The Songbird Foundation Project
by Danny O'Keefe

P.O. BOX 13439 BURTON, WA 98013
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 adequate habitat.

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

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 Bros.).

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 audience.

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