Grind 4 The Green: Music Education on an Eco-Friendly Tip

By Aaris A. Schroeder

Grind for the Green, a non-profit organization that works with Bay Area youth careers in music provided its second annual four-part series, free of charge that includes a beat and emcee competition, July 12-Aug 30, ‘09 for the final competition at Yerba Buena Park in San Francisco, CA; all happening while caring for the environment utilizing solar panels for energy, sponsored by Solar Living Institute.


“The ecological aspect of it is that all of our materials are made with recycled paper,” says Ambessa Cantave, Co-Executive Director for G4G, “We are trying to instruct the youth on where the world is going and the impact we can make with the choices we make.”

Solar Living Institute has been training communities in environmentally friendly alternative lifestyles; G4G has a relationship with them through their official fiscal sponsor, Global Exchange.

 “More urban communities need access and information on eco-living so they can understand that going green can be cool and not just for hippies. It also provided a learning opportunity for the artists involved in G4G who are learning more about this movement,” states Founder and Executive Director, Zakiya Harris who had nearly 350 in attendance to G4G, double the amount of last year.

Young adults were able to unify and become educated while attending music conference, music workshop, a creative beat battle and a paced emcee competition.  Several workshops went down on July 12 at San Francisco State University where youth learned how to project their voices with song and poetry, improvisation, how to check in with a soundman and more.  July 18 was G4G youth conference featuring speaker M1 of dead prez educating youth on music business and environmental justice. 


“It was inspirational and we were happy that it was all about social justice, activism and then to take it upon themselves to make it happen,” says Cantave.


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Photo By Aaris A. Schroeder

Emcee Talib Kweli and vegan soul chef Bryant Terry played the part of celebrity judges.  Young adults are taught dynamics of vocal performance, producing music, mixing and mastering, stage presence correlated while learning how to put the right foods in their bodies and to respect the earth, hence solar-powered hip-hop events. 

“I think that it assisted our community by exposing them to tangible solutions for the planet in a culturally engaging and innovative way. I believe that is the only way to get urban communities excited about climate change,” says Harris who was able to hire and pay youth we also had three interns and various volunteers this year. 


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Photo By Aaris A. Schroeder

This year, along with major headliners, dead prez [ and M1] and Mr. F.A.B., Fiyawata, Lil Lo A.K.A. O’Zone and last year’s G4G emcee battle winner along with DJ Anthony Marshall performed with the final contestants that made it through the summer, learning and performing hip-hop in an eco-friendly environment.  August ’09 G4G awarded Tre Pounds, emcee battle winner and Money Alwayz, best beat-maker, judged by the people and announced by local emcee and host for G4G The Jacka.  Each winner received $1000, free studio time and the chance to perform on the same stage as Dead Prez and Mr. F.A.B.


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Photo By Aaris A. Schroeder

“Since its inception, hip-hop has been used as a tool of education and community organizing, even though it’s not apparent in the mainstream media.  This fits in line with hip-hop because, [similar to] climate change [which] unites people among all races, class, genders etc, hip-hop is a universal language and going green is a universal movement because if we don’t have a planet what else really matters?” Boldly states Harris.

Sponsors and affiliates to get involved with in the G4G movement; visit online at, include,, and partners with SFSU MRI Program where events are held  Other partners are Alliance For Climate Education and Rainbow Grocery.  G4G can be seen spring ’10 at the Eco-Music Festival and are getting ready to be involved with the annual Green Festival, check it out at