Musical performance strikes note on sustainability
Alan AtKisson mixes science and songwriting to give unforgettable performance
Alan AtKisson lit up the room with his artistic performance, Sustainability is for Everyone: The Musical. Using music, dance and, of course, science, AtKisson gave an engaging presentation on sustainability at the Ross Glen Hall here on campus on March 6. AtKisson is an environmental scientist from the United States, who uses a variety of artistic platforms to enlighten people on global sustainability.
“I loved performing here,” said AtKisson. “The people are really nice and no one pretends to be something they aren’t.”
His performance was lively. With music that was both engaging and provoking, AtKisson would become so elated in his music, his ear piece would actually keep falling out of place as he pivoted back and forth.
“I thought it was entertaining. I liked his songs and his energy. He had high energy,” Peter Zimmerman, ConocoPhillips, said of the performance.
AtKisson uses different techniques to engage the audience in his presentation. He would teach the crowd terms of a song (such as GDP, growth and trends), to which the audience would sing at his direction. Afterwards, he continued his presentation on sustainability using the words that were just learned.
“Very engaging,” said Terry Dowsett of the Mount Royal University continuing education green team. “I really liked how he brought sustainability alive in a very creative way.”
Using humour and music, AtKisson was able to inform the audience how world trends are changing and adapting. He performed in a way that was easily understandable, using catchy tunes that were hardly forgettable.
According to AtKisson, we are a part of a sustainability movement, whether we know it or not. It’s important to figure out what is working and change what isn’t.
Stephanie Rosch, who works at Habitat for Humanity said, “It was a great mix of entertainment and education. He gave a unique look and explanation of what sustainability means today.”
AtKisson first began singing professionally in his college years. He grew up in a musical family, with his mother being a musical director at a church. In 1992, AtKisson spoke at an international conference and in the mix, spontaneously broke out into song.
Since that time, AtKisson has been using music as a way to explain environmental trends and sustainability. Donella Meadows, environmental scientist, was a close friend of AtKisson. Meadows would always challenge AtKisson to create new songs.
“‘Come on! Play another song!’ she would tell me. She’s the reason I’m standing here right now,” said AtKisson.
Meadows passed away in 2001, but not before challenging him on creating a song using the word “sustainability.”
AtKisson shared this song during the performance, only on track. He selected an audience member to dance along to the song.
“I couldn’t play that live,” said AtKisson onstage. “It usually makes me cry.”
AtKisson has had over 20 years of international experience. He works to bring new innovative ways to create more sustainability globally. He is most famous for his keynote speeches, which he engages the audience in his musical performances.
“Since performing in 1992, songs have started bubbling up out of me,” said AtKisson.
Throughout the evening AtKisson was straightforward in warning the audience of how big our global footprint currently is. However, towards the end of the performance he leaves the crowd with some sense of hope.
“Those businesses that say it’s too costly to be sustainable need to see that the world is changing. A favorite quote of mine comes from Henry Ford:
‘Those who say they can, can. Those who say they can’t, can’t.’”
Fittingly, AtKisson finished the night with a song about money — “the GDP song.”
AtKisson is finishing his second album, and has published multiple books. His most famous works are, Believing Cassandra, a novel published in 1999, and The Sustainability Transformation, published in 2010.