“Music is so very powerful,” Olen Franklin enthusiastically shared on our weekly Rock the Stream Zoom, “No matter what is going on in the world, you always have music. Music helps you get through your day. As an artist I like to think of the music that my band and I create as ‘feel good music.’ Music transcends everything!”
Throughout his illustrious career in the Milwaukee music scene, Franklin has been able to share his joy of music as a medium to connect our community with a wide array of fellow artists. In addition, Franklin serves as a special education teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools, where he mainly works one on one with students with disabilities, and has a passion for working with the youth of our community, providing drum lessons, which are being conducted via Zoom for the time being.
“I've played with the Evan Christian Band for almost 20 years, and remember playing the Rock the Green Sustainability Festival in the past,” Franklin shared, “It’s always a blast and we love the energy that the Rock the Green fans brought when we performed. It’s been such great fun!”
This Thursday, July 30th, Olen Franklin and his ensemble will be performing as the Olen Franklin Experience Band including Alex Julien on bass, Darrien Williams on guitar and guest vocalist, Mel Spears. Olen shared, “We’re all about good vibes. Music is a beautiful thing as it unites people with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and viewpoints. Everyone loves to dance and feel good, and that’s what we try to do as a group.”
Partnering with the Olen Franklin Experience Band this week is Victory Garden Initiative, an environmental advocacy and nonprofit, committed to empowering citizens through learning about where food comes from. “We’re a grassroots movement, in the most literal way” quipped Ann Brummitt, Co-Executive Director of Victory Garden Initiative, “We’re all about moving grass and growing food.”
Victory Garden Initiative believes that every person, in every household, must connect to their food source, through the act of growing it. This act reminds us, as a global race of humans, that we are of the earth, that we cannot live without the earth, and that our needs are met, not by the economy, but from the earth. “Growing food will re-integrate us with deep ecology, guiding our culture towards a sustainable, abundant future, freed from financial inequalities,” Brummitt shared.
Founded in 2009 Victory Garden Initiative began as a city-wide organization, but has most recently settled itself in the Harambee neighborhood. “We want to drive home our mission and help people in Milwaukee’s north side,” Brummitt shared. “Victory Garden Initiative started off with creating raised garden beds in communities to help learn about growing food. However, as we have grown as an organization, we realized that we need to focus more on connecting with neighborhood residents.”
Brummitt co-founded the Milwaukee Water Commons (Rock the Stream's nonprofit partner with Dead Horses on July 23rd)and has been a longtime supporter of environmental activism in Milwaukee. She shared on our Zoom, “2020 has been a terrible year in so many ways, but also a hopeful year in so many others. The Black Lives Matter movement has helped make all of our eyes more open. We so badly need opportunities to come together and work across races, sectors and communities. We are living in a special time where we are seeing a big movement forward to help with creating equal rights for all people.”
Victory Garden Initiative is committed to providing fresh produce to the people who need it most in the community. “We have created a ‘you pick forest’ at our farm,” Brummitt explained. “Everyday people can come to VGI on 220 Concordia Avenue and pick their own fresh fruits and vegetables for free. In addition, we run a free farm stand on Friday’s from 2-6 p.m.”
Like most organizations, Victory Garden Initiative has had to pivot in the times of COVID-19. “We have historically held our Farm Raiser event to help bring the community together. Last year we had SistaStrings (Rock the Stream'd with Pearls for Teen Girls on June 11) perform, and this year, obviously, we cannot hold that event. However, we have moved our programs online and intend to provide youth programming and classes on the farm where we can socially distance, as well as doing virtual stuff. Like everyone, we’re trying to make things work as best we can.”
We are excited to partner the funky drumming stylings of Olen Franklin and his band with the wonderful work of Victory Garden Initiative, Thursday July 30th @ 7PM CDT as Rock the Stream rocks The Barn. Tune in to feel good tunes for a great cause at Rock the Green's Facebook, YouTube or Twitter channels.
Please consider donating to support Olen Franklin Experience Band & Victory Garden Initiative
Funding format:100% of the funds donated from the live-streams are split equally between the musician and nonprofit. The nonprofit partner accepts the donations and distributes half to the artist.
ABOUT VICTORY GARDEN INITIATIVE
Victory Garden Initiative believes that every person, in every household, must connect to their food source, through the act of growing it. This act reminds us that we are of the earth, that we cannot live without the earth, that our needs our met, not by the economy, but from the earth. Growing food will re-integrate us with deep ecology, guiding our culture towards a sustainable, abundant future, freed from financial inequalities.
This is a grassroots movement. Move grass. Grow Food.
VGI is hiring a Co-Executive Director
In partnership with the Co-Executive Director (Information and Finances), this Co-Executive Director (Outreach) will have overall strategic responsibility for VGI with an emphasis on maintaining and growing relationships and partnerships across the community. This Co-Executive Director takes the lead on representing VGI throughout Milwaukee and relevant networks using diverse modes of communication. This Co-Director is responsible for the oversight and management of VGI’s community programs such as the Blitz, Food Leader Certificate Program, and Move Grass classes. Both Co-Executives work together to carry out the mission, lead fundraising, and guide strategic planning. The Co-Executive Director has deep knowledge of the intersections of food and justice issues, program development, communication strategies, and effective partnerships. CLICK FOR MORE INFO