Rock musicians make green-themed visit to Pittsburgh gardens
Marisa Manheim, left, the city growing coordinator for Grow Pittsburgh, and Adam Gardner, a guitarist and vocalist for the band Guster, work on creating a compost bin at the Homewood YMCA's community garden on Thursday.
Stefan Lessard, the bassist for the Dave Matthews Band, right, works alongside Jaymier Scarbrough, 15, of Wilkinsburg at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA's community garden.
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Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews Band and Adam Gardner of Guster put down their guitars Thursday and picked up some gardening tools to improve Grow Pittsburgh's community garden at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA.
The two rockers -- who put in several hours to construct a compost bin, plan a new section of the garden and harvest fruits and vegetables -- worked alongside teens from the YMCA Westinghouse Lighthouse program and members of Grow Pittsburgh.
The community service was the perfect opportunity for Mr. Lessard to step away from the hectic pace of tour life before performing shows today and Saturday at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown.
"A few years back, I started thinking I would like to do some community service projects on the road," he said. "It is just nice to get away from the hotels and from the fans and from that whole side of the tour and come out and do something like this."
It is no surprise that their work was focused on helping the environment because that's a cause the two have promoted over past years.
In 2004, with his wife, Lauren Sullivan, Mr. Gardner founded Reverb, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting throughout the music industry -- from venues and labels to bands and their fans -- support for green initiatives and the reduction of music's harmful impact on the environment.
"[My wife] and I started Reverb to basically answer the question of how can we make our tours greener and how do we use the tour as a platform to engage our fans to be more green in their own lives," Mr. Gardner said.
The organization assists bands in part by coordinating the use of biodiesel fuel for tour buses, which significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also places local, organic food on the musicians' plates instead of imported options that typically undergo an environmentally unfriendly production process and increase pollution because of longer transportation times for the items.
Reverb's efforts to reach fans include the organization of Eco-Villages, or areas at the tour venues that offer displays, games and activities to educate people on how to lead a green lifestyle.
Reverb also connects fans online who are interested in carpooling to concerts to reduce pollution.
As of April, Reverb helped bands to reduce CO2 emissions by 91,551 tons and fans to reduce emissions by 16,301. It has worked to green the tours of Coldplay, Maroon 5, Jack Johnson, Phish and more.
Through its newest project, Green Music Group, Reverb is working to build a coalition of big names in the music community, including Dave Matthews Band, Guster, Willie Nelson, Barenaked Ladies, Linkin Park and several other bands. Labels Brushfire Records and Warner Music Group have hopped on board, as well as six major venues, including the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
Green Music Group plans to create an online forum on environmental issues and a support group that other organizations can tap into. It also plans to vie for the placement of environmental standards throughout the music industry.
Dave Matthews Band also spearheaded the Bama Green Project to further educate fans and promote green practices while on tour. It did so with the help of Reverb and IZSTYLE, an environmental-awareness winter festival.
Mr. Lessard, longtime defender of the environment and creator of IZSTYLE, said he could not claim sole credit for moving the band in a green direction.
"Dave and I have always been on the environmental side. I grew up in a pretty environmental-friendly family, and I think Dave did, too," he said. "Its been a band community effort to bring more [initiatives] in."
In line with the musicians' efforts, those going to the concert this weekend won't have a problem finding a recycling bin to pitch their empty bottles into after tailgating.
First Published July 13, 2012 12:00 am