An Interview with Dee Jay Doc who Takes us on a Behind-the-Scenes of his Hip-Hop Projects with WorkFlowy

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I recently touched base with Doc Harrill, AKA, Dee Jay Doc, a raving WorkFlowy fan and founder of Fresh Camp, “A youth leadership institute cultivating youth voice and neighborhood health through community-focused hip-hop-in-action projects.” If that sounds like a mouthful, wait until you see what they’re producing and serving up. Pun intended. We’ve had a bit of a chat about the life-transforming projects he’s involved in… and how WorkFlowy fits in behind the scenes.

You’ve absolutely got to watch this award-winning 12-minute film to see first-hand how Fresh Camp is transforming neighborhoods through fresh, upbeat hip-hop performances and hands-on projects that bring about real lifestyle changes:

FRANK: Doc, the RE {FRESH} video is incredibly inspiring (I mean, how could it not be!?) And you get to be a part of that real-life change – right there in the thick of things. Could you tell us about how you came up with the whole vision? And who would have thought hip-hop and growing your own veggies would be such a brilliant fit?

DOC: It is such an honor to be a part of young people’s lives in my own neighborhood using my art form to cultivate their voice, health and leadership. The mentoring process is life changing for me as well as the students. They challenge and inspire me weekly. My vision is to create a process whereby inner city youth and young adults in our community can grow their ideas to fruition, gaining skills and character along the way. At our first summer camp (in 2011), we went for a neighborhood walk. I asked the students to write down all of the FRESH things they noticed in our community. This important word, FRESH = unique, inspiring, growing, healthy and/or being rejuvenated. Several students pointed out the brand new community gardens built by neighbors and Famicos Foundation (our neighborhood’s community development corporation). Some students rapped about the gardens set-up in abandoned land and how it helped our neighborhood become safer and healthier. The next summer, we decided to plant our own food at one of these gardens. After that we built our own. Many hip-hop songs have been written to document our learning and new found message of FRESH food and the process of coming together to make our neighborhood better. “Come Together” by Fresh Camp students:


Hip-hop is the language of our youth. I give them opportunities to raise their voice and become the change they want to see.

FRANK: One of the most impacting things for me that I got out of the video was where you said, “I don’t operate off of what I believe something can be 20 years in the future. I just put a seed out there now… I didn’t know what it would be at the beginning when I planted it – but as we’re tending it we’re excited to see all the fruit that’s coming from it.”You’re talking both literally and metaphorically… and best of all you’re not just talking about it, you’re doing a whole lot. Could you run us though the practicalities of what gets done on the fly and what takes some figuring out in terms of pen-to-paper?

DOC: Wow, great question! This all starts with small seeds of faith, which must contain the logical action and obedience represented by them. It’s being responsible with the relational garden I’ve been given. I must reach out to the students I meet on my street. I know they have tremendous potential. I must use my art form of hip-hop to inspire, challenge and move us toward health.

More than a program, I’ve created a process. It’s a process of empowering youth to interpret their experience through a lense that focuses them on becoming the change they hope to see. We tap into their struggles and nurture their ideas for a better tomorrow. We help them develop a strong message. Then we empower them to take real action. This requires a tight system. To prepare, we must write grants, fundraise, develop creative community-driven projects, purchase equipment, and create programs where a safe environment can nurture students in a way that creativity and productivity can thrive. I guess you can see why Workflowy is so important for me. I have TONS of projects and details to track. I need quick access to all of it!

Once the funding, the equipment, our team and our process is in place, we give the students a fully professional song writing, beat composition, studio recording and performance experience that is accessible for beginners but challenging for the advanced. Our whole aim is not just to make music, but to make music that will serve our community. The prize is when the students perform around Cleveland and inspire the young and the old. I see them growing creativity, confidence and character. And that’s what is REALLY  FRESH!!!

FRANK: I’m going to jump right in here now with a couple of big WorkFlowy questions for our readers: What aspects of your projects get hashed out in WorkFlowy? Would you mind showing us a few of your WorkFlowy outlines which house lyrics, CD recording projects and lesson-plan content?

DOC: Here’s just a few. . .

LYRIC WRITING AND TEACHING LITERARY DEVICES TO MY STUDENTS

I love writing lyrics in WorkFlowy because you can free flow a bunch of lines, then easily re-order them later. This helps to create song order and track measures. Plus, I can get rid of lines I didn’t like by completing them or moving them to their own node. I can still access them later if I need to go back to previous ideas.

Another cool thing is that I can tag literary devices for use in teaching. As I challenge my students to use more #alliteration, #allusion, #hyperbole, #imagery, #metaphor or #simile in their rhymes, I can go straight to them to use as examples. The funny thing is that this helps me remember to add more literary devices myself which improves my writing:

Here’s the shared WorkFlowy list of the above outline.

Here’s the actual sound file, “Garbage in the Trash”:

LESSON PLANS

For our summer camps, after-school programs and in-school residencies, I need to overview the whole program/project as well as plan out each class or work session we’ll have each day.

Here’s an example from a residency I did last Fall:

MC Residency Pic 1 Overview
In this outline you’ll see that I write the title, artistic output, goals and other details about the overall program.

MC Residency Pic 2 Teachers and Students
I keep track of teacher’s names and contact info as well as what my unique goals are with them to help engage students in learning each subject.
There are a lot of students to remember. I can keep notes that will help me know how to uniquely engage certain students that I see who have special talents or special challenges.

MC Residency Pic 3 Chinese
The class tags (#math, #chinese, #history, and #english) help me when I’m speaking with one teacher. I can focus only on what I need to speak with them about.

My @mc2 tag (Pic 3) lets this task show up in my master task management system to remember to do this on Monday when I’m at the school. Or I can use any of my personal tags like, @home to remember what to do when I’m at home. Or @officemax to remember to pick up supplies when I’m at Office Max.

MC Residency Pic 4 Next
The #next tag helps me quickly go to the next class plan.
This is the view I use during class as I teach. This is one day’s simple class plan. I love WorkFlowy because life doesn’t alway go as planned. It’s so easy to adjust the next class session’s plan based on how this day went. I like to write a journal and keep it there for reference later or next year. The #journal tag lets me go back and just read through my journal quickly.
Sometimes I must export the class plans if I need to turn them in to the school or for a grant report.

Here is the album created by the students.

FRANK: If you would indulge us here for a bit… would I be pushing my luck if I were to ask you to write and/ or perform a few WorkFlowy bars?

DOC: Easy. . . .

In the very next post, Dee Jay Doc will be answering the following question I put to him:

“Do you have any of your own home-grown tips and tricks which you wangle out of WorkFlowy – anything that you’ve been dying to shout out aloud? Because now’s the time to do it!”

In fact, I’m already sitting on that answer – which deserves a whole post of its own. He’s done a bang-up job of laying out what he calls his “Action Flow” for us… but it’s a wrap for today.


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Author: frank.dg

Author of the book, "Do Way, Way More in WorkFlowy", I blog on ProductivityMashup.com and for the WorkFlowy blog.

7 thoughts on “An Interview with Dee Jay Doc who Takes us on a Behind-the-Scenes of his Hip-Hop Projects with WorkFlowy”

  1. This is a surprising post, Frank. I also work in the world of grassroots hip hop, and I also use Workflowy! In my case I’m writing and structuring bids, pitches and press releases, but I do use it to organise education programmes, along with Trello, just like the example here. Have checked out Doc, and he’s doing some great stuff. Well done Workflowy!

    1. Hey Simon, maybe we can put together a post for you one of these days? I’m sure you’ve got some great stuff to share 🙂 @ProMashup

  2. This is such an entertaining and inspiring post. I really love the focus on doing something so impactful. It is breath of fresh air to the other internet “productivity” posts of more efficient ways to check email, go to coffee shops and pick up milk, posts.

    1. Hi @teodoramarie,
      Take a look at…
      https://userstyles.org/styles/browse/workflowy
      You’ll first need to install a browser extension called “Stylish”… then you can tinker with some of the user styles referenced above… or create your own. So you’ll be using the WorkFlowy web client to get a CSS “overlay”. You can change all sorts of styles… Have fun 🙂

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