What: Everything is Alive, a concert featuring the songs of Pixie the prayer plant and Lil Blue the blue spruce
How: Plants are connected to a biofeedback machine synched with a synthesizer that is said to turn their vibrations into audio tones, which make music
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 4
Where: The Sangha Studios, 917 Front St., Louisville
Cost: $40 per person at the door; $35 pre-registered
Susan Jeremy's horse leads her to something peculiar, down the hill behind the Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette.
A singing plant.
Like the story of the burning bush, this plant seems to have something to say, as well -- at least based on the reaction of Jeremy's horse, Blue, Jeremy says.
Blue walks straight up to the small prayer plant in a pot and stares at it intently for several minutes, while the plant "plays" an improvisational tune through small speakers propped on the dirt.
A small red alligator clip connects to one of the plant's leaves. Another "grounding" cord is wedged into the soil, at the plant's roots. Both cords connect to a biofeedback machine, which is more typically used to measure changes in the body, such as heart rate, via electrical sensors.
Today, that machine is synched with a synthesizer, which supposedly translates the plant's energy levels, as measured through biofeedback, into audible tones, which are then played through speakers.
In other words, this machine is said to give plants a voice that we can hear.
It's the first time Jeremy has heard of anything like this, so she's not quite sure if -- or how -- it could be possible.
"But Blue seems to think so," she says, patting her horse's neck.
The human voice behind this project is Teresa Helgeson, of Denver. She's bringing the singing plants to put on a public "concert" today in Louisville, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Sangha Studios.
The goal of the concert: to show the public that "everything is alive," Helgeson says.
Helgeson isn't a botanist, a scientist or even much of a green thumb, she admits. She's an energy worker who stumbled across this technology when she was visiting Damanhur, Italy, in 2007.
Damanhur is an "eco-society" -- a 30-year-old living laboratory that experiments with ways that humans can better co-exist with the environment, using both ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology, according to its website, damanhur.org.
The United Nations has named this community a model for sustainability.
Hegelson says she was walking through the forest when she heard "the most amazing, angelic music I had ever heard." She asked what CD was playing, so she could buy a copy.
It was a houseplant.
Deeper into the woods, she heard a different kind of music; this was a birch tree. (Each plant has its own voice, she explains.)
She asked to buy the equipment, but the residents said it wasn't for sale. She eventually convinced them to sell her one of the small black boxes, which she says she brought home and eagerly connected to her plants back in Colorado.
Nothing. No sound.
Three months later, while meditating, Hegelson says she saw a vision of a different plant, a prayer plant. She found this type of plant, connected it to the clip, flipped through the different frequency options (sort of like a radio station) and after about 10 minutes, "Pixie found her voice."
Pixie the prayer plant now "trains" other plants how to use the equipment, Hegelson says.
She knows it sounds crazy. When she tells people about it, some laugh, some ask her what she's smoking. Some are freaked out. Many are skeptical.
Others, such as Kathy Ganev, a holistic health coach and Shamanic healer in Superior, say it makes sense, based on her beliefs that everything is made up of energy.
"Everything has a vibration. Everything has a frequency," Ganev says. "And if everything has a frequency, that's some kind of electromagnetic wave that can create a tone, we just always hear it."
To back up the machine, Hegelson cites various claims and books, such as "The Secret Life of Plants," published in the '70s by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The book, largely considered "pseudoscientific," explores the physical, emotional and spiritual relationship between plans and humans.
She also refers to the "Backster Effect," based on research by Cleve Backster that suggested plants can react to thoughts and threats, as measured on a polygraph machine. One problem with his theories, critics said: Plants don't have brains or nervous or sensory organs, so they can't experience emotions, pain or consciousness.
In 2006, the TV show "MythBusters" conducted a series of experiments on plants that determined the Backster Effect was, in fact, a myth.
Still, when Hegelson detaches the clip from her plant's leaf, the sound stops, and when she connects it to a different tree, a new song starts.
And biofeedback devices, although considered alternative medicine, have been shown to reduce stress in hospital settings and ease stress-related disorders, according to an article in the New York Times.
"When skeptics come to me and say they do not believe it, that's OK. I'm not here to convince anybody of anything. I'm here as a messenger for the plant kingdom to let everyone know that there's much more to this world than we believe," Hegelson says. "I'm dedicated to inspiring everyone to the truth that everything is alive. That spirit lives in everything."
Contact Staff Writer Aimee Heckel at 303-473-1359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.