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,
The gentle humming of cicadas swells and diminishes above the backdrop of crickets steadily chirping. Tomatoes are ripening and weighing heavy on the vines. Asters and goldenrods paint the fields purple and yellow. Meteor showers create heavenly light shows in the night skies. Songs are sung on river shores, at outdoor festivals, and around glowing campfires. Humid air as thick as molasses slows us down enough to be able to notice the moment of the season.
I always love this time of year, perhaps because I was born in late August, even though childhood excitement for my birthday was often mixed with the trepidation of returning to school.
Gratefully my school years are over and I can simply enjoy the sweetness of summer in the season’s final month. There are many wonderful musical fruits that are ripening from the year’s labors, and I am excited to share them with you, my community of supporters and friends.
Over the coming weeks I will participate in two of my favorite music festivals – both which happen to take place on farms – Hollerfest last weekend in Brooklyn, Michigan and the Earthwork Harvest Gathering later this month in Lake City, Michigan. Allison and I will perform together as Spirits Rising in each of these festivals and I will also perform children’s music sets.
Allison and I designed a new website for Spirits Rising, www.SpiritsRisingMusic.com, which allows you to stream our songs for free! Give them a listen and let us know what you think.
I am continuing to work on Diversity, one of two new children’s albums in production. In light of the many disturbing examples of persistent racial prejudice and hatred in our country, I am approaching this album with a renewed sense of purpose. It is my hope that these songs will help open the minds and hearts of young people in ways that encourage them to recognize their common humanity and interconnections with those who are different from themselves.
I also have the wonderful opportunity to participate in a concert on September 11th in New York City for Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen spiritual teacher and peacemaker who continues to recover from a stroke that occurred last fall. I am excited to be part of this concert and to share my music as an offering for peace and healing for Thich Nhat Hanh, for our country, and for the world.
I am grateful for the happy harvest that is happening and for the grace to be able to receive the season’s bounty. Let’s enjoy this finale of summer!
Our spring recording sessions began on a recent sunny afternoon with smudging – the Native American ritual of burning medicine plants for purification and cleansing – and a prayer asking the Great Spirit to sing through us. We met in that sacred dimension where time and space are limitless, where energy is infinite, where sadness and suffering are transformed into joyful communion. Our recording sessions began.
Making music together with Allison and the Community Gardeners, I felt moved by the gifts of the Spirit given to me by my parents, teachers, and ancestors, and inspired by friends who have developed their musical gifts well beyond my own.
As we met in this place of music we sailed through several songs together, telling stories and laughing in between. Recording is intense, fun work. For me it is like a combination of therapy and spiritual retreat in the way that it brings attention and awareness to details within songs that may otherwise go unnoticed. Recording has taught me that engaging in and trusting the creative process is just as important as the end product.
Making an album is a journey best experienced when shared, and I have been fortunate to encounter many friends on my path with whom I have the privilege of working. This is a road that is co-created with the Great Mystery and with loving hearts. This will be our continuation long after we are gone.
Recording also takes time, like any creative medium. So unfortunately you will have to wait a while yet before hearing the fruits of our labors. But you can rest assured that we are enjoying each step and every note along the way.
I am excited to share many of these songs at live performances this spring and summer, whether in a children’s concert or at a Spirits Rising show. Let’s meet in that place of music.