For Kenny, the ocean has always had a strong pull. Maybe the peace one feels on the water, or the way communities rise up around shorelines drew him. But for whatever reason, the East Tennessean found refuge and creative energy in the islands, the Gulf, the Keys, the California coast and all along the Atlantic Ocean.
With a partnership established in 2015, Kenny teamed with the Building Conservation Trust to create artificial reefs in places where degradation undermined healthy reefs, which provide living habitat for many kinds of sea life. Working at a grassroots level with the Coastal Conservation Association, 18 months after submerging their first two structures, Chesney and CCA President Pat Murray heard the fish finders and depth censors go crazy as they floated over the locations on the St. John River.
“The fish were back,” Kenny recalls with a smile. “The reefs were healthy, and the water was becoming what it was originally meant to be. I realized: small things can yield major results, especially within defined communities.”
For Chesney, whose Songs for the Saints was created as a way to help give back to St. John following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, making a difference in the environment remains a priority. No Shoes Reefs is his ongoing grassroots effort dedicated to the health of the ocean. Targeting local waters, it focuses on single reefs at the community level.
As part of NSR’s initiative, the “Here And Now” singer continues his affiliation with the Coastal Conservation Association. He also aligns with Deep, SiliPint and the Reef Ball Foundation, also dedicated to preventing erosion and creating/preserving oceanic ecosystems, for 2020.
“All of our partners are committed to raising awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans, especially the reefs,” Kenny explains. “It is critical that we maintain the reefs we have, try to establish awareness of how to protect the ocean, educate people about how to make a difference and, when needed, try to help – as the Reef Ball Foundation does – create more opportunities for healthy saltwater life.
“Whether it’s making a donation or buying a shirt that’s made from plastic bottles from Deep, or a cup made from silicone, which is basically sand, from Silipint, you’re reducing the plastics thrown in the ocean and helping create stronger, healthier designed reefs.”
No Shoes Reefs has quietly been behind the scenes, seeking out organizations including the Reef Ball Foundation who are doing the work, educating people on the local level and cooperating with similarly aligned groups. For the man who feels most alive on the stage or the sea, this is a means of giving back where small things offer exponential rewards.
For more information on No Shoes Reefs, click belownoshoesreefs.org