If you want to get a job done, I would recommend none better than the organizers of the hour of darkness that drew so many participants from far and wide. They could have stayed home and flicked off a few switches – the easy way to join the 152 countries of the world that mark the Hour on March 23. But they didn’t do that.
Jenny Zhang is an incredible woman who seems to be able to conjure up crowds with little effort when, in fact, as any organizer knows, it takes months of work to plan. Even then, a robust crowd is never assured.
The Chinese Canadians for the Environment (CCEA) committee and its youth contingent, “Green Ambassadors”, worked for two months to assemble this night’s hive of attendees for their Earth Hour Concert ‘Unplugged’.
Alex and I arrived to warm greetings and smiles. Jane Xu, editor of greenlifeweekly.com, welcomes us at the door. She is typical of the professional people who volunteer with CCEA to make an environmental difference.
At 8:30-ish, they dim the lights to a Cantonese countdown after tiny, single blue and red LED lights had been distributed into all waiting hands.
As the room went dark, a gasp, a thrill, one moment of awe as the coloured lights punctuate the near blackness save for the glow of our faintly lit stage.
The concert programme features a variety of Chinese performers, modern and traditional instruments and styles and is peppered with the talents of young people. We’re up next. With the aid of a translator our act is explained and introduced. The moment of truth – is this big Chinese crowd ready to have fun singing about not littering?
There was a palpable elevation of spirits and a total connection with the spectators: curiosity and delight. Yes, they were involved. Yes, they were enlivened. And while English may not be their first language, or may not be spoken at all, they are happy, they participate and they understand and appreciate.
Apart from ‘gong hay fat choy’, I know two words of Chinese lingo – ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
There’s something uniquely special about the power of song and its ability to communicate messages. Nothing was lost in translation.