Posts Tagged ‘Queenstown’

Listen to the Music – Change the World

28/04/2014

The Creation of a Song Can Change the World

Doobie Brothers' Tom Johnston at Elvis Costello in Queenstown, New Zealand, April 2014

Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston and Elvis Costello in Queenstown, New Zealand, April 2014

I’m here to kindly challenge a comment  Doobie Brothers singer/songwriter Tom Johnston made about his song “Listen to the Music” in an interview with SongFacts. If you’ve not heard the tune, you’re probably mistaken. You have, and just didn’t know it.  It’s been on top radio lists (topped the charts at #11) and has been heard in advertising for major brands and is one of the most uplifting songs written.

Last night we saw the Doobie Brothers in Queenstown New Zealand at the Queenstown Blues and Roots Festival. It was a great experience.  I used to drive many highway miles in my college days from the East Coast to Utah,  listening to their music, so seeing them live for the first time 40 years later was full-circle experience.

The Doobie Brothers’ first hit was written by the band’s lead vocalist Johnston, who also played guitar on the track.  Johnston described the motivation for the song as a call for world peace:
“The chord structure of it made me think of something positive, so the lyrics that came out of that were based on this utopian view of the world.

“The idea was that music would lift man up to a higher plane, and that world leaders, if they were able to sit down on some big grassy knoll where the sun was shining and  just listened to the music – such as the type I was playing – would figure out that everybody had more in common than they had not in common, and it was certainly not worth getting in such a bad state of affairs about.

“Everybody in the world would therefore benefit from this point of view. Just basically that music would make everything better. The world would be a much better place. And of course I’ve since kind of realized it doesn’t work that way.  It was very utopian and very unrealistic. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

I think Johnston might have been a bit premature in that assessment.

Mark Laurent Singer Songwriter

Mark Laurent
Singer Songwriter

Auckland New Zealand recording artist Mark Laurent  writes in a song on track 2 of his album Undergrowth,
Everything we do, matters somewhere,
You let the cat jump out of the bag,
It hits the floor running and never looks back,

I’m gonna pick up this ball point pen, I’m going to change the world,
I play the chord and I play it again, I’m going to change the world,”

This adds fuel to the creative fire and idea, that words and music do indeed change the world and that Johnston’s intent in writing Listen tot the Music,  is actually being realized. To the untrained eye, it might seem hard to see sometimes, but by focusing on what is good in the world, actually we see that humankind is on the brink of colossal change for the better, evolution and at the same time upheaval.  The Hundredth Monkey Effect  is right at our doorstep.  The tipping point, when we’ll really be living fully in a humane, compassionate and just world is happening before our eyes.

The energy is changing throughout the world. Check out Where the Hell is Matt if you’ve not seen it yet, for a powerful video with regular people dancing from all over the world, set to very timely music which was written for the video. THAT sort of thing was simply not possible a few years ago. There is no way the old order can survive such positive vibes.

Pat Simmons and son performing Listen to the Music, Queenstown, NZ

Pat Simmons and son performing Listen to the Music, Queenstown, NZ

Speaking of positive vibes, when the Doobie Brothers played Listen to the Music as their encore, I could just feel a wave of energy. Call it what you want, but “that is powerful medicine”, as spiritual teacher Sun Bear used to say.

Co-lead band member Patrick Simmons also was putting out great vibes on stage.  “He must do inner work of some sort” I thought to myself,  as I saw him play the evening out. He seemed perfectly at home in his own skin playing on stage.  Probably, he’s just as peaceful off stage as he appears on stage, unlike a lot of rock stars, as witnessed by the tabloids, (not that I read them).

As I used to be a wire services photographer, (UPI) I usually take my camera to events, and caught a shot of Simmons sharing the microphone with a young performer. We thought it might have been one of the buskers who had played earlier, who had been  invited up on stage. It seemed to make a good shot, so I took few and sent them off the Doobie Brothers’ website. I got a quick reply and was informed the young performer is Simmons’ son Patrick Jr, who is doing good work on the music scene in his own right in Hawaii.  Maybe we can get him to come down to our Mountain Spirit Secluded Sanctuary here in Hawea/Wanaka to do a workshop sometime.

So, listen to the music everyone, and change the world. And to Tom Johnston…keep writing!

Images: Queenstown shots: R. Richards | Mark Laurent from his webpage
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned as I find some links for these songs.

 

 

 

Mountain Spirit Inst. Offers Programs/Events

12/07/2012

Mountain Spirit Institute Offers Upcoming Programs and Special Events

Mountain Spirit Institute of the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Region and Queenstown New Zealand area, is offering programs this summer and fall in New Hampshire, based on its mission to “help people reconnect with the environment, each other and a deeper connection to one’s self”.

The first program, on July 22nd ,  is an Adventure Educator’s Sharing Symposium open to teachers, students and outdoor educators who would like to share, learn and apply best practices of group processing and facilitation, especially with a holistic approach. There is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

Mountain Spirit will also be offering a Reconnection with Nature Hike on July 24th where there will be hiking to a local mountaintop, and participants will have a chance to relax with a short meditation and powerful nature reading. Again, there is no charge, as MSI is offering this as a public service.

On July 28th there will be a one-day Solo retreat starting at eight in the morning with a basic orientation and safety talk. Participants will then be shown their own “solo spot” where they will spend the day with minimal gear and distractions. There is a nominal program fee for this event.  There will also be an Overnight Solo on August 24th and 25th  where participants spend the night under a tarp in a beautiful local setting.  The goal for Solo’s are to reconnect, unplug, contemplate and be present in nature with few distractions with the safety net of experienced facilitators and guides. Solos will also be offered as an on-demand basis.

Lama Miller

Mountain Spirit Institute is collaborating with Lama Willa Miller of the Wonderwell Refuge, in Springfield NH on an outdoor adventure program called Mindfulness in the Mountains. The Natural Dharma Fellowship has a retreat center, where the program will be based for the weekend of Oct 12-14th.

MSI will offer again its MSI Film Series, one of which will be Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This remarkable film follows two men, one an Australian and other an American truck driver, on their amazing path to recovering their health through juicing and healthy lifestyle choices . There will be some testimonials and discussion after the film. They do what their website calls a “reboot of your body”.

Rock Climbing will be offered to parent/children pairs, as well as families up to four, on the local crags in the region by appointment.

Mountain Spirit Institute is an insured non-profit educational organization started in 1998. Their first program was a cultural immersion trip to Peru. All of the summer and fall programs will be facilitated and managed by internationally recognized guides and facilitators. For more information on any of these programs or on Mountain Spirit Institute,  visit their website at www.mtnspirit.org or call 603-763-2668

Build It & They Will Come

14/01/2012

An Outpost of Sustainability

Robert and Robyn Guyton were determined to start a food forest instead of mowing a front lawn. And a forest did they grow,  when in the mid-’90’s,  they purchased some land and a house in the small coastal town of Riverton, New Zealand. Riverton along with its neighbor, Invercargill rank as one of the southernmost towns in the world, and back then Riverton was an affordable place to buy land. It still is compared to the northern resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the latter which graces its runway with  private jets, rivaling Aspen Colorado.

The Guytons worked  in earnest on their two lots planting trees and plants based on permaculture practices. When they first started, they received some odd looks from the neighbors, as their front yard started to take on the forest look. There were no other like-minded people in Riverton when they arrived, but undeterred, they started a cooperative learning center called the South Coast Environment Society.

Today the organization modestly states on its website it is an umbrella group for a “several” local environmental groups who have information,displays and meetings in the centre. Those several groups include:

Groups working for protection and enhancement of local ecosystems:

  • Riverton Estuary Care Society
  • Aparima Pest Busters
  • Aparima Nursery Enterprise
  • Seed Balls for Restoration projects

Groups working to promote sustainable lifestyles:

  • Riverton Natural Health Group
  • South Coast Permaculture
  • Sustainable Lifestyles project
  • Riverton Organic Food Co-op

Groups promoting sustainable growing methods

  • Riverton Organic Growers Gardeners Group
  • Southland Seed Savers
  • Riverton Organic Farmers Market
  • Riverton Community Orchard
  • Rivertonians for Alternatives to Toxic Substances (RATS)

Robert Guyton

My wife and I met the Guytons when they were giving a presentation on sustainability to the ultra small Garston School, (which deserves its own blog post),  New Zealand. We were intrigued with their presentation, which included a movie (to be posted on this blog) called “Welcome to the Food Forest”. We decided to take our chances and take the hour and half drive from our place and show up unannounced. Even though we had a standing invitation, we happened to miss them, when we stopped by to say hi. Nevertheless, I decided to interview Mark Baily while visiting the centre. You can see the video on my adjacent post.  We’ll have to get down there again when Robert and Robyn are home, so we can get the proper tour of their food forest!

Spring Skiing in New Zealand’s Backcountry

16/10/2011

The View of Kingston/Lake Wakatipu From Above

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” Walt Whitman

The other day, as the spring corn was coming onto the scene, I finally decided to investigate the moderate ridgetops of our valley here in the Wakatipu Basin in Kingston, New Zealand. The skiing wasn’t the steepest, and the “peaks” aren’t the sharpest in the Southern Alps, but the snow was damn perfect. After all, the first ski hut in New Zealand was just down the road on the Nevis Road. There must have been a reason for that being the first NZ ski field.

What I found after a two hour hike to snowline, were broad snowfields of cornsnow with some minor peaks along the ridge. Evidently this is where a snowmobile/heli-ski operation brought people up last season. I could see them lifting off, just across the road, and thought, “If they’re headed up there, must be something to it.” We live in Kingston, a sleepy little town, home of spectacular scenery, rock climbing, dramatic walks, a long pebble beach at the south end of the second largest lake in New Zealand, and home to an eclectic community that hasn’t been discovered by Queenstown yet. Oh I almost forgot to I mention the Kingston Flyer steam train,  which is now up and running, after a number of years in receivership. Look closely at the image on right, the clouds of smoke are from the steam train’s maiden test run, and from the fires it started along side the tracks.

A long, fun day. Rising at 4:40 I  hit the DOC trailhead by 5:30, and got back to the car around 18:30 I was a little tired, but jazzed. Fortunately there were freezing temperature up high, so by 10am, there was perfect corn on the northern aspects.  I took some pix and video, so decided just to blend them into a movie for the day…Enjoy.

New Zealand Lenticulars

06/09/2011

It’s been quite windy the last few days, but warming up here in Southern Otago, New Zealand.  Spring skiing and ski-touring season. Lenticular clouds (Altocumulus lenticularis) are classic indicators of high winds aloft. As you can see, as the sun set last night, the winds were howling up on the ridgetops just north of the house. This view taken from our balcony.

Lenticular Clouds over the Remarkables as Sunset

Snowbound at Kingston Cafe

16/08/2011

NZ: Where Does the Snow Go?

14/08/2011

A few days after the storm, the snow will melt to the 500-900m level, leaving the lakeside green and lush as if no storm had ever passed this way.

The South Island at 300m does have snowstorms, – we’re in the middle of one now, see the video shot a few moments ago.  But in a few days, a week at the most, this scene will probably be a distant memory. There will be green grass and sunny days – like a schizo change from dug-in to hanging out. It’s a little like the western Washington’s winters.

Last month however, we had a good storm, that sent cars skidding off the Queenstown lakeside road and as well as points south to Lumsden. The road in both directions was closed for 24hrs due to the storm, with travelers stuck at our local Kingston store/cafe, reminiscent of a treacherous day I’d had on I-80 west of Laramie, Wyoming, where I ended up waiting it out in a truckstop near Elk Mountain or Rawlins. Maybe this storm will be  the same.

I was geared up, mentally, when the last one hit. I was digging in for the long haul and getting wood in near the stove, keeping ahead of the accumulation by shoveling and keep the van cleared off. It was reminding me of New Hampshire, or when I lived in Albion Basin in Alta, Utah. But then it all changed. I was all dressed up and ready for winter, and it all melted, but it didn’t in adjacent higher elevations..
There will be good skiing up high, that’s for sure.

Winter Scenes in Southern New Zealand

30/07/2011

I shot most of these images within the last few days, the panorama was shot this afternoon.
Images ©Mountain Spirit Institute

Early Morning Light on Lake Wakatipu Mountains

Early Morning Light Above Queenstown, NZ

AlpenGlow on Lake Wakatipu, NZ

Clouc over the Southern Remarkables, this afternoon.

Light touching the peaks east of Lake Wakatipu

Alpenglow on high peaks, South of Queenstown, NZ

Panorama from Kingston, NZ, taken this afternoon

Don’t Buy It

17/06/2011

Selling Success Thru Consuming

A recent full page ad on the inside front cover of New Zealand Alpine Club‘s The Climber* Magazine shows a truly burly shot of climber Alex Honnold in Borneo, doing a dyno move on what looks like a long potential fall on a big wall. Granted the sequence is impressive, (let’s be clear, I can’t do that), but the ad states, “ALEX IS DRY, His Meru Goretex Paclite Jacket allows him to focus on the next move.”

OK, ok, stop the music. Does this make we want to rush right out and buy a Meru Paclite Jacket? Not. But if  the Meru Paclite jacket allows him to focus on that dyno, maybe it will allow ME to focus on my next move too, just like the ad in the picture.  My criticism is albeit a cliche, nevertheless, I don’t buy it.

Kiwis are known for being a self-depreciating, humble bunch. They seem to buy used whenever possible, plus it blends into the backcountry better. Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t go climbing with someone who has new gear?”  This doesn’t mean to avoid climbing and teaching new to the sport, but more it means watching out for a poser.

The Kiwi quietude is making me, in my conditioned Americanism,  feel downright goofy. I feel I may be tooting my own horn without even knowing . Mind you, I consider myself on the humble side, but New Zealanders make me look like Donald Trump.   I wonder however, how many climbers reading that magazine are taken by the ad. I would suspect a few more of my fellow Yankees stateside might be taken in. What do you think? Comment below.

Don’t buy it – buy used. Even though I’m able to buy on pro-purchase programs, I just bought a pair of Karhu BC skis on Craigslist, and it feels good. Did I even need them in the first place, yes. Maybe a step further, and a pair from the Salvation Army here in Queenstown for $40 would have sufficed. We can always improve.

Buying this Book? Share it.

Nope, I wouldn’t buy a used rope, or even cams,  but buying  most other stuff used just helps the planet, and you look better in a used jacket anyway. It’s another dirtbag move for the planet. Madison Avenue and the big corps who now own The North Face, (and now Karhu) don’t like guys like us. We’re terrible consumers – Have you joined the crowd?

According to a new book by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, What’s Mine is Yours, The rise of Collaborative Consumption, the trend is huge – to buy less, buy used and share. I’ll write more about this book after I finish it. So far it’s fascinating.

*This is no way meant to be a slam on The Climber advertising policies, in fact the author encourages readers to support the magazine by supporting its advertisers, appropriately. A tricky one, eh?

By the way, nice move Alex.

Taking Time for the View

15/06/2011

Remarkable Moonrise

I had an hour available on my way home after running some errands in nearby Queenstown, and thought I’d take a quick drive up the access road to the Remarkables Ski Area.  Although there’s no snow on the slopes, I thought I’d have a pretty good chance of getting some evening shots. I had missed out on the night before with an incredible red sky on the waters

Alta Basin, The Remarkables, Queenstown, NZ

of Lake Wakatipu, a hue created from the Chile volcano, so thought see what I could find tonight. It doesn’t take much to make a good photo here. Just show up and point the camera, the land and light do the rest.

You might have a busy day, but take the time to get out, bring your camera or better yet, a sketch book or some water colours, or go for a climb, and take a break.