Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Matt Goldstein, the founder, creative director, facilitator of the Gaia Music Collective. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Matt! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through the Gaia Music Collective?
Matt: Thrilled to be here, Spiffy! Our organization is working to provide accessible spaces for adults of all backgrounds and abilities to engage in musical community. We put on a variety of events that are all donation based and open to anyone, including circle-singing jam sessions, open mic nights, one-night choir events, house shows, songwriting circles, and more. These events are facilitated with care and intention by facilitators who work to empower individuals to find their creative voice and bring that voice into conversation and collaboration with their community.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Matt: We believe that group singing and collective musical expression are a fundamental human need, and there have been numerous studies outlining the mental and physical health benefits of engaging in group music practice. There is a magic that happens when people feel safe, supported, and empowered to express themselves. These music events foster connection across differences, deep listening, and creative ingenuity. Our hope is that these qualities will reach past music-specific spaces and help to build communities that are more connected, compassionate, and creative—communities where every voice is heard and differing perspectives come together in harmony.
Spiffy: That sounds awesome! What would you say is the impact of your work?
Matt: We strive to make our events accessible and welcoming to folx of all backgrounds and identities, and strive to hold space for marginalized communities. In particular, many young queer people have been disenfranchised from religious music-making spaces and are seeking the kind of musical community that those institutions can provide.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or the org. What impact does that make on your community?
Matt: Our biggest milestones have been the swift growth of our community—after less than a year of hosting events, we have an email list of over 2,000 people and have been reaching capacity at all of our events. Choir sessions of more than 60 people, and house shows with 100 people coming together to make music. So many people have shared that this organization has helped them to find community and unlock their own creative expression, and our goal is to continue to brainstorm ways to make space for even more folks to find the musical communities they seek!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Matt—it’s been an honor!
Matt Goldstein (he/him) is an award-winning vocal arranger, facilitator, singer/songwriter, and educator. Most recently, Matt founded Gaia Music Collective, an NYC-based community arts organization that facilitates free expression, community building with artistic peers, and connection with the powerful currents of music that flow in and around us all. (Nominated by Pelayo Alvarez at the United Nations - training and research. First published on the Ladderworks website on March 6, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.