Rain falls gently onto the soil, soaking into roots and seeds and helping to generate the mysterious, surprising, and miraculous rebirth that is spring in Michigan. This annual transformation inspires a few questions in me for reflection and contemplation.
What will I work to cultivate during this season of earth awakening? What needs to be weeded and composted into fertilizer for new growth? Who will I ask to be my co-gardeners?
Certainly I will ask the sun, the rain, and the soil to help in these endeavors. I will also ask my fellow musical, spiritual, and community gardeners to lend their hands and hearts.
My gardens this year include both physical manifestations of plants and roots as well as metaphorical gardens of love and creative collaboration. As Allison and I continue to cultivate our “love’s garden,” we will also prepare the soil to grow vegetables and berries. As I turn the compost in my own backyard, I realize the work yet to be completed on my latest musical project.
I am listening to the evolving soundtrack of this new children’s album, Diversity. I hope to grow this collection of songs into a musical orchard that in turn waters seeds of inclusiveness and acceptance within families and in our world. I am so happy to be able to offer songs that help remind us of our interdependence, of the simple fact that we need one another.
In addition to my band the Community Gardeners (Allison, Mark, Lesley-Anne, Marion, and Gayelynn) who have already generously contributed to the making of this album, I am so happy that the Detroit Children’s Choir and Kalamazoo folk music duo Red Tail Ring will also add their voices and instruments to the mix.
I am fortunate to have many garden beds that can benefit from the loads of compost that are created from the fear, loneliness, anger, and misunderstanding that are prevalent all around and within us. And I am so grateful for the help of loved ones and strangers in this life-giving gardening process.
One song, one breath at a time, we work together with our Mother Earth to transform the refuse into food, the garbage into flowers.
With love from your fellow community gardener,
Yes its an emergency
When those in power trample our democracy
Oh let’s take our state back again
Power to the people of Michigan
Rise up together now hand in hand
Protect our children, water, and sacred land
I’ve been working on a song for Flint, Detroit, and Michigan. A healing song of racial and environmental justice. It is a work in progress, just as our democratic values of justice and equality are not yet complete.
The Flint water crisis has brought to the national consciousness institutional racism, classism and oppression that continue to exist as part of the fabric of our state and of our country. A society that was built on dispossessing our Native American ancestors of their lands while exploiting their natural resources and enslaving millions of Africans will continue to operate on levels of great disparity unless we intervene.
We must continue the legacies of intervention championed by abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the American Indian Movement, and the Environmental Justice Movement. We must strive to be Christ, Buddha, Spirit, and Love in our broken world as we work towards justice. We need to compost the rotten parts of this fabric in order to create rich soil for new growth.
How can I be part of this sacred composting? How can I respond to this situation of poisoned water and poisoned children with compassionate action rather than angry rage, with love rather than fear?
All I know at this point is to keep singing; to sing for the children of Flint and other communities that are disregarded in our economy and disenfranchised in our American culture. To sing for the families that are forced to face yet another level of financial, emotional, and physical hardship. To sing for the water that is polluted and poisoned and disrespected. To sing to hold accountable those in power who refuse to do what is right and just. To sing to build communities that celebrate diversity in many forms and that lift one another up, finding strength in our differences.
I am working on organizing a benefit concert for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. Please stay tuned for further details and if you would like to make a direct donation, please give to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund.
I have also been steadily working on my next children’s album, Diversity, and look forward to releasing it some time later this year. I see now a new urgency to share its message of building inclusive community and supporting our core democratic values.
I am now getting ready to head west for my annual tour of Washington, where I will have many opportunities to share hope and love through music. Wherever I go, I take the water, land, and people of Michigan with me. I’ll be singing for our resilient healing nature, and for the children, land, and water.
Imagine not being able to wash clothes or do dishes, not being able to shower or bathe, and having no water to drink. Unfortunately this is the reality that many people face every day in Detroit.
Residential water shut offs continue to leave thousands of Detroiters with no access to water, including many families with children. In spite of a payment plan set up by the city and funded primarily through donations, tens of thousands of residents remain unable to afford their water bills.
According to a report by the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department made on October 28th, from the period of January-October of 2015 16,078 residential water accounts were shut off. Since May of 2015 the department has left 49,824 door hangers notifying residents of impending shutoffs. Once service is discontinued, poor citizens are left with few options to have their water turned back on.
We the People of Detroit is a grassroots community organization that is committed to advocating for residents of the city and is working with others towards creating an affordability plan to make water rates accessible to all residents across all income levels. The organization also coordinates a Water Rights Hotline for residents who have had their water shutoff to receive emergency assistance.
As the region prepares to enter the winter season and residents without water face increased hardships from dropping temperatures, it is important that we come together as a community to show our support for those in need. I have been helping to organize a concert to heighten awareness of the need for a water affordability plan and to raise funds for We the People of Detroit in support of their efforts to help those who have had their water shut off.
Water is a sacred part of who we are as human beings and as Michiganders. We cannot allow for our fellow citizens to be denied access to this basic human need simply because they are economically disadvantaged. We are coming together as Detroit residents and allies in metro Detroit to advocate for the rights of all people to have uninterrupted access to clean water, no matter their level of income. I hope that you will join us.
In Peace, Love, and Water,