The big questions

P.E.I.-produced Global Chorus taps into the minds of 365 of world’s finest to seek answers about the future of humanity and earth

Mary MacKay comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on October 25, 2014

Longtime private music instructor and well-known Island musician Todd MacLean of Pinette reached out to the world to orchestrate his anthology entitled Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, which is being launched at various locations on P.E.I. in the coming weeks.

©GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY

It’s like the environmental elephant in the room.

The future of the world is a subject that’s on the mind of most, but it ranks right up there with religion and politics in terms of conversation killers.

Todd MacLean was not alone in having this topic weigh heavy on his mind.

But one day after some serious thought in one of the best think tanks there is — the shower — this private music teacher and well-known Island musician from Pinette decided to shine the spotlight big and bright on this elephantine issue.

So he posed a series of questions to some of the best minds in the world, asking is there hope for humanity and the world given current global environmental and social crises?

The responses poured in from Antarctica to Greenland, from the famous — Jane Goodall, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Stephen Hawking — to the local — P.E.I. writers David Helwig and Jill MacCormack.

All have been arranged together to form Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, published by Rocky Mountain Books.

“I wanted it to be a way that people could keep important issues on their minds on a daily basis and not feel bogged down with them, but to just keep thinking about important environmental and social issues. I thought that this could be a really great way to just keep the conversation going,” MacLean says of his P.E.I.-produced anthology of 365 perspectives on the environmental future, which has hit the top of Amazon.ca’s sales in environmental titles although its official release is still days away.

MacLean has come a long way since his inspirational in-the shower moment in the spring of 2010.

“I thought wouldn’t it be great (if someone put together) a book where it was one piece per day — a page of words from a different person in the world, a whole broad range of people all talking about the big question. Where are we actually headed? What kind of hope do we have to get through the environmental and social crises that we face? Can we do it and how can we do that?” he remembers.

That someone turned out to be him as he responded to encouragement from family and friends for his unique Global Chorus concept.

Canadian activist David Suzuki was the book’s first contributor.

With the well-known environmentalist onboard, the doors opened more easily for MacLean as people such as Justin Trudeau, Jane Goodall, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other celebrities and great thinkers joined the foray.

“It was such a broad, deep question and I was worried at first about posing these questions to these people all over the world with varying professions and a lot of them being environmentalists and humanitarians. A lot of them had been working on this question their entire life, devoting all the work they can to this. They want to make the world a better place,” MacLean says.

“But what actually happened in a lot of cases, contributors just said, ‘Thank you so much for asking these questions because it has helped me crystalize my thinking. I’m actually thinking about my work now in a broader sense where I wasn’t before.’ There were even a few contributors that said it was a transformational process for them because they got to actually meditate on the real issue at hand.”

One of the youngest contributors was 14-year old GMO educator and activist Rachel Parent, founder of Kids Right to Know.

“Rachel Parent is just an incredibly inspiring youth environmentalist from Toronto and she is driven with a passion that is rarely seen in anyone, let alone in someone her age,” MacLean says.

“I wanted to make sure that people from various walks of life were invited to the chorus because it’s not just the people in the driver’s seats around the globe who have insightful wisdoms to share on the subject of where we’re headed as a human species. It’s the everyday folks. It’s not only environmentalists or spiritual leaders or politicians, there are bus drivers in Global Chorus, there are farmers, chefs, yogis, doctors, musicians and activists.”

Global Chorus has representation from all seven continents, including the inspirational words of Moi Enomenga, leader of Huaorani people in the Ecuadorian Amazon, who had won a National Geographic award for his dedication to environmental issues.

To track him down, MacLean contacted an eco lodge in the Huaorani district and found a person there who was in regular contact with Enomenga who agreed to interview the tribal leader and translate his response for inclusion in Global Chorus.

“I think we’d just had a snowstorm (here on P.E.I.) and I got this piece from (Enomenga) speaking unbelievably powerful words about their problems they’re experiencing there and what we’re experiencing all over the world in a grand sense. It brought me to tears,” he says.

Global Chorus’s message is ominous in its warnings at times, but there is also a resounding chorus of reassurance, of community, of collaboration and hope contained within its pages.

“My hope was that people would actually focus more on solutions — guidance and insight about where we can go with humanity and how we can bring it in the right direction,” MacLean says.

“That is indeed what has taken place.” 

AT A GLANCE

Fast facts

Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet was created and edited by Todd MacLean of Pinette.

The book is published by Rocky Mountain Books and features words by Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, David Suzuki, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Stephen Hawing, Maya Angelou, the Dali Lama and hundreds more.

Proceeds will go to the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Following is a list of local launch and book signing dates: Bookmark in Charlottetown - Oct. 31, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Indigo in Charlottetown - Nov. 1, noon to 3 p.m.; Coles in Summerside - Nov. 2, 1-3 p.m.; Belfast Rec Centre - Nov. 2, 7-9 p.m.; P.E.I. Brewing Company, Charlottetown - Nov. 3, 7-9 p.m.

All events will feature live music, with free admission to the public, and all are invited to attend.