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[VIDEO] Making a positive impact on the environment with music

Thursday, Jun. 5 | By Hannah Dellinger
Team Green World executive of children's program Kat Korac, Trystan Manahan, and president Donna Bukevicz pose for a picture at Allegro Community School of the Arts in Warrenton.
Fauquier Times Staff Photo/ Randy Litzinger
Donna Britton Bukevicz, a talented vocalist and Warrenton resident, has embarked on a global mission to make people think ecologically with music.

Bukevicz helped to organize a Virginia non-profit called Team Green World that performs songs and dances with children, local talent and seasoned professionals all over the nation. Their goal is to make people think about the planet differently and to start making small changes one step at a time with a positive musical message.

“It’s all about educating our children to think ecological,” said Bukevicz. “We call it ‘eco-edutainment.’ It’s environmental education for kids [and adults] of all ages.”

The idea came to Bukevicz a couple of years ago when she attended the Pensacola Beach Song Writer’s Festival in Florida and met Ross Orenstein, an accomplished songwriter who is known for the music he wrote for the cartoon “McGruff the Crime Dog.” The two decided to team up to create a children’s show that could make a difference for the environment.

Bukevicz began recruiting all of her music industry connections, closest friends and family to make it happen.

“What I love the most about what we do is that it’s family and my closest friends that are a part of Team Green World,” she said.

Since Bukevicz has many industry contacts in Nashville, Tenn., she reached out to her friend, Kat “Cool Kat” Korac, who has experience with singing, writing, performing and puppeteering.

Korac created four puppets and a costume that are used through out the performance. She said that the puppets are great tools to reach out to the children.
“The puppets get their attention and hold their attention,” she said. “The puppets do some things like trash comes flying out on the floor and the kids run up and help pick up the trash, and it’s amazing. The puppets help them understand that, especially with their songs.”

The show is comprised of a an entire set list of upbeat songs for children. Songs like “Think Ecologically,” “Talk About Saving the World” and “Mother Earth” contain lyrics that drive home the importance of being mindful of the environment. The performers sing and dance happily with interactive props and puppets.
Team Green World also reaches out to children with their budding mentorship program. Bukevicz decided to create the program when she saw a talented 12-year-old singer from Auburn Middle School, Trystin Manahan, performing at Allegro Community Music School.

“I saw Trystin singing ‘Happy’ [by Pharrell Williams] and thought, ‘Wow. What an incredible talent,’” she recalls.
With backing from corporate sponsorship Bukevicz has taken Manahan under her wing, coaching him on singing, performance and being more ecologically aware.
“It’s wonderful to help kids reach their goals in performance and learning to sing a certain way and technique, but the cool thing about what we’re doing is that our message is through our lyrics,” she said.
Manahan said that since working with Team Green World he has started to think differently about the environment.

“There’s more stuff that I do,” he said. “When I brush my teeth I used to keep the water on, but now I turn the water off and I pick up trash more often and recycle more often.

“They’ve also taught me how to look at nature kind of differently. You don’t want to take it for granted, because it could be gone if we keep doing what we’re doing.”

Manahan has a vocal talent that is awe-inspiring for someone his age. He has performed locally numerous times, including the Fauquier Spring Festival that took place a couple of weeks ago. He said that he started singing when he was 6.

“I got into singing when my dad got an electric piano called a Clavinova,” remembers Manahan. “There were songs downloaded on it and he would sing them and I would say, ‘Can I sing them?’ And we would record them and I would listen to them.”

Trystin performed this past weekend with Team Green World at the Green Festival in D.C. this past weekend. The Green Festival is the largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event in America.

The team performed all day on the Family Fun Stage and was invited to attend the next Greens Festival in San Francisco in November.

For more information about Team Green World, visit http://www.teamgreenworld.org

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