Land of Confusion: Our Era of Responsibility

Another great president once said that we operate with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And I believe that more often than not, citizens take advantage of the ‘for the people’ and don’t necessarily participate in the ‘by the people’ part of Lincoln’s statement at Gettysburg so long ago. Now, don’t get me wrong here — I’m personally against the Mandatory Civil Service Plan.  I don’t think helping others in need should be a federal mandate, but rather something each individual should hopefully feel compelled to do simply for the reason that it’s the right thing to do.

The right thing to do is very subjective in nature in that it means different things to different people, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Not everyone can hand out money like Bill Gates, but there are tons of other ways to be involved with your community and other alternatives to help those in need.

In this spirit, many artists and fans have helped those in need over the years so I thought it would be a good idea to feature some of their projects, non-profits, or other ways that musicians and fans get involved in their community.

  • Umphrey’s McGeeUSTORM, – United So Together Our Reach Multiplies, is a non-profit org that raises funds to help needy children and young adults improve their lives by providing access to various music and arts programs.
  • Phish– According to, the WaterWheel Foundation “was created by Phish in 1997 to oversee the band’s various charitable activities. At the time, these included the Touring Division, the Lake Champlain Initiative, and the Vermont-based Giving Program. Because Phish is no longer touring, the Touring Division and the Vermont-based Giving Program are no longer active. However, Phish continues to support WaterWheel’s The Lake Champlain Initiative by donating all royalties from the sale of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream to support the environmental well being of Lake Champlain and its watershed.”  However, I’m assuming the WaterWheel Foundation will be back in action come next month. The Mimi Fishman Foundation was established in 1999 as a way to raise monies for various charities including, but not limited to: The Boulder County Safehouse, The American Glaucoma Society, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, YMCA’s Partner Programs, The Delta Gamma Center, Evangelical Children’s Home, Healing the Children, and the Solace House. The foundation raises money by hosting auctions of music memorabilia as well as tickets to shows from artists that support the foundation.
  • Trey Anastasio – The Seven Below Arts Initiative/Fund was established to fill the gap in public funding for the arts. Trey’s famous barn hosts a residency program to allow a space for artists to create and hone their craft.
  • Widespread Panic – Panic and the individual members of the band have supported various charities throughout their career. JB is a big supporter of Hannah’s Buddies. Hannah’s Buddies supports the fight against Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). He’s hosting the 10th Annual Hannah’s Buddies Charity Classic and Silent Auction on February 27th and 28th in Orlando, FL. The band also supports Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, which is helping to restore the Lower 9th Ward in NOLA. Panic fans have also stepped up by sponsoring their own house through the Make It Right Foundation. For the last eight years, Panic Fans for Food has collected canned goods at Panic shows all across the country.
  • Jack Johnson – Johnson started the organization  All At Once, which is “a new social action network where you can discuss issues and events, explore non-profit groups, and take action to make positive change in your local and world community. All At Once collaborates with hand-chosen community groups around the world. All At Once connects people with these non-profits, creating change through our actions, our voice and our choices.” Currently, the organization supports way too many non-profits to mention — but I see that as a good problem to have.
  • Dave Matthews Band – The Bama Works Fund was “established in 1999, [it] supports charitable programs in the Charlottesville area.  Grants are limited to the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson and Orange…Program interests include:  disadvantaged youth, needs of the disabled, protection of the environment, and the arts and humanities.  The Bama Works Fund has contributed more than $5 million to charities since its inception.”
  • Conscious Alliance– This organization was founded by music fans  and relies on ‘art that feeds’ by receiving funding through poster donation and sales from several artists within the community. It has “collected and distributed over 500,000 pounds of non-perishable food donations to local food pantries and impoverished communities across the United States, through our collaborations with musicians such as String Cheese Incident, STS9, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Phil Lesh and many others.”
  • Rock the Earth – “Works closely with the music industry and its fans, many of whom are concerned with the fate of our public lands, air and water. [They] act as advocates to ensure the existence of a sustainable and healthy environment for all. Rock the Earth…is committed to protecting and defending America’s natural resources through partnerships with the music industry and the world-wide environmental community.” Marc Ross, President of Rock the Earth, has hosted community-oriented panels consisting of musicians and industry folks at several festivals across the country.

These are just a few of the many non-profits that artists, musicians, and fans alike support. What are some of your favorite charities and ways for fans to get involved? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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One Response

  1. I love Jennifer Kirk. Outstanding piece of work…again.

    I’ve always subscribed to the ‘think globally, act locally’ model, and that extends to food drives, marathons for various causes, on-line networks, biking for diabetes reseach funds, donating clothing, and visiting homes for the elderly. Brendan Bayliss just mentioned that it requires so little to give so much, and he was right. His work with Jake Cinninger and some other musicians at the USTORM benefit in December garnered $7,000 for needy kids. Every little bit helps. Just got to get out there and do it!

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