In 2010, master drummer and Hudson Valley resident Ubaka Hill issued a call to drummers all over the world to advocate for the protection and replanting of trees, whose wood is commonly harvested for the making of drums. “It’s about becoming more awake and aware,” she says, “creating a conscious balance between consumerism and tree planting – enough tree-planting for future generations to enjoy drums and wooden instruments, taking from old-growth forests and giving back.”
Hill’s manifesto, Inspiring a New Mindful Model for a Sustainable Future for the Love of Drums and Trees, was an outgrowth of an earlier inspiration to organize a Million Women Drummers Gathering global initiative. That doesn’t mean that a million women drummers get together in one place, but rather that a particular day is designated for women to gather locally in small groups to drum and make music together, to raise consciousness about sustainability and to honor and plant trees.
That global invitation to “tune in,” which Hill calls the One Heart Global Resonance, is set this year for noon on Saturday, October 15.
The original Million Women Drummers Gathering (MWDG) took place in 2013 at the Ulster County fairgrounds on Libertyville Road in New Paltz. The follow-up event will take place on October 15 and 16, mostly in the same location. Participants will assemble on the banks of the Wallkill River in Sojourner Truth Park for a blessing of the waters (which the Wallkill needs rather badly). A by-invitation-only MWDG treaty summit will follow, hammering out language for a Global Citizens’ Treaty for a Sustainable Future for Drums and Trees.
On Saturday evening at 8 p.m., the fairgrounds will host a facilitated freestyle drum and dance party called the Soul Shakedown. Admission costs $10. On Sunday the gates to the Fairgrounds open at 9 a.m. with a Blessing of the Trees, followed by drum circles, performances, workshops and other activities until 8 p.m. Admission on Sunday costs $15 for adults, $10 for kids.
There will also be a children’s village from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where kids will get to pot up a donated tree seedling to take home to plant. Other activities include writing “letters to the future” for inclusion in a time capsule, and a drum and instrument swapfest. Food and crafts vendors will also be on hand.
As for the music, “The lineup is incredible,” says Hill. “Everyone is donating their time.” Performers include Alessandra Belloni, Madeleine Yayodele Nelson, Valerie Naranjo, Aleah Long, Judy Piazza, Spirit of Thunderheart, Bumbada Women Drumming, Julie Corey, Manju Manissa, Evan Pritchard, Caru Thompson, Drums from Heaven, Sue Van Hook, Marafanyi Dance Drum, Baile McKnight, the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston and the Energy Dance Company, Michael Marcus, the Penny Jar Band, Felicia Flowers, Julia Haines, Rivka Willick, Heard, Otha Day, Fre Atlast, Valerie Szarek, Bele Bele Drum Collective, Marla Goldstein, Mystic Song, Ohstonha Ohskennonoton, White Feather, Rhianna Mirabello, Thomas Kendall, Odhi Two Owls, Laney Goodman, Kat Naslas, Enolia Foti, Leticia Gutievaz, Cheryl Sprague, Christine Laplante and Orien Laplante.
On Sunday evening from 9 p.m. to midnight, an additional $20 entitles you to hang out for more live music and jamming with the organizers, musicians, presenters and friends at the after-party fundraiser. Proceeds will go towards the MWDG 2016 Gathering and the MWDG Global Initiative.
If you’d like to joint in the drafting of the treaty, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info about the Million Women Drummers Gathering, visit www.millionwomendrummers.com or www.facebook.com/millionwomendrummerscommunity.