February 12, 2015

Nahko, Kittens & the Youth Environmental Revolution.

Mendell article photo

“Yeah! Ice cream!”

Nahko punctuated the new composition. He sat crosslegged on the floor projecting his uniquely powerful voice to the whole North Boulder neighborhood.

The kitty he was holding escaped his arms and ran to the door.

Nahko Bear, the critically acclaimed recording artist of Medicine for the People, has the kind of striking presence that stays with you. He is simultaneously relaxed and intense, silly yet intentional. It was August of 2014 and he was sharing ideas for a new composition with friend, and 14-year-old eco hip-hop indigenous artist, Xiuhtezcatl (pronounced Shoe-Tez-Cot) youth director of the Earth Guardians.

The two were working on a song to support a new initiative called RYSE-Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth—to empower and elevate the voices of a rising generation of climate solutionaries. Nahko sits on the RYSE Wisdom Council along with fellow luminaries Van Jones, Winona LaDuke, Peter Yarrow, Jonna Macy and others. Their role is to guide a council of visionary youth from across the US, who will be directing a movement to implement climate solutions.

Here is a short behind the scenes video of what went down:

“It is such an honor to work, hangout and collaborate with one of the most inspirational artists of our times!” Xiuhtezcatl said.

“Nahko’s music and message is one that the world needs to hear and personally inspires me as an artist. This generation needs more artists that are focusing on solutions, positivity, connection to the earth and our responsibility as care takers of the land. Art and music have a very important role to play in the climate, indigenous and environmental movements. To have Nahko supporting our team of youth climate solutionaries is a blessing.”

Xiuhtezcatl is one of thirteen exceptional young activists from across the US to make up the RYSE Youth Council. The group will convene in New York this March to receive training from the social justice savants at The Wildfire Project, prior to organizing Climate Solution Activation trainings across the country in the summer of 2015. In these sessions communities will set regional climate solution action plans. Their work will be building towards the UN 2015 climate talks in Paris, demonstrating that greenhouse gas reductions are both possible and essential to health and safety of this generation and all to come. A binding agreement in Paris may be the best hope for avoiding catastrophic climate change, but these young leaders see our collective action as essential to ensuring this progress.

“The power to make a difference does not come from political leaders or presidents or congress,” says Xiuhtezcatl. The power comes from us—the people! And our generation is rising to protect the Earth and create the world we deserve to inherit.”

Nahko and the Earth Guardians first connected at the Arise Music Festival at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO in the summer of 2013. They quickly formed a bond over their love of music and their passion to support indigenous rights and climate justice movements.

The following summer they performed together on the Arise Festival Mainstage, collaborating on a cover of the song ‘No Diggidy’ to an electric audience reaction. After the festival they went right into the studio… err…living room and recorded this track which also features powerful lyrics from younger brother Itzcuauhtli (eat-squat-lee) and older sister Isa. The beat is inspired by one of Xiuhtezcatl’s piano compositions and produced by Joe-Alan Moonbeats.

Nahko showed his excitement about this project as: “This is livingroom gold. I am proud to be apart of this.”

You can download the full song by supporting the RYSE Indiegogo campaign to train and empower youth working for Climate Solutions here.



Author: Russell Mendell 

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photos: Courtesy of Author

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Russell Mendell