In May, we were steeped in activism. We went from Hopi and Navajo country to a workshop in New Orleans. It was a good bridge to walk between the two. A connectedness that speaks to disenfranchisement, poverty, the failings of governments, the strength of communities, the perseverance of traditions in spite of the worst circumstances, and the beauty of the human heart. I see Indian communities asked to trade their ecosystems and traditions for an economy; then I see African American communities that have been displaced by floodwaters and fight to return to their land and traditions
We were privileged to attend an activist artist retreat organized by Air Traffic Control and The Future of Music Coalition. Air Traffic Control is a group whose mission is “to support and provide musicians & managers who want to be engaged in social change, the resources and backing they need to make change. ”The Future of Music Coalition“ is a national non-profit education, research and advocacy organization that identifies, examines, interprets and translates the challenging issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy. FMC achieves this through continuous interaction with its primary constituency – musicians – and in collaboration with other creator/citizen groups. A diverse group of artists gathered for 2 days in New Orleans to learn about the hurricane, the flood, the rebuilding efforts, and what we can do to help. The weekend culminated with a benefit concert for Sweet Home New Orleans, a coalition of non-profit organizations that helps find affordable housing and provides rental assistance for musicians, Mardi Gras performers and other traditional New Orleans performers. The money specifically went to help musicians displaced by hurricane Katrina and the flood from the faulty levees. Artists attending the retreat were: Ok Go’s Damian Kulash, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Death Cab for Cutie’s Nick Harmer, Matt Nathanson, Pamela Z, Mike Relm, Sandy Pearlman, and Indigo Girls. We played a benefit show at Tipitina’s and were joined by Bonerama, an amazing Trombone Band, and the legendary Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. We raised over 7 grand.
I kept a running diary of my feelings and thoughts as we listened to folks speak about faulty levees and broken pumps, lost lives, homes, neighborhoods, and cultures. We toured the worst hit parts of New Orleans and even almost 2 years after the flood could still see and feel the devastation in an overwhelming and palpable way. I took a lot of factual notes, but they don’t really add up to feelings I had, so I am just leaving this with you. It’s hard to follow sometimes, but it’s just the thoughts of a confused, confounded, and ultimately reborn activist.
Click here to read the diary.