successful. They like my idea to Make Merced magical. Can’t imagine I come back 10 years and see Merced as Magic town.



Yesterday joined the local united way meeting and meet Flip who organized a meeting of many useful and helpful people.

His email attached.

I had a very interesting, and a rather unique conversation with a UC Merced physics student this morning and I would like to invite you to take a look and consider becoming involved with his project.


John Li is a scientist and spends his scholarly time in the empirical world; but in his spare time, he’s a magician and has strong feelings about the power of that art form to give hope to people in need.


I first met John two years ago when he pitched an idea to Merced Ahead. He proposed the transformation of our community into a center for magic. His idea was to host events, including an annual festival that would brand Merced as the “Magic Capital of the West.”


Now, he’s engaged in a new project: John will be traveling to China this Summer where he’ll perform for hundreds of children who were made orphans four years ago during the great earthquakes that killed or injured tens of thousands and left 300,000 homeless. John hopes to visit a dozen or so orphanages during a month-long stay in China, using magic to raise the spirits of children who are still struggling to overcome the trauma they experienced in 2008.


“Magic helps people, especially children believe that what seems to be impossible actually is possible,” John told me, displaying the kind of passion that I really appreciate. He calls his project “Magic for Hope” and has enlisted a cadre of Chinese volunteers that is already doing legwork on the ground in preparation for John’s arrival in late July.


Last week, the John A Straub Scholarship Foundation announced that John Li is the recipient of a $10,000 grant which will help fund his trip and the production of a documentary video.


His “ulterior motive” is to use the China trip as a springboard to accomplishing his original goals from two years ago and to help brand Merced as a Mecca for magicians and fans of magic.


Who can argue that we don’t need some re-branding? Last week, another national media outlet specifically identified Merced as an unhappy place to live. A resident interviewed by CBS’ John Blackstone even repeated the despicable “Mer-DEAD” label on the air. We know that Merced is a wonderful place to live and I believe John Li may actually be able to use magic to help correct the misperceptions.


But, it will take more than magic to make these things happen: John leaves for China on July 21! So I’m asking you to consider becoming part of the support team for this project and  make things happen during the next 10 weeks.


If you want to consider an “Out of the Box” project – don’t look any further!  Take the challenge. Don’t decide today, just please agree to attend a meeting at the United Way office on Tuesday, May 22nd at 2 p.m. you can meet John and learn more about the project and THEN decide.


This is an amazing opportunity s – who would have thought….planning a magical tour of China.


I’ll be floating down the Colorado River next Tuesday; but I’m certain that, once you’ve put your heads together, you won’t even miss me. But I am committed to becoming fully engaged when I return on May 21 – just two months before John Li leaves for China.


Tuesday, May 22 – 2 p.m. at the United Way on Main Street.  I will have David Burke follow up with everyone….thanks


Go for it



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