Great Lakes Aid
Written by Flint Journal   
Sunday, 06 February 2005 08:14
Live Aid helped battle an African famine. And Farm Aid annually helps America's family farmers.

Now comes Great Lakes Aid ? a planned series of concerts in U.S. and Canadian cities to raise money for environmental projects to benefit the lakes.

A steering committee was to announce plans to form the Erie-based Great Lakes Aid foundation ? which will sponsor the annual concert series ? at Saturday's first Erie Environmental Awards dinner.

Organizers would like to see annual concerts hosted on a rotating basis by five large Great Lakes cities ? Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Buffalo, N.Y. The group hopes to raise about $2 million a year to improve and maintain the lakes.

The local money can be used to attract more federal and state grants, said Tom Furman, president of the Lake Erie Region Conservancy and a board member of Great Lakes United.

"We love this idea," he said. "It will be a completely independent, renewable source of funds."

Officials say it's too early to talk about what bands and artists may participate, although some performers have already expressed an interest in the project, said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

The George Gund Foundation in Cleveland has given the steering committee $10,000 in seed money, which the group hopes will help it find donors and sponsors for the $100,000 likely needed to develop the first concert next year.

"We see this as an opportunity to take a little risk on a good idea," said Jon Jensen, a program director for the Gund Foundation. "The potential is enormous. It could be a terrific boon to the region."

The steering committee includes representatives from Canadian and U.S. communities and environmental groups. It plans to incorporate the foundation soon.

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