Hip-hop concert to benefit school in Ethiopia
By Nicole Wildman 8/10/09
What do coffee farmers in third world countries have to do with hip-hop? Everything, in the eyes of Rachel Lipscomb of Traverse City, who is helping to organize a Beats for Books concert benefit held at InsideOut Gallery of Traverse City, this Sunday.
Currently working in the café at Oryana, Rachel, 25, went to school for photography. Shes done a lot of traveling, including being part of a delegation to Chiapas, Mexico, along with staff from Higher Grounds Trading Company of Traverse City, for a project to provide water to the community.
My experiences have helped me to strongly believe in social and economic justice, Lipscomb says. These beliefs have materialized in the form of Beats for Books, a benefit to raise funds to build a school in Yrgacheffe, Ethiopia, a project which Chris Treter of Higher Grounds has been working on for a few years.
TO BUILD A SCHOOL
Right now in the community of Afursa Waro, near Yrgacheffe, there is a school for only grades 1-4. Students who want to attend grades 5-8 have to walk over five miles every day, and the nearest high school is around 26 miles away. The existing school is overcrowded, and lacks much-needed supplies, like books. Consequently, many children never get the opportunity to be educated beyond the fourth grade.
The goal of Beats for Books and Higher Grounds is to build a school for grades 5-8. So far, Chris Treter, with help from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Middle School in Traverse City, has raised $18,000 of the $40,000 needed to complete the project. Building the school will benefit the whole community, with labor and materials being found locally.
Treter, who has already been to Afursa Waro, will be going back in October or January to oversee the project. Although there are no plans at present to build a high school in the community, that could be a possibility in the future if fundraising goes well for the school theyre working on now.
The upcoming show at InsideOut Gallery will feature local artists iPresume, J. Fine, DJ Zest, DJ OCD *B*, and DJ Bean Machine. But Beats for Books is much more than a hip-hop concert. There will also be dance performances by Soul Step Dance Studios Urban Elements Dance Project, with Emily Fine and Grace Blackmer and breakdancing by Soul Step Break Crew, of which Lipscomb is a member.
I wanted to specifically showcase some local talent that have been making hip-hop and techno music for the last 10 or more years, and who I believe are amazing at their craft, she says.
Of particular interest is an African Brazilian Capoeira performance, led by Helio Conceicao. Capoeira is an art form created by slaves who were brought to Brazil from Africa. Participants stand in a circle, and take turns playing music or singing. Pairs enter the center of the circle and engage in ritual sparring.
To raise money we are going to have a rummage sale, silent auction with items from local businesses, artists, and individuals, and a 50/50 raffle, Lipscomb says. We are also going to sell plain t-shirts and have stencils available for people to stencil/paint their own shirts. And of course people can just donate as much money as they want. There will also be some freestyling by dancers, DJs and rappers. Its an event that I think people of all ages will have fun at! I hope everyone will end up dancing! Most importantly we are raising money for children to have the opportunity to continue to be educated. I have kept the entrance fee to a $5 suggested donation, so it is affordable for everyone.
Coffee will be served at the event, and there will be coffee beans from the community where the school is being built available for sale.
Those who want to contribute or help the cause, beyond attending Beats for Books, can do so by contacting Chris Treter at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 231-218-0014. The easiest way to help is to donate money, and of course, to drink only fair trade coffee, always.
For further info about Afursa Waro, visit www.highergroundstrading.com/photos-from-ethiopia.html . The website shows the impact that fair trade coffee has made in Ethiopia. Treter also recommends a documentary called Black Gold for those who want to learn more about the world of coffee and the people who grow it. Since Higher Grounds has been trading with OCFCU, the co-op that Afursa Waro is a part of, the community has benefitted greatly. One notable accomplishment has been the addition of a medical clinic, which is mostly used for births. Before the clinic was built, the nearest hospital was miles away, and virtually inaccessible for these people with no means of transportation.
As for Rachel Lipscomb, she hopes to someday travel to Ethiopia, but for now shell have to be satisfied with helping from afar.
Beats for Books will be held at InsideOut Gallery. Located at 229 Garland Street in Traverse City, on August 16, from 5-11pm. $5 suggested donation.