Chase Randell is an educator, builder, and farmer. His educational foundations are in psychology, history, philosophy, and critical theory. After traveling internationally, teaching at Skidmore College, in Vietnam, and at various schools in the Catskill region of New York, he developed a philosophy of social justice education that also incorporates environmental activism. This philosophy aims to help students understand their own needs and foster the habits and social structures to meet those needs directly. Chase formalized this theory of education while completing his Masters degree in Humanistic Multicultural Education at SUNY New Paltz.
Chase has spent the last nine years putting these ideas and theories into practice while community organizing in the Hudson Valley. Through his collaborative work with the educational community The Long Spoon Collective, he has designed and constructed multiple naturally built, off-grid structures and helped develop a cooperative of local community gardens. Chase has taught methods of building off-grid infrastructure and food growing techniques to local youth, and led many public forums about the interconnection between social justice and environmentalism.
In addition to serving as program director at The Underground Center, Chase also works at the Boys & Girls Club in Saugerties, New York, teaching young people from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds about soil building, creating off-grid systems and drumming. Chase is excited to help develop The Underground Center as a place to actively address the racial and class hegemony he sees alienating those who can contribute and benefit the most from environmental and sustainability movements.
Cassandra Taylor is a high school teacher with over twenty years of experience in the public school system. Her educational background is in African American literature, history, sociology, special education, and critical race theory. After gaining her MSE in Secondary Education, she helped pioneer literature and history programs for students of color in both her home town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her current home in Hudson Valley, New York, where she teaches at Kingston High School.
Cassandra has worked as a guest lecturer on many social justice issues ranging from Black feminism (womanism), African Traditional Religions, poetry and literature from the prison system, portrayals of African American culture in the media, and the importance of trauma-based care in residential facilities for youth. She has also worked as an activist in support of public education and mental health, while also promoting social justice initiatives for people of color, religious minorities, women, those with special needs, and LGBT youth.
In 2012 Cassandra began transitioning to a minimalist, more sustainable lifestyle. She is honored by her role as Curriculum Coordinator for The Underground Center, as it gives her the opportunity to share what she has learned about the connection between environmentalism and social justice, while also helping others marginalized by society break through the barriers of entry that currently plague the mainstream sustainability movement.