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Environmentalist Cameron Brown hauls a grand piano out to Garden of the Gods at sunrise


Brown making his environmental impact statement.
  • Brown making his environmental impact statement.
While it’s no Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs’ Garden of the Gods remains a popular tourist attraction in its own right, a natural landmark where you can go to climb rocks, tool around on a Segway, or just wait for the silhouettes of John Wayne and the Lone Ranger to appear on the horizon.

Or, you could take a path less chosen, as the musician and motivational speaker Cameron Brown did three months ago when he hauled a grand piano out to the site at sunrise. With a team of movers, a videographer and a cam-equipped drone in tow, the Australian native sat down at the piano, surrounded by rock formations, to record footage for his “There Is Still Time” music video.

“I had been traveling around the world for 18 months,” explains Brown, who wrote the environmentally conscious song on the road. “By the time I was invited to give a closing talk at Italy’s largest TEDx event, I’d already decided to get people in different places around the world to participate, to help show how powerful we can be when we come together and work together.”

Granted, Brown could have filmed his segment somewhere in the Australian outback, where there’s no shortage of big rocks sticking out of arid landscapes. But shortly after taking up residence in Mexico, an invitation to speak in Denver sealed the deal.

“There were just all these incredible nature spots all around Colorado,” says Brown, who is now, in fact, relocating to the Front Range. “I was able to get in touch with the city of Colorado Springs, who were really excited about the project and having us do it there. So then myself and the videographer — who operated the drone and the other close-up video footage — went down to Garden of the Gods a week before the shoot, to scout the area. It was before sunrise, and it was freezing cold. But when we got there, I thought, ‘This is absolutely incredible.’ It’s really a beautiful part of the world.”

After several weeks of splicing the Garden of the Gods clips together with those of 80 other musicians, hailing from 40 countries that include the USA, Uganda and Ukraine, Brown uploaded the finished music video on June 20. The result is an undeniably moving work, a kind of decentralized “We Are the World,” minus the pop stars, with an optimistic message that befits the song’s lilting melody and pop-rock arrangement.

Actually, Brown has never even met most of his erstwhile bandmates, except over the internet. His idea was to produce a video that seemingly came out of thin air, while managing to involve more musicians than your average Outkast album.

“Every relationship with people from the 40 countries was built through digital technology,” says Brown, “and that was done deliberately, to show how technology can actually speed up the rate at which we connect to people. At the moment, digital technology is getting a pretty bad rap, but I really wanted to demonstrate that technology is simply pointing to the challenges that we’re facing. It’s not the challenge itself, it’s not the core problem. And when we purposefully use technology, it can bring us closer together. It can allow us to create things faster than we’ve ever been able to before, and hopefully speed up the rate at which we solve challenges versus magnify them.”

While Brown cites his main musical influence as Chris Martin from Coldplay, his socially conscious side was more informed by conservationist Jane Goodall and self-help author Wayne Dyer. Also Tony Robbins, the entrepreneurial guru whose ritualistic “fire walks” periodically spark outbreaks of controversy.

“Yes, I’ve walked on hot coals, and I’ve gone through many of his other trainings,” says Brown. “He [Robbins] has a belief in truly helping people, in a way that’s not only good for each person, but good for the world, as well, which I think is admirable.”

Brown, who integrates music into his “multisensory” motivational talks — usually alone at the piano, but sometimes with a full band — is hoping that he and his fellow environmentalists can inspire others to question practices that, as his song points out, “destroy the very thing that’s keeping us alive.”

“Regardless of whether you believe in climate change or anything like that, the fact is that we haven’t been good stewards of our planet,” says Brown. “We’ve already cut down most of the rainforests around the world.”

And while some may believe we’ve gone past the tipping point — or insist that we’re nowhere near it — Brown is convinced now is the time to look at the range of options before us, including a closed-loop economy model in which we actually reuse what we take out of the ground, instead of just dumping it elsewhere.

“I’m not so much worried about the planet,” he says. “The planet’s going to be fine — it’s been here for 4½ billion years of massive meteors, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tectonic plates being moved. But we are very, very small in comparison to what this planet has gone through in the past. And so I think we need a very good ego check.”

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