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"Be present in the awe of nature rather than exploit it; there’s so much more to find than wealth".

In our first edition of Friday Feels, we catch up with Californian musician Hayden Everett. Hayden's music reflects values which transcended from his time working as a camp counsellor just outside of Yosemite National Park while attending college. He believes in prioritising the planet and its people, with his ethereal music being a tool to communicate this.

Hayden's latest release, Kennecott, is written from the perspective of an Alaskan mining town, which was left abandoned in the 1930's. The song serves as a letter to the miners who failed to protect and appreciate the natural beauty around them. Its message is to be present in the awe of nature rather than exploit it; there’s so much more to find than wealth.

Image: Kennecott Album Cover (taken by Ethel LeCount)

In singing “If Kennecott is drying out, then the last you look is the last that is ever found".

Hayden speaks to the miners’ failure to observe and protect the beauty around them as they fixated on the success of their operation. The Kennecott mines extracted more than 4.6 million tons of ore, which refined down to over 1 billion pounds of copper. The operations reported gross revenues above $200 million and a net profit greater than $100 million in 1938 (equivalent to $3.5 billion today).

The modern world uses more than 40 billion pounds of non-recycled copper annually, an amount that would’ve used up the yield of the Kennecott mines in a mere 9 days. The song speaks as a letter to those who valued profit over preservation, and sharply comments on the ongoing destruction of our earth, as corporations continue to exploit resources in the face of a climate crisis.

Image: Hayden at the piano for the Kennecott Music Video

Paired with Hayden's release are the historical photographs taken by Ethel LeCount, a nurse and one of the last residents to leave Kennecott in 1938. Her personal photo collection is the best kept visual record of life in Kennecott and the mines amid operation.

Friends of Kennecott is a small non-profit organisation that works with the National Park Service to preserve the history of the town. Sadly, the battle between conservationists and profiteers of Alaskan copper extraction continues today, with controversy surrounding proposed projects like the Pebble Mine.

Large extraction projects like the Pebble Mine must be stopped. The story of Kennecott teaches an old lesson on the lasting damage of extracting fast profits through the exploitation of nature; Hayden’s “Kennecott” challenges us to finally break the repetition of that story. When greed thins finite resources and luck runs out, we will lose what wilderness we have left.

A big thanks to Nate Stephenson (@nate_stephensonn) for bringing together the Story of Kennecott. Nate was also behind the lens for the cover image. A talented man.

This is contribution #1 for our Friday Feels series. Curated by Nate and Liam.

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