Fri | Sep 18, 2020

Louder than lyrics - Musicians, entertainers focused on the environment

Published:Sunday | October 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Bunny Wailer
Members of Third World.
Jamaican actress, model and singer Grace Jones.
Nikki Z

Popular disc jockey and radio personality Nicole 'Nikki Z' Duhaney, has added her voice to the chorus to save the environment. With the Government set to ban single-use plastics and Styrofoam in 2019, she has become the ambassador for the Alligator Head Foundation (AHF) based in Port Antonio, Portland.

Gaining a better understanding of the environmental issues of Jamaica and the world has moved her to further research on her own time. "I love radio and enjoy what I do, but it is not all the time that I love the subject matters that are in the fore. By getting more involved I have begun seeing and doing things differently as well as it makes me able to use my forum to make people understand the importance of doing our part," Nikki Z said.

Though it has just become official, her relationship started when she began hosting private events hosted by the organisation's founder, Francesca Von Habsburg. She noted that now with a full understanding of the organisation's work, it has impacted the way she viewed the environment and her lifestyle. "It is not just hearing persons say 'recycle', because that is just a word. Now it is about knowing 'the why'. Without the knowledge, you are only left with a pile of plastic with nowhere to go with it. It is one thing to say we want or need to save the environment, but another thing to get down to how people communicate."


Creative ventures


She said that to share the message, the foundation's plans include the use of recyclable plastic with the implementation of a 3D-printing machine to make roofs for homes. They are currently using the technology to develop a pool in the middle of the sea (in Portland) that will be used to teach youth in the community to swim - a venture she is very excited about. "They were very instrumental in the plastic ban happening in Jamaica, working with Von Habsburg, Marcus Reymann (director), Dee Dyke (chair of the AHF board) and Senator Matthew Samuda."

Last month, she travelled to Venice, Italy, with members of the team to participate in activities organised by the TBA21 Academy which is an offshoot of Von Habsburg's contemporary art foundation, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21). "The aim moving forward is to basically join the arts and science through the venture. As it exists now, some individuals translate information in a scientific way, but another person who does music, dance, or paint will translate [it] in another way that some persons cannot," Nikki Z explained.


Getting all involved


Marine Biologist and chief executive officer of the Alligator Head Foundation Dr Dayne Buddo said: "The organisation is already seeing the benefits of partnering with persons like Nikki Z within the entertainment industry to raise awareness about environmental issues." The foundation has been endorsed by Grace Jones, Bunny Wailer, and Third World in addition to working with Wayne J on his single Plastic Bottles.

The 15-year-old recording artiste is currently the youth ambassador for AHF. "Though it is very difficult to measure - that an ambassador or the music is helping to cause the change - catchy (or artsy) things as simple as the lyrics of a song are promoting our message and relate directly to the people," Buddo said. "Like Wayne J, who is promoting our message to persons in his age group. Having Nikki Z on board has helped as she is part of a different cohort of the entertainment industry," he continued.

"The environment, as a whole, has never received the priority that it deserves. There is a need to raise the profile of the environment, and the entertainment industry has a big role to play in this, and it has helped in the past to give persons at the international level, an outlook of what we (all of the environment organisations) are trying to achieve."

Meanwhile, Nikki Z is making use of her new role, and is urging persons to get their voices heard and let their actions be seen. "The full intention is to get my entertainment colleagues involved. Already, I have received great feedback from Tanya Stephens, Kymani Marley, and Ce'Cile, but I have not reached out in abundance to invite persons to Portland see the work we are doing," she said.