Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bicycle For A Day

I had a really fun show on Saturday at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. I'd taken care of everything the day before so was actually able to wake up with Fern and ride my bicycle across the Brooklyn bridge with her. What a great way to get to Sound Check - and we were early!

Bicycle for a day is a yearly event set up by Matthew Modine to encourage people to bike and be environmentally friendly. During the day there was a walk, and a group of bicyclists that left to Washington DC to take the message there too.

There were rumors that Bobby Kennedy Jr. (a top environmental lawyer and activist) might show up with his kids on his sailboat. During my set, he did just that so I got to introduce him and took a seat with my band behind him as he spoke about cleaning up the Hudson, the first of his Waterkeepers projects. I didn't know that they had turned the Hudson around - it still looks pretty murky to me, but biologically its doing a lot better than it was 2 decades ago.

Well that was an honor and inspiring to see what someone who cares so much can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I just got back from a 2 week trip to namibia with my family. It was stunning, the landscapes beautiful and extreme. We travelled most of the time with a group of 16 in a Safari truck. I was amazed that 9 of the 10 campsites not only had running water but showers and toilets! It was so dry there, you wonder how a well of any depth could find any at all.

When you look out from the dunes to the sea, with the warm bright sun ahead and massive amount of space behind you (Namibia has only two million people and is one of the least densely populated in the world), you wonder whether you couldn't just engineer sun, water and land to work together and become more biologically productive.

On my return my brother sent me this link - you HAVE to see it - its AMAZING and looks like it is taking off!!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

check out this oxfam link

I found these stories on climate change to be illuminating and inspiring. They are four videos about how women in various different countries have taken it upon themselves to tackle those problems coming with climate change. I kept noticing that in the poorer societies, their big problems are crop failure from not knowing when to plant the crops - the signs have all changed and the long term weather is much less predictable.


Also, did you know that because of the increased CO2 in the air, the oceans are absorbing CO2 as well, making them more acidic. This acidity is beginning to prevent some organisms from creating their shells. Of course, this is the end of the line for these creatures... and coral, which is bleaching from the higher temperatures at an alarming rate all over the world -- these are the canaries is the coal mine!

keep spreading the word! Here's some good news -- Scotland will be building the worlds largest windmill farm by 2011! The news looks amazing, especially the way that it is creating so many jobs! Lets get it going here too!


Monday, June 2, 2008

The Weather Makers

I'm babysitting my friend's record collection and listening to Allman Brother Band, 'Ain't Wastin Time no more'

sounds sweet. I also just read 'The Weather Makers' by Time Flannery. Its about that most uplifting topic of climate change!

The time has come that our human activities have started to have a stronger effect than natural influences on our climate -- which means we're making the weather!! Only thing is, we don't really need a hotter planet - I'd be all for burning up the coal and warming our planet if the ice age was coming, but its not!! Fortunately, we collectively know what to do about this, we just need to understand the basics and make some small changes to start cooling our planet. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the ones that sticks out to me is the rate at which species are going extinct and how fast Earth's biodiversity is being lost. Just a 1 degree celsius global average change has already had huge impacts.


Here are some things that everyone reading this can do to help.

Have you looked into a Green power option where you live (for electricity) If there isn't one, find out why and let them know they have consumers.

Solar Panels are a double investment now - one for the Earth and one for you since power is getting more and more expensive!

Check fuel efficieny of your next car! Don't end up with a gas-guzzler with these fuel prices! And walk/cycling, if your area is appropriate can also reduce emissions.

If you're someone that writes to their politician, please include carbon emissions and green energy initiatives. If not, there's always a first time.

Our solution to this will be multi-faceted, relying on carbon sequestering, wind and solar power, research into tidal power, and perhaps nuclear. There is research out into compressed air cars!! What a clean way to store energy!

Monday, May 5, 2008

another reason to plant a garden

The Food and Agriculture Organization says that food prices have gone up 83% in the last three years. Rice prices alone have gone up 141% since January of this year alone! The impact of higher food prices ultimately means that more impoverished people will suffer from malnutrition and could starve.

Woah!!! Time to plant those veggies and start growing some extra!

And since us grown-ups over 18 can have a massive effect on the outcome of the Nov 3rd ELECTION!!! Here is a breakdown of the candidates and their environmental stance.

Barack Obama

Is a current frontrunner as a democratic presidential candidate. He currently serves as the US Senator of Illinois. His previous experience is in the Illinois state senate. Barack Obama believes that we should take steps to limit the effects global warming. He wants to increase fuel efficiency standards and lower the carbon in our fuels. He would encourage auto manufacturers to create more advanced vehicles and he would require that 20% of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. These issues come together as an intuitive and comprehensive action plan with regards to the environment. The League of Conservation Voters rates Barack Obama with a 100% for 2006. BarackObama.com

John McCain

Is a republican presidential candidate that currently holds a position as Senator of Arizona. In general, Senator McCain is a pro-business kind of guy. He usually doesn’t care about the environment if it means businesses will lose money. However, he does have a mixed voting record that includes pro-environment bills. For example, he voted yes for including oil and gas smokestacks to be included in the mercury regulations put out by the EPA to cap mercury emissions. If I was a republican that cared about the environment, I think that I might vote for someone else who had a more positive solid stance for the environment. The League of Conservation Voters rated Senator John McCain at 29% for 2006.

A democratic presidential candidate that is currently holding a seat in the U.S. senate in New York. Her voting record in the senate proves that she really cares about environmental issues regarding energy and global warming. Some people say that the United States isn’t ready for a female president, but I say that she fits the bill quite well. She has a decent shot at winning the democratic primaries, but she’ll have to put up quite a fight. Hillary Clinton “introduced a plan to Congress to create a Strategic Energy Fund that would inject $50 billion into research, development, and deployment of renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean coal technology, ethanol and other homegrown biofuels, and more.” She wouldn’t raise taxes to its citizen’s but instead would give oil companies a choice: to invest in renewable energies themselves, or put money into a fund that will invest into renewable energy research (HillaryClinton.com). Her scorecard on the League of Conservation Voters in 2006 was 71%. HillaryClinton.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Return from Tour

Finally back to New York City after 7 weeks on the road! We had a very warm welcome when we played at Replay clothing on 4/22 - it was that great feeling that everyone in the room felt good about celebrating Earth Day. Replay gave 10% of their profits to the Ben Jelen Foundation that week -- as you can imagine, this turned out to be a significant deal for us -- so THANK YOU!

We then played the Knitting Factory and that concluded my tour. Thank you to everyone that was there.

So I'm back - its easier to recycle at home than on the bus... I've noticed that once I take out those recyclables, I'm basically left with compost in the trash. Its a shame I don't have a garden! Not being on the road has shown me all over again what a strain road life can be on the planet if I'm not careful. I'm happy to be in a city where recycling is second nature.

I just did a guest-blog at fijigreen.com - their site is worth checking out, it explains how they are a carbon-negative company, something thats not easy to get your head around -- but if we're talking consumer vote, it means buying a bottle of theirs will end up taking carbon out of the atmosphere, and supporting a company that wants this change.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sweetwater's new Green complex

For those of you who don't know what Sweetwater is, its a company that sells and delivers all kinds of musical instruments and equipment, mainly online. Many producers and musicians order their equipment from sweetwater, and they run a good business with people that are knowledgable about all the products. They're based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Today we visited their new complex to record some tracks for a benefit that majic 95.1 (a radio station there) puts together to raise money for the Riley hospital for children. Sweetwater has a state of the art recording studio on its new premises that it opens up for this project. After recording a few songs, we got the tour of their building.

When sweetwater started this new complex, they began on a foundation of being 'green'. The windows are in the right places so as not to lose energy. The urinals are waterless (and pretty cool). They told me that they estimate the extra money they spent in building will be made back in 5 years from the savings they make from being more energy conscious. It is the first totally green building in Indiana - congratulations to sweetwater for setting the example they can.

omaha, nebraska and their frogs

Our show at Mick's Music was great fun, not too many people, but also very chill which allowed me to hang out with some people after the show. Brad from Des Moines came to see us with a buddy and they came on the bus after the show for some talking. His brother in law, an electrician in omaha was telling us tales of his childhood along the missouri river. When this man was young, he used to spend all available time fishing the river. 25 years later, he's already seen major changes in the river. Less fish. Signs warning of mercury contamination. The frogs, which used to be separately male and female have mutated into hybrid male-females, believed to be an effect of Atrazine (a herbicide) used on farms and running off into the river. There's also human waste in the river. And most markedly, many less frogs from 25 years ago.

Soooo -- a sad tale, but the positive part is that this man in Nebraska, also incidentally a Republican voter understood and cared about these issues.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

thinking deeper

sorry that I havn't posted in a while here, the tour side got busy.

I've been thinking more and more about the solutions to our environmental issues, and its important for me to know exactly where I stand on things. For example, I eat meat knowing that it is not the most carbon-friendly choice (the grain and energy it takes to feed that cow all its life could have fed a lot more people in grain form...) -- but I still eat it.

Its not that I don't believe in saving energy and squeezing what we can out of every block of coal, its that this won't solve our problems. Though it is of course important to switch off the TV and lights at night, what we should really be aiming for is a way to harvest enough clean energy that we don't have to worry. We can light up the Vegas strip and Times Square to our heart's content and let it charge back up in the sun. I truly believe this is the only real solution to global warming - I've seen enough people that simply will not change certain things about the way they live. I can only assume China, India and other growing countries will feel the same way as they build up. We all use an immense amount of energy. I AM one of those people that hurts the air every day by driving around burning gas, so I understand not wanting to sacrifice certain things in my life. Our human momentum is massive.

The hope for me is that I've seen such amazing change already happen in my life. I've been the assistant engineer, manually lining up a 2 inch tape machine and I've seen that change to completely digital recording. I used to hate running with a walkman because of the warbly sound the tape would give when running -- then we got CD players with shock memory, and now the ipod shuffle that won't ever skip or warble and is 1% of the size of that walkman!

So right now we need that societal will for larger change - people are using their consumer votes to buy hybrid cars, a step in the direction of electric vehicles and a leap in efficiency. I'm using mine for bio-diesel fuel, another step away from oil, even if a little desperate. Keep using those consumer votes and buy clean energy if possible! Money talks here! If we can get an administration into place that will help pave the way and stop obstructing progress maybe that same ingenuity that created the shuffle ipod will be put into hyperdrive on clean energy harvesting. We're a long way from where we need to be, but if we all care and are vocal, change will continue.

Friday, March 21, 2008

save the world

For those of you following us on the custard records youtube channel, or the video tour blog in general, you will have noticed we had a difficult time recylcing in Dallas. So we dragged our bottles to Tempe Arizona with us where we recycled them at the library at rural and southern...

check out this site if you're on the road and don't have it in you to throw more plastic into that pacific heap we've made. Or if you've had a hard time figuring out how to recycle in general, don't forget that plastic stores forever and usaully recyclables don't smell if rinsed and stored. Check out this awesome site that searches drop-off points by zip code.


Monday, March 17, 2008

trouble in dallas

I've been storing the recylcing for a few days and its illuminating to see how much we can NOT throw out. Unfortunately here in Dallas, the wal-mart does not recycle plastic bottles -- only plastic bags. I'm hoping one of the upcoming venues recycles their plastics.

so I found out more about the 'great pacific trash heap' -- look at it like this, there's a "flattening" in the middle of a huge ocean due to earth's gravitational pull -- you can imagine this by the water simply being pulled into the earth.

It turns out that this is what creates circular currents in our oceans and like a giant 'whirpool' there is an effect of the trash collecting in the middle. Throw a plastic bottle off a pier and it may take years, but eventually it will circle its way into the center of these currents -- thats why there's an area twice the size of texas where you run past trash every minute... I'm sure with time it will keep concetrating.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

apologies to fiji water


so I'm somebody that has literally "sharpied" out fiji poster ads on the nyc subway... why are we shipping something as available as water from one place to another when our present activity is having such an impact on Earth's life???

but I'm learning that I'm pretty naive and things can be more complicated. What if fiji water was a carbon negative company, meaning that despite the shipping of water they do, they offset this impact using the carbon credit system?

And what if their carbon negative equation didn't include the fact that in the process of what they do, they are protecting thousands of acres of rainforest from re-forestation?

I'm still mulling this through my mind.

Did anyone look up the pacific trash heap? We must not turn our oceans into toilets. some of you must like to eat fish -- lets figure this out!

Friday, March 14, 2008

south by southwest

We're having a great time out on the road and are right now in the middle of our sxsw shows. Tomorrow we're playing cedar house.

Will Wynn, the mayor of Austin had a party to "open" the music conference - I love his forward ideas and his belief that if you build a clean way to live and a fun place to live in, the economics will follow. After he ran off stage I ran after him and had to tell him I really believed in those environmental efforts -- as well as the way Austin gives tax breaks to venues with live music stages. I could be wrong but I have a feeling that in the rest of the country, maybe even state, it costs you more to showcase live music at your establishment.

Who has googled "the great pacific trash heap"?? Its frightening stuff.

And lastly, we opened the ben jelen foundation at south by southwest. I can say we have already raised several thousand dollars. There is so much environmental awareness happening - we can change the way we live!!

Friday, March 7, 2008


I've already been blown away by the reports of how much support the foundation has already had.

Should you believe in these issues and want to support me in making a difference to our planet's environmental future, you can send checks to this address.

Tides Foundation, New York Office
Attn. Ben Jelen Foundation
55 Exchange Place, Suite 402
New York, NY 10005-1965


Tides Foundation, New York Office
Attn. Ben Jelen Foundation
55 Exchange Place, Suite 402
New York, NY 10005-1965

rained out in the everglades

Well, the bright side of getting your gig monsooned on is that the rain is needed in this area of north florida / south georgia. We're still headed north in our bus after a dissapointing cancellation last night. All we accomplished was a guitar amp being blown from water getting inside.

I heard something about Bush taking another step to OK blasting oceans all around earth with Mid-Frequency military sonar. The problem is that whales, the biggest creatures to have EVER existed on earth have different ears than ours and can not only hear this sound but extremely loud. Whales have been beaching themselves (suicide) to get away from the sound. I don't want to be a part of it and have been a part of many a NRDC-led petition against these practises. Join in!

We're beginning to raise serious money for the Ben Jelen Foundation and I'm extremely excited about what we'll be able to do with it. Stay tuned,


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

day one

We woke up in North Carolina and are now near Jacksonville Florida.

I was talking to Chris Lewis, our tour manager this morning and it turns out that he was one of the 20 million that participated in the very first Earth Day. 4/22/1970. Chris walked to school - also said he was pretty much the only kid he knew that was "in the know" from FM radio broadcasting.

What can we all do for Earth day 2008 (38 years later!!!!)


imagine this: the 'weight' your tree gains is equal to how much carbon it took out of the air and stores in its wood/leaves!!!

I've been excited about the idea of the BJF sponsoring an inner city teen to 'escape' their urban environment and learn about nature IN nature.

Tomorrow we're playing the Langerado festival in the Everglades, a place known for its environmental vulnerability. more to come....


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Its Official

Its very exciting to finally have this dream be realized!!!

The foundation will be donating money to various different places. I've established four funding areas: education, political, humanitarian and investment, all dealing with different angles of protecting our natural environment.

Education: Local (New York) education of teens on environmental issues.

Political: Donations to groups that lobby for environmental protection at the political level.

Humanitarian: Give to those worse affected by climate change.

Investment: Continue the long process of investing in clean energy infrastructure.

I'm also concerned about the loss of biodiversity happening presently but this was a huge area to open up, so at the beginning I'm sticking to the above. We already have setup a fundraiser at South by Southwest and the New York 'replay' clothing store will be donating 10% of profits to the ben jelen foundation the week of my 'wreckage' release (4/22/08) -- so give them the support they deserve! We're setup to run this tour on biodiesel and clean diesel. I'm still hoping for a day when we can tour without gas, and now we can all be doing something about that!

Thank you,


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


LOS ANGELES - Singer songwriter and humanitarian, Ben Jelen has launched a foundation to educate and create awareness of environmental issues at large,

“I am incapable of ignoring what’s going on around me,” says Jelen. “World events often affect me as much as personal ones.” The Ben Jelen Foundation was started out of a personal need to protect the environment. The mission is to educate and spread awareness of environmental issues, especially global warming and bio diversity. Ben plans on using the foundation to raise money and gain awareness to causes that affect the world.

“The effects of large scale climate change are unpredictable,” says Ben. “What is becoming clear is that those in less developed countries will be more susceptible to the effects of climate change – storms, droughts, floods and crop – loss.” The Foundation strives to help under developed communities get the resources they need to survive, whether it be monetary or educational, domestic or international.

The Ben Jelen Foundation would also like to help invest in clean energy sources. It will begin by off-setting its own carbon emissions with a company that invests in renewables. Together with other groups and individuals, The Foundation will hold government and large corporations accountable in following environmental law.

Ben Jelen has realized his goal of having music move and affect people both physically and emotionally. The Ben Jelen Foundation hopes to pave the way for his goal to be fulfilled on an even bigger scale.

For further information and to make a donation: http://benjelen.com/foundation

Ex-Sensitive is the new album from Ben Jelen on Custard Records. Produced by Linda Perry, the album is all about love – for planet Earth and everyone on it. In recent years, Ben found time to work with The Natural Resources Defense Counsel, tour extensively for Rock The Vote and Live For Darfur, donate charity tracks to WasteNotMusic.com, Amnesty International, and Tori Amos’ RAINN, march against global warming, protest the war and work with the United Nations.


PR contact:
Kymm Britton / 60 Cycle Media
(310) 656-5900