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A forest, the heartbeat of our drums
WordsAndPictures: Women gather to sustain the source of the rhythmic inspiration.
Marisa Cuneo-Linsly, Executive Director, Women's Drum Center
Trees are the lungs of the earth and we need to maintain a natural balance that allows for our health as well as our drums.

by Marisa Cuneo-Linsly

"Million Women Drummers Gathering, for the Love of Trees and Drums" is what the nationally known drummer Ubaka Hill named her worldwide initiative.

In 2010, she put out a call to her sister drummers: "Join forces with other environmental and world health organizations to provide a world that sustains trees. Trees provide us with what we love - drums - and the music [that] drums and other wood instruments make. Our intention is to create a mindful model for a sustainable future for drums by providing a sustainable future for trees."

The Women's Drum Center, a Twin Cities-based group, joined in this vision in 2011 by establishing our own branch, called "Million Women's Drummers Gathering - Minnesota."

We honor the source that provides our drums and realize that trees are important to life. Trees are the lungs of the earth and we need to maintain a natural balance that allows for our health as well as our drums. We began offering monthly programs about the relationship of trees and drums ... and we started planting trees.

Our Minnesota group has planted more than 16 trees with environmental organizations working to sustain trees. One participant, Donna Loney, wrote: "Yes, buy a drum, plant a tree, oh how simple it can be, when we listen to our heart, and with our drum sound out our part."

We do sound out our part at the tree-planting events by bringing our drums and playing "OYA," a drum song taught us by Hill. We offer gratitude to the trees with our song. We teach parts of this song at our monthly programs to include all in a drum community that cares about trees.

A sense of community has formed around the energy of drums. Expanding our drum community is a part of this vision. We are connecting with other groups and drummakers statewide.


"One Woman One Drum One Tree - A million women and their kin can birth a forest of trees," Hill says of her worldwide efforts on behalf of trees. Creating all these activities locally for this inspiring initiative has broadened and deepened our connection to our drums, to more drummers and other groups that care about trees, and to caring for what started this - TREES.

Marisa Cuneo-Linsly lives in St. Paul and is the executive director of the Women's Drum Center.

"For the Love of Trees and Drums," a global connecting day, is Oct. 13, 2013. Ubaka Hill will host the national gathering in New Paltz, N.Y., connecting with other drumming groups via Skype. www.millionwomendrummers.com
What: The Women's Drum Center gathering, "Rhythms for the Trees Festival
Sun., Oct. 13, 2013, 1-6 p.m.
Where: Ramada Bloomington, 2300 E. American Blvd., at I-494 and 24th Ave. S., Bloomington
Who: Everyone is welcome to this family-friendly event.
Cost: Free
FFI: 651-206-7617 or www.womensdrumcenter.org

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