Thursday, April 29, 2010

News Release: Music, Art, and the Environment

By Michael-Thomas Marciante

This year Ramapo College of New Jersey celebrated Earth Day in several creative and different ways. There was the Ramapo River Watershed Conference, displays of environmentally inspired art were on display along Laurel Quad, and one event that was solely constructed by a Ramapo student. Emmy S. Black organized the presentation of "Common Ground: Connecting Humans, Music, Arts, & The Natural World." Emmy’s hard work, musical friendships, and conquering of Ramapo interdisciplinary tribulations made the Common Grounds, as Emmy would describe it, "a success!"

Emmy, from Red Bank, NJ, is a graduating senior at Ramapo College. Her concentration as a Music major has inspired her to relate music and the environment. For her Independent Study class Emmy had "to create a multi-disciplinary event on campus that focused on ideas of music, ecology, art, and technology." Common Ground took place on April 22 (Earth Day) and 23,  with the H-wing filled with some of Ramapo’s prestige educators answering questions such as How do music and art connect us to the earth? How do music and art connect us to each other? Through exploration of pattern, eco-psychology, audio, and art with some of the greatest minds in the field, can we grasp this better?

"Common Ground was based off the idea of eco-psychology, a theory that says if we destroy the Earth, we are hurting the human psyche" said Emmy, who is a firm believer in environmental education especially for young students.

The event started at 2 pm on Thursday with an introduction by Emmy and her advisor Ben Neill, who Emmy said, "was 100% responsible for this event. I could not have done it without him!" The first panel included Clyde Johnson, an assistant Professor of Environmental Science; Joel Chadabe, the founder of the Electronic Music Foundation in New York City; and Amy Lipton, who is the co-director of ecostartspace, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising environmental awareness through the visual arts. Last to speak was Jackie Skrynski, who’s had countless beautiful art expositions. April 23 was the musical side of the event, with performances by Ben Neil, David Rothenberg, as well as a Computer Music Ensemble.

One of the major obstacles Emmy faced was communicating with the right people. Some incidents became very stressful. "One of the major problems with program was the interdisciplinary communication in the school. I had so much trouble setting it up," she sad. However, Emmy received a little help from her friends and colleagues.

"I would like thank Ben Neil again, Lindsay Sanchez, whose blog, ( covered the event, and Laura Sly who made all the posters," Emmy said. Emmy’s persistence and hard work paid off in the end, her message received loud and clear by her colleagues, peers, and academic superiors. "I also want to thank Anne Lepore, Anna Forenski, Dean Perry, MEISA, and RCTV, who really made this all possible."

After organizing the Common Ground event, Emmy wants to continue her work beyond this campus and on to other ones. "I feel as though there needs to be more environmentally based education. We need drastic change in how we are treating the planet," she said. "If you want to motivate change, education is key."

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