A Message in the Music

July 1, 2004
A Message In the Music
A few months ago, I wrote a piece for a sister publication, green@work, and was surprised by the amount of positive feedback I received after it was published. I have excerpted portions of it here because the message I hoped to convey is especially appropriate to this issue, which features dozens of environmental trailblazers and champions—the pioneers who have proven that the power of one can multiply to become the power of many.One of the great things about children is that they can teach us adults a thing or two. I am an admitted throwback to the era of singers like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Beatles and, later on, Bruce Springstein and the E Street Band. Over the years I have dismissed countless music "fads." I was a snob. What, I wondered, could contemporary music offer that was better than the songs of the legends that I grew up with? Music had a purpose back then; lyrics resonated with meaning. Or so I thought until my soon-but-not-quite-yet-teenage daughter introduced me to the lyrics of a hip-hop song called "Where Is the Love" by the Black Eyed Peas:Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
Listening closely, I discovered that the song deals with enormous and weighty issues such as terrorism, gangs, chemical warfare, racism and greed. I was astounded and saddened; these are the problems of the world that my children—all children—will inherit, and what's especially disheartening is that they know it.I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm getting older, y'all, people getting colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' our wrong direction
The world, according to our children, is a dismal mess—and they have us to thank for it. But that doesn't mean we have to concede the battle. Progress is being made. Consider, for example, the efforts of any one of the 15 environmental trailblazers or 25 champions for 2004 included in this issue. From the heroes who act on the local grassroots level to those whose work plays on an international stage, their stories project an almost palpable difference. These visionaries—and indeed they are just that—come from a variety of backgrounds and offer an equally diverse set of talents and skills. But all have recognized that to do nothing is simply unacceptable.A legacy of doubt and despair is not what any of us want to leave to our children. It has been every generation's dream that the next should have a better life, a better future than the one before. It's a dream worth writing music about—and certainly one worth fighting for. Once upon a time, Dylan wrote that the "answers are blowing in the wind."Today I believe they are evident in the faces, the words, the actions of a distinguished set of heroes.

  • On a personal note, I want to relate how rewarding it was to work on this issue. So often the day-to-day tasks for which each of us is responsible can result in a sort of tunnel vision. Rarely do we take a step back and view the forest through the trees, so to speak. And so, while environmental advocacy has been on our radar screen for a long, long time, we probably don't consider the enormous scope of all the work that is being done as often as we might. We have, over the years, profiled most of the individuals featured within the pages of this issue and many have also been speakers at our EnvironDesign conferences. We know each one's story well. But when reviewed collectively, their work is breathtaking—not in the usual sense of aesthetic beauty, but because of the exquisiteness of their dedication, the splendor of their accomplishments and the magnificence of their vision. My only regret is that we were unable to include in this first annual anthology all of the environmental heroes we have been fortunate to meet throughout the years.

    Stay tuned for 2005!
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