CROSBY LOGGINS & FRIENDS SING TO THE NEXT WAVE

If we could control changes on Earth the way Crosby Loggins commands a full auditorium of Cold Spring School students, it’s likely we’d be rid of our environmental problems.

In front of the entire school body on April 27, Loggins was in full charge, like queen bee over her drones. He’d hold up his hand and the children would drop into silence, their eyes following his rangy arms. And as he’d stand on stage with a guitar strapped to his shoulders crooning smoothly into the microphone, they’d sit still with unquestioning attention. They were listening, and it was all according to plan.

For nearly a year, Loggins, the Leadbirds front man who once attended Cold Spring, has been building his non-profit the Next Wave Foundation, a non-profit organization created to educate, warn and engage kids about issues dealing with our natural environment. He founded Next Wave with his sister, Bella, a senior at Santa Barbara High School, and some of her schoolmates, in addition to Michael Palmer, whom Loggins says has a fairly “non-existent environmental background” but is a pro in marketing and filmmaking.

“Michael’s got the marketing, Bella’s got the vision and I just play the guitar,” Loggins jokes.

Together they formed this alliance bound by their mutual agreement that Earth’s natural conditions were degrading, that only kids could alter the future and that those thoughts needed to be aired – and so came the name Next Wave.

“I know what it’s like to go out surfing after a rainy day and come home with something like [hepatitis],” Loggins says. “It’s time to change that.”

The organization is designed to target large bodies of kids at schools with lesson plans packaged for environmental issues of any ilk, be it gasoline consumption, air pollution or deforestation. These “meetings in a box,” as the organization calls them, can be tailored to any age group.

On April 27, the members of the organization held their first assembly, first at Hope and Vieja Valley Schools, and then at Cold Spring, where they addressed recycling. They presented a simple message for what is conceivably a simple process any kid can understand: put the right object in the right container. Loggins incorporated the famous environmental slogan “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse” into a song used to “foster a general mindset.” As he belted out “The Three R’s” to the steady strumming of guitar chords, Loggins executed his lesson plan as though it were an episode of “SchoolHouse Rock,” with catchy tongue-twisters and rhyming devices that kids committed to memory by rote.

In addition, Loggins wasn’t shy to use peer pressure tactics to convince kids that “saving the planet is cool” and that they should be part of the “cool” crowd.

“It’s the easiest thing for kids at a young age to understand,” Loggins says. “When you’re that age you separate things into ‘cool’ or ‘not cool.’”

Later in the assembly, the themes from the music were reinterpreted in a skit acted out by students, where they demonstrated what materials belong in the recycle bin.

Sunnie Robertson, a Cold Spring parent volunteer, said it’s crucial for kids to learn about recycling, observing that administrators counted, on average, 900 plastic bottles thrown away each month on school grounds.

For participating in the assembly, every student was presented with a complimentary plastic squirt bottle, which if they use regularly will earn them free pizza at Giovanni’s.

On top of the school presentations, the organization plans to stage fundraising events, like the one they held on February 10 benefit SOhO, where Crosby and Bella’s dad and multi-hit musician, Kenny, made an appearance. Crosby confessed there’s no shame in using celebrity status or other ‘effective’ modes of education to persuade an audience or spur them into action.

After his April 27 performance, he said lightheartedly: “If you’re brainwashing people in a positive way, then it’s alright.”

For more info on the Next Wave Foundation, visit www.nextwavefoundation.org.