Songbird Foundation Project
by Danny O'Keefe
P.O. BOX 13439 BURTON, WA 98013 firstname.lastname@example.org
A 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization
It's time to wake up and smell the coffee and hear the songbirds
sing. They are trying to tell us something about their survival as
well as ours. Rainforests are disappearing all over the world, particularly
in Latin America. These trees are home to many species, including
Neo-tropical migratory and native songbirds, which will be lost without
We are in an age of one of the great extinctions on Earth, this time
caused by us, Homo Sapiens, the most dangerous creatures the planet
has ever known. I don't know if species that are already endangered
can be saved, but I do believe there is still time to save the birds
and other creatures that depend on the forests of Latin America. But
what does all this have to do with coffee?
The agri-forests where coffee has traditionally been grown serve
as replacements for the original Neo-tropical rainforests. By growing
coffee under a canopy of diverse trees, the soil and water benefit,
the birds and other creatures dependent on the shade habitat benefit,
and, ultimately, people benefit from not having their resources destroyed
and poisoned through over use of chemicals. (Much of the land we saw
slipping away in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch was land denuded
of trees.) By educating the coffee consumers about the long-term benefits
of sustainably grown coffee, they come to realize the importance of
coffee in protecting the environment. This empowers them and awakens
in them an understanding that environmental issues are essentially
issues of consumption.
Coffee is the commodity of dialogue. We must begin a universal dialogue
about our consumption patterns because all of the great environmental
problems eventually come back to consumption issues. We are destroying
our water, soil, and air at alarming rates; we are extracting resources
in rapacious ways that cannot be maintained. We hear the word "sustainability"
mentioned with greater and greater frequency. I prefer Paul Hawken's
thumbnail definition: "Leave the world better than you found
it, take no more than you need, try not to harm life or the environment,
make amends if you do." Sounds simple, doesn't it? And, perhaps
naïve to those wise to the ways of modern business tactics. But
what is the alternative?
The Songbird Foundation was created to make the public aware of how
great a loss we will suffer if we cannot begin to practice sustainable
agriculture. Not only will we lose the beautiful birds and other creatures
so dependent on us for the survival of their habitats, but eventually
we run the risk of losing US.
Over the last 50 years we have become increasingly dependent on the
use of highly toxic chemicals to increase agricultural yields. All
of us carry residue of those toxic chemicals within us. We are not
only poisoning the Earth, but we are poisoning ourselves. We must
begin to develop a restorative economy that realizes that bigger is
not always better, and that unchecked growth is becoming like cancer
on the planet. The Earth will not suffer us lightly, nor for long,
if we do not begin to show the love and respect that She deserves
and demands. Am I being naïve? I pray with all my heart that
I am not. There is not much time to adapt. There is certainly less
than 100 years, more likely less than 50. If we have real love for
the generations that follow us, that carry us genetically into the
future, we will begin this essential dialogue on bio-diversity and
sustainability now, and begin to make the sacrifices for which history
may remember us. Otherwise, history may remember us only as fools
who walked to the edge in blindness and had not the wings for flight.
On May 2nd at the Tower Theatre, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne
have graciously consented to perform a benefit for the Songbird Foundation.
What better way to raise consciousness on the issues of bio-diversity
and sustainability than through the audiences of great musical artists?
It is the Songbird Foundation's hope that by enlisting the support
of musical artists and their audiences that we may more quickly create
a dialogue on these important issues, and begin to create demand in
the market place for sustainable products such as shade grown and
organic coffee. We hope to create greater consumer interest and demand
by asking popular artists to inform their audiences of the absolute
necessity of developing a sustainable restorative economy, and how,
by changing their own patterns of consumption, they can make what
seems a dream come true
Where the consumer leads, so shall the producer follow. The Songbird
Foundation doesn't have the answers; we only hope to keep effectively
asking questions that will intensify a dialogue that may begin to
provide solutions. Your participation in this dialogue, as members
of the coffee industry, is hoped for and anticipated. Collectively
and cooperatively we may be able to find a path into this next century
that will hold out hope for the Earth and the future generations that
must make their home here. Their lives, and the lives of myriad creatures
with which we share the Wheel of Life, depend on us.
We can change a habit and save a habitat. The
change begins at the cup.
Danny O'Keefe, the Director of the Songbird Foundation, began his
musical career in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota coffeehouse
scene. A severe motorcycle accident in his early twenties led to the
decision to pursue a musical career full time. In 1969, a meeting
with Buffalo Springfield manager Charles Greene led to a telephone
audition with Ahmet Ertegun, president of Atlantic Records. O'Keefe's
second album for that company produced the top-ten hit, and now standard,
"Goodtime Charlie's Got the Blues," a song since recorded
by Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Charlie
Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie McCoy, Cab Calloway, Earl Klugh, Chet
Atkins, and many others. Mel Torme performed it on the hit television
series, "Night Court," and it was recently recorded by Dwight
Yoakum for his "Under the Covers" release.
Danny O'Keefe recorded four albums for Atlantic Records and two albums
for Warner Bros. Records during the Seventies: "Danny O'Keefe"
(Cotillion), "O'Keefe" (Signpost), "Breezy Stories"
(Atlantic), "So Long Harry Truman" (Atlantic), "American
Roulette" (Warner Bros.), and "The Global Blues" (Warner
Throughout the '70s and into the '80s O'Keefe toured with many well
known acts, among them, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffet,
Jesse Colin Young, Maria Muldaur, Linda Ronstadt, Loggins and Messina,
and the Hollies. He has also performed on the same bill with such
diverse acts as Bruce Springsteen, YES, Tom Waits, John Hammond, Little
Feat, Rita Coolidge, Dr. John, The Beach Boys, and many others.
Over the years he has performed extensively for environmental and
social justice causes. The inspiration and background of that work
led him to form a non-profit organization, the Songbird Foundation,
to create media projects to bring greater awareness to the issues
of neo-tropical rain forest destruction and migratory songbird loss
as the result of non-sustainable agricultural practices, particularly
as they pertain to coffee growing.
He has recently finished a new CD, "Runnin' From the Devil,"
which he hopes will be in distribution soon and which he hopes will
help him bring the issues bio-diversity and sustainability to a larger
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