#LLSTORY - Todd MacLean
“Keep in mind that the entire universe is at creative play. So if we have a notion to be creative, we must listen to that, because it's the universe wanting to be born again, expanded, and expressed through us. Creativity is what drives evolution, and if there were ever a time to drive humanity's evolution forward in a positive way, this is it. Taking hold of this responsibility on a daily basis is of utmost importance to me.” - Todd MacLean
Man of Many Hats
From the minute you meet Todd MacLean his joie de vie is evident from his easy laugh, warm mannerisms and seemingly boundless energy. His engaging personality paired with multiple talents and an ambitious spirit have made Todd a Local Legend on PEI and beyond, though it’s impossible to say precisely which of the many hats he wears has earned him this title - perhaps it’s all of them!!
In music circles, he’s best known as a multi-talented instrumentalist with mad keyboard and sax skills that he’s brought to many bands over the years. His current musical outlet is co-songwriter/keyboardist/guitarist/saxophonist with the Amanda Jackson Band, whom he recently performed with on Earth Day at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
Todd and his wife, Savannah Belsher-MacLean are also known by those with a penchant for historic buildings and unique spaces, for their inspiring restoration of Hazelbrook Homestead – which now serves as a venue for weddings and other gatherings, as well as a tourist accommodation. For anyone who’s had the pleasure of visiting the Homestead, the amount of work and love that went into its restoration is evident.
Many know Todd best as the creator and editor of Global Chorus: 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, an inspiring collection of meditations and insights from 365 humans that care deeply about the future of the planet, including Jane Goodall, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking and David Suzuki (to name just a few).
Local Legends had a chance to chat with Todd and get the scoop on what makes him tick, why he loves PEI and how writing and music have shaped his life.
Photo by Carla McKie
On Communing with Nature
Besides his immediate family, whom Todd credits with inspiring him to live life to its fullest, Mother Nature has clearly also had an enduring impact on Todd, who grew up on his family’s mini-farm in Meadowbank and now lives in Belfast, PEI.
“When I was little, I'd go to sit by the stream in our backwoods behind our house in Meadowbank – that taught me a lot, and gave me so much. I’m still filled with gratitude for that opportunity to commune with nature like that at a young age. I also spent a lot of time in the summertimes at our cottage in Savage Harbour when I was growing up. In our wedding ceremony, instead of doing something like a sand ceremony, [Savannah and I] both collected water from our home places – I had water from the stream in our backwoods, and Savannah had water from the beach there in Guernsey Cove [where she grew up] – and we poured them together as one.”
Photo by Melissa Harding Photography
For the Love of PEI
Choosing where to make your home can be a difficult decision for some, but for Todd and his wife, the choice was simple.
“Savannah and I have chosen to make PEI our home because of how much we love it. I think there's a natural instinct in all of us to be pulled back to the place where we grew up; luckily for us, it just happens to be one of the most wonderful places on Earth.”
When asked what the top 3 things he loves about living and working on PEI are, Todd didn’t hesitate with a list that most Islanders would wholeheartedly agree with:
- This is a very easy and peaceful place to live.
- On PEI, you are a needed and valued citizen.
- Our commute to work is a panoramic postcard.
Photo by Jeff Babineau Photography
Failure Fuel and a Help-Hungry World
Oftentimes, we aren’t privy to the many obstacles and even the failures a person endures on their quest to bring something to life. Such is the case with Todd’s journey to take Global Chorus from an idea he had in the shower to a published print book available in bookstores across the country and online.
“I wouldn't have done Global Chorus if my wife (along with a few colleagues whom I approached for advice) didn't say to me, "Just start doing it, and see what happens." And then, once things got going with the project, I worked a lot on what I liked to call "Failure Fuel": Whenever one door would slam in my face, I would immediately spring out from the energy of that door slam to find the next door to try. Because, let's face it, there's always another door.
So, to someone who has an idea that they want to realize, I say: Begin it, and pour your energy into it, wholeheartedly. The really good ideas (the ones that you KNOW are right to follow – and you know it with every fibre of your being), these come to us for a reason. I believe that, most often times, they're planted in our minds to bring some sort of help to this help-hungry world that very well could use that idea of yours brought to life.”
On Living Sustainably and Working Collectively
When asked if/how his work on Global Chorus has changed his perceptions about the environmental crisis we currently face, Todd had this to share:
“It's helped crystallize for me how it's all about our ability to focus, as a global community. We humans can accomplish astounding feats, either individually or collectively, when we focus on a goal. Unfortunately, most of us are presently either too distracted or uninformed, or simply, for whatever reason(s), the majority of us do not believe that the quest to live sustainably bears enough importance at the present time. Those who are in the know must do all they can do to help adjust the collective global focus toward the goal of sustainable living.”
What’s on the Horizon
You just know, before you even ask “What’s new?”, that someone like Todd is going to have a litany of projects on the go. There’s certainly no ‘resting on laurels (or yannys)’ for this energetic, creative Local Legend. Todd shared a few of the projects he’s currently working on and most excited about. We’ve listed them in separate paragraphs for an extra ‘wow’ factor!
It's so great to be a co-songwriter in Amanda Jackson Band, and we've been working hard recently on writing new material. Our debut album Fire in the Blue came out last year, and we've got our sights on doing a new album sometime soon.
I also have a solo musical project I'm recording now, at my father-in-law's (Gordon Belsher's) studio in Guernsey Cove.
I'm excited to be returning to Tara MacLean's Atlantic Blue at The Guild again this summer.
And I'm also excited about the five weddings and many groups of guests that we're hosting at Hazelbrook Homestead this summer.
And I have a new book project that is slated to get underway later this year: an environmental book targeted at a younger reading audience.
A Local Legend, Indeed
There’s no doubt in our minds that Todd’s a Local Legend, but if for some strange reason you still need convincing, Todd has another, lesser-known talent that surely solidifies his reputation as a multi-talented Local Legend:
“I can eat popcorn with my toes.”
Written by Shannon Courtney