Communities for Conservation is a conservation fundraising organization in partnership with the International Conservation Fund of Canada, that allows people across Canada to give back to the Earth that sustains us conveniently, via text. Founder Keenan Reimer-Watts shares how musicians can integrate this into their concerts and encourage the value of reciprocity toward the planet.
In a time of the environmental emergency, musicians are called to respond to the crisis, no different from anyone else on Earth. It is from this place the Communities for Conservation came.
My name is Keenan Reimer-Watts, founder of Communities for Conservation. The goal of the organization is quite simple: we aim to build a Canada-wide, grassroots fundraising network for environmental conservation projects. To do this, we use text-to-donate software. At any time, people across Canada can text CONSERVE to 20222 to donate $5 to our supported conservation project - the amount is simply charged to your phone bill, and no data is collected. We invite everyone in Canada to be part of this undertaking - go to www.communitiesforconservation.org to learn more about how you can help us!
This blog post addresses what musicians can do to help! Here are a few ways you can be involved, and you'll find it's quite simple:
First, you can talk about it! This is the best thing you can do - what we need is awareness of the action. Canada is still behind on literacy regarding text-to-donate, and you can help us by mentioning this from stage at your concerts as an action people can take to support conservation projects.
Second, you can put a poster up at your shows! We have Communities for Conservation posters that are made for musicians in particular, and we are happy to make one for you! This gives people something to read, in addition to you mentioning it from stage, and encourages people to go to the website. You can see our posters here.
Third, make your show a Communities for Conservation themed show! This involves marketing it as specifically a Communities for Conservation event, using our logo, and includes promoting the text-to-donate action people can take. Our projects vary during the year, and we encourage you to talk about the project at your show!
Four, if you want to help plant trees, join Tunes for Trees! Each year, Communities for Conservation dedicates 3 months to tree planting as part of Tunes for Trees. You can help us out by organizing a Tunes for Trees event, or advertising one of your shows as a Tunes for Trees event. Set a goal for how many trees you aim to plant by text!
The rest of this post is dedicated to a bit of fun history about how Communities for Conservation came to be, starting from me busking on the street.
The idea started about 2 years ago on the streets of Montreal. At that time, I was learning about environmental issues, reading more and more, and asking myself (as I'm sure many of us do), "what can I do?".
As an individual, I had been making changes to how I lived for a decade, in response to the environmental crisis. As a musician, however, I had not yet integrated it into how I played music and pursued my passion for music. 2 years ago, however, it came to a head - I decided that I would simply start busking, to raise money for Tree Canada.
Over the course of the summer, busking alone on the street, I raised around 600 dollars in cash and change with a little sign indicating the money I raised went to planting trees. I was surprised that people seemed to be so supportive! I promptly donated this money, and spent the following winter developing what became Buskers for Change.
Buskers for Change launched in summer 2018. It was intended to be a musician-led response to the climate crisis, using busking. Over the course of the summer, some 30-odd musicians participated in the pilot of Buskers for Change, putting up large A-frame signs, playing at events, markets, and wherever they liked. The most important part of this was that money was collected by text-to-donate, through the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada.
For a variety of reasons, this idea did not work out. It felt wrong to compete with people who were busking to make a living, and somewhat idealistic to think that people busking could, perhaps, meaningfully contribute to solving the climate crisis. For these reasons and more, I went back to thinking. I was hoping to create some sort of network that could involve many people with ease and flexibility, but I didn't know what this looked like.
What I quickly realized was that the most successful part of the Buskers for Change summer was the concert we held, where people were explicitly invited to text to donate to the organization we were supporting, Reep Green Solutions. Thinking on this, I started to develop an idea called Concerts for Conservation - utilizing concerts to raise money for conservation efforts. This idea started to take shape, and out of it came ideas like Cafes for Conservation, Theaters for Conservation...Crafting for Conservation, Orchestras for Conservation...the list goes on. All of these ideas including a text-to-donate element.
I quickly realized how easily the Canada-wide text-to-donate software could be implemented into any situation. After talking to people from all these different organizations and communities, I realized I should just put them all together - that, finally, became Communities for Conservation.
And here we are! The first year at Communities for Conservation has been an incredible learning experience, and so many amazing things have come up as a result of it. Our grassroots texting has been included in dozens of community gatherings and events, large and small. We are committed to scaling this model, and are reaching out to organizations across Canada, encouraging them to incorporate this simple invitation to contribute to the health of our planet into their communities. We hope you'll follow our journey and help us in our goal to make the first ever, grassroots fundraising platform for conservation work! We have a facebook page, where we post every day about the projects we are supporting.
Should you like to get in touch, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for helping us respond in a meaningful and tangible way to the climate crisis, one text at a time. Keenan Reimer-Watts
Communities for Conservation
You can learn more about Communities for Conservation, and get involved at their website: www.communitiesforconservation.org