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At Earthapalooza, Awakening to Environmental Truths

Environment health progressions discussionAs a person who recycles, I thought I had this “saving the earth” thing down. All I had to do was follow the three “R’s” of recycling: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Well, since my time in elementary school, three more “R’s” have been revealed to help us along our way to preserving our planet: Rethink, Refuse, and Repair. Berklee’s Earthapalooza be like: Yes, the world is suffering, and YES we need to change it, SO here’s how.

In the spirit of this year’s Earth Day, on April 14, some of Berklee’s earth-conscious folks hosted an Earth Day event to urge us toward the truth about the environment by sharing their unique perspectives and creative mediums. This event definitely opened my mind to the great gamut of tools I could use to minimize my detrimental footprint on our planet, and ignited my passion for preserving our world.

I witnessed Berklee professor Debb Bennett break down her methods of recycling. “Use what you have,” Bennet said. Professor Bennett’s advice wasn’t short of artistic inspiration; she left the crowd of assorted musicians and artistes with a nugget of us-specific direction: “Use your art to spread the word about the things you care about.”

Often I leave events about social and/or environmental change with a small chip of hopelessness on my shoulders; I may have done so if it wasn’t for the aptly arranged lineup of musicians between the talks, cautionary stories, and presentations about our environment and more eco-friendly living. Not only was I being enlightened, but I was also being blessed with songs of soulful caution and momentum, sweeping me onto the better of this jagged-edged dichotomy of light and darkness that this world carries so well.

two students sing songs of environmental changeProfessor Anthony Scibilia praised the musician for our ability to passionately play our hearts out without thinking about the musical knowledge and skill we’ve drilled into our brains in the practice room. Deep, right?

Two things said by other professors served to highlight, explain and drive the point of this event home.

“What we fail to know and understand, we destroy…” – Prof. Judson Evans


“Money is artificial; water is life.” – Ruth Ungar, quoted by Professor Mark Simos

singers harmonize over blues changes

We have to be aware of our shortcomings as world citizens in order to cease the destructive and poisonous behavior that is killing Earth. We must connect with our life sources (water, healthy food, etc.) and understand our brainchildren (money, technology, etc.) in context. We literally cannot live without water, and yet crises like those in Flint, Michigan and Standing Rock are happening. The prospect of a dollar (or a million dollars) should never take the place of even a single human life. Our faucets are polluted even as capitalism thrives.

And with a long way to go, remember: we are the change. We create, and not just as musicians. As humans, we have the means to come together and organize via our technologies and structures of connectedness. Be about it, then post about it. Let others know it’s okay to care about our planet.

berklee pianist and her singer friend sing ballad for the environmentWe have the opportunity to mobilize and rearrange the fabric of our lives to be conducive to life, as opposed to serving only the fatal, limited-time meal ticket called laissez faire capitalism. Tragedies such as Flint’s water crisis and Standing Rock (to name a few) should not exist. And as more and more intersectionality and grey areas pervade our lives, it’s our duty to awaken ourselves to the big and small ways we can inch our way towards this life-forward consciousness. Earthapalooza blew my mind; I suggest you tune in next year or sooner.

Salim ALiSalim ALi is a singer-songwriter, performer, music producer, and educator from the Bay Area. His mission is to build community and spread love and peace through the vibrations of musical and artistic collaboration. He is currently in his first year at Berklee College of Music, adding to his creative utility belt.

Salim ALi


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1 Comment

  1. Ayana

    Dope. Thanks for the enlightenment of what seems to be a great an important event to celebrate. Everyday is a new opportunity to celebrate and preserve our home/eARTh.

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