Episode 82 - Lydia Violet on Community, Ecology, & Music As Medicine

Lydia Violet Harutoonian is a badass Armenian-American violinist and folktronica artist who has played with some of today’s juiciest crossover acts, including Rising Appalachia and The Polish Ambassador, in addition to launching her own solo project this year. She also works with the supremely wise Buddhist deep ecologist Joanna Macy on The Work That Reconnects, and leads singing workshops in which she applies her lifetime of music and work with Macy to teach music as a form of collective healing.




We Discuss:

• How being monogamous in San Francisco is practically a form of bondage – a delicious kind, one expression of love in a whole ecology of relational styles;

• The collaborative and improvisational super powers of the unique musical instrument we call a violin;

• How can we use music to metabolize our fear and grief as communities?;

• The power of song in building resilience;

• Working with Joanna Macy on The Work That Reconnects;

• How the expanded, interconnected human identity of deep ecology informs our lives and moral actions;

• Bodhichitta – the Buddhist virtue loosely translated as “goodwill” – and how the practice of deep ecology can help us cultivate it;

• The silver lining of crisis and how it can elicit our best humanity;

• Why Art Matters (especially when we’re most likely to abandon it because it has “no practical value”);

• How music can effect change when conversation (data, analysis, logical arguments, diplomacy) can not;

• Musical activism and the awesome experience of touring with Reverend Sekou and the Holy Ghost

• “How do we heal racism as a community and what part does music play in that?”

• “When did you stop singing?” (And why do so many European-Americans have such difficulty with singing, when the European musical heritage is so vibrant?)

• “What would it look like if we all knew a song from our heritage and could teach it to each other?”

• And more!


“When you’re upset about something in the world, that’s usually an indication that you give a damn.”

“I really care what happens to people! I don’t know how to relate to the homeless man on the street because it confuses me that he’s on the street.”

“Music is another fundamental way that we as people, and we as communities, find our resiliency in hard times, the way we share our stories.”

“I think it’s important to not demand – especially with creativity and music – that when someone starts, that everyone chime in in the exact same way.”

“I am empowered because I’m interconnected with so many other beating, pulsing people in the world who are working to help the planet.”

“I think music is fundamental because there is nothing that a human being says or does that isn’t first seated of consciousness. And music helps work in the realm of consciousness. I think that’s part of why so many people and communities are talking about ‘shifts in consciousness’ as so important – because if we find a new way of tending the garden, how will that structure last unless we have had some kind of shift in our consciousness to sustain us through the ups and downs of what could happen with that garden? And I think music has an intelligence on multiple levels that helps us with that.”

“No one can tell you we’re going to make it out of this. No one can tell you that we’re not going to make it out.  That is real. And so, then, in that uncertainty, I have to ask myself – and I think we all have to ask ourselves – what do I want to do anyway? What do I want to do?”

Related Episodes:

Episode 74 with Terry Patten - A New Republic of the Heart

Episode 73 with Patricia Gray - Animals & Music

Episode 50 with Ayana Young - Living for the Wild

Episode 22 with Simon Yugler - Travel Alchemy

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