Famous musicians help Patagonia protect environment

By Alex Wilson 04/14/2011

Environmental advocacy groups have teamed up with famous recording artists like Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley and Bonnie Raitt to raise funds, with help from Ventura-based outdoor clothing maker Patagonia.

The Patagonia Music Collective sells benefit tracks and benefit albums from the company’s Internet website, and money raised is donated to groups involved in causes like renewable energy, urban farming and wildlife preservation.

One of those symbiotic partnerships involves Carpenteria-based South Coast Habitat Restoration and the band Toad the Wet Sprocket, which has roots in Santa Barbara. The environmental group’s director, Mauricio Gomez, says that in addition to helping them raising money toward restoring habitat of endangered steelhead trout, the program also generates awareness of the many other important missions it supports.

“I feel like it’s an amazing opportunity for people to learn about the work of South Coast Habitat Restoration, as well as the other awesome groups that have been selected to be part of the Patagonia music initiative. It’s a great way for people to be exposed to the work we all do,” says Gomez. “We’re excited to be partnered with Patagonia’s efforts and be partnered with Toad the Wet Sprocket and have some of their supporters learn about what’s important to them as well as what’s important to us, and important to Patagonia.”

Gomez says the support from the project will help the group continue to forge partnerships with private landowners to improve habitat for steelhead trout by replacing dams with bridges, and also to find new donors and volunteers. It recently made an Ojai area creek accessible to fish by constructing a new bridge out of a recycled railroad car. “Hopefully, that’s something that they will then see as an important topic that they would like to be involved with, learn about and be supportive of in the future,” says Gomez.

Glen Phillips is a founding member and lead singer for Toad the Wet Sprocket and says he’s proud to be involved in the program. “I think it’s great. I spend a lot of my time cursing the corporate world for its lack of response, its selfishness, its lack of stewardship. So I am always really happy to see corporate cultures that are doing the right thing and are actually concertned about sustainability and the world in which they operate. To me, that should not be the exception to the rule. I think, sadly, it is. But it is always a beautiful thing to see a company leading by example,” says Phillips.
The song the band is using to promote the cause is a mellower version of its biggest hit, “Walk on the Ocean,” which most people have probably heard on the radio many times. “It’s more of an acoustic version. It’s a little more stripped down so you can hear some more of the detail and the acoustic guitar and the strings. It’s less of the rock version and more of an imaginary campfire version,” says Phillips.

Restoration of local waterways is an important cause for the band since habitats are interconnected, according to Phillips. “The protection of a creek affects everything on all sides of the creek,” says Phillips. “It’s a delicate planet, and I think it will recover fine, once we’re gone, given long enough. But it would be nice if we were able to be part of the party for a little longer. I think that by being decent partygoers, we can increase our time here and, hopefully, have it be less devastating for the rest of the planet.”


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