Monday, May 26, 2008

Franti... and Harmony...


“Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes - goodwill among men and peace on earth.”

~ Albert Einstein

I know I've mentioned before the fact that I've spent a lot of my life volunteering. Doing something without payment, just giving -- time, energy -- is as old as having neighbors... it is the right thing to do. And most certainly, not all my volunteering has been political in nature. Far from it. Whether it was working with Grampa Semu, or Fresno Wildlife Rehabilitation or the work I do now with Harmony Event Medicine (check out Harmony's MySpace page too), even just picking up trash in the wilderness, or providing a meal to the homeless occasionally... these all benefit others beyond the self.

Selfishness has its virtues... and as an illustration I like using the example of Crazy Horse. He was a terrific warrior but lived with little of his own. He understood the need to remain strong and healthy, to follow his medicine in order to be a quality provider and protector. But he had no need to amass wealth for himself. His prestige in his community came from the good things he did for the elders, for the widows and children... for his people.

I've been volunteering for Harmony Event Medicine (HEM) since its beginning (in about 2003). HEM started from the demise of AVIVA Rock Med... an organization that fell by the wayside, but instrumental in drawing the current HEM folks together. The purpose of HEM is providing medical service to public events. We do mostly concerts and festivals but have provided medical service to the Eugene Celebration and this year we'll be working the Art in the Vineyard event at Eugene's Alton Baker Park.

HEM's volunteers are some great folks, many of whom I've worked with for years. We provide a service that is essential to both the patrons of an event and to the promoter as well. "Event medicine" (as practiced by HEM, came out of the '60s and '70s work by caring medical providers doing what is known as Rock Medicine, or RockMed.

RockMed grew out of the need for intervention at concerts. Folks experiencing "adverse drug reactions" (bad trips) needed friends and an environment of safety in order to come down without suffering mental/emotional trauma. The hospital emergency room or a jail cell is no place for psychedelic journeys. So mainstream is the work of concert/event medicine today that even our local Red Cross is working some events. Which is ironic for me personally...

I post at a blog operated by a California newspaper and there is an "anti-drug activist" (a Prohibition fanatic) there that thought that RockMed should be illegal. OK...

But Event Medicine is basic common sense. When you have an event -- whether its for a few hours or a few days -- what you have is a small temporary community (and sometimes not-so-small). There is generally a team of personnel that insures security, there are folks providing food and liquids, there are those maintaining the infrastructure, folks coordinating the entertainment, folks who do the cleaning/trash pick and sanitation... so why not medical services? It just makes sense... its an added level of safety for the event goers (the citizens of the temporary community). Now, not to harp but it is a major sticking in my craw, under the philosophy of the drugwar/Prohibition mind set, there is no allowance for the possibility of drug use and what we get is the anithesis of RockMed... militarized police intervention. Which...well... just doesn't work. (Unless of course the goal is to prove how big a prick government can be.) Take for example the experience of attendees at a Rave in 2005 in Utah:

Close to midnight on a Saturday evening late this summer, a police helicopter crested over a ridge in a desert canyon near Salt Lake City, descended into a low hover over a private ranch, and lit up the area with floodlights. Below, about 1,000 young people were dancing to electronic music at a legal, long-planned rave. They had no idea the police in the sky were armed to teeth and had them surrounded.

Suddenly, cops on the ground stormed in to stop the whole thing.

About 90 uniformed officers, equipped with guns, dogs, Tasers and tear gas, marched like a conquering army into the crowd.

They shut off the music and ordered people to leave; anyone who gave them trouble -- anyone who merely asked what was going on -- was dealt with harshly.

People in the crowd reported being brutalized, terrorized with guns, dogs and other weapons.

Those who dream up these militarized invasions of private citizens are -- I'm sorry -- un-American Jackasses who should be run out of town. This is not Soviet Russia, the old USSR, this is the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." Remember?

... sigh...

Anyway... where was I? Ah ha! HEM...

Our volunteers are just folks who have medical training ranging from CPR/1st Aid all the way up to ER nurses, doctors, EMTs... but the common thread that binds us all is a love of music. Live music...

Like the show I worked at Eugene's Cuthbert Amphitheater on Saturday night...

Probably my favorite contemporary group, Michael Franti and Spearhead always provide a great show attended by a crowd that loves their Spearhead... and Michael Franti. The group's music is definitely political/consciousness based with a style that is unique. Not HipHop, not reggae, not Rock&Roll but all of those in a unique blend that absolutely rocks the house. For the first time in a long time I took my camera:

If you haven't heard Michael Franti and you like energetic, good music, buy one of Spearheads' CDs or better yet, catch them live at one of their upcoming shows.

If you live in Oregon, are medically trained (at whatever level) and like good music, consider volunteering with Harmony. If you live somewhere east of Oregon and want to work RockMed (there seems to be little of this type of service provided anywhere else in the country) contact me or HEM and we'll try and assist you in either hooking up with an organization or getting you started in doing something similar.

Yesterday, Alex and I headed up to Opal Creek to shoot some waterfall pics. They'll be posted next time. Until then...

Kay sh'nuk sh'mah...

[post edit]

I sent an email to my friends at Fresno Wildlife Rehab, telling them that I gave them a mention in this post. I rec'd a reply that I just have to share. Dave and Cathy Garner run FWRRS and have since its beginnings. They're great people and have been providing this service to the Fresno area since before I met them in the very early 1980s. Totally dedicated to what they do they also help people. Giving presentations to school classes, scout groups, service clubs... they stay pretty darned busy. But over the many years they have shepherded a large herd of volunteers through the process of caring for a wide variety of critters, injured and orphaned. I haven't seen them for about 25 years but I still feel real connected and any time I think about the birds and other fauna I took under my wing (doh!)... so to speak... I can't help but smile.

Anyway in their email they said this:

Good things have been happening to FWR over the past few years. Did you ever see the thing that Audubon did on us? We were their cover story for their March 2004 magazine. It was a real treat and took them almost two years to do it.

This past fall, Jeff Corwin came and filmed a fox, bobcat and great horned owl release with us. It recently aired on his new series "Into the West" with Jeff Corwin, so I guess it showed all over the world. Pretty cool. If you go to Google videos and type in wildlife you can see what one of our volunteers did with his filming of the show filming us. It was a hoot!

Just this coming June, we are being honored as "The Spirit of Clovis" by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. Who would have ever thought???????????? Also, this year, we got the cover of Clovis' magazine called "Connecting with Clovis." We got the cover shot and one more inside but no real article, just a note. Anyway it still brings in interest and that is OK but what we really need are donations to build our nature center. Have you heard about our project to build a nature education and wildlife rehabilitation center in Clovis? If you know anyone with bug bucks, we need some serious cash to begin this much needed work. Once it is built, we will be able to match up kids with critters, many of the kids come from bad environments, gangs, etc. and wildlife help the kids reach for other goals in life. Dave and I are 61 years old now and realize that if we don't get this thing moving, it may never happen in our lifetime.

Keep up the great blog you have. It is very impressive. When do you have the time??? I can barely find time to tie my shoelaces. Too many mouths to feed............see how some things never change? Right now we have 9 Red-shouldered hawk youngsters in a playpen, 3 Kestrels in the kitchen and 5 Barn Owls in the laundry room and various other animals outside. Whew, and that doesn't count the many animals that are at volunteer's homes. What a crazy life we have created for ourselves. One year we worked with over 1200 birds and mammals. Believe me, there are many late nights when these two old timers flop into bed and ask each other, "Why did we ever start this thing?"

Thats a busy, busy life. And they do it with great love, caring and enthusiasm. If anyone is in or has friends in the Fresno/Clovis, California area and can help them out contact them through their website, posted above in a hyperlink, or email me and I'll get you connected. There is no experience like the first time you care for an orphaned batch of barn owls. The first day you wake up and find them all laying down the first thought is "are they dead?" But they're not. Just sleeping the way they sleep... and then when they're watching you from their nestbox... wow...

Thanks for all you do, Dave and Cathy! You both are wonderful folks I'm very proud to call friends.


“kudos to the educators, athletes, dancers, judges, janitors, politicians, artists, actors, writers, singers, poets, and social activist, to all who dare to look at life with humor, determination and respect”

~ Maya Angelou

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