Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We are destroying the joint

We are destroying the joint:

 And the price we pay for despoiling our environment and trashing our heritage is high. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are connected to and influenced by our social and physical environments, our cultural landscape. People typically have strong emotional bonds to places and the communities in them. There is a now a great deal of evidence that our wellbeing depends in large measure on our relationship with our environment – broadly conceived, the relationships we have with the people around us and the natural and built environment we inhabit; if this cultural environment is destroyed or degraded or if people are prevented from enjoying it, their health and wellbeing deteriorate.

This is an edited extract from “We Are Destroying the Joint” by Carmen Lawrence in Destroying the Joint: Why Women Have to Change the World, edited by Jane Caro, published by UQP.

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    It is with the deepest if sorrows that the Black Rock Coalition acknowledges yesterday's transition of Richard P. Havens. We were informed by the family that Mr. Havens died April 22 of a heart attack. Mr. Havens was 72. Our hearts, our thoughts, our prayers and our support go out to the Havens family.

    Mr. Havens is an iconic figure without peer, a fixture on the folk, rock and jazz scenes at a time where there were no walls between genres. He will be forever remembered for the desperate call to service to open Woodstock Arts Festival on August 15, 1969 after the original opener (Sweetwater) and all the other scheduled acts were stalled in the mass squall of traffic headed to Yasgur's Farm. Mr. Havens' trio not only made their own legend--welcomed warmly back to the stage after successive encores--but made it possible for all the other legendary performances (Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills & Nash, Joan Baez, Santana, Blood Sweat & Tears, Janis Joplin, etc.) to proceed as planned.

    Less discussed is Mr. Havens' crucial support to other performers, like Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, The Chambers Brothers and other superstars who have all opened gigs for him. He was always vocal in his encouragement, often helping with word of mouth.

    Mr. Havens' legacy must also be noted for his tireless political activism for peace, literacy and the environment. He founded the North Wind Undersea Institute in the Bronx to rescue marine life and educate inner city kids about the environment. Despite a grueling tour schedule, Mr. Havens always carved out time to participate in benefits, protests and charity work.

    All told, between 1965 and 2008, Mr. Havens has released 21 studio albums, two live albums and six 'best-of' compilations. Up until 2011, he averaged a minimum of 200 live dates a year nonstop. Add his political/environmental/human rights advocacy work, and what you have is the rare man who has outpaced his legend through the sheer grind of nonstop work.

    From Mr. Havens’ daughter, Rachel Marco-Havens:

    “My Father gave everything he had for the purpose of spreading beauty and love. The exchange of love that he shared, through his music, with listeners was unconditional, and every person he has ever touched should know that what they felt during that exchange was genuine.

    Now. Today, As the world grieves alongside me… I can feel the inter-connectedness of the hearts on this planet… This is one of those experiences where I cannot possibly feel alone. I feel fortunate to know this.

    Let us take this opportunity to continue his work spreading Love and Peace, Music and Art. Love, honor and educate the children.

    Put a book in a child's hand and tell them it is from Richie Havens. It would mean a lot to him.”

    In January, the BRC co-presented a two-day salute to Richie Havens at BAMcafe Live (BAM) as part of its annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The BRC will be collaborating with members of the family on similar projects in the near future to honor Mr. Havens' legacy. One joint objective is to have him inducted into the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame.

    Richie Havens is a giant who will be greatly missed in all corners of popular music. We fear we will never see his like again.

    The Black Rock Coalition