But today is Arbor Day and I am reminded of my affinity for trees every year on this day...and almost every other day...since that early imprinting.
I've been entrenched in a lot of the Earth Day / Arbor Day celebrations and in fact I'm late in getting to the Expo at Grand Central today and tomorrow. I've come across people like Erik Baard who has been encouraging the planting of Newton Pippin apple trees all over NY. And Marielle Anzelone who within weeks of the birth of her new baby was back out there promoting her other baby, the annual NYC Wildflower Week (5/2 - 9).
And last night I went to the Heart of Green Awards, sponsored by The Daily Green and Hearst. It was pretty impressive. The small but very tasteful crowd included one of my first eco-heroes, author and excellent speaker, Andrew Winston. Happily, he told me he has a new book coming out soon! Others in the crowd included, Elizabeth Harrington of the increasingly cool Greenopia, the indominatable Bob Woodruff, Daniel Sieberg, etc.
You can see the list and profiles of recipients on the link, but some highlights included:
Alicia Silverstone was awarded the "Eco-Original" title. She's passionate about PETA and promoted one making any effort they can, even if it's to be an "aspiring" vegetarian. Reducing one 16 oz steak from your diet, for example, she says saves the equivalent water of 6 months of showers vs that watering the cattle! Plus, she says,
"I feel great, got better skin, a better body, and got my heart open as a gift from connecting to the earth."Maria Menounos was appropriately transparent about her newness to the green cause, but now recycles all the time for the greater good, vs. when she grew up having to recycle cans for the greater good of her struggling family. Gloria Reuben, The Truth-Teller, welled up with pride about receiving the award for her work with, ironically, Waterkeeper.
But there was not a dry eye in the house when the award for best Local Hero went to teacher Greg Perry from Beachwood High School in Ohio who empowered his marketing class to stage the "Green Dream", the largest green products and services expo in Ohio to date, drawing more than 3,000 attendees. (I wonder how many attended the Go Green Expo? And this one was produced by teenagers!) Greg got news of his award while he was literally in bed...in intensive care as part of battling a recurrence of cancer.
He forced himself to fly in for the awards, and needed assistance getting onto the stage. He voice broke with exhaustion and emotion during his acceptance speech. And his message became the clarion call for the event: "It Starts with One." His students came up with that tagline for their effort, and Greg continues to embody that. He said,
"Young people force you to think differently. This is their world. They know they can change it and are not fearful."Lifetime Achievement award winner, Frances Beinecke of NRDC, echoed that when she said,
"To be in this business you have to be an optimist...to believe you can make a difference.....The planet is in tru crisis. That will only change if every citizen in world takes action in their daily lives to make a difference. ...Leaders won't change without the bubbling up of citizen interest."We must put the messages out to galvanize those leaders, she said, and concluded with, "All of you are a force in making a difference and you inspire me."
I think that the more people that are exposed to people also honored like Dierdre Imus, Summer Rayne Oakes, Roger Doiron, and the others mentioned above, that the more we'll be inspired by how much extraordinary effort some people make. And perhaps we will be galvanized to take a few more steps ourselves.