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Dick's Story

Dick Riseling spent his first 18 years in Batavia, Illinois as a member of a family of 8 whose father was a local truck driver.  Music and dance lessons, a 2-acre vegetable garden and sports kept him busy. The next eight years were filled with studying international affairs at Yale College and social ethics and peace making at Yale Divinity School, as well as a wide variety of factory and university research jobs.  While there, Dick became a father and had two sons - Jonathan and Benjamin.  The Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy was the next stop to obtain a Masters degree in International Law and Diplomacy and complete a Ph.D. thesis on Soviet-American Collusion in Nuclear Weapon Development – a case study in the arms race as a deliberate policy to guarantee corporations major economic decision-making power in the USA. The M.A. was earned but personal and political factors stopped the completion of the Ph.D.  Several years later, after taking courses in public finance accounting and international finance, Dick enrolled in the Baruch Graduate School of Public Administration where an MPA degree was completed.










In 1967, while at the Fletcher School, Dick became the first national director of International Affairs and Social Concern for the American Baptist Convention with offices in NYC and W.D.C.  Many trips to the Paris Peace Conference negotiations that sought to bring the Vietnam War to a close and across the USA where civil rights campaigns were met with violence by official and racist citizens groups occupied the next 6 years. Dismissed from this work, a minority own consulting firm setting up infant and maternal health clinics provided food for the family that now included two sons, and provided an inside look at the way government and corporations worked together to suppress authentic democratic governance and keep minority populations, especially and women and children in conditions of profound economic deprivation.


 In 1973, Dick took a position as counselor and teacher in 2 branches of the SUNY – The Brooklyn Educational Center and the Empire State School for Labor Studies. Working for 23 years with students that were on Welfare or incarcerated in prisons as well as a second group learning the endlessly inspiring history of the US labor movement left an enduring influence on the true costs of our national failure to put people before profits. 


In that same year Dick and his life Partner, Sonja Hedlund purchased a farm in Sullivan County, which is known as Apple Pond Farm and Renewable Energy Education Center.  For 18 years, time was spent living in a commune in Brooklyn, teaching during the week and developing Apple Pond Farm on weekends. In 1995, he moved full-time to the farm in Callicoon Center.  















Dick co-founded SASD, Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, a not for profit 501-c-3 corporation in 2007, that promotes and facilitates energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable economic policies and practices, through serving as consultant to the legislature of Sullivan County as well to several municipalities, businesses and homeowners.  In 2010, SASD was awarded top honors by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.  He served on the Board of the Federal Renewable Energy for America Program, Mid Hudson Valley Sustainability Committee, co-chairs its Energy Working Group, the Boards of SASD, County Work Force Development Board, co-Chaired the County Charter Revision Commission, received many Congressional and State legislature commendations, produced a weekly WJFF CATSKILL RADIO call-in radio show for 19 years, and a weekly news-paper column on GREENING SULLIVAN for seven years.


Social and environmental justice have always been at the center of his life. This focus animates every day along with sharing life with Sonja and so many friends in the human, animal and other natural communities.


This video made by Isaac Green Diebboll show's Dick talking about his lifelong passions; horses and his connection with nature.  

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