That was musician and filmmaker Robby Romero’s Valentine’s Day message to Taos Pueblo Day School students as he launched a new Project Protect Awareness Campaign he plans to bring to schools across the country.
“Going into the schools is great, because kids absorb things so much,” Romero said during an interview. “What we’re trying to do is get them to understand the relationship all people have with Mother Earth and turn them on to what’s going on around the world.”
Romero told children ranging from Head Start students to middle schoolers about climate change and its impact on people and the environment. He also showed them what he called a music picture, a 10-minute music vide titled “Who’s Gonna Save You,” the first in a series of music productions planned to motivate people toward action.
Romero also challenged each of three groups of students he met with to write a speech telling how they would help protect and love Mother Earth. The winner, as selected by a panel set up through Romero’s Native Children Survival nonprofit group, will be recorded delivering the speech and that video will be shown during the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May. It will also be posted on the NCS YouTube Channel and the Project Protect website.
Romero holds the distinction of being the U.N.’s Ambassador of Youth for the Environment, largely due to previous projects he orchestrated to create awareness among youth about environmental issues.
“Are you lean, green, learning machines?” he repeatedly asked the younger students until he got a loud enough answer.
Romero said their voices needed to be heard by world leaders to assure that the Earth’s environment is protected, both when they get older and for generations to come. Romero also brought two guests, artist Jonathan Warm Day and renowned photographer Bruce Gomez, both of Taos Pueblo, who briefly explained how they use their art to promote positive change.
“Take care of the land and water. It’s the best gift you can give to anyone,” Gomez said.
“We’re lucky to live in a place that’s green and full of wildlife,” said Warm Day. “We have to honor and respect nature, and Robby’s film is another way of getting the message across for what needs to be done.”
The children seemed to enjoy the music picture, though some called it “scary.” That was the intent. The song’s lyrics advise, “We’ve got to face reality.”
The video includes Romero and his band Red Thunder performing their song “Who’s Gonna Save You.” The children recognized some of Romero’s own children in the video, as they had attended Taos Pueblo Day School.
But the video also tells a visual story. It starts with an Apache boy, about 17 or 18, spinning a wheel on his skateboard. The picture then dissolves into satellite images of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as it spins toward the Louisiana coastline.
Filmed in New Orleans, the boy skateboards past boarded-up buildings in the city’s Ninth Ward, which suffered some of the worst damage from the storm, and into the crowded French Quarter, where he is shown picking up a piece of garbage and depositing it into a trash receptacle as he skates by.
News clips of such natural disasters as tsunamis, tornadoes and flooding, and man-made calamities, such as nuclear explosions and oil spills, are mixed with the music to reinforce the song’s refrain:
Who’s gonna save you?
Who’ll take the risk?
Who’s gonna save you?
From all this
The answer is that it’s up to us, Romero said.
“A lot of these things are happening because of climate change, and it’s changing because of the way we’re treating Mother Earth,” he told the kids. “Today is Valentine’s Day; that’s why it’s the perfect day to show our love for Mother Earth.”
Romero was surprised at some of the astute answers he got from the elementary school kids. Turns out, some of them have already studied global warming and knew that we need trees to create fresh air and clean water to drink and irrigate crops.
Romero was also impressed by the answers they gave to his question: What can we do to protect Mother Earth? Recycling, water conservation, eating foods that are not chemically treated, and not killing bees were among the responses.
Romero plans to take his message to other schools around the country, but not until later this year. He also intends to put on a similar program at the University of New Mexico’s branch in Taos next month, although the date hasn’t been finalized.
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