R.E.M., Pearl Jam Battle World Hunger
Seattle is preparing for Sunday's (Oct. 14) kickoff of Groundwork 2001, a week of concerts striving to raise awareness of solutions to world hunger and money to help small farmers in developing countrSeattle is preparing for Sunday's (Oct. 14) kickoff of Groundwork 2001, a week of concerts striving to raise awareness of solutions to world hunger and money to help small farmers in developing countries. As first reported in August, the sold-out event features performances from R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois, the Wallflowers, Chris Whitley, Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros, Afro-Celt Sound System, Joe Henry, Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, and Femi Kuti, among others.
For R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, the most appealing aspect of Groundwork is that it's not another money-driven charity: it's an organization that encourages people to be proactive and productive.
"Of course, funding is important," the guitarist says. "But the fact that the money goes to empowering people to take action in improving their lives -- and the world around them -- is what's so attractive. The more we learned about Groundwork's intentions, the more me and my band wanted to lend our name and time to it."
Organized by veteran human rights activist Jack Healey, Groundwork 2001 coincides with the Oct. 16 worldwide observation of World Food Day. It's a series of events that Healey believes is more important now than ever. "We hope the concerts will play a role in helping us heal our collective psyche through the power of music," he says. "What better way to stand up to acts of terror and violence than to reach beyond our borders in an effort to take away two of terrorism's favorite recruitment tools: poverty and hunger."
For Buck, doing the show helps cure some of what he calls an "overall feeling of helplessness. It's energizing to do something to help make the world better." Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament agrees, adding that he believes the sentiment will soon begin to spread. "Once some of the shock of Sept. 11 subsides, people are going to begin thinking about living in more human, earthly terms, and less about having a 'dotcom' lifestyle," he says. "Groundwork is about living in human terms. It's about teaching people how to farm and feed themselves. That's a worthwhile endeavor for everyone to support."
In addition to the concert series, the music industry will support Groundwork with a compilation CD featuring tracks donated by Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Moby, David Gray, and Tom Waits, among others. The disc will be sold at all Hear Music and Starbucks locations in the U.S. It can also be purchased via the Groundwork official Web site.
Proceeds from Groundwork sales and events are used by the United States Committee for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to contribute to the global TeleFood fund, which channels money directly to small-scale food-producing projects around the world.
Groundwork will build momentum toward FAO's World Food Summit, to be held in Rome next month. The summit provides world leaders with the opportunity to renew their commitment made in 1996 to carry out action to end world hunger and to cut the number of hungry children, women, and men in half by 2015.