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How Music Inspires and Empowers Rural Africans to Steward Their Environment

The Power Of Music

We all have a song that we never forget. Maybe it carried us through tough times. Or perhaps it reminds us of good times we’ve had. It may have taught us an important lesson… maybe even at just the right time in our life. Whatever the reason, it stays with us.

Music is complicated. With no single home in the brain, it sparks various zones simultaneously, a symphony of synapses firing on cue, as conducted by your own individual mind. Together with the artist you are listening to, you are painting a singular image… one that encapsulates your thoughts and your emotions at once. This leaves an imprint on your psyche that’s remarkably hard to forget.

Music is simple. Since we began our human journey, music has stood the test of time as a fundamental universal language. Song and dance bring us together in spite of our differences, giving us something to share regardless of our means. We can use it to help clear our minds and focus. We can use it to inspire our minds with ideas. We can use it to help us move on from the thoughts that don’t serve us. We can use it to help us remember ones that do, and to teach them to others. It just works.

Our auditory systems, our nervous systems, are indeed exquisitely tuned for music.

As Oliver Sacks, acclaimed neurologist and author of the bestseller Musicophilia says, “Our auditory systems, our nervous systems, are indeed exquisitely tuned for music.” So I ask you this: if we’re so well attuned to music, and we use it in so many ways, aren’t there other ways to use it? Can we harness the emotional power, memorability, and universality of music to an even greater end?

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Those Who Need It Most

Ever had a bad day and improved it by listening to the same song on repeat? Music alleviates suffering, even if it’s only as long as the music lasts. Is there a way to use music to alleviate suffering long-term, and not only suffering of the mind? Can we harness its characteristics to alleviate the suffering of those for whom suffering is a way of life? Can music provide those in poverty with the means to take action, and to gain the crucial knowledge that will lead them to be part of the global solution? Furthermore, can it give them a voice within our often lofty global conversations?

We are living in a world in which the people who are bearing the brunt of the backlash for humanity’s decades of decadence have contributed the least to it. On top of this, they know the least about it, as a result of lack of access to the wealth of information that those of us reading this blog have at our fingertips. And even if they did have information regarding the local, landscape, national, regional, continental and global issues that they face, they have few or no systems in place to be able to ignore them, adapt, or even survive.

An ethos and a knowledge of sustainable development is increasingly crucial for all of us. However, there are many families for whom falling out of balance with the earth that sustains them has grave and immediate consequences. As an informed scientific community, can we reach them with research alone? What bridges the gap between research and learning for those who are lucky to be able to read? For those whose history is riddled with abuse by those who quested for such worldly knowledge in less culturally sensitive times?

We believe in the power of music.

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Bringing Environmental Knowledge

Conservation Music is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization on a mission to teach and inspire the world to live environmentally sustainable lifestyles through the power of music, with a special focus on rural, uninformed subsistence communities in the developing world. This includes outlining specific steps to take to better steward the earth as subsistence community members, as well as promoting a general environmental ethic.

We collaborate with artists around the world to compose, record, produce, and create music videos for songs of sustainability in local styles and local languages about local conservation issues. We then seek to add to the global appeal of these songs, to reach the world with inspiring messages from these countries.

We seek to empower the voices of rural musicians and national celebrities alike to reach many thousands of people with messages that everyone needs to hear, broadcast nationally via radio and television, and globally via new media and media partners. In collective harmony, we are planting the seeds of a brighter future in the hearts and the minds of each individual listener, musician, and partner.

The village is the focus, and the world is the stage. Conservation Music first and foremost seeks to reach the communities needing ideas for sustainable living the most. But our impact doesn’t end at the edge of the village. Our rural friends are becoming part of the solution, and their voices can and will inspire other people all around the world.

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Conservation Music is very excited to join the conversation at National Geographic Voices.
Thank you for reading our first post on this platform, please tell your friends! And stay tuned for:

  • More posts about the power of music and the arts to play active roles in shaping our world for the better
  • Songs and music videos from Africa and all around the world
  • An upcoming webseries and missives from the field as we adventure across Southern Africa and collaborate with local musicians
  • Virtual Reality experiences – join us in the field and in the studio as we harness the power of music to teach conservation!
  • Partnerships with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project and many other dedicated conservation groups in Southern Africa
  • (Long term) Our expansion into other developing countries all over the world!

You can learn more about Conservation Music at www.conservationmusic.org and on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! If you’d like to partner, contribute, or otherwise get involved with Conservation Music, please email info@conservationmusic.org. Thank you! ~Alex

About the Author
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Alex Paullin
of Conservation Music

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info@conservationmusic.org
After years of soul-searching and months in the African wilderness with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, musician and geographer Alex Paullin combined his foremost passions and founded Conservation Music, a non-profit aiming to foster a global culture of sustainability using music as the messenger.

Currently, the organization collaborates with musicians throughout Southern Africa, catalyzing songs in local genres and local languages regarding local conservation issues in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, Angola, and more. Throughout his life he aims to expand the project globally, in hopes that his lifetime will see and hear songs of conservation being sung throughout the world.

Comments

  1. Julia Moon
    Richmond
    February 19, 7:35 pm

    This is wonderful! Thank you Nat Geo for sharing inspiring stories like these.