My friend and collaborator Brian Eno recently mentioned to me an organization he is involved with. ClientEarth is an organization that has taken a somewhat unique approach to pushing for change regarding issues of pollution, fossil fuel emissions and more. Comprising a team of legal experts, they look for areas where regulations are being ignored or not being enforced, and where legal violations have not been addressed—and then they take action. They bring lawsuits against states and regions in order to effect change.
In February 2017, the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera, made a major announcement—the city would prioritize parking reform. This announcement was the first of several from the city, culminating in the implementation of a major, progressive policy change enacted on July 11th, 2017.
Most countries’ prison systems are failures—the rate of recidivism is abysmal. In the US, 76.6 percent of prisoners end up back in prison within five years of their release. Does this mean criminal behavior is genetic and some folks are born criminals? No. Does it mean most criminals are incredibly sloppy and will inevitably get caught? No. Can this be fixed? Yes, it can. The fact that it can be fixed disproves the above.
When I saw what the DSA students did with my song, it completely changed the way I thought of the song. In fact, it changed the meaning of the song—I realized it was about inclusion, welcoming and not being alone. It's a more generous interpretation of the song than what I do with my voice. Just goes to show how a song can change (radically!) depending on who is singing it.
These are some of my favorite reasons to be cheerful. Around the world, the right and left are increasingly ensconcing themselves in their partisan bubbles, behaving and voting along tribal lines rather than according to what might actually make the most sense for them. These examples (and I’d love to have some from the liberal/Democrat side too) show that this needn’t be the case.
By chance, I found a guide, and together we encountered a city filled with resilient architecture such as a Cor-Ten steel bridge, dozens of houses on stilts, and 133 miles of reengineered walls that promise to be indestructible. How apropos—in a city synonymous with its music—that Donnell and I began on the beat of Jay-Z and drumrolled our way to Chief Zulu. Two African American men building platforms, albeit of different scales, that demonstrate a kind of cultural resiliency. Hip-hop, just fifty years ago, was a rebellious, counter-narrative musical form. It’s now an industry juggernaut, employing thousands and creating a system in which African American rappers can obtain and maintain economic success and independence.
(Meaning: to divide a region into smaller, mutually antagonistic states.)
That wasn’t the case at the Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, held at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn the weekend of January 12th & 13th. It’s a two day festival of music and more from the Balkan countries, and it is generously inclusive. Hungary (technically not quite Balkan), Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.