When I emailed my team earlier this year about planting trees, I was thinking about fresh air. What I never anticipated were the sighs of relief and deep breaths of gratitude I’d experience from communities around the country who’d greatly benefit not only from the trees, but from the attention they’d receive from the project. What began as a simple tree planting mission has, like a tree itself, grown new branches to nurture and support life far beyond my wildest dreams.
Last Saturday, on a hot and sticky day in Hartford Connecticut, with citizens from Frog Hollow, Knox Parks, Billings Forge and all the wonderful volunteers from Reverb and 96.5 TIC, we transformed the campus of Burns School for Latino Studies just in time for it’s reopening this week.
With a little love, sweat, a few tears, and a sweet blister accrued from my shovel, a small group of extraordinary humans cut back weeds and overgrown trees from the face of the school to let light into windows and reveal the building’s beautiful brick facade, while some collected trash, including glass and needles from the school’s neglected back yard. Overall 6 new large Maple trees were planted as well as dozens of perennials to welcome new students and families. Knox Parks, a passionate tree group in Connecticut was so moved by the project, they wish to keep the Burn’s School playground, which still lacks shade, in their plans for more trees in the future.
And if that wasn’t enough, the city mayor stopped by to see what all the excitement was about. He visited the sight inspired to help improve more than just the schoolyard. I left wondering if that would have happened were it not for our effort to plant trees.
The school’s new principal worked alongside all the volunteers all day, filthy with dirt, unaffected by her sweaty brow and t-shirt, grateful for the turnout and all the attention. Usually in this area, I was told, even if there was a crime, they would get little coverage or support. But because we brought our light, cameras, and action, a positive difference was being made that would last well into the school year.
Why is it that so many schools get the short end of the stick?
Is it because we are all so anxious to get out into the world and make something of ourselves? Investing in our own businesses and futures, somewhat forgetting to look back and notice there’s always a generation behind us that counts on us to elevate their future too?
Whatever the case may be, I’m happy our little tree planting mission found it’s way to The Burns School in Frog Hollow and is having a greater effect on the planet and it’s people than just cleaner air. It seems as though we’re also clearing the air for minds to grow, communities to develop and ideas to unfold.
Thanks again to everyone for their hard work and generous energy. Especially to my sidekick Mona Tavakoli, who didn’t mind getting dirty on a show day.
I used to work at a movie theatre. On a good day I tore tickets and admitted my friends for free. On the lesser days I cleaned the theatres. I didn’t work there long enough to ever see a projection booth, but I did see Batman Returns about a dozen times, and heard Kiss From A Rose about 100, which, in an era before internet, was an awesome way to hear a song for free.
Like all the short-lived jobs on my resume, this one too gave me time to be quiet, work alone and mull over life’s greatest mysteries.
A great puzzle from those days is one I still ponder; that which I call the cinema effect:
It’s when an audience brings in refreshments to a show and then somehow during the course of the feature abandons the snacks as well as all consideration for the environment. Thus, the job of the theatre sweeper-upper remains in demand.
Since working there I have become immune to the cinema effect and always exit a movie with my popcorn bucket, filling it with other discarded cups, buckets and napkins along the way.
These days my friends and I are the ones putting on a show; and a brilliant one I might add, with live music and cinematic landscapes. And just like the movies, we too offer snacks. Here’s a snapshot of our epic concert coming to a city near you.
If you’re planning on joining us this summer, beware of the cinema effect and lets inspire others to leave the environment better than we found it. We’re doing our part backstage and on the road, and we invite you to do your part in the theaters and in the parking lots. We’ve even set out a surplus of recycling bins for you to use to make it easy. Thanks for being an awesome steward of the Earth. You’re going to make a sweeper-upper’s night, and mine.
When I fly to New Orleans tomorrow, connecting through Dallas, to kick off the North American Tour, I will take my 56th and 57th flight of 2012.
I’ve been counting.
Never mind what all that flying does to the atmosphere. I wonder what all that flying does to one’s blood. Skin. or brain. At 30 thousand feet, one is more exposed to cosmic radiation than those on the ground. And the body scans one endures in security emit as much radiation as being in the air for 3 minutes. I’m no scientist, but I deduce this may be why I think look hot in an airplane bathroom mirror; which, similarly to how I sometimes feel at 2am, is an inconvenient time and place to feel the most confident.
Being a frequent flyer has made me more aware of my carbon footprint. Never mind my solar house, electric car, ban of plastics and local/organic food fetish. I travel through the air enough to make all those other efforts moot. I may look green on paper, but if carbon had a prom, I’d be carbon king.
So, inspired to offset and sequester carbon in the atmosphere, I came up with this little calculation to give back.
For every domestic flight, I plant one tree.
For every international flight, I plant five.
TIMES the amount of people I’m traveling with, which can been as many as 23 people on some legs.
Based on this modest carbon sequestering calculation and the number of flights I’ve made this year, times the entourage, I owe the planet 2425 trees to offset my time in the sky.
So far I’ve planted 33.
2392 more to go. That is, until I fly again, and again and again, which will keep the number increasing…
Why Trees? See the quick video below.
At home in California I’ve teamed up with a local non-profit “Stand For Sam” whose mission it is to reforest and restore the lungs of the Earth. With their help I funded the planting of 27 Oaks at the new High Tech High School in San Marcos, CA - AND set up a few plantings we’ll be doing in various parts of the country on this summer’s tour.
We also planted a Meyer Lemon in our backyard. An avocado tree in Singapore. And was recently gifted 4 fruit trees for my birthday. Thank you Warner Music & Cyndi Lauper! (Wink Wink Gregory Lewis, Ross and Ashley!) Stay tuned for pictures.
We’re off to a great start and still have a long way to go. You’ll be able to help too at the shows. Look for the info about tweeting and texting to support the planting of trees thanks to our partners at Reverb and Green The World. It’s never been easier to be green.
That being said. We’ll have water refill stations at our concerts so you won’t have to buy the expensive plastic stuff. Stay tuned to find out more about that.
A man I know was arrested last week after demonstrating in front of the white house, locked in a steel cage with 3 industrial hemp plants. David Bronner, maker of Bronner’s Magic Soap, the best soap ever, was trying to get the attention of the US government to allow US farmers to grow industrial hemp. Hemp, a wild weed when free to grow, is one of earths most useful and renewable resources. Hemp oil can be used for soap, which Bronner’s family has been magically producing for more than 100 years. Hemp seeds can also be eaten for an excellent source of protein. I eat it everyday in fact. And newsflash, it doesn’t get you high. It is merely a relative of Mary Jane, BUT, unfotunately is still considered the same plant by the US Government. Bronner was arrested for possession of 3 industrial hemp plants. So silly.
Brief history: during the industrial revolution, new synthetic fibers and fabrics such as nylon, along with oil and gas saw hemp as a fierce competitor. Since hemp can be broken down and used for paper, fabric, food and/or ethanol, a renewable bio-fuel, the oil and chemical companies along with paper moguls lobbied Washington to take hemp off the market, passing the blame onto Mary Jane, calling hemp a dangerous drug. And they succeeded.
That’s too bad say I. “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country,” said Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President.
Alcohol was prohibited for a little while for similar reasons. Ethanol, often made of corn and distilled like moonshine by auto-racers, saw promise as a potential fuel leader in the US. Big Oil then lobbied to ban alcohol and moonshine in order to get auto makers hooked on gasoline made from crude oil. When the industry settled on oil, the alcohol ban was lifted, and people went back to being stupid in public as opposed to hiding in speakeasies.
Wouldn’t it be nice to grow our own fuel instead of drilling it out of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, or kill for it in wars with other countries?
“Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” said George Washington, U.S. President & General.
Both Washington and Jefferson were cultivators of hemp. Once used for barter and trade, hemp in history is the reason our money is green.
But alas, we are somewhat stupid. In this now era, renewable resources like wind, solar, bio-fuel, and hemp are just plain bad for business. Sustainability in general is bad for business. Because if our products, houses and cars were actually meant to last, we’d spend less and money wouldn’t be the illusory key to survival.
I’m no economist, but if David Bronner could source his hemp in the United States instead of Canada, wouldn’t portions of his 50 million annual income be invested back into US farmers and farmland, boosting local economies and creating jobs?
But I get it. Balancing the books in today’s market is tricky. We have so many more cars, homes, products and needs than ever before. We’re a nation of material girls hooked on cable TV and Carl’s Jr. And giving us our energy independence would mean no more cable bill. In fact, with energy independence, we’d be free of paying utility bills altogether. We could charge our cars at home on our solar systems and not have to buy gasoline. Billions and billions less dollars would circulate, which would be problematic for the US, a country already in debt.
But what about the water? With gas and electric utilities cleaned up, we could put more jobs and money into water conservation programs, and maybe even less pollution! The way I see it, water is gold and we’re overlooking it, assuming the wells are gonna flow forever. I’ll gladly pay a steep water bill if I know my money is going to sustain life, whereas a gas and electric bill is really just sustaining our favorite TV shows.
This election year, the two leading parties’ positions on just about everything couldn’t be any more bi-partisan. In almost every category, their siding for or against it, loud and clear. For instance, If you’re for supporting the rights of gays, lesbians, and transgender citizens, vote democratic. If you think abortion should be ILLEGAL – vote Republican. If you think that Millionaires and Billionaires should pay more taxes – vote Democratic. If you think corporations should be able to spend as much as they want on candidates and elections . . . and NOT have to disclose where the money comes from – vote Republican. If you think guns should be less freely available, vote democratic. If you’re against universal healthcare, vote republican. If you’re green at heart and want to see more renewable energy sources, vote democratic. If you’re for big oil companies receiving about $4 Billion in subsidies, vote republican. If you’re for the legalization of industrial hemp & marijuana. Vote democratic. It’s never been easier to vote.
And do vote. The 2000 Presidential Election was decided by only 537 votes out of a country of 300 million. Proof that every vote counts.
Love your world. Love your country. Vote hemp. After all, the US constitution is written on hemp paper. So go Rock the Vote!