Time magazine has it's Man of the Year, TV Guide has it's Cheers and Jeers, and locally, another paper I write for gives out Roses and Raspberries. Not to be out done, for the Coast News I am creating my own awards. By reading the following column you are participating in the first annual ALDO Awards.
Aldo Leopold was the author of "The Land Ethic", and is considered to be the first American conservationist to look beyond human concerns when addressing environmental problems. It is for this reason that I invoke the spirit of this environmental pioneer as I acknowledge individuals and organizations for their exemplary work in support of the environment that supports us.
The heart of Leopold's land ethic revolves around this simple understanding: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." I should also mention that as part of the ALDO Awards, there is the "Chenowith" this is a designation given to individuals or organizations that are environmental antagonists.
The first award is given in memorial, and is shared by two men of different generations. Morris K. Udall, a congressman for 30 years, worked tirelessly for environmental legislation, and David "Gypsy" Chain, the Earth First activist, who was felled by an employee of Pacific Lumber, best represent the duality of environmentalism. Both men were considered radical for their times, and will long be remembered.
Now for people still around to continue the fight, and believe me a war is being waged, there is a whole list of those deserving of acknowledgement. In keeping with my style of Gonzo journalism I will not bore you with anything more than a quick mention of those who I feel have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their role as Eco-warriors. And if by chance I have left someone out please feel free to write me so they can be included in a follow-up column, a "People's Choice" if you will.
On a national level, Julia Butterfly Hill towers above all others in her dedication to the planet. Having taken up residence in a 1000 year old redwood known as Luna, Julia Butterfly has braved everything from El Nino storms to harassment by Pacific Lumber security helicopters. In her campaign to save the last remaining 3% of old growth forests Ms. Butterfly has occupied Luna since December 10, 1997, watching as the forest has disappeared around her.
Locally the award goes to Doug Gibson of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. I have been very impressed by Mr. Gibson's negotiating the mine field of coastal politics. I am also delighted by his efforts to bring school kids to the lagoon for an educational experience, complete with lunch from a local restaurant. Imagine bringing the environmental, educational, and business concerns together in a way that benefits the planet. Now if we can get local School boards to do the same as part of the standard curriculum. I can dream can't I?
Regionally, the ALDO Award goes to two groups, Project Wildlife and San Diego BayKeeper. Project Wildlife volunteers are doing the work of angels, if there are angels, the jury is still out on that one. But their selfless dedication to the animals who have found themselves on the losing end of an encounter with humans is the stuff of legends. San Diego Baykeeper has also been busy taking on polluters. Of note is their dealings with the city of Encinitas, and an Oceanside business that has been in violation of the Clean Water Act since 1981.
The ALDO business award goes to EnvironGentle in Encinitas. If you folks have yet to check out this retail store you should do it soon. I mean, where else can you find American flags made of hemp, garments of unbleached organic cotton, and large garden tiki's carved by local artisans under one roof? EnvironGentle is proof that consumption can be done with environmental sensitivity.
Last, but not least, is the Chenowith Award. This year the award goes to everybody who voted against Prop B. Come on people how bad does it have to get before we decide that too many people are mucking up the soup we call San Diego County? Coming a close second is developer Doug Manchester who has never met a view he hasn't wanted to obstruct.
So there you have it, the First annual Aldo Awards. I apologize that I don't have any tacky trophies to hand out. I figure the last thing these individuals need is more stuff to collect dust. And besides the true reward is knowing they have done their part.