Following the release of The Shade Project, Minowa busied himself with the creation of Earthology Records. He housed the nonprofit label on his own organic farm, powered by geothermal energy and built partially from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic. In early 2000, he returned to music with Who Killed Puck? After the birth of his son, however, Minowa devoted the bulk of his time to family, recording, grant writing, and environmental activism.
With the sudden death of his son in February 2002, Minowa became reclusive and sought solace by writing a large volume of songs. Lost Songs from the Lost Years was released that summer as a retrospective compilation, and They Live on the Sun followed in 2003, featuring contributions from cellist Sarah Young and drummer Dan Greenwood. Both became permanent members of Cloud Cult, and the band added Mara Stemm on bass in January 2004. Aurora Borealis was released just six months later. For the supporting tour, Cloud Cult's shows included the aforementioned live painters, performance artists, back-screen video, and tables featuring information from nonprofit environmental organizations.
Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus was released June 2005, with the full live band now consisting of Minowa (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Greenwood (drums), Young (cello, keyboard), and Matthew Freed (bass, keyboard, percussion). Later, 2007's The Meaning of 8, 2008's Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes), and 2010's Light Chasers found the band specifically addressing its own environmental concerns in song format. 2013 saw the release of ninth album Love. Later that year the band developed a discography-spanning set list for an all-acoustic tour. The recordings from one show were edited and mixed into the live album Unplug, which was released in spring of 2014. ~ Kenyon Hopkin, Rovi