The first thing you see is the Kennedy teeth: lots, in a broad but no-nonsense grin. Being born with a platinum spoon in her mouth gave Kick Kennedy a taste for philanthropic causes, music, history, and — journalism? “I’m an intern at Rolling Stone,“ she says. “They’re a good group of people — and it gives me a chance to explore two of my interests: music and writing.“ Which just challenges the theory that journalism isn’t a job for grown-ups because Kick Kennedy has a very old head. Always has.
“Its been absolutely amazing, and I’m inspired by my co-workers, even though I’m a lowly intern. To the same degree that I’m inspired by the philanthropists I work for, but in a different way. I have a passion for writing. I’m into journalism, maybe I love music, and I love the two, and I never thought about doing either until now, but I’ve become really into the magazine and have a similar attitude to politicians as to journalists. In terms of my writing, I love the field. I’ve really opened up at this point, carving out my path to see what I want to do. But college credits for creative writing led me here, and it was a natural mix. I really love newspapers, but …“ the voice of the journalist trails off. “My favorite writers are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Campbell, Chris Buckley, and Kurt Vonnegut, definitely in the top 10. My role models include several people from my family, and of course I’ve been inspired by my father who got me moving on Waterkeeper.”
A history undergrad at Stanford University, she’s been an environmentalist since she could spell. Nicknamed for her late, great aunt who died tragically in an air crash before the end of the Second World War, this generation’s Kick has campaigned for family and friends but leans most towards foundation work with Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper, on whose behalf she produced and “starred” in an IMAX documentary about the Grand Canyon. Every time she said “Conserve water; shower with a friend” during the press tour, her father cringed. “In fact, TEVA — the guys who make the sandals — supported the making of that documentary,“ she allows. “I went to see the film so many times while I was promoting it, and even though I knew what was going to happen next, it was tantalizing. When you see yourself on the IMAX screen, it’s scary, but being in the Grand Canyon really gave me that perspective with these humongous walls I was funneling through. You realize how small you are compared to nature.” But it was the original settlers of the Grand Canyon, the Native Americans, she credited highest, and brought them with her to New York on the press tour. “I don’t know whether they’d ever left their homes before, but they were a fantastic part of the film that everybody loved, and I’m honored that they joined us.”
She hasn’t been back, but she has seen the pyramids of Central and South America — and has a thing for Machu Pichu. “I’ve been twice, and I have a big interest in history; it’s my major at Stanford, and I think ancient civilizations are my favorite study. But Cuzco is my favorite city in the world, my oasis … and if I had to be anywhere, I’d be sitting on a rock in Machu Pichu. With a llama.”
After a stint interning for “Uncle Teddy” — a.k.a. Senator Edward Kennedy — in Massachusetts and Washington DC, she pretty much rejected the political life that consumed many of her family members in the past for a different kind of public service.
In fact, with two other early-twenty-something household family names — Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin and Sarah Delano Roosevelt — Kick has formed “Legacy Associates,” an endorsement and philanthropic group of three young ladies from America’s iconic families who donate to their favorite charities through consumer licensing and branding.
“I’m going to give you my version of how Legacy works. Basically, we are a not-for-profit, and all of our proceeds in terms what I make — as well as Sarah and Consuelo — go to the charities we want to benefit. For instance, we’re in the process of signing a contract with a clothing manufacturer, and through Legacy, they still get their full price and we will have generated a donation to Ovarian Cancer (Legacy’s official charity) as well as, in my case, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Riverkeeper. We’ve only been at it for a month or so, that’s why I was so initially intrigued by it — it’s so unique. It’s a very interesting idea, and I think it will be very attractive to clothing manufactures. It gives them a competitive edge. It seems like so many companies have taken a philanthropic approach to their work, so in the end, everybody wins.” Busy girl.
“I got involved with Legacy when I was approached by the Destinos; they thought I could contribute a valuable asset — my name. In terms of the core women involved, Legacy is for people who are looking for strong women with an interest in philanthropy. We have a whole showboat running. The Destinos approached different people for different reasons … getting publicity, building the business plan, and business model for Legacy. Getting the clothing industry involved is just our first project.”
For her roles in both Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper, she is about to receive the Solar One award. “It is an organization that promotes solar energy, especially in New York City,” a subject she knows well: one of her missions through the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Riverkeeper is to provide the cleanest possible drinking water to all New Yorkers. “They are giving me an award on Tuesday at their center on the East River at 23rd Street (and are about to move to other locations, across and up town, to create enough energy to sell back to the City) and they plan to built Solar Two to generate enough power to run itself and other buildings.”
But in the autumn, she slips away from Rolling Stone and Manhattan to return to the West Coast and Stanford for her last year.
“I have a few ideas,” she pauses for the usual nanoquark, “and journalism school is definitely up there.” Just was for her cousin, Maria Shriver. “I’m going to see where this whole Legacy project takes me. My future is up in the air. I have a year left in school, and I would like to continue my education if it’s in the cards for me. The Legacy thing — I think I could tie it all together, especially as we all have to write our own blogs about what’s going on with the charities and the manufacturers.”
Leaving New York is another matter entirely. Shell be missed at McSorley’s. “I think my heart lies with McSorley’s — the oldest bar in New York City, and a fine place. That’s probably where I tend to meet up with my friends — it’s fun over there. But, you know where I really love? Hill Country. It’s the best meat I’ve ever had in my life.” But ladies who lunch take note: “I don’t eat out that much. I eat a lot of hummus. it’s not very good, but it is one of the most nutritious things around — and it gives you a lot of calories without having to cook.” But tonight she’s safe from having to dab another glob. “Tonight, my brother is having a barbeque in Brooklyn!”