Life update: Currently I'm a long-term substitute music teacher at Mt. Nittany Middle School, with additional duties at Mt. Nittany Elementary School, both in Boalsburg, PA. Next month, I'll direct my first choir concert in years, as I haven't taught public school music since 2011, and the most recent years of those in Pittsburgh were conducting band and orchestra, as well as minor duties in preschool general music. I led some eco-musicking activities with a summer choir camp in recent years, but I have not directed a choir concert, or any concert for that matter, for years. It makes me both nervous and excited.
With the ecologically devastating war in Ukraine, we are starting the concert with Peace Round, a traditional round, which we are drawing together with Shalom Chaverim, a Hebrew greeting/farewell meaning "Peace, Friend." According to the Green European Journal, Ukraine is already, because of the history of Soviet communism, one of the most polluted places on earth. Because humans need healthy ecosystems, and ecosystems in Eastern Europe are already in a weakened state, the people and wildlife will be feeling the effects of this war for generations. As is standard practice with war-making, information is limited, and the full extent of environmental damage, especially including the monitoring of nuclear and pollution-heavy industrial sites, is unclear. One thing is clear though to all eco-literate music educators, there can be no environmental sustainability without peace, and no peace without environmental sustainability.
Image: Aerial view to the Chernobyl NPS. (Chernobyl, Ukraine)