We've recently been enjoying the latest release from Minnesota-based band Cloud Cult, and reading about them in Gristmill a couple days ago reminded us that we'd been meaning to jot something down about their rather amazing story. Heralded by some as the indie release of the year, Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus is complex, thoughtful and earnest, tackling the enduring "what does it all mean" question with aplomb while managing not to be preachy. Really interesting music, but that's not half of it. Behind Cloud Cult's recent rise to popularity is founder Craig Minowa, who has a tremedously varied and interesting background; while in pursuit of a degree in Environmental Science, he earned money shining shoes, driving an ice cream truck, fixing toilets and dressing up as Barney the dinosaur at kids birthday parties. All the while, he volunteered for a variety of nonprofits ranging from Clean Water Action to Citizens for a Better Environment and Greenpeace. He established Clout Culd as a not-for-profit, music-centered environmental and philosophical movement. In tandem with the band's self-created record label, Earthology Records, Minowa is doing some exceptional things that'll make any TreeHugger smile. Here's a sampling of their good deeds:
- Cloud Cult donates all profits, after expenses, to environmental charity work.
- Instead of creating new plastic, Cloud Cult's CD is packaged in cleaned reused jewel cases that the band painstakingly hand-cleans for each CD release. The thousands of used jewel cases are donated by the box-load to Earthology from all over the country.
- Earthology is located on a small organic farm in Northern Minnesota, is powered by geothermal power and wind energy, and the recording studio is built from recycled and salvaged materials.
- Cloud Cult CD inserts and print materials are on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and printed with non-toxic soy inks by a local, family-owned print shop.
- Cloud Cult's CD shrink-wrap is not the industry standard toxic PVC. It is environmentally benign low-density polyethylene, and is packaged by Goodwill Industries, a nonprofit focused on assisting handicapped individuals. Through its relationship with the University of Illinois, Earthology will soon be packaging all materials in a 100% earth-friendly shrink-wrap, made of non-toxic biodegradable corn cellulose.
It might be easier for some to dismiss these efforts as the enthusiastic endeavors of an environmental zealot if the music weren't any good, but the truth is that we think Cloud Cult is fantastic! They are changing the world with their music, and they're commitment to a worthy cause is following them to the top. We think it's great to see the power of pop culture used for good, and can't say enough about their dedication. Rock on, Cloud Cult! ::Cloud Cult via ::Gristmill