Making Music to Make a Difference

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Making Music to Make a Difference

Dos Pueblos club, Unite to LIght, hosts a benefit concert (Unite to Light / photo).

Dos Pueblos club, Unite to LIght, hosts a benefit concert (Unite to Light / photo).

Dos Pueblos club, Unite to LIght, hosts a benefit concert (Unite to Light / photo).

Dos Pueblos club, Unite to LIght, hosts a benefit concert (Unite to Light / photo).

By Caroline Gay

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By Caroline Gay | Staff Writer

March 8, 2012

It’s Tuesday at lunch, and the Unite to Light club at Dos Pueblos is buzzing with energy. President Sean Strong calls the meeting to order while vice president Margaux Shraiman stands poised at the whiteboard, marker in hand, ready to get down to business. The focus of the meeting: their March 15 Light Up the Night Benefit Concert is swiftly approaching.

An impressive variety of musical talent will be playing at the concert. Headliner False Puppet is a local favorite among the high school crowd, and self-proclaimed “vintage indie surf rock” and DP-alum trio Blue Suns is back from an extended time overseas performing in Belgium. Also playing are The Wha Wha’s, Technical Difficulties, and 50 Below, three local bands that each include a member or two from Dos Pueblos. All five bands were on board with the benefit concert instantly once they learned of the cause.

“All proceeds from the concert will be donated directly to the organization Unite to Light,” explains Shraiman. Unite to Light is a non-profit corporation that provides compact and portable solar powered lights to men, women, and children in places in need of electricity. The corporation’s impact thus far has been monumental; over 32,000 lights have been provided to people in 58 countries. Unite to Light aims to replace the current approach taken to lighting in such environments in need–using kerosene-fueled lamps.

The list of downsides to kerosene use is lengthy, and the magnitude of these problems is staggering.

Momentously hazardous to human health, inhaling fumes from a kerosene lamp is equatable to smoking forty cigarettes every day. Additionally, house fires resulting from these lamps account for a surprisingly significant amount of unnatural deaths in areas in need of electricity.

These two risks, combined, claim the lives of an estimated 2 to 3 million people each year. Kerosene fumes are additionally an incredible detriment not only to humans, but also to the environment on an astonishing scale.

Furthermore, though lighting is necessary for families in impoverished areas to continue to function after the sun sets and escape the clutches of poverty, money has to be continuously spent on replenishing fuel supply, causing economic hardship for those using kerosene lights.

Solar powered lights, on the other hand, come with no health, fire, or environmental risks. The cost of each light is paid off extremely quickly, on a scale of a few months, and afterward the lights provide free and clean light for years. Often, after two or so years have passed, a user of a Unite to Light solar light has to spend money solely on a new battery and does not need to replace the entire device for an extended period of time.

These solar lights have an even further impact on impoverished lives by providing the possibility of education. Children who work from sunrise to sunset are given the opportunity to learn, read, and study without requiring extra money to pay for kerosene to “fuel” their education. Literacy in turn gives these children a chance to have a better future.

After learning all of this information, Strong was inspired to create a club dedicated to Unite to Light’s cause at his own school in early 2012. During the course of the current school year, the club has taken off, planning a large-scale concert and successfully raising money from bake sales and musical endeavors to donate.

Among members of the D.P. club are Sam Osterhage, Maxton Schulte (of the Wha Wha’s), Jason Mally (of 50 Below), and Kyler Tanowitz (of Technical Difficulties). In addition to volunteering for the benefit concert, these young musicians have previously taken initiative to raise money for Unite to Light, singing and playing instruments at farmers’ markets and on State Street sidewalks.

“I play music because it gives a voice to things words cannot speak,” articulates Tanowitz. “Likewise, we’re playing for this benefit to help give a voice to those who cannot speak and ask on their own.”

The members of the club are in the frenzied last stages of planning their benefit concert, though it is clear that the event has been meticulously planned. The concert will take place at 1109 De La Vina Street, a venue fondly known by many as Rockshop Academy or Mike’s Drum Shop.

Musicians familiar with the location are quick to point out that the stage at the venue boasts lights on the stage that flash in time with the beat of the music, complimenting the night’s “light” theme.

On Friday, March 15, the lineup of bands will be playing at the Light Up the Night concert from 5:30 p.m. on into the night, until a predicted end time of 9:30 p.m. Listeners of all ages are welcome and encouraged. Pre-sale tickets are currently being sold for the discounted price of $7 (tickets will cost $9 when bought at the door) and can be purchased by emailing or directly contacting a club member.

Raising their voices—and the volume dials on their amps—the Dos Pueblos students of Unite to Light are committed to changing the world, one note at a time.

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