POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — In an Earth Day panel discussion, green business pioneer Jeffrey Hollender, Hip-Hop artist/activist KRS-One, and Sustainable South Bronx organizer Dwaine Lee will take up "Green for All: Race, Class, and Environmentalism, on Saturday, April 19, at noon, on the Residential Quad (rain location: the All Campus Dining Center). This event is free and open to the public.
For its annual Earth Day activities, this is the first time the Vassar Greens have joined forces with fellow student organization Hip-Hop 101. "We want to bring in a new audience," explained sophomore Mandana Nakha. "Environmentalism is often seen as an elitist movement, and we wanted to try and break that stereotype. Our panel will focus on environmental racism, the notion that people of color are both disproportionately affected by environmental degradation, and have less agency to address these situations.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Jeffrey Hollender is President and CEO of Seventh Generation, the 15-year-old natural household products company based in Burlington, VT. He also co-founded and was a director of Community Capital Bank, a New York financial institution that invests in affordable housing and community development. Hollender’s book How to Make the World a Better Place: A Guide for Doing Good has sold over 110,000 copies. His most recent book, What Matters Most: How a Small Group of Pioneers are Teaching Social Responsibility to Big Business - and Why Big Business is Listening,” won Fast Company magazine’s book of the month competition, and he also contributed the chapter “Changing the Nature of Commerce” to the book Sustainable Planet: Roadmaps for the 21st Century.
KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone) was born Laurence Krisna Parker, and was living in a Bronx homeless shelter in 1985 when he met social worker Scott Sterling (a.k.a. Scott LaRock). The pair formed the hardcore rap group Boogie Down Productions, releasing only their debut album Criminal Minded before LaRock was fatally shot at a party in the Bronx. On his subsequent recording By All Means Necessary, KRS-One declared “Some people say I am a rap missionary/some people say I am a walking dictionary/some people say I am truly legendary/but what I am is simply a black revolutionary.” Many early Boogie Down Productions story-raps were street-level parables, and in the notes accompanying the recording Edutainment he castigated “gangster pop star pimps” for “acting the way the government wants black people to act.” Earning his nickname the Teacher, KRS-One has produced info-packed lectures in rap form, on topics including U.S. government complicity in the drug trade (“Illegal Business” from By Any Means), African-American history (“You Must Learn” from Ghetto Music), and vegetarianism (“Beef” from Edutainment).
Dwaine Lee, of the non-profit Sustainable South Bronx, is a Field Manager for the organization's B.E.S.T. (Bronx Environmental Steward Training) program and Greenway Steward initiative. He recruits and equips Bronx residents to address environmental threats to local quality of life and global sustainability. Lee is himself a B.E.S.T. graduate, as well as a yoga teacher, a Reiki practitioner, writer, landscaper, food co-op member, hospitality professional, and martial artist. He is also completing a degree in psychology at the City College of New York.