Team Leader Lawrence Harris speaks about Green Festival and meeting Russell Simmons

July 30, 2012  |   Posted by :   |   Blog   |   Comments Off on Team Leader Lawrence Harris speaks about Green Festival and meeting Russell Simmons»

The Green Festival was a huge milestone for me in many ways.

As Team Leader and representative for Green City Force,  a prestigious organization in the green industry,  I was very pleased and humbled by all the attention Green City Force generated during this gigantic event at Jacob Javits Center. Chatting it up with Van Jones in front of Fox News prior to hitting the main stage with Mr. Jones was amazing. Two years ago I couldn’t even fathom that I would be in this position today.

Lawrence and Winter 2012 Corps Members

The most important moment, that I will never forget, was the opportunity through Green City Force to meet Russell Simmons.  I’ve been trying to reach Russell for some time.

Years ago, Russell spearheaded a powerful movement to pressure then Governor Pataki to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws.  Russell assembled close to 100,000 people to protest the draconian Rockefeller Drug laws on the steps of City Hall in New York. This grabbed the Governor’s ear, and he held a closed-door meeting solely with Russell Simmons on the issue of reforming the Rockefeller Drug laws. This came after so many years of failed lobbying, and media outcries from broken families affected by these harsh drug laws.

The drug laws were changed after Russell’s meeting with the Governor.  This was huge in my life because I was previously imprisoned to serve 62 and  1/2 years to life stemming from a drug case.  Russell’s efforts saved my life and made it possible for me to be home with a career in the green industry for the last two years since my release.

When I met Russell and Dr. Benjamin Chavis at the Green Festival, I had just that moment in time to first tell Russell what I’m doing now with the young people in Green City Force from public housing across the city.  Then, what only took 30 seconds opened Russell’s eyes to over 13 years of my prior incarceration under the Rockefeller Drug Laws.  When I gave Russell my last Green City Force business card, I thanked him for that powerful movement he instituted on that rainy day years ago which paved the way for me to be here.

As I shook his hand and Dr. Benjamin Chavis’ hand, Russell told me it was an amazing story and for me to keep up the powerful work.  He told his assistant to give me his card and that this is the type of story he wanted to do.

Team Leader Lawrence Harris and GCF Corps Members with Russell Simmons

Whatever the outcome is after this memorable meeting, I will cherish this moment because when Russell was out there with thousands of people protesting these biased drug laws, I was 300 miles away from my family deep in a dungeon keeping the faith that if a way was carved out for me, I would never take my freedom for granted ever again.

I look at life differently, and I look at the environment differently. Meeting Russell last weekend, then hearing his segment on a panel, intensified my belief in this movement that has given me a purpose, relevancy, and another chance at a positive and healthy life.  I honor Green City Force and I thank Russell.

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