Peter Buffett: philanthropy is about listening, not just money

CC Hutten – A&E Editor
Danielle Pohlman – Lead A&E Writer

The University of Dayton seeks to be a leader in engaging and exploring in dialogue centered on human rights with Rites. Rights. Writes. This year, the Human Rights Department welcomed musician and philanthropist, Peter Buffett to Victoria Theatre Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. The interactive, multimedia show about philanthropy, “Life is What You Make It: A Concert and Conversation with Peter Buffett” benefited the University’s new Human Right’s Center.

Although Buffett is the son of a widely known investor and monetary philanthropist of the twentieth century, Warren Buffett, his self-made career and major message aim at making life one’s own.

Buffett’s work tends to focus on domestic issues. His approach can be seen in backyards all around the United States, not just in developing countries, Native American rights, human trafficking or pollution.

From commercial writing in San Francisco to scoring scenes in Milwaukee to becoming a philanthropist in New York, Buffett used his talents for the betterment of humanity. Landing the “Fire Dance Song” in “Dances with Wolves” launched him into a phase of awareness about modern Native American rights abuses. Buffet has also worked with the artist Akon on a piece about human trafficking.

As an Emmy Award-winning musician, his career eventually led him to philanthropic work with his wife, Jennifer. Now he is touring the country with cellist Michael Knott, taking his audiences on a different kind of journey from his childhood to what it means to be a modern-day advocate for human rights.

Buffett encouraged dialogue through the performance, and the audience took advantage by it asking many questions, particularly about his childhood.

“This makes it much more interesting and interactive,” said Buffett. “People can say what’s on their mind…It’s a conversation.”

Although his experiences could have taken him to Los Angeles to produce music, he strongly believes in finding community where one is located. Just as his father did not relocate to Wall Street for work and was still successful, Buffett is a proponent of “Life is What You Make It.”

“If real estate is about location, location, then philanthropy is about listening, listening,” Buffett said during the concert. He said it’s about a love for people and giving time.

“People think it’s about money or something big they have to do,” he said. “It’s so important that our values are reflected in the choices we make every day.

“It’s not about some big idea of philanthropy; it’s about working out true core values… feeling nurtured, loved, supported and fulfilled.”

“The concert was a creative presentation of music and conversation that broadly promoted human rights for everyone to relate to and become aware of,” said junior Human Rights major Meredith Pacenta. She said he provided insight for young people to strive where they’re meant to be based on passion.

“It really makes me feel great when I think that somehow my story has inspired others to be more themselves,” Buffett said. “We really are all in this together.”