It has been 10 years since Pandora Radio first identified The Polish Ambassador (aka. David Sugalski) as an artist to be heard. What they didn’t realize is that they had identified an artist who would go on to disrupt the touring industry.
In Fall of 2014, The Polish Ambassador (TPA), paired his 32-city “Pushing Through the Pavement” album tour with 32 localized permaculture action days. Using his new album to stand for much more than just the music, he invited fans to join his initiative after each performance, and help implement a local community project in need.
Working with urban permaculture expert, Ryan Rising, the team was able to successfully plant everything from food forests and edible plots, to public parks and community gardens.
The Vision Behind the Action
It all started with a question. TPA had been traveling across the United States, playing festivals and parties for five years, when one night he looked out at the crowd and wondered if there was something more he could encourage. This is when his life changed.
MiLLENNiAL met up with TPA at one of his action days in Joshua Tree, Calif. where he explained this mental shift. “I thought, we’ve gotten really good at learning how to celebrate as a culture, but how can we use this celebration to be a catalyst for something else? Could we all be riding bikes to power the sound system? Could we all come out a few days early and build a couple homes for families that live around the area?”
The questions started flowing and the conversation around how to present opportunities for this energy to be redirected into local projects took off. “If you have a place for people to go and be of service, some of them are going to do it because it creates joy and it builds camaraderie and it builds community,” TPA says.
The core of this experimental tour was to offer space for civic engagement, and allow participants to learn new ways of living together. Rising explains, “When we talk about permaculture, we aren’t just talking about permanent agriculture, but also permanent and culture. Culture meaning the way we live our lives and relate to each other.”
When people show their support for local initiatives, it not only changes the community but also sets new standards. “There is so much receiving that happens in giving,” TPA says.
The amount of gratitude that stemmed from each “action” day overwhelmingly brought about deeper connections between neighbors. “We’re creating resilient communities through mutual aid and through mutual support of each other,” Rising adds.
By the time it came to the festival, TPA tells us the action day attendees “felt like they had a reason to celebrate…[because] it fuels the heart, it fuels the soul, and it just feels so good.”
From Solo to Community Artist
This awakening of community embrace made its way into TPA’s music, and resulted in his first collaborative album. “There is so much that is weaving into my music. It’s really my life.”
Bringing the collaborations that were happening outside of his music into his music, TPA admits he recently went through a transition as an artist.
His original sound focused on lead synthesizers that would dominate his songs. Now, he is orchestrating tracks to incorporate vocals. And the result is a more worldly, harmonic, and sultry sound that presents a conscious way of thinking.
“There is a big part of me that is really interested in how to weave melodies in a way that is really infectious and explores more of the positive side of the spectrum,” he says. Pop culture has evolved quite a bit from the 80s, a time TPA describes as having “strong catchy melodies.”
As a child of the 80s, the new album builds on this principle by adding enlightening messaging to his already cool vibe, subtly influencing listeners to be the best human possible. “I want to make music that is a bridge,” TPA tells us.
Slowing Down the Pace of Performing
While it may appear TPA’s tour is a bit more relaxed this year by only playing 15 shows, he assures us he is in no way slowing down. Instead he is choosing to focus more on the permaculture action days by being present at each and every one. “The Permaculture Action Tour was great but its one big downfall for me as an individual was that we couldn’t actually get to all the action days.”
TPA further explains his favorite moments of that tour were Saturdays and Sundays when he would be able to play a show and then the next day get his hands dirty with fans who came out to support the local project.
“There is more communion that can happen at the action days and for me as an artist, that is sustainable…it charges me up in such a bigger way than money ever could.”
Setting the presence for the way musicians can use their music to power community development, TPA insists the permaculture action days are designed as a template for what can be achieved with sustainable touring.
While the initiative is powerful at the helm of TPA, it isn’t nearly as impacting as it could be with more mainstream musicians who decide to push the endeavor even further. “This isn’t about the Polish Ambassador or Ryan or Jasmine who are the [Permaculture Action Day] organizers. It’s about an idea. It’s about a movement. We need other artists jumping on board.”
With his “funky diplomat” appearance and fresh electronic beats, The Polish Ambassador is on a mission to inspire personal responsibility and reverence for the Earth. In doing so, he is creating a sense of direction for those who want to get involved in community restoration and sustainable living.
It is through this positioning that The Polish Ambassador has become a hero to many who recognize his efforts as a catalyst to improve the world.
To learn more about The Polish Ambassador, listen to “Pushing Through the Pavement” or to get involved with the Permaculture Action Days visit TPA’s official website and follow him on Facebook.