During a Today Show segment last week promoting the 25th Anniversary Rainforest Fund Benefit Concert in NYC, Sting, alongside his wife Trudie Styler, was asked his opinion on the state of the rainforest given the more than two decades the couple has been working to protect indigenous populations and stop deforestation: Is it getting better? Worse? About the same?
In the half second before his response, one had the tiniest speck of hope that, because this is Sting; because he and Styler founded the Rainforest Fund circa 1989, raising in excess of $35 million on its behalf; and because the philanthropic celebrity power couple has an endless list of influential, wealthy, top of the pyramid connections most common folk can only dream about, his answer might be, perhaps something other than what the U.N. and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are all currently reporting.
But in Sting’s view: “It’s getting worse. We have small projects that grow but that’s all we can do – slow the rate.” Total heart sink. Send out an S.O.S. because that nugget of truth, particularly from you Sting, is crushing.
Yet Styler, prior to this somber reality check, eloquently stated: “Sting famously wrote a song called One World, and I think people think the Rainforest are so far away and the indigenous inhabitants, ‘what has that got to do with us?’ but we’re a global family, we’re a global community. We all share this planet and this planet we do need to protect.”
Which is to say, even if you won’t be in the audience at Carnegie Hall this evening, where the actress and her legendary pop star husband, will be joined on stage by Paul Simon, James Taylor, Dionne Warwick, Ivy Levan – as well as a trumpeter, Chris Botti, and an opera singer, Renée Fleming, it’s OK.
Simply put down that leather satchel and all-beef patty with special sauce (deforestation is often a supply and demand response to the need to raise cattle for international consumerism) and plant a seed this upcoming Earth Day instead.
From Slash & Burn to Rainforest Hero
However sometimes planting a single seed or sapling can feel like small potatoes in comparison to say, tonight’s star-studded REVLON Rainforest Fund Benefit Concert. But, then again, you might not have heard the story Reynaldo Ochoa, a sustainable farmer in the Manu region of the Amazon.
Ochoa, who once practiced the ‘slash and burn’ farming method common throughout his native Peru, is the subject of the 2013 award-winning short film, “Reynaldo – Rainforest Hero”, directed by Dan Childs and Nick Werber, in partnership with the Crees Foundation.
For the past 20-years, in the middle of the Amazon, Ochoa has been transforming his family farm into the gold star of sustainability, self-sufficiency and agroforestry:
“Using waste from his chickens to feed algae, which feeds the fish in his pond, the water from which he uses to fertilize his land, which is intercropped with trees, vegetables and fruit in a give-and-take cycle familiar to any farmer or gardener trying to work with the laws of nature.” -Mother Earth News
And, with the continued support of the Crees Foundation, Ochoa regularly travels to communities throughout his region promoting, sharing and teaching the business of how to balance organic, sustainable techniques with the permaculture of the native soil. It’s an incredible feat.
Perhaps most stunning, is how the cinematography captured Ochoa’s tenderness with the tree seedlings, each of which he individually cultivates until they are mature enough to transplant into deeper soil. It is this moment that unleashes the true power of the film because to-date, Ochoa has grown and planted more than 30,000 trees. Yes, 30,000+.
So in the spirit of tonight’s Rainforest Fund Benefit Concert, the Earth Day celebrations that will take place in 190 countries throughout the world next Tuesday, and the ongoing efforts of one Reynaldo Ochoa, take some time out this weekend (or next) to care for that sweet patch of earth you call home.
You may never be a pop icon, a film star, or the subject of a short-film, but your seed will still grow into a tree just like the rest of them.