Colloquium: A Song to Save the Salish Sea

April 19, 2017 | 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Mark Pedelty, Professor of Communication Studies and Anthropology and Resident Fellow in the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota will present on the arts, particularly music, as activism.


SYNOPSIS: A Song to Save the Salish Sea: Musical Performance as Environmental Communication

On the coast of Washington and British Columbia sit the misty forests and towering mountains of Cascadia. With archipelagos surrounding its shores and tidal surges of the Salish Sea trundling through the interior, this bioregion has long attracted loggers, fishing fleets, and land developers, each generation seeking successively harder to reach resources as old-growth stands, salmon stocks, and other natural endowments are depleted. Alongside encroaching developers and industrialists is the presence of a rich environmental movement that has historically built community through musical activism. From the Wobblies’ Little Red Songbook (1909) to Woody Guthrie’s Columbia River Songs (1941) on through to the Raging Grannies’ formation in 1987, Cascadia’s ecology has inspired legions of songwriters and musicians to advocate for preservation through music.

Mark Pedelty’s research explores Cascadia’s vibrant eco-musical community in order to understand how environmentalist music imagines, and perhaps even creates, a more sustainable conception of place. Highlighting the music and environmental work of such various groups as Dana Lyons, the Raging Grannies, Idle No More, Towers and Trees, and Irthlingz, among others, Pedelty examines the divergent strategies―musical, organizational, and technological―used by each musical group to reach different audiences and to mobilize action.

BIOGRAPHY: Mark Pedelty is a Professor of Communication Studies and an affiliate Professor of Anthropology. His research deals with music and sound as environmental communication. Dr. Pedelty published “A Song to Save the Salish Sea: Musical Performance as Environmental Activism” (Indiana University Press, 2016), a book about Environmentalist Musicians and Movements in Washington State and British Columbia. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters concerning media, environment, and music. He also published “Ecomusicology: Rock, Folk, and the Environment” (Temple University’s Music Matters Series, 2012). His fieldwork in Mexico and Central America resulted in two books (Routledge, 1995, and University of Texas Press, 2004) as well as numerous journal articles. A Fellow at the Institute on the Environment, Pedelty has produced documentary media and music videos for watershed management organizations and his community partner, Metro Blooms. Visit to view those projects. Pedelty teaches courses in environmental communication, musical communication, ethnographic methods, and media studies.