Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blair's Africa Journey

Blair Phillips founded Common Vision to help solve today’s environmental problems by integrating old and new cultural practices that connect people and communities to the Earth. For the past 8 years Blair has been studying West African agricultural rhythms, drumming for youth in performances, and using the drum as a tool to teach about ecology, farming, and community.

This winter Blair journeyed through Africa from the dry land tropics of Mali to the humid coast of Conakry, Guinea to deepen his study and develop the group’s presentation of the relationship between music and farming.

Two agricultural rhythms Blair encountered in his study were Konkobas and Kassa. Dances from African traditional villages mimic everyday movements like pumping water and harvesting millet. Konkobas was the original farming rhythm: it came from the Malinka words kon kon bas translated to ‘big, big hungry.’ These words became ‘Konkobas’ the ancient ancestor spirit of the strongest and hardest-working farmer.

Later, when villagers needed to increase production to meet the needs of colonial powers and to feed an expanding population, the rhythm
Kassa was born. Kassa means, “You MUST farm.”

In Guinea, drums accompany farming work parties. Drummers and farmers work together in ceremony to accomplish large, important farming projects such as clearing fields and harvesting. Fruit Tree Tour offers youth a chance to engage in this ancient tradition of farming with rhythms. Both Konkoba and Kassa are featured in this year’s Fruit Tree Tour drum and dance performance. During community plantings students, parents, and community members have the opportunity to dig and plant to these rhythms.

We hope sharing these ancient cultural traditions helps map out how we are all interconnected with each other and with the earth, inspiring us all to work hard for a better future as one human family.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tree People Tribute

Fruit Tree Tour was born when Los Angeles based nonprofit TreePeople gifted 100 fruit trees to Common Vision as part of their Fruit Trees to Combat Hunger program. Tree People have now been a vital part of 4 years of Fruit Tree Tour. TreePeople donates up to 80 percent of the fruit trees planted in Los Angeles during Fruit Tree Tour each year. This year, Common Vision will contribute 200 tree plantings towards Tree Peoples 300,000 tree pledge for the Million Tree LA initiative.

Common Vision partners with TreePeople to plant fruit trees and increase food security in low-income neighborhoods. TreePeople has offered enormous support to Common Vision not only through the donation of fruit trees, but also in helping to develop our systems to support teachers and students in caring for their trees.

TreePeople has been planting trees in Los Angeles for over 25 years. Their mission is clear--to inspire the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest. Through education, training, and support Tree People catalyzes community tree planting and care to improve LA neighborhoods in the communities live, learn, work and play.

This is truly working together to make a difference. Thank you Tree People for your inspiration and support. Visit them online at