WorldBeat Cultural Center’s Noise Pollution Project

By Teresa Moore

WorldBeat Cultural Center is part of a three-year research project led by community-based organizations in collaboration with Cornell Lab of Ornithology and funded by the National Science Foundation. San Diego’s WorldBeat Center is one of four selected sites around the country which are researching negative effects of loud excessive noise. They are also helping to design a mobile app that’s able to identify and tag noisy areas to avoid if possible and quiet spaces for sound refuges throughout the city to benefit communities. 

The effects of excessive noise can have negative health impacts e.g. heart disease, diabetes, sleep deprivation, hearing loss, lower birth weight and learning difficulties in children. Many residents living in noisy areas report an inability to concentrate and a higher level of irritability due to noise pollution. 

WorldBeat Cultural Center is interested in ways sound can benefit and improve the community’s health and quality of life. They are involved in creating healing indoor and outdoor sound sanctuaries, as well as through events. They offer sound bath nights with gongs, singing bowls, didgeridoos, bells, and drums. They’ve also hosted an astral jazz night of spiritual music markers who broadened hearts and minds. To protect precious hearing their concerts lower the sound dB level and the musicians use ear monitors. They’re also exploring the value of silence and being surrounded by nature. 

An important aspect of WorldBeat’s noise pollution project is researching plant communication and recording the music created by plants. They are building Sound Sanctuaries with the music of plants inside, these soundscapes can soothe, de-stress and even heal. The music made by plants is recorded with an instrument that allows us to hear each plant’s own unique voice. The device uses high conductivity electrodes that are connected to the plant and a MIDI for output of the plant’s music. This fascinating study of the science of plant music allows for research of plant intelligence and how listening to their music brings wellness. WorldBeat offers plant concerts that promote sound healing, deepen our connection with nature, and ease stress. One very special event was the 2019 Earth Day plant music concert at the Center. 

The WorldBeat Center Noise Project team members of community leaders (ICBOs) and community science collaborators (CSCs) are working on two books. Patience Don-Willies, a Community Science Collaborator (CSC) and teacher in the Morena Valley school district, is writing an illustrated children’s book about noise pollution. Makeda Cheatom and Berenice Rodriguez are creating an Environmental Justice Comix – Graphic Novel. A black super hero who uses non-violent communication and mindful listening.

We look forward to what the team will do next!