Top Ten things you should know about Byron Kennard
- A 1960s community organizer who helped create the environmental movement and lay the groundwork for Earth Day in 1970;
- A long-time advocate of the idea that— in all human endeavors — the issue of scale should be of paramount importance, a principle expounded by his colleague and mentor, the late E.F. Schumacher, author of the profound treatise, Small is Beautiful;
- A proponent of the idea that society’s single best, most appropriate tool for protecting and restoring the planetary ecological system is the planetary small business system. Both systems operate organically and thus are compatible. Both are highly efficient, decentralized, self-organizing, interdependent, and infinitely diverse and complex;
- The founder and first Executive Director of the Center for Small Business and the Environment, a non-profit organization that promotes green small businesses and green entrepreneurship;
- A disciple of Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, who argued that constructive social change should be achieved organically — from the bottom up, on the small scale, and in increments over time; and an advocate of Burkean environmentalism;
- The co-founder of The Public Interest Follies, a community theater troupe that entertained progressive audiences throughout the Reagan Administration; Byron wrote, directed, and produced dozens of skits for the Follies, usually casting himself as the singing and dancing star of the show, and eagerly making a fool of himself if it got a laugh;
- A political satirist who saw Donald Trump’s candidacy as the sweetest, fattest parody target ever, and who now sees the incoming Trump Presidency as the career opportunity of an otherwise deprived lifetime;
- A voracious reader who is happiest when his nose is stuck in a history book, seeking to discover how society changed for the better in the past;
- A proud gay man who’s been “out” for decades, and who is happily married to his partner of more than 50 years;
- An elderly man with one foot in the grave and no ax to grind unless you count a fierce desire to settle old scores.
More About Byron Kennard
Formerly a professional do-gooder working virtually 24/7, Byron Kennard is at present semi-retired. Today he does good only now and then, whenever the spirit moves him. Kennard lives in Washington, DC, a city where there is great need for his services but almost no demand.
Like Mohandas Gandhi, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa, Kennard is a former community organizer. Working for the Conservation Foundation in the late 1960s, he travelled the country forming local citizen groups to fight environmental pollution and helped lay the groundwork for Earth Day in 1970. For this work, Kennard was awarded the Leadership Medal of the United Nations Environment Program.
In the decades that followed, Kennard sparked a raft of environmental initiatives – organizing rallies and demonstrations, forming committees and coalitions, and founding several non-profit organizations. An inveterate scribbler, Kennard drafted countless screeds, published numerous jeremiads, sounded at least a dozen stirring calls to arms, and issued way too many manifestos.
A longtime “small is beautiful,” devotee, Kennard founded the Center for Small Business and the Environment in 1998 to promote the idea that small green entrepreneurial businesses are the key to environmental protection and thus, as well, the key to combating climate change. Kennard served as CSBE’s Executive Director until 2012 when he resigned to begin the spiritual quest that has brought him to his present eminence.
When he isn’t out in the world doing good, Kennard can usually be found at home with his nose stuck in a history book, striving to discover how good was achieved in the past. The results of this quest have been a mixed bag. Consequently, Kennard’s advice to others who aim to do good in the world is to “proceed with caution.”
Today Byron Kennard is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. His blogs have appeared in Huff Post Green, Huff Post Comedy, and Huff Post Gay Voices. He is also a presence on YouTube where he’s posted a series of comedy videos on environmental topics (Don’t Sweat Global Warming).
An “out” gay man, Byron Kennard has been partnered for almost fifty-two years with Glenn Pinder, with whom he’s shared joint passions for interior design, musical theater, giving absolutely fabulous parties, and reading history, especially biographies of dead Queens.
In 2014, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their coming together, Byron Kennard and Glenn Pinder were married in the District of Columbia.
Even More About Byron Kennard
I’ve made so many self-reverential references to my lengthy and zealous environmental advocacy that skeptical readers may demand some proof of it. This is all the more likely since – despite my fifty years in the green game – I am a relative nobody in the social movement I helped start. Alas, somehow fame eluded me with the same astonishing alacrity as wealth did. Not all community organizers wind up like this. Look at Barack Obama. His community organizing experience propelled him into high office. Mine only propelled me into high dudgeon.
This appendix describes my long and selfless service to the environmental cause. It’s on this basis that I pass so many unkind and sarcastic judgments on so many old friends and old foes. Hey, I’m entitled! And it’s this record that entitles me to shoot my mouth off on topics such as agriculture, economics, energy, housing, public health, transportation, science, technology and most everything else under the sun. (This is my position and I’m sticking to it.)
In my own defense, I ask readers taking a look at this appendix to note that at least I did not keep doing the same thing over and over. (Isn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity?) I’d try something and if it didn’t work, then I’d try something else, and on and on until one day I woke up to realize fifty years had passed and I was – in some ways – back at Square One. Still, there are compensations. Metaphorically, I’d gone around the world three or four times exploring options for constructive social change and found them all wanting – until I discovered that the most direct route to such change was down hidden paths.
If anyone’s interested what follows below is a kind of biography. It proves, if nothing else, my stubborn persistence. Hurrah for me! But, oh, dear, here is also proof of my many setbacks, defeats, and rejections.