Youth Rock for a More Sustainable Future

Youth Rock for a More Sustainable Future

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Oct 04, 2012
  • comments

On September 21, 2012, hundreds packed into Mill Valley, California’s Sweetwater Music Hall for a lineup featuring over a dozen Youth Rock the Rebuild bands for their first World Peace Day Concert. On stage, a dynamic crew of over forty talented teens took to stage to offer the full house a range of acts, from soft rock solo acts to jazz quartets, classic covers to self-scribed ditties.

Their goal: to rock the crowd, showcase their budding talent and raise awareness for Architecture for Humanity. The result: a sold out show with proceeds supporting Architecture for Humanity's new Green Schools program (which we’ll share more about later this month!) and a dancing audience by the end of the night.

The World Peace Day Concert marks the most recent collaboration between Youth Rock the Rebuild and Architecture for Humanity. Our relationship extends back to 2010, when these young musicians formed the organization to provide a venue for their peers to perform and support good causes at the same time.

Miller and his band serve up some jazz between pop and rock acts at Sweetwater.

In the wake of the devastating 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Youth Rock the Rebuild hosted a wildly successful benefit concert in downtown Mill Valley in support of the Haiti Schools Challenge, a collaborative Students Rebuild initiative organized by Architecture for Humanity and the Bezos Family Foundation. Nearly thirty bands rocked the streets of Mill Valley, while over 200,000 streamed the concert online thanks to Justin.TV. Thanks to a generous matching donation from Students Rebuild, the students raised over $27,000 to rebuild schools in Haiti.

After the first round of shows, “the musicians saw first hand the power of performance, and learned that they could make a meaningful difference,”writes parent Charles McDonald. And that they have – since 2010, over a hundred musicians have raised some $45,000 for schools, shelters and medical assistance for communities in need across the globe.

When Youth Rockers approached Architecture for Humanity about how the World Peace Day Concert could further support our school building work in Haiti and beyond, we suggested something provocative. Unlike previous concerts where musicians have raised funds for faraway causes in the wake of disaster, we asked them to think about how they could bring their work full circle and leverage their talent and fundraising experience to make positive change in their own backyard.

To offer inspiration, we invited the Youth Rock team to our San Francisco headquarters last August to collaborate for an afternoon. The outcome: a one-of-a-kind musical charrette (that's design talk for workshop). After a tour of the office, we chatted about how we could merge their passion for music and community building with our design and sustainability savvy. During the afternoon-long breakout session, the musicians got a chance to see how their tuneful talent and creativity can be a natural asset for inspiring a new wave of sustainability awareness in their own communities. With just a single hour and one guitar to share, two teams composed two tunes to bring attention to environmental issues in their schools. (Click here to read – and hear – the results!)

One team performs their thirty second sustainability awareness pitch.

During the charrette, musicians explored ways to encourage the audience to have a say in what causes are supported by concerts.

Together, we agreed that the World Peace Day concert could support Architecture for Humanity’s new Green Schools program, a youth-led sustainability leadership and design initiative that’ll we’ll be sharing more about later this month. But before taking the stage, we asked the musicians to learn more about green design and to consider how to further their participation as sustainability leaders at the September 21 concert and beyond.

A few weekends later, our own Green Team – Elizabeth Han, Karl Johnson and Zac Taylor – grabbed a handful of markers, post-its and design samples and crossed the Golden Gate for a Sunday brunch workshop with the Youth Rockers.

The musicians-cum-sustainability leaders present their green design solutions to their peers. Photo: Kellee Adams

During our morning-long collaboration, we discussed how green design interventions can range from awareness raising campaigns to pop-up bike clinics, rain gardens to rooftop solar panels. In addition to talking up the merits (and challenges) of different ideas, we talked about how the most inspiring concepts could be implemented in the musicians’ own schools. What would have the biggest environmental and social impact? Does it matter if administrators and parents approve? How could projects outlast their own tenure and inspire the next generation of students? And, most importantly, how do we raise the support needed to take the best ideas to action and scale?

Ali and Karl share a laugh between crepes and breakout sessions. Photo: Kellee Adams

After the workshops and rounds of rehearsals, Youth Rockers were well poised to take the stage at Sweetwater Music Hall, rock the rebuild for World Peace Day and rep the Green Schools cause.

Rockers address the audience at Sweetwater.

The concert was a tremendous success, and the entire Architecture for Humanity team sends a proud and enthusiastic thanks to the musicians, their family and friends, and the broader community for their continued inspiration and support. Stay tuned to hear more about Youth Rock the Rebuild and how you can get involved with our Green Schools initiatives!