Davis is a place where a guy like Steve Rosenfield could very easily disappear if he wanted to—there’s a lot of back roads for a dreadlocked outdoorsman. Fortunately for everybody, Rosenfield didn’t uproot himself from his Boston home with that in mind. In 2007, Rosenfield began working with friends and artists on a project he started in Boston—a project that would grow into a national charity organization known as the Love Is Life Foundation. Its goal is to help everyone: orphans, homeless, sick people, basically anyone who needs a helping hand. It has just released a compilation CD featuring artists from around the world, along with Sactown artists. Shaded by trees on the patio of the Delta of Venus in Davis, Rosenfield speaks, in a thick Boston accent, about everything that is Love Is Life.
East Coast pride?
I lived there my whole life, 31 years, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.
When did you make the trek out to the West Coast?
A rock-climbing trip, actually. I came out here and loved the atmosphere, so hauled out straight to Davis in my tiny little car. Took me three days, with one stop in Chicago, but it was fun.
Intense. In terms of big cities, how would you compare Sacramento to Boston?
People are much more relaxed here. The pace is much faster in Boston; everybody is stuck in the grind. The winters are freezing, the summers are hot and humid … a lot like here, actually!
Tell me about Love Is Life.
Basically, it’s a nonprofit that I started myself in the beginning of 2007. I was just fed up with all the negative energy coming from the news and just figured I’d separate myself from all that. I founded the company in Boston, but then brought it out here to work together with my cousin and a friend who are now part of the board of directors. But we got our corporate license, pending nonprofit status here in California.
Who does LIL aim to benefit?
We don’t have just one main focus, which is difficult for some people to get their head around—some people like to see a more specific direction with charities. I just feel there are too many things and too many people that need assistance to really focus on one issue. One thing that we do is network with other organizations to bring awareness to people about many issues. … There’s so many organizations that focus on just one thing, not being tied down to anyone in particular gives us the opportunity to work on or even head whatever projects we feel need the most assistance.
It seems like you guys have been busy recently.
Last year we went to work at an orphanage in Chiang Mai, Thailand. My friend Naia Kete and I were over there for a month, helping the children, doing some remodeling at the orphanage. That’s one thing I said that we, as a foundation, were going to do from the beginning, be involved in every project. We’re not just going to ship money off, or products, we’re going to be going out there ourselves, making sure the money that people give gets to where it’s going.
And now you guys have a CD out?
Yep. It’s called the Love Is Life compilation CD, volume one. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to help ending youth homelessness, which is a huge project; we’re totally aware of that. We’re just trying to make people more aware of the fact that there’s 1.3 million kids under 18 out there that are homeless. You don’t see them on the streets; they hide very well, so we’re just trying to make people more aware of this problem, and that’s what the compilation CD is for. We’re going to start out working in Yolo County with local coalitions and homeless houses, and hopefully it will branch out to the rest of the country.
That’s awesome. Tell me about the artists on the compilation?
It started with Michael Franti and Spearhead. I’m really good friends with them, and they were the first band we decided to put on the compilation. They are a very proactive band, out to do good in the world. Once I got them, other artists and management companies started to notice our cause, like State Radio, Ozomatli and John Butler Trio. My goal was for the CD to be half big-name artists and the other half smaller artists—acts that are either good friends of mine or just talented people that deserve to be heard. It’s a good opportunity for everyone, though.
Exactly. We’re now setting up benefit shows around town to sort of get the word out and promote the CD. Martin Purtill plays shows around here all the time; Naia Kete plays whenever she comes over from Massachusetts. We’re trying to set up big show in October, it should be really good, but it’s hard, since a lot the artists live so far away. We got Blue King Brown from Melbourne, Solillaquists [of Sound] from Florida. And now the CD is available in local stores around here: Armadillo Music, The Beat, Delta of Venus. You can also pick it up online at our Web site—www.thelilfoundation.org.