Organic Broadcaster

MOSES hosts party to highlight local organic movement

By Emma Manley, OCD Soundsystem

Music can be a powerful enactor of change. It has the power to bridge the divides between people, places, and ideas. It’s no wonder music is often used to bring awareness to issues and garner support for causes.

In that vein, MOSES hosted a “Party for Organic” last month just prior to the meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in St. Paul, Minn. The event was designed to welcome the national organic community to the Midwest, and to showcase the collective good of the local organic movement. Sponsors included Organic Valley, Prairie Organic Spirits, Peace Coffee, Equal Exchange, Farm Table Foundation, and Mississippi Market.

MOSES contracted Duluth-based band Cloud Cult for the evening’s entertainment. The event sold out quickly, which came as no surprise. Cloud Cult played two sold out nights last April with the Minnesota Orchestra at Orchestra Hall, a venue with a capacity of over 2,000, compared to the Amsterdam’s capacity of about 700. The smaller, more intimate venue seemed to be a huge draw for fans.

“We saw Cloud Cult last spring with the Orchestra,” Sara and Deanna of St. Paul said. “When we saw they would be playing the Amsterdam, we bought tickets right when they went on sale.” Deanna mentioned the group’s overall message, and noted their ability to appeal to a wide audience. “Their music is just accessible to everyone, and it means something to everyone.”

Some in the audience knew of Cloud Cult in passing, but were drawn to the event by the local and organic food options.

“I try to shop as sustainably as possible, I shop at the Wedge and Mississippi Market,” said local teacher Patrick “It’s hard to live in Minnesota and not know Cloud Cult,” he noted, but added that the food and atmosphere of like-minded individuals were the reasons he attended.

Most of the food was purchased at or donated by local co-ops Seward and Mississippi Market, with Organic Valley donating cheese and dairy products. Peace Coffee, whose mission is to protect the environment and the people that produce their coffee, generously provided their products. Drink specials were made possible through Prairie Organic Spirits, a Minneapolis-based distillery that is committed to eco-conscious practices.

Cloud Cult was the obvious choice for an event to garner awareness for MOSES and its mission. “MOSES and Cloud Cult both understand what the path going forward in sustainable agriculture looks like,” said Tom Manley, Account Service Coordinator at MOSES. “They’re invested and they live it as a part of this community. If any Cloud Cult fans don’t know MOSES, they would be receptive to the ideas. They’re already invested in the message.”

The group’s frontman and his wife, Craig and Connie Minowa, live on a farm near Viroqua, Wis., and own Earthology, a nonprofit dedicated to environmental sustainability. Part of Earthology is the record label, which focuses on making the music industry as eco-friendly as possible.

“Earthology has multiple branches, so we’ve got the record label,” Craig shared. “Then also Earthology Institute, that’s focused on environmental education, although we’re expanding that theme to also address some broad spiritual, therapeutic aspects. We also have Earthology Retreat Center on our property—we have cabins that we rent out and a park that people can come to, spend time by the water.”

The band is deeply committed to staying green; their recording studio is powered by geothermal energy, and was built in part from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic. Their merchandise is made of 100% recycled or organic materials, and they plant trees to offset the CO2 output of their touring and recording. “We plant four times the number of trees that the [CO2] calculations led to, just to be sure we’re covering it,” Craig said. His father was an agricultural educator, and noted that growing up with that influence, the sustainable lifestyle became his culture. He spoke to the importance of events like this, and why Cloud Cult was eager to be a part of it. “As far as organic education goes, consumers need the education, but farmers in a big way need it too. They need to understand the importance and methodology of transitioning to a more sustainable practice.”

Beyond their environmentally sound practices and message, Cloud Cult is known for a very unique aspect of their shows. Connie Minowa and Scott West, both professional painters, each craft a one-of-a-kind painting during the concert. At the end, the artworks are auctioned; for this event, the proceeds went to support the mission of MOSES. Cloud Cult is unlike any other band out there today; they are a massive force for good, and use their music to enact change.

It is likely that MOSES will host similar events in the future, Executive Director John Mesko said. “I’d like to continue to introduce our mission and share the organic and sustainable movement with new audiences.”


Emma Manley is a campus representative for First Avenue. She covers local music on her blog, OCD Soundsystem.



From the November | December 2018 Issue

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