Shawn Dunwoody is keeping Rochester “Happy”!

April 3, 2014

Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to introduce our #ROCstar blog series this week with the enormously awesome Shawn Dunwoody! Every once in a while, we want to keep our readers up to speed on some very influential Rochesterians close to our hearts!

You’ve probably seen the local take on the hit song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. If not, keep reading. You won’t want to miss this. Shawn Dunwoody has made it his goal to keep Rochester “Happy” all year long!

Shawn Dunwoody
Shawn Dunwoody

Born and raised in the northeast quadrant of Rochester, Shawn knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist. “Depending on who you talk to, I’m a different person — a storyteller, a visual artist, a poet, or even an event guy,” Shawn says.

“I like to try on all these different hats, come up with a concept, and figure out the ‘how’ later.”

“I was bored and depressed out of my mind this winter and decided that I’ve gotta do something!” Shawn put out a call to action on Facebook, urging the community to come out for 72 hours of “Happy Rochester.”

Starting at Main and Clinton downtown, radio and camera in tow, Shawn recruited passersby to be featured in his video. “I asked people, ‘hey you wanna dance?’ and more often the response was ‘sure!’ The news started following me around, and it took off from there.”

IMG_5670“I realized how much people are invested in this community. I’ve gotten responses from people who used to live in Rochester, and are saying ‘thank you, I never realized how great Rochester is.'”

Shawn’s favorite part of Rochester? “The approachability of people.”

“The Public Market is one of my favorite spots. Everyone from everywhere, they converge at this one point. It’s the smells, the sounds … it actually gives us a micro-Manhattan or Brooklyn. In the summer I just wander around drinking coffee. Heck, I don’t even buy anything!”

IMG_5632Shawn has been involved with MARC (Mural Arts in the Rochester Community) for 3 years. MARC engages young people in the arts with large mural projects around the city. “In the first year, the murals tended to focus on prominent individuals in the community, but then I realized that words don’t change. So we created words to live by.”

“We’ve done things in neighborhoods, taking quotes like ‘Reach for the Stars.’ We felt we can inspire people more with beautiful words because you’re going to have to see it every day as you walk by.”

Keeping Rochester happy. That’s something we can all stand behind!

(Photos via Shawn Dunwoody.)

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  • SHAWN, I am so proud to see you be so active in our community. You always made me laugh at Edison Tech. I’m so glad to have been your friend. You’re a great inspiration.

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