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Hip-hop performance to help raise funds for sustainable farm in Africa

Bellingham's The Bad Tenants to play fundraiser at Rendezvous Friday night

Posted: July 25, 2012 - 11:01pm

The Bad Tenants, a four-man hip-hop group from Bellingham, will perform Friday at the Rendezous for “Pork Fest,” a fundraiser for construction of a pig farm in Uganda.

Juneau resident Joanna Wulffenstein is behind the event’s unusual focus, and invited the band to town, drawing on a friendship she forged with band member Casey Gainor in Skagway in 2008. A big fan of the band’s music, she corralled them to play in Juneau after finding out they were headed to the Haines Fair. In addition to being excited about the music, Wulffenstein thought the show would be a fun way to raise money for a project that has become her life’s passion.

The project, organized through the nonprofit Groundwork Opportunities, is the result of years of research and a lifelong interest in humanitarian work in Africa.

“I didn’t just pick a pig farm out of hat,” she said with a laugh. “I had always been interested in sustainable farming and (the staff at Groundwork Opportunities) told me Uganda was a very good spot for that,” she said.

The farm in Uganda isn’t a daydream, it’s already happening. Working with GO and joined by her best friend, Michelle Brätt, Wulffenstein has already raised more than $6,000 toward their goal of $10,000, using that money to begin construction of the farm. The first mother pig recently gave birth, Wulffenstein said.

Wulffenstein, 28, said the idea of helping out in Africa in some way has been a personal goal for more than 15 years, inspired by an awareness of the great need in some areas and by a personal fascination with Africa.

“I’ve always been interested in and captivated by the continent,” she said.

Though she has long wanted to visit Africa, Wulffenstein didn’t want to go just as a tourist, she wanted to go with a purpose. She researched a variety of humanitarian programs for more than a decade before deciding on GO. She is planning her first trip to Uganda this fall.

Wulffenstein said, according to initial projections, the farm has the potential to reach 100,000 people after the first 10 years. The project involves the creation of a series of microfarms, whereby participants would each take one male and one female piglet home for breeding. They would also bring a piglet back to the central farm once they got their own farm going.

“If they can produce around 10 piglets a year .... they’d have enough money to send their children to school, to buy a bike for transportation, to supplement their diets with other food, or to start a savings account,” she said.

GO is a nonprofit charity focused on empowering local leaders and on helping fundraisers develop their own projects in conjunction with local needs. They have active projects in five African countries (Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania) as well as Cambodia and Ecuador. In addition to farms, projects include the construction of water-filter or water-catchment systems and greenhouses, and the purchase of sewing machines or bicycles, and many other ideas.

Wulffenstein said the group has been wonderful to work with. She also had high praise for the band she’s signed up to play at the fundraiser, The Bad Tenants, who agreed to play for the event for a dramatically reduced rate.

The group consists of Gainor (C-Spot), Matthew Goodwin (Good Matters), Kristopher Dyche (Dutchman) and Gabriel Ghirardini (DJ Idlhnds). The four members, who all contribute vocals, bring different musical backgrounds to the group: C-Spot has played jazz trombone since age 11, Idlhnds has worked as a Bellingham DJ for more than 10 years, Good Matters is blues guitarist and singer/songwriter, and Dutch has been a studio artist since high school.

They describe their music as “what happens when hip-hop and blues get drunk on whiskey and wine and make a baby.”

The group recently released their first full-length album, “Our Neighborhood,” as well as a self-titled mixtape and a handful of singles. Their music has garnered four awards from What’s Up! Magazine’s “What’s Up Awards” including Best Hip-Hop, Best New Group and Best Video for their music video “When I’m Back.”

Tickets to Friday’s show at the Rendezvous show are $15 and are available at the JACC. The first 100 ticket buyers will receive a free pint.

For more information on the band, visit Facebook/TheBadTenants and hiphoptenants.wordpress.com.

For more on Wulffenstein’s project, visit www.groundworkopportunities.org/champions/joandmichelle/

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