Community music festival lends itself to environmental advocacy

How Tunes for Trees set an example for eco-friendly performing

When you think about advocating for the environment, you’d probably imagine people holding protest signs and chanting. But three people in Waterloo Region had the idea to combine helping the environment with their love of music.

Tunes for Trees is a zero-waste concert and fundraiser held by the Communities for Conservation. Founded just this April, Tunes for Trees only had two months to put together a concert, but they pulled it off. Their first event took place on June 22 at Waterloo Park.

The Tunes for Trees organizers are Claryssa Webb, Ryan Dugal and Keenan Reimer-Watts. Webb and Dugal started a band called A New Ground together before Webb later met Dugal at Wilfred Laurier University where they both studied music. As musicians, they said they wanted to create a way for other musicians to use their art to fight against climate change.

“We want to change the world for the better through music,” says Webb.

The three musicians said the idea for Tunes for Trees just came up in conversation. They said they were feeling depressed about climate change and wanted to do a show. “We didn’t set out to do a music festival, we just got more and more ideas,” said Dugal.

The Tunes for Trees concert was open to everyone, and because it was set outdoors in a park, people came in and out of the event periodically.

Ten bands lined up to perform with dedicated time slots in between for environmental speakers. Local activists, politicians, experts, and even some of the musicians who played for the concert, all took the stage to connect the audience to the environment. Their topics ranged from climate change to deforestation, from plastic pollution to becoming a vegetarian.

Aside from sharing information, Tunes for Trees also created a sense of community around climate change. People could visit the Village Green, where environmental organizations had set up, including Reep Green Solutions. They could participate by donating money to Communities for Conservation’s project of planting saplings in defrosted areas — lending inspiration to the name “Tunes for Trees.”

Text-to-donate was another system set up to accept donations. Keenan mentioned the simplicity of the system; all they needed to donate on-site was to text “conserve” to the number 20222 and then reply with “yes” to the $5 charge. (While Tunes for Trees is over, Communities for Conservation is still planting trees and you can text-to-donate to them year-round!)

In a bold move, the organizers decided to make their first Tunes for Trees event their first zero-waste event as well. It wasn’t easy. The electricity needed to run stage equipment was hard to find in the middle of Waterloo Park, and renting a battery pack to power the stage proved to be too expensive to justify. A gas generator had to be used, but to compensate, they had Bullfrog Power offset the emissions.

Their zero-waste food option fell through, and chicken burritos with compostable wax wrap were provided instead. Luckily, people were mindful when disposing of their waste and the environmental impact was reduced. But none of this dampened the organizers’ enthusiasm for zero-waste initiatives. Next year, they’re planning to have bicycles volunteers can ride to generate electricity for the stage.

Tunes for Trees is already preparing for their next concert to be held near the start of summer 2020. They hope to inspire musicians in other parts of Canada to join them and hold Tunes for Trees concerts across the country.

For more information about the events, organizers or donating year-round towards conservation visit https://www.facebook.com/events/460983837967198/.

 

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