A ‘Fine Frenzy’ Ambassador

28 January 2011 | News story

Alison Sudol, American singer, songwriter and pianist, also known as 'A Fine Frenzy', has recently become a Goodwill Ambassador for IUCN. Through her music, she hopes to spread the word about IUCN’s work and inspire young people to get involved in conservation, making them realize that even a small individual action can make a big difference for our planet.

We ask Alison how she got interested in conservation and why she decided to become an IUCN Ambassador.

IUCN: You are actively engaged in protecting nature and have taken part in many conservation initiatives. What made you interested in environmental issues?

Alison Sudol: I have always loved nature, and even though I grew up in cities, most of my fondest memories of my childhood were summers and winters spent in the countryside of northern California or the woods and waters of the Pacific Northwest. I've been incredibly lucky to be able to travel as a musician, as it has taken me to some of the most beautiful places I've ever seen—forests, lakes, rivers, canyons, mountains, oceans and deserts. Some have been wonderfully unaffected by people, but others have shown signs of strain. These places have had a deep impact on me; they have given me a great deal of comfort, peace and inspiration. Whenever life moves too fast or I get overwhelmed, I try to find some little piece of nature to remind me of how to be still.

I don't know how it happened, but there is an unbelievably prevalent culture of disposability these days, where if something breaks, or goes slightly out of date, it is thrown out and replaced by a newer and flashier model. Things are made cheaply and tossed out without a second thought. There is so much waste. People spend so much time in front of computer screens, on phones, staring at televisions, and are becoming terribly disconnected from nature. I feel like it's causing a tremendous amount of suffering, because it's really not how we're built as human beings. We're supposed to be connected with our planet, we're meant to take care of it. It's our home. I feel as though it is my personal responsibility, as it is all of ours, really, to protect the natural beauty and harmony of this incredible planet, and the wildlife it supports. It would be an enormous shame to see such a miraculous world destroyed by our own carelessness.

IUCN: You’re a talented singer, songwriter and pianist. How, for you, does music relate to nature?

Alison Sudol: Art, love and nature are my three greatest sources of inspiration. They all make me happy in a way that nothing else can, and bring comfort and joy in a world that would be horribly lonely otherwise. Lonely and boring! The funny thing is though, music and love sometimes don't make any sense at all to me, but nature always does. I find myself referencing nature in pretty much every song I write. More often than not, the only way I can understand tricky things in life is to take them out of their context and find a comparison in the environment. When you think about it, there are so many parallels in the natural world to the way we relate as human beings, except that there are no words in nature, no agendas to confuse things. 

IUCN: Why did you decide to become an IUCN’s Goodwill Ambassador?

Alison Sudol: I have wanted to work with a nature conservation organization for a while, but I didn't know where to start. I had the immense honour of having tea with Queen Noor of Jordan last year to discuss the reduction of nuclear weapons/Global Zero, and in researching her views on the subject, I discovered that she had worked with IUCN. After reading a bit about IUCN, I was completely blown away by the organization, the scope of which is completely mind boggling—preserving natural habitats, protecting endangered species, fighting climate change, promoting clean energy, and improving human well-being... and everything in between! I wanted to do whatever I could to be a part of it. It was both a surprise and a tremendous honour to be asked to become an Ambassador. I can't tell you how excited I am to work with this wonderful organization. 

IUCN: IUCN Ambassadors support IUCN's work and its vision of a just world that values and conserves nature. How would you like to do this?

Alison Sudol: As IUCN's Ambassador, I would like to find new ways to engage people, especially those of my generation and younger, in conservation and regeneration of their environment. I think that there are so many people out there who want to do something to help, but don't know how, and as an artist, I have a platform, a way of talking to them and giving them some ideas. Conservation shouldn't be a dry thing that only environmentalists care about, it should be a part of everyone's daily lives, and it can be incredibly fun too. Have you ever planted a tree? It's really hard work, but it's amazing! The last time I did it, I came home with impressive blisters and a feeling of true accomplishment and joy. I'd like to take people on environmental adventures, even if it's just through blogging and videos, so they can see some of the fantastic things that the scientists at IUCN are working on, and hopefully be inspired to get involved!