On July 12th whilst all eyes are on London's 2012 Olympics. I thought I would cycle as far as I could in the opposite direction! I will be setting off from Bristol, on my trusty bicycle, with a trailer carrying my amp and guitar and heading North. My aim, is in a month to reach Edinburgh to play on the streets during August's Fringe Festival. On route I will endeavour to busk in every town that I pass through. Most of the gigs will be street performances along with a few pre organised indoor venues.
I'm a singer, musician and songwriter, keen traveller and general believer that we need to do everything we can to respect this beautiful ailing planet that we live on. I have thought about doing some kind of busking tour of Europe for years now. Last year whilst cycling along the Bristol - Bath cycle path, I thought, 'why not try cycling across Britain first? why not cycle up to the Edinburgh festival?' So, there it is, for me 2012 is a year in which I'm trying to acheive various things that have been running around my head for far too long. It's time for action!
I'm often struck by how environmentally unsustainable touring bands and performance can be, driving big buses here and there, flying from city to city, tours never being geographically logical. I understand there are logistical reasons this happens, but I wanted to try and do it a different way, my own way... 'slow touring'! In cycling across the country and playing in town centres my tour will be pretty much carbon neutrel and cost free the only cost is my time.
Whilst doing this and hopefully raising some awareness of alternatives to mainstream touring, I will also be raising money for a 'treesforlife' Temwa's tree planting project in Malawi.
'Right now, deforestation is devastating the rural communities of northern Malawi causing floods, displacement, and soil erosion. This also leads to poverty and hunger. Every year, over 120,000 hectares of forest are lost to logging, industry and small-scale farming. The villagers are also cutting down trees to fuel their cooking. Sadly, most people are unaware of how important the trees are.' (from TEMWA.org)
Not only will the money I raise be used to buy seeds to plant trees but also put into educating the local community about the effects of deforestation and agroforestry techniques useful to help maintain the forests, which the community rely on for fuel and building materials. There are also plans to implement thousands of fuel efficient cook stoves in the region which give families another option for cooking and heat.
I have chosen TEMWA as my charity because they are a grass roots charity that has grown in the last 10 years to cover a huge area of Northern rural Malawi. They help communities with various projects with a holistic approach to poverty encompassing health, HIV awareness, education, agriculture and forestry. They are based in Bristol and I first came into contact with them as they often raise money through music and arts events, some of which I have been involved in. The UK team are an incredibly dedicated team of people, most of whom work for free. In Malawi local people are employed and earn a livelihood through implementing the projects therefore boosting local employment. I know that every penny we raise will go directly to the projects in Malawi rather than on administration costs in the UK as can happen with some larger charities. If you'd like to read more about what TEMWA do please go to www.temwa.org and www.temwa.org/treesfor life.
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