When he’s not recording albums for Elton John, Whitney Houston and other mega-celebrities, Paul Diaz might be on his farm, teaching inner city kids about biodynamic organic farming.
Or he might be working on a project for his record label, his production company or a franchise deal. Diaz, owner of Tree Sound Studios, is a very busy man. Not too busy, however, to work tirelessly to create a green revolution.
A lifelong nature-lover, Diaz grew up watching Jacques Cousteau and Flipper and spending time appreciating nature. “I was always really into nature,” Diaz said. “I wanted to grow up and be an activist or even an environmental lawyer. But I always wanted to do music.”
Diaz has managed to do both, working on the forefront of the music industry and leveraging his work to promote the green movement.
Even though he always lived an environmentally friendly lifestyle, it wasn’t until a live broadcast of Dave Matthews band at his studio that Diaz made dramatic changes to the way he ran his business. Diaz’s wake-up call came during a question-and-answer segment of the broadcast.
“This guy in the audience asked [Dave Matthews] what political agendas he supported and he said ‘Green things. I support anything green. The reason to focus on green is because I don’t want our great, great, great grandchildren to look back at us and say I hate you because this is what you left us,'” Diaz said. “It was like a light bulb went off, and I was like ‘Man, I’ve got to get back on point, I’ve got to get on this mission.'”
Diaz recognizes that his stature in the music industry provides him a highly effective means for promoting social change.
“Twenty-five years ago if I’d tried to express my views in the political arena it would have been pretty radical,” Diaz said. “If I’d made any headway, someone would have stopped me. But if I do it through music, by the time someone wants to stop me, I’ve already gotten to their kids. I firmly believe that fighting the government is a losing battle. I support the people who do, but I’m creating change through music.”
Tree Sounds Studios has taken dramatic steps to be green. From the biodiesel fueling station and organic garden outside the studio, to the solar panels on the roof, solar water heater, and dual flush toilets (not to mention the wind-turbine, for which he applied for the first permit in Gwinnett County), Diaz is doing everything he can to live the green life – including offsetting all carbon emissions from his business, home and vehicle.
But Diaz recognizes that even small changes help, and is working hard to spread the word to those it may not have reached.
“People feel like they can’t afford to be part of the green movement because they can’t afford a hybrid,” Diaz said. “It’s an us-and-them mentality. You have to go after the blue-collar average guys and get them involved in the green movement. You have to give them the knowledge and tools. It doesn’t have to cost you money to be green – you don’t have to be a tree-hugger or left-winger. We need to bring green to the common man because we are all in this together.”
It’s not every day you meet someone who owns a place called Rockstar Farms, where musicians go to get away and write, inner-city kids come out and learn how to farm, produce is grown biodynamically and organically for local restaurants, and a chicken-cam and farm-dog cam are about to be installed for viewing pleasure. But as interesting as Diaz is, there is another world than even better exemplifies him: cool.
This is exactly what Diaz is hoping for. Because for green to really reach the masses, it must become cool.
“If kids believe it’s cool to be an environmentalist, they will be,” Diaz said.
Diaz may be making green cool, but not at the expense of running a profitable business.
“I believe the bottom line will benefit,” he said. “We’re ahead of a lot of people in the green movement. Not because we’re smarter or spending more money. We’ve been doing a lot of little things for a long time. Every time we find something new, we do it. We are always discovering some teeny new thing and we do it.”