February 28, 2011

Whereas, People Need Some Reason to Believe

Why We Celebrate Jackson Browne Day in Santa Cruz
by guest blogger Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols, SOS Board Member and marine biologist

My daughters Grayce and Julia and their friend Kanami presented Jackson Browne with an Ocean Hero Award this week. He kicked off his solo acoustic tour in Santa Cruz, a community that loves both him and the ocean.

The award itself is an "Ocean Platter", as the kids called it. One side has a classic Japanese wave, the other side a collage of heartfelt messages" LIVEBLUE", "You Rock", "tank you," a smiley face, a peace sign. It's meant to be a beautiful, useful reminder. My brother Josh, a sculptor, guided the kids through the process of making it during an all day session at our local pottery studio, Petroglyph. A true multigenerational a
rtistic collaboration.

The kids presented the award to Jackson on behalf of Save Our Shores, the City of Santa Cruz, and Gateway School. Save Our Shores worked with the city to formally declare February 23, 2011, Jackson Browne Day, and a framed and signed proclamation was shared as well.

The honor recognized Mr. Browne's steady leadership on social and environmental issues, most recently related to plastic pollution. His tour successfully strives to be single-use plastic-free (I forgot to ask about his guitar picks).

The proclamation itself is a series of official sounding "whereas's" and "therefore's" highlighting some of Jackson's tireless work for people and our planet over the past decades. In fact, my brother-in-law recalls hearing the teenage Jackson play at Columbia University in the mid 60's with the gone-too-soon Tim Buckley.

Near its rambling end the official Jackson Brown Day proclamation reaches the statement: "WHEREAS, PEOPLE NEED SOME REASON TO BELIEVE".

When the songwriter got to that line, he stopped. He said, I think about the English language a lot when I write songs. And I've always thought that lyric was missing something. I'll see if I can fit the "whereas" in there tonight during the show when I sing.

Cool, funny, talented and a warrior.

During the show he did fit it in. He paused to explain his personal commitment to fighting plastic pollution and his ocean connection, reflected on how simple it was to change how his tour is run and lamented the amount of unnecessary plastic around the fruit basket in his hotel room. Maybe it was meant to be a backup raincoat in anticipation of this winter downpour?

He thanked the community for their efforts. Then, someone from the crowd in the packed Civic Auditorium shouted, "Happy Jackson Browne Day!" And he said, oh, you know about that?

Yes, we do!

He also sang his brand new song, If I Could Be Anywhere, about the ocean and plastic pollution.

Our local Monterey Bay crew of Save Our Shores, Surfrider, Dan Haifley, Laura Kasa, Manuel Maqueda, Mark Stone, Ximena Waissbluth, Daniella Russo, Dan Cort, Dustin McDonald and many thousands of other organizations and individuals around the world work hard to promote better policies and physically clean up plastic on our coast and ocean. The plastic industry is better funded, highly motivated and intricately enlaced with the world economy and
political power.

The relentless grind to make day to day progress against a seemingly endless stream of plastic pollution is critically important.

But so is the music, the celebration, the art. It's the glue, the flow and the fuel for the tiresome work and the grind.

Sometimes, we need to stand together in a crowded hall and sing along with Jackson Browne and his guitar.

"Everyone I know, everywhere I go [WHEREAS] people need some reason to believe..."

Check out Jackson Browne singing his hit song 'Running on Empty'...

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