male musician on stage with electric guitar, bathed in blue light

Music for the planet: An Eco-lyrics workshop!

Report on the Eco-Song Workshop 2023

The recent floods, drought, and now wildfires leave no doubt that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. We need to tackle this now, and it will mean difficult decisions and massive changes to our way of living. A cultural shift away from a consumer society to a more sustainable one will be hard, but we believe that inspiring art, and in particular songs can lead the way and challenge us to rise to the occasion.

That is why we decided to hold an Eco-Lyric workshop. The plan was to have participants create poetry, songs and eventually music videos that celebrate the beauty of nature and our connection to it, that champion change towards sustainability, that express our climate anxiety and grief.

The workshop was held on Nov. 4th, 10-12:30 at TRU, during the time of the COP 28 World Environmental Conference in Dubai, 30 Nov – 12 Dec 2023.

We had six workshop leaders, including professional musicians and writers, who briefly shared their journeys to writing about the environment. We then held the workshops. About 25 people participated, ages ranging from 13 to 70s. The energy and excitement was palpable. Song topics ranged from Nature’s beauty and our connection to it; Eco-anxiety; Species extinction; Positive transformation; Sustainability; Extreme weather; Ecosystem rights; Indigenous land stewardship; Food, Water,  and the Right to a healthy environment. We then served a pizza lunch. The event was a great community builder and brought together musicians and lyric writers.

The plan going forward is to hold another “rehearsal” workshop in late March to see how people are getting on with their projects.

We then will invite musicians, poets, and perhaps even folks from other arts, such as dance, to perform during the morning of Earth Day (Apr. 20th), before the Walk for Peace, Social Justice, and the Environment, which Derek Cook and George Johnson, among others will be organizing this year. If you are interested in getting involved please contact one of us!

Thanks to Derek Cook for coming up with the idea at the first Climate ActionFest!

Respectfully submitted by George Johnson, Jan. 23, 2024

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FREE poetry and song writing workshop!

Can music inspire climate action? According to George Johnson, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Johnson’s group is planning to use songwriting as a way to connect Kamloops residents to the climate challenges facing us.

An “eco-lyric song-writing workshop” will be held November 4, from 10 am to 12:30 pm, at the TRU Arts and Education Building (2nd Floor), to be followed at a later date by a performance event. Participants are asked to register in advance by email.

Says Johnson, “We want you to create spoken word, poetry, songs and music videos that celebrate the beauty of nature and our connection to it, that champion change towards sustainability, that express our climate anxiety and grief. The recent floods, drought, and now wildfires leave no doubt that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. We need to tackle this now, and it will mean difficult decisions and massive changes to our way of living. A cultural shift away from a consumer society to a more sustainable one will be hard, but we believe that inspiring art, and in particular songs can lead the way and challenge us to rise to the occasion.”

Experienced musicians and poets as well as those who have not yet dabbled in songwriting before are encouraged to attend the free workshop.

“Participation prizes will be awarded to express our appreciation of lyric-writing efforts by all ages, from high school to university students to those of us who are only young at heart,” says Johnson.

Topics can include: Nature’s beauty and our connection to it; Eco-anxiety; Species extinction; Positive transformation; Sustainability; Extreme weather; Ecosystem rights; Indigenous land stewardship; Food, Water, Right to a healthy environment.

For inspiration check out George and Ben Johnson’s Climate Crisis – Official Music Video with Intensive Care on YouTube.

A Festival to showcase the songs and poetry will be held at Thompson Rivers University during the COP 28 World Environmental Conference, which takes place in Dubai from Nov 30 – Dec 12, 2023. Details will be announced soon – stay tuned!

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