Lead the Youth of Today Towards Stewardship of Our Future: What One Person's Kindness Can Mean

Jeff Coffin and Thomas, Right Before at Bela Flek's Concert and Right Before
Jazz Juvenocracy Left for their First European Tour
I was about to write a disturbing blog about the decimation of water in Florida on the eve of more voting on fracking.  Three of my images have been requested for an exhibition on the challenges facing water. My computer died last week and I am using an old one.  I was looking for the images I am submitting to the show among my downloads so I could write a blog, which I will write tomorrow, and I came across this photograph.  My heart about exploded.  What a moment this was.  I wanted to cry.  The gratitude I felt towards Jeff Coffin is beyond words.  This photograph is before I had any idea how to make an image and it was with a very old cellphone with awful resolution, but none of that matters.  The joy in both their eyes is incredible.

My son, Thomas Silverman, who is now pursuing a PhD in Mathematics at Brown University, is an excellent flute and saxophone player, just like Jeff Coffin.  Tommy had just completed all his college applications and the essay he wrote for the common application was all about the influence Jeff Coffin had on his life.  I knew how much he admired Jeff Coffin and Bela Flek, so I drove him up to Gainesville to see their concert.  Afterwards, we went up to the table to meet the musicians and buy some CD's.  I, being a somewhat over enthusiastic mother (sorry kids), said to Jeff Coffin, "You know my son wrote his college essay about what a great influence you had on his life." Thank goodness Jeff Coffin is a stellar role model and not an arrogant artist who doesn't think kids matter.   He couldn't believe he had been the subject of a college essay and was so honored.  Then he told Tommy to come behind the table with him and said I should take a picture.  He spontaneously did the thumbs up gesture and Tommy beamed form ear to ear.  Then he toldTommy all about the Monreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, where Jazz Juvencoracy would soon play.  (That invitation was all due to the help of Patrick Moraz–the keyboardist for Moody Blues and Yes and another incredible human and mentor).  In any case, I don't think I have ever seen Tommy so happy in his entire life.  

Looking at this photograph now, as we see our world catapulting out of control due to climate change we cant' speak about and water issues that threaten to drown or parch us, I immediately was struck with what influence we have over the next generation if we take a few moments to talk to them and reach out and support their rights to a better future.  Yesterday, I listened to Maggie Fox's acceptance speech of the award she was given in Colorado as the 2015 Honoree for Celebrating Conservation Women.  During her speech, she urged all environmental groups to establish more programs for youth.  In my own work, on the issues facing Florida's waterways, I am doing my best to engage college students across the state, and hopefully when the exhibition is finished, the museum will bring grade school children out to see it with interactive games and challenges.  Children are the future and we need their help as well as to help them...

I was not a photographer when I made the image of my son and Jeff Coffin, and Thomas has gone on to be a mathematician and not a musician (although the band he played with in Houston in college did record a great CD).  None of that matters.  What matters is that Jeff Coffin recognized Tommy as  a musician, as somehow who had a future, and he reached out to him and in just 10 minutes helped give Thomas the confidence to play across Europe and speak to the crowds in French like a totally empowered being.  This gift, I know, he will carry with him for the rest of his life.  Thank you Jeff Coffin.  I hope I live up to your wonderful example.