Reggae band to focus energy on climate change
The days of private jets, Cristal champagne and rock-star excess are over, at least according to the seven members of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. Instead, the Rochester-based roots and reggae band is channeling its energy toward a selfless pursuit: environmental awareness and specifically, the fight against climate change.
The band’s attitude toward the environmental is what brings it to Syracuse University. As the opener of tonight’s festivities at the Focus the Nation event in the Schine Underground, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad is taking a stand against global warming and urging the students at SU to do the same.
Giant Panda will begin playing at 7 p.m. Three more bands – Lucid, Sophistafunk and The Buddhahood – will close out the day’s earth-friendly activities. Following Giant Panda’s performance, Alex Steffen from WorldChanging.org will deliver a keynote address on Focus The Nation.
‘Each one of us has a responsibility to get educated and face the facts about the current status of the environment,’ Curtis Bergesen, the Giant Panda’s publicist, said.
SU’s Focus the Nation event was organized by the University Sustainability Action Coalition, a group composed of students, faculty and administrators from SU and the State University of New York College of Environmental Studies and Forestry. It is one of more than 1,600 such events taking places at university campuses across the country.
‘The primary goal of the national event is to raise student and faculty awareness and discuss solutions for climate change challenges,’ Holly Rosenthal, director of corporate relations at Syracuse University, said. ‘Locally, we want to raise all of the good work that is being done on our campuses to the next level through wider participation in our campus curricula and initiatives.’
Student event coordinator Ben Schott, a sophomore environmental studies and landscape architecture major at SUNY-ESF, offered a similarly proactive stance:
‘Our largest goal is to get students engaged,’ he said. ‘The evening festivities will be an unconventional way of solving an unconventional problem, but we feel that music is a good facilitator in getting students excited about issues.’
Since its formation in 2001, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad has balanced music industry success with a firm sense of environmentalism. The band has received airplay on both Sirius and XM satellite radio formats, and its reggae prowess has lead to opening slots for genre greats like the Wailers and Toots & The Maytals. But while the band played a total of 180 shows in 2007, touring in the future will take a new direction.
‘When the band acquires their next van, they are planning to have the engine converted so that it runs on vegetable waste oil,’ Bergesen said. ‘This will greatly reduce the environmental damage that is caused by normal gasoline use.’
It is that mentality that makes its presence at Focus the Nation all the more fitting.
‘Giant Panda has done a great job of energizing people with music,’ Schott added. ‘Social and political content underlies much of what they do, and this was one of the reasons they were invited to be a part of Focus the Nation.’
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