Last week, I had an amazing experience. After watching Vice President Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” and hearing him speak after the film, I was moved by his hope, optimism and belief that we can make a difference in the climate crisis. In the film, he talked about his Climate Reality Training Workshops where he teaches people to become climate leaders. I applied to attend his October workshop, and was accepted.
For three days in Pittsburg, PA, I was one of 1400 students who learned to speak truth to power about the climate crisis. Mr. Gore was with us throughout the entire training—motivating us, teaching us, and leading deep-dive panel discussions on scientific reasons for the climate crisis as well as ways to fight our way out of the situation we’re in. It felt like a master’s class on the environment. And he was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.
What does this have to do with music, you may wonder? I did too. You see there was a Facebook page for the attendees to connect prior to the workshop. Several musicians popped up and identified themselves, looking for other musicians in the group. Like lost souls converging on an island, we reached out, chatted and sent messages. Before long, we had formed a group—the Climate Reality Singers. We quickly put together and distributed a songbook. And once we finally arrived at the workshop in Pittsburg, we actually met each other.
We scheduled time to meet early and run through songs. We grabbed some time at lunch, and stayed late at the end of Day 1 to rehearse. Because of my choral background, I conducted the group. After a few rehearsals, we started singing for the other attendees in the morning and at breaks. We even broke into song after Mr. Gore spoke to our big group one evening.
Whenever we sang, people would walk over and listen, or clap, their faces lighting up, bright and happy to hear the soothing sounds of vocal harmony. Listeners came up and told me how much they appreciated us sharing the music. They said it lifted them and gave them the spark they needed to go back in and continue the tough work of fighting for our precious earth.
I probably should have anticipated it, but I was actually surprised by the deep connection the music gave us all. Initially, I felt my trip was going to be all about my purpose at this stage of life, which I’ve defined as being a caretaker of our planet. But by sharing music during that experience, I also got to share my passion. And it was the mix of the two that made my own “Truth to Power” experience so powerful.
I made many connections at the workshop, and learned a ton about what we can all do to ‘save the planet.’ But I’ll never forget the warm friendships I made with the musicians or the smiles we put on so many faces. As musicians, we had the power and ability to connect to something deeper when we joined our passion to our purpose.
As a new official member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps, I have committed to perform 10 “acts of leadership.” As I do that, I will keep in mind that while we may need to rely on science to prove the details of our position, we can lean on music to nurture us along the way.
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