FACETIME- Wake up! Maggie's got something to say to you


Maggie Murphy

Maggie Murphy has probably the only two high school kids in Western Albemarle who don't complain about taking the bus to school. Even growing up in affluent Ivy, her 12th grade son doesn't feel entitled to a car. "He'd rather have a planet than the right to drive a car," explains Murphy, as if such enviro conscientiousness is normal in adolescents.


Then again, maybe if you grow up with a mother who has you busk on the Downtown Mall to raise money for Darfur, the norms are a little different.

"[Son] Finnegan raised $300 playing his fiddle," says Murphy. "Then those bastards towed my truck, and it cost $120. I thought, to hell with this, I'm going to do a big benefit."

Did we mention that Murphy is Irish, and after 26 years in the U.S., still sounds like the Dubliner she was born?

"I became an activist because of old hard Ireland," she admits. "When you grow up somewhere tough, you choose ways to get over despair. Mine is music and laughter."

Her first benefit concert for Darfur in 2006 raised nearly $10,000. "It was puny," she says. "I was disappointed."

She immediately started putting together a bigger, better benefit, and getting hot Irish band Lunasa here. "I persecuted the band manager for two years," she says, but he'd only give her a Wednesday or Thursday night. So she wrote the band members individually on their fan website. "They told the manager, we're giving her a Friday night."

That would be September 12, when Lunasa and classical African guitarist Vieux Farka Toure will perform at the Paramount for Stand Up Charlottesville for Darfur II.

"She's primarily done this single-handedly without a committee," says performance artist Stevie Jay. "She could have dropped it." 

With all the causes to choose from locally– Murphy, 51, is already active with the Virginia Organizing Project, the Center for Peace and Justice, and husband John (they met working on an anti-nuclear initiative in California) is director of StreamWatch– why Darfur?

"The death toll could reach Rwanda proportions," she says, "as a result of the conditions they are now living under, which are exacerbated by their drought and desertification." And the environmentalist in her is convinced: "I believe that climate change is one of the underlying roots of the conflict and suffering in the Sudan."

She acknowledges that American lifestyles feed unrest around the globe. "We could forgive ourselves for ignorance in the past," she says. But no more. "We have to dare to imagine the worst to prevent it from happening."

As passionate as she is about her causes, Murphy is adamant about one thing: she hates "fervent, righteous people," and once dropped out of a famous Brit actress' group because they used "nauseous" rhetoric like "vanguard of the proletariat."

Saving the planet doesn't have to be a sacrifice, Murphy says. "It's just a different way of doing things." And one of those ways is hearing "world class music" to help the suffering.

"She doesn't allow people to be passive," says UVA environmental sciences professor Karen McGlathery. "That's something that inspires people. She's a catalyst."

Declares Murphy, "The solution is through music, laughter, and getting off our asses." 

This version was corrected to remove an organization– the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation– that Murphy supports but for which she does not volunteer.



GREAT ARTICLE ON MAGGIE MURPHY! But it neglected to mention a website, email address or mailing address in which to send donations or find out more information? Darfur is a serious cause worthy of everyone's support so the more info the better.

Thank you for your time.

Is that who staked those poor kids out on the downtown mall to play fiddle and beg for cash? They certainly always looked to me like they were sacrificing for something. The kids always had those sad eyes like dogs who get tied up outside while their owners sip coffee in the air conditioning. Darfur is certainly an important issue, and worth doing something about, but I have to wonder how someone's focus can be so far distant that things so close can't even be seen.

Daphne... the concert website is here
Maggie & John are in the phone book if you want to donate or help.

busker buster....maybe you didn't read the paragraph that said
"With all the causes to choose from locally-- Murphy, 51, is already active with the Virginia Organizing Project, the Center for Peace and Justice, and the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation"

Isn't it wonderful to know there are still people in this world who aren't ignorant?

PEDRO, I read the article. Thanks for your "help" with that. I was referring to those kids who sat on the mall looking really unhappy to be there. If you want to do something because of your own convictions, by all means do. Don't force your kids to do it for you though.

I would love to know how anyone on this 21st century planet can think anyplace is far away. Darfur is way closer than the whiner above realizes and what is happening there will inch ever closer here if the likes of his disgruntled and ignorant self fails to see his indirect and perhaps direct responsibility in all that afflicts that region. As the speaker of the night of the event that Murphy organized put it regarding our effects on places like Africa "we are gassing up our vehicles with other people's lives" So, Mr. whoever you are instead of smelling rats at Murphy's failure to focus on things close at home ......and who knows maybe she doesn't......lets hear it from you what you are doing about those things close to home that you are so concerned about.