Harmony: Harlem’s Celebration of Life Earth Day Concert

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What is Harmony?

A Day to Celebrate

A Day to Celebrate, Earth Day 2006

Every year Earth Day takes place on April 22nd, and this year we’re excited to bring that celebration to Harlem. It is time for Harlem to take a Saturday afternoon to come outside into its streets and celebrate life, something that’s so common and so commonly taken for granted. It is time to celebrate life in Harlem from the ground up, from the soil underneath it’s sidewalks to the sun that shines down on its faces and all the creations that spring forth everyday from these interactions. It is time for Harlem to see how truly alive it is, and how that life is able to unite a city block, a city street, an entire city neighborhood into an active, vibrant community. And to do all this, all April 22nd needs is a few talented musicians, some good food, people willing to share and have fun with one another, and the space for all this to come together. All of these components are right here in Harlem, and it is time for the people of this neighborhood to enjoy them together.

The Makings of a Celebration of Life

We intend for our festivities to include:

  • A concert of neighborhood musicians performing music with life-celebrative themes
    Classes in healthy, appetizing food preparation
  • Information and activities provided by neighborhood groups involved in music and environmental fields.
  • Children’s events and activities centered around environmental topics important to Harlem
  • A farmer’s market
  • All of this taking place outside in Harlem, so all are invited and encouraged to come outside and celebrate together

    What All This Will Bring to Harlem
  • Awareness of the community resources available within Harlem
  • An opportunity for Harlem’s community organizations to make themselves known
  • A sharing and trading of knowledge and information important to the livelihood of Harlem
  • A building of community morale and positivity
  • A sparking of Harlem’s music scene
  • An awareness of the knowledge and power inherent in Harlem
  • A greater sense of and appreciation for the many components of Harlem’s community

    It is the aim of these festivities to put Harlem in touch with the wealth of resources living within its streets, and to inspire, through this community gathering, the people of Harlem to use these resources to allow Harlem to grow as an active, creative, community in charge of its own destiny.

    The Music

    How does one demonstrate the commonality of life? How does one make a group of people rejoice in the fact that they have this quality in common with one another, with the pigeon on the sidewalk, the dog at the end of their leash, and the sources of the food on their plate? Thankfully, truth has a way of sounding familiar when people hear it, and thankfully we have been given more than words to work with. What moves people without explanation, without thought or premeditation, without language, without command? Music. Music has heads bobbin’, feet tappin’, and bodies swayin’ before the ear has even realized what it is hearing. Music has a rhythm that is as good as all of our heart beats because we are all able to feel it. We can’t help but be penetrated by it. Thus, music is wrapped up in life, for they share a rhythm familiar to all who experience it.

    So, we’ve got a rhythm of music to carry a melody of celebrating life, and that should be good enough to make Harlem move.


    Megan McLaurin
    Executive Director

    Megan, an environmental policy student, is currently working with NASA’s Goddard Space Institute and the Millennium Villages Project researching agricultural policy. She is an award-winning writer, as well as a yoga instructor and saxophonist. Megan is also interested in women’s health issues and has led many workshops on health for teenage girls in the surrounding area.

    Adrionna Fike
    Public Relations

    Adrionna, former Columbia University basketball player, is an anthropology student with a love of music and children. Her work in anthropology is environmentally based, exploring relationships between the land, its food, and its people. Adrionna is committed to promoting education about nutrition and health to her community, particularly its younger members.

    Jennifer is a psychology student with a strong belief that art is the force that has the power to inspire a people. She is a photographer, currently studying at the International Center for Photography. In her art, Jennifer aims to regain the connection between individuals and their environment, helping people to take a look at themselves, their actions and their home.

Harmony, not Har(money)

Harmony is possible. It's true. But how easily it is forgotten.

Harmony by definition is "compatibility in opinion and action; congruity of parts with one another and with the whole". In terms of music, harmony is "a collation of parallel passages, especially from the Gospels, with a commentary demonstrating their consonance and explaining their discrepancies". We intend to exemplify these notions on April 22nd.

We have all of the parts we need to bring our vision to life. Now we must exercise and engage them.

I am constantly learning how to listen. I am currently working on how to not get caught up in everything that everyone says. They kept saying that what we need corporate sponsorship. But it's simply not true. And we knew this all along. But we got caught up-- thinking too fast and too far outside of our means. Discovering our means: our primary and natural resouces is the defining quality of our project. Harlem does not need Starbuck's or Whole Food's market to help it discover itself.

Reaching outside of Harlem for resources is completely antithetical to this project and our vision. It is a slap in the face and strips away the creative power and resourcefullness of people. Looking for a handout is behavior that we must not perpetuate here. It is a mode of opperating that is simply irresponsible and lazy.

A particular type support and cooperation is neccessary--it's called community support. All handouts aren't needed and many that are given aren't ever recieved. They aren't recieved because many of them do not have anything to offer their target community. For example, what does Starbuck's on have to contribute to Morningside park on Earth Day? Coffee. Are they planning to teach people how to grow coffee in Harlem? Cause it's damn sure not to promote health or economic development.

I am not bitter, just disappointed that the "Friends of Morningside Park" is choosing to "sell out" and turn Earth Day over to Starbucks.

This goes to show just how much work there is to be done.

This is a casting call for community actors, directors, producers and technicians. We are gaining support day by day.

If we need a stage for our performers, we will create one ourselves; for our health food, we will be able to cook; we will outfit ourselves, we know what looks and feels good.

With heart, mind, soul and breath we will acheive Harmony,. Music, play, and dance are all modes of harmonization, and when done responsibly we see all that Harmony has to offer.

Stay grounded and Keep your eyes.

We're learning to remember our roots, or rather, we're seeing that for a moment we forgot them, and it's time to get grounded yet again. We had heard talk of corporate sponsorship and had spent hours thinking of the right words to get the right company with the right amount of money to write us a hefty check.- what was that about showing Harlem it has all the resources it needs? What was that about getting Harlem rooted in its own soil, not in someone else's money? What was all this we had forgotten?
So we're remembering, and we're getting us a school, and we'll have a grand concert and a grand old time on the playground; that's where we all learned most of our lessons anyway.
But all this has shown me, whatever you do, keep your eye. Keep your eye for brilliance, and work your way as high up as you can, because then if you're high up on whatever ladder this is that people are so sure they're standing on, and you've still got your eye for brilliance, you can change the world as easy as flipping a coin. But somewhere along the way everybody's getting their eye poked out, or maybe they just start climbing and realize they're afraid of heights, so they close them. I'm not too sure. All I know is when you get up high, people lose their eye for brilliance. Lesson number one of the project: Never let ANYONE poke your eye out- even Starbucks. No matter how big their pockets are or how much power they're wielding- keep your eyes, they are far more valuable.
I picked up a fortune yesterday. It said "Ultimate creativity is maintaining perpetual newness, a childlike openness and a curiosity in life." I thought it had grand timing.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Photographic Harmony...Harmonic Photography?

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