Friday, May 28, 2010

Social change is often a topic of conversation here at the Ranch and in our home. What needs changing, how to make it happen and how to keep the momentum going. Years ago when our country got involved in this mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, we made a collective decision to change our youth scholarship program to now provide scholarships for returning Vets from Iraq and Afghanistan. We believe that music heals the soul and we could not think of more deserving individuals . All of our poster sales, private donations and matching donations from Jorma and I, built a credible fund. The Vets were slow in answering the call so Hot Tuna went to Walter Reed to visit as many Vets as they could and let them know that we had a network started and it was there’s to take advantage of. The politics to get Hot Tuna in the doors was typical but all in all we were grateful for the help of one soldier who helped make it all happen. I am not sure if I can use his name or not, so I am intentionally leaving it out. Our men and woman are still over there and we are still here offering a chance to come and experience what the Fur Peace Ranch is all about.

Fast forward to last weekend…..I got a call from Freddy Hahne, Board member of the Rex Foundation. It was an unexpected call and surprise to say the least. Freddy wanted me to know that he had been thinking about Jorma and the Ranch and everything that we have been doing here in the last 13 years. He was calling to inform me that he was going to bring up Jorma and the Ranch at the Board Meeting the next day and nominate us/Jorma to be the recipient of the Ralph J. Gleason award. This award is in memory of music journalist Ralph J. Gleason, a major figure in the advancement of music in America in the 1960s, whose openness to new music and ideas transcended differences between generations and styles. I listened on the other end of the phone stunned and grateful of course. He said he’d be in touch after the meeting. Well……as these things go, they awarded Jorma this special fund to offer music instruction to youth in Appalachia. I held on to this news for a few day and announced it to Jorma and the rest of the staff and students at last weeks at orientation. We’ve had a chance to let it settle in and now the work begins.

Appalachia runs from parts of Mississippi to Maine. Where do we start? Who will benefit from this gift? How do we find the kids? Lots of questions and already lots of progress. I am in the process of contacting students and instructors along this Appalachian trail and paving a plan to offer music instruction in many forms. Lectures, lessons and guitars will be offered to as many kids as we can find. When the money runs out….we’ll find a way to keep it going. A big up to The Rex Foundation for choosing us to fulfill their mission. In these ways, together, as participants in the Rex Foundation community, we are helping to foster the power of community, service and the arts to help generate positive social change toward health, happiness and prosperity for all.


  1. That is seriously cool!
    Congrats to everyone at the FPR, you Vanessa, and ofcourse 'The Captain'

  2. WOW.
    HUGE congrats to Jorma, you and everyone who is a part of the Ranch family. Reading this makes me want to BE there, on that porch, talking, listening, singing and laughing as part of your community. I am moved to tears at the IDEA of the whole project and blown away by the commitment,energy and vitality behind its' undertaking.
    Please let me know if there is any way you think i might be able to help.........I have a musical family who would get on this bandwagon and add their connections in a second, if they would help.
    I'm sending my love,

  3. Hi Vanessa,
    I'm coming to my first weekend at the ranch in August. I've been a fan of Jorma for many years and of the Dead so I'm familiar with the Rex Foundation. Two things come to mind. First congrats to you, Jorma and all at the ranch. As a bay area native Ralph Gleason was hugely important to me and my musical buddies. The award that bears his name is a great honor well deserved. Secondly the project to bring music to kids in Appalachia is a perfect example of the spirit of the ranch. It brings full circle one of the threads of American music, taking the music back to one of it's primary sources. Again congrats and see you in August.
    Sincerely, Howard

  4. Wow!! Congrats!!

    If there's any one Group of people that can save this ol' word thru Music, it's the Folks From the good ol' Fur Peace Ranch!!!


  5. Congratulations to you both. What an honor! And what an opportunity for the region.