Tenth Anniversary of the World Trade Center Disaster

On September 11, 2001 we glued ourselves to the television, like practically everyone else in the world with access to one.

On this tenth anniversary, television viewers will have a plethora of options from MSNBC’s “Days of Destruction – Decade of War” to Access Hollywood offering reflections from celebrities. CNN has a your choices here.

Or, what about this? We could all just turn off our television sets. Spend time with loved ones. Enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. Focus on peace.

On Saturday September 10, the eve of the tenth anniversary, we’re participating in a Celebration of Peace concert at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Cruz California. It’s not a commemoration of tragedy, its a opportunity to participate in a quantum exercise – a choice to focus on peace.

This event is free to the public. If you’re in Santa Cruz, please join us. If you’re further away, please join us in spirit.

Odetta’s Farm: The Gates Foundation on Fighting Hunger and Poverty

We wrote a while back about what an impact Tom Shadyac’s documentary I AM – The Film has had on us. Not that the fact that we are all connected is new or surprising, but, like so many other people we just get caught up in our daily grind and we forget.

In particular, the concept of “enough’ has stuck with us. What is enough? How much do we really need? At what point does the constant race for more and better and finer and richer become sheer madness at the expense of other human beings?

We’re just finishing up recording our new CD but these words just kept hitting us, so we’ve added a brand new song that echoes this chant over and over… what is enough, and what is madness? We can’t wait to share it with you.

Odetta’s Farm

In this video from the Gates Foundation, Bill narrates the story about Odetta’s farm in Rwanda. By working in partnership with the World Food Programme Odetta has expanded her crop, which means she is providing much needed food for her community in addition to meeting her own needs. She has quadrupled her income in the last year and now lives in a four room home rather than a two room hut – which means she can care for and feed the children of her poorer relatives in addition to her own two children.

Odetta’s story is touching – but more than that, it’s an important lesson about what is enough. And about how what we do with our abundance matters a great deal in this very connected world we share.

Live from Colorado

Community is a wonderful thing. As we sit here in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, we’re reminded how blessed we are to have a strong community of friends and supporters. Touring to a new area can be really tough – there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem when you’re new to an area. Thankfully, this fabulous community of ours has rallied around us with ideas, contacts, places to stay as well as a lot of love and support to make this a fun and fruitful first step!

In addition to two great house concerts for those on the Colorado front range, we’ll also be streaming live on Monday May 16 from KRFC in Fort Collins. This is an hour long live music broadcast – please tune in at http:/ from noon to 1pm MOUNTAIN time.

Saturday May 14, 7pm

Monument House Concert hosted by Loring Wirbel
Monument Colorado, just north of Colorado Springs

Sunday May 15, 1pm
Batkat House Concert hosted by Meredith Ray
Lyons/Longmont area, Colorado
1pm potluck, 2-4 music
or call 303-973-3687

Monday May 16, noon – 1pm
Live @ Lunch on KRFC Fort Collins
Streaming live from noon to 1pm MOUNTAIN TIME

If this were the Grammys, we’d thank the following people – and probably be unceremoniously ushered off the stage for talking to long… but here goes. Thanks you to John Clary, Robyn Lydick, Debbie Ching, Jan Garrett & JD Martin, Mary Ray, Loring Wirbel, Kathryn Mostow, Cosy Sheridan and TR Ritchie, Stevie Coyle, Ellen Stapenhorst, Cindy Bottomley and Cindy Schneider at KRFC. We’re feeling the love!

And we’re ready… we changed strings in Cedar City Utah. Greg relaxed a bit, stretched the strings, and got his bloopers out of the way…

Recycling Tires as Tomato Planters for Earth Day

We love tomatoes, and its time to get some planted.

We’re renting a small house now, with a nicely landscaped backyard designed for easy care – and it comes with a gardener, which is terrific for us. The question was, where to plant the tomatoes? There’s a nice area at the back corner that gets plenty of sun, we just had to come up with a portable, temporary planter for our garden.

Then Bev remembered Tante Melita. She was Bev’s mom’s German aunt, but to everyone in our family she was simply “Tante.” Tante was the Queen of recycle/reuse, and she loved gardening. In her back yard on Justin Lane in Austin, Tante grew vegetables, flowers, caster beans to ward off mosquitoes… you name it.

And she used old tires as planters.

So here’s our vision for our Earth Day Tomato Planting Project… enjoy.

This annotation was created on an iPad with Doceri software, the voice over (Bev) and guitar (Greg) were recorded with Quick Time screen capture.

Now it’s time to get off the computer and head out for some potting soil…

What are you doing for Earth Day?

Ronny Cox, Hopeless Romantic

Ronny Cox’s first love, his soul mate, was Mary Griffith. He was 14 and she was 11, and she had a paper route. He was aware of her when she was 11, he says, because “there weren’t too many girls who had paper routes in those days.”

We met Ronny and Mary at the 2006 Folk Alliance Conference in Austin, and later Ronny performed in our house concert series. We see him at music events and we keep threatening to take him up on his offer to stay with him when we visit Bev’s daughter at UCLA.

He says he doesn’t like just being Ronny the actor, or Ronny the musician … he just likes to be Ronny.  And he does a pretty darn good job at that. He’s a great story teller, a wonderful performer, and a fabulous human being who took the time to visit the Rolling Hills Middle School cast of Hello Dolly the afternoon before our house concert.

Ronny Cox co-stars in an ABC Family Movie Truth Be Told tonight, Saturday April 16, at 8/7 central. This is a short interview about his life with Mary as inspiration for his role in the movie. His voice – his whole face – lights up when he talks about her. It always has.

What’s funny, to me anyway, is that we saw Mary and Ronny at the next table in the hotel restaurant in Austin before we actually met them… and they were arguing. But we know all about that. That’s passion for you. Deep love and respect create a truthful relationship where it’s safe to speak your mind – and safe to shut up and listen.

Thank you Ronny and Mary, for that deep love. We can still see it in Ronny’s face, and it does change the world.

– Bev

Things we forget

To be honest, sometimes we feel really hypocritical. Here we are, writing and performing songs that (hopefully) inspire people to their own greatness – and what do we do most of the time? Work too much, laugh too little and complain about things over which we have no control.

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

This was really the impetus behind writing Love Can Change the World. These lines from the second verse sum up our realization that, most of the time, we’re just not paying attention:

I see the world in black and white, and rarely hear the gray

I don’t take time to read the lines, and then I turn the page

I came across a great blog the other day, Things We Forget: Post it Notes Left to their Fate in Public Places.  Its a series of post it note drawings and reminders of the little things we forget when we go about our daily lives of well intentioned busyness.

Here’s today’s entry. What a powerful reminder.

Just this afternoon I also saw a quote on the Festival of Enlightenment’s Facebook page.

“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” – unknown

Tonight we celebrate Greg’s daughter’s birthday, and you can be sure we’ll be paying attention – with laughter among family and friends, gratefulness for good health and the warmth of our home, and lots and lots of love.

Because, Love Can Change the World.

Image by TO DO (writer) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

I AM – the Doc: We are All Connected

Sometimes several events dovetail together, and we just have to take in the significance.

The truth that we are all deeply connected has been brought home to us in so many ways over the past several weeks. The tragedy of the Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami has affected the entire planet, not just those in affected areas. The damage to the nuclear containment vessels at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is of concern to all.

Just the week before the earthquake, we saw the new documentary I AM with director Tom Shadyac present for Q&A afterward.

This amazing film drives home the point that everyone and everything living on this planet is interconnected with everyone and everything that has ever lived on this planet. We are breathing the molecules that were once breathed by the pharaohs, dancing on the dirt that was once trampled by the dinosaurs. Our thoughts and reactions affect everyone and everything around us. It’s not “woo woo,” it’s science, and this message has never been more important than right now.

We all know it, we just need to live it… and share it. On Facebook. On Twitter. On your blog.

Shadyac, best known for his comedy blockbusters Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty and The Nutty Professor, set out to answer two simple questions: with I AM:

What’s wrong with the world, and what can we do to fix it?

Ironically, in the process of trying to figure out what‟s wrong with the world, Shadyac discovered there‟s more right than he ever imagined, along with some major “a ha” moments.

  • Cooperation not competition, as well as consensus decision making, is more apparent in nature than we thought – as evidenced when observing a herd of 100 deer which one by one turn their heads toward the nearest watering hole until the 51st deer turned its head and they all moved together.
  • Humans actually function better and remain healthier when expressing positive emotions, such as love, care, compassion, and gratitude, versus their negative counterparts, anxiety, frustration, anger and fear.
  • Charles Darwin may be best known for popularizing the notion that nature is red in tooth and claw, but, as Shadyac points out, he used the word love 95 times in The Descent of Man, while his most famous phrase, survival of the fittest, appears only twice.

Watch the trailer for I Am – the Doc. Please check for showtimes near you and bring friends.

Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

My 16 year old son announced that today is “singles awareness day.”  Valentine’s Day, it seems, has become somewhat politically incorrect as we strive for inclusion and compassion for everyone, regardless of their state of romance or relationship.

I do understand that when someone has been hurt, all the hearts and flowers and happy couples can be upsetting. When we performed in Astoria Oregon a couple of years ago I was talking to a man before the show who seemed like he was really looking forward to the evening – then out of the corner of my eye I saw him walk out after our second song. I knew he was a friend of the club owner, so I asked him about it. He said he was going through a divorce, and he was having trouble watching how in love we were. I was torn. This is who we are, after all. But should we tone it down a bit, recognizing that it can be upsetting to people who are struggling in their own relationships?

We want to create an environment of love and respect for everyone. And we recognize that love does not exist only for the couple in a committed, romantic relationship. Love is the source of everything, the power within us all and the guide that joins us together as one community.

Yesterday, we participated in a re-commitment ceremony at the Center for Spiritual Living in Fremont, California. The importance of this seemingly small departure from our otherwise very hectic existence (moving, recording the new CD, taking care of business, etc.) was profound for us… and somewhat unexpected. There is power in pausing to renew and recommit to what we believe in, what we trust, how we love, and who we love. We then return to our greater causes in the world refreshed and with the capacity for even greater love.

Dr. Jay Scott Neale offered these words from Khalil Gibran’s On Marriage at Sunday’s re-commitment ceremony:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

This message of love and relationship speaks to our individuality and mutual respect. It speaks to the expectation that we are each on our own journey, while supporting and respecting one another’s. I submit that this is not only true of marriage or committed relationships, but of all our relationships.

So, today we’re celebrating love in all of its glory. Because without embracing the essence of love, we have no room to love – or to support – another person, whatever role that person plays in our lives.

– Love, Bev

We’re reminded today, after the shooting Congresswoman Gabriella Gifford and the deaths of innocent bystanders, that our society continues to ignore, or make excuses for the violence that surrounds us.

Our friend Roy Donkin calls for action from those who have incited violence against members of congress who disagree with them.

More than 40 years ago, Robert Kennedy spoke out against the mindless violence that plagues our lives, saying “only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our souls.”

What will it take? Will we remain silent, or will we speak out against fear-mongering and hatred?


One Warm Coat

It’s turned cold here in Northern California. Now, I know that sounds silly to those of you in actual COLD climates, but it did dip into the 40s today, and in my book, that’s not shorts and t shirt weather.

So now, before we head for the door I go to the front closet to grab a coat. The black fleece cloak is great to throw on for running to the store. The brown utilitarian Dickie’s coat is great if I’ll be walking around outside for awhile, and I’ll grab the white rain coat if it looks wet outside. Then there’s my leather coat for when I’m more dressed up… a ski jacket, a beautiful satin-lined Paco Soler jacket (white with elephants and palm trees) … the list goes on.

Not only do I not have to be cold, I have choices.

Not so with countless others in our community – and yours. Warm coats are an ongoing need for agencies that serve the needs of the homeless and the growing number of families living at or below the poverty level. The One Warm Coat organization is national non-profit that supports and encourages coat drives.  It helps individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country collect coats and deliver them to local agencies that distribute the coats free to people in need.   More than one million coats have been provided to those in need at no cost since its inception in 1992.

Along with others in the Bay Area, including SF Weekly and the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, we’re sponsoring a One Warm Coat drive this holiday season. As a close to our two-year TrueWind Acoustic Fridays Concert Series, we’re celebrating the season with a fun evening of songs and their writers. Hans York, Steve Kritzer, Claudia Russell & the Folk Unlimited Orchestra and us… Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon.

The admission price? One warm coat, of course.

Friday December 17, 2010
Doors open at 7:00 pm – Music starts at 7:30 pm
Mission City Coffee Roasting Company
2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara California

Bring a warm coat, or cash/check donation for Sacred Heart Community Services of San Jose. We’ll be delivering the donations to Sacred Heart during the following week.

Sacred Heart’s mission is to build a community free from poverty by creating hope, opportunity, and action. The agency, founded in 1964, provides essential services, empowers people to improve their lives, advocates for justice, and inspires volunteers to love, serve, and share.

That kind of love can absolutely change the world.

— Bev Barnett