Frances Beinecke, Lifetime Achievement
She's a blogger, a government watchdog, a community organizer and a policy wonk in the best sense of the word. She fights for the preservation of polar bears and our offshore environment, for the protection of children's health, for the restoration of our economy as a sustainable green machine and for the protection of the earth's ecosystem in the face of rising temperatures.
She's an innovator, a visionary, an inspiration. As president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation's most influential environmental groups, Frances Beinecke is all these things and more.
Staffed with some of the nation's leading legal, scientific and policy experts, NRDC under her leadership now also boasts 1.2 million members real people who have been inspired to take action to protect the environment. Beinecke, who serves on the boards of numerous other environmental and academic institutions, promotes the idea that "the environment is everywhere" and that activism benefits not just untouched wilderness and endangered species, but our homes and our health.
During her tenure, NRDC has reached out to Spanish-speaking citizens, empowered citizen journalists, and launched both an influential blog and a Web site devoted to "Simple Steps" that help the environment. And under her leadership, NRDC argues hard for laws that fight global warming and revive our economy by investing in green jobs, clean energy and sustainable communities.
"To be in this business," she has said, "you have to be an optimist. You have to believe that change is possible and that you're part of the solution to getting that change in place."
She is The Daily Green's 2009 Heart of Green Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Read more about Frances Beinecke and watch her acceptance speech!
Greg Perry is an extraordinary high school teacher who inspires his students and anyone else he meets.
Greg empowered his marketing class at Beachwood High School in Ohio to stage the Green Dream, the largest green products and services expo in Ohio. The extraordinary class project raised $150,000 in 2008 and exceeded that mark in 2009 all to create the Ultimate Green Classroom, a model classroom completely refurbished with sustainable, nontoxic materials, powered by the sun and open to the school and to the community.
The Daily Green asked for Local Hero nominations from its audience, and received dozens of stories about deserving individuals. In their nomination, his students celebrated Greg's "incredible enthusiasm" and his "contagious energy."
And his perseverance. As he and his students began working on their 2009 Green Dream event, Greg was diagnosed with cancer. He started intense chemotherapy treatment at the beginning of this year. No stranger to a hard fight (at age 6, he was paralyzed from the neck down in an accident and told he'd never walk again, but defied those predictions) he has continued to teach his class remotely, using Skype. He is adamant that the Green Dream live on. For his inspiring enthusiasm and spirit, Greg Perry is the Heart of Green Awards Local Hero. Watch his (very inspiring) acceptance speech (which brought the room to its feet).
Summer Rayne Oakes
For too long in the marketplace, "green" was synonymous with one of two things cheap and dirty (like hand-me-down sweaters), or highly designed and way too expensive.
Summer Rayne Oakes is among those pioneers creating a third category: affordable and stylish.
Oakes has made a career of cause-related modeling and innovative activism in support of sustainability. She is the author of Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion and Beauty and she is a spokesperson and host for Planet Green, Discovery's 24-hour green television station. It's not the career most would imagine from a Cornell University-trained entomologist.
In April 2009, Oakes launches a line of environmentally sustainable shoes with Payless under the label Zoe & Zac. They're made with organic cotton, linen and hemp, use only water-based glues, recycled rubber and other environmentally sound materials.
Affordable? Check. Stylish? Check. Heart of Green? Check.
The Ground Breaker
Who is the voice for the backyard gardening movement? Who reminds us of the simple pleasures and enduring wisdom of harvesting our own food? Who relentlessly asks the commonsense question: Why does the White House have 18 acres of grass, and no vegetable garden?
Roger Doiron isnt alone, but his voice as the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International and the Eat the View campaign has been loud, clear and influential. The Downeast, Maine, resident has simple aims (inspire and encourage more home gardening) and sophisticated methods. Who else thought to auction off one-square-foot plots of White House lawn on eBay to raise money and awareness for Eat the View, the campaign pressuring President Obama to plant an organic garden within walking distance of the Oval Office? The same guy who grew a 10,000-member-strong organization in the space of just five years.
We love Doirons populist foodie vision. The KGI Website answers the question, "What Is a Kitchen Gardener?" In part: "Unlike mere foodies who flit from one trendy spot to another in search of instant culinary gratification, Kitchen Gardeners set out roots in a place and begin planning their pleasure months in advance." For reminding us all how easy and good it is to grow our own food, Roger Doiron is a 2009 Heart of Green award winner. Watch his acceptance speech!
Green This! That's what Deirdre Imus wants us to do (via her book series: Greening Your Cleaning, Growing Up Green and the recently published The Essential Green You), and that's deserving of Heart of Green recognition.
But the book series is only Deirdre Imus's latest effort in a lifetime of work devoted to improving the health of children by reducing their exposure to toxic chemicals. After opening the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer with her husband, radio talk show host Don, Deirdre began to connect the dots between childhood illness and exposure to manmade chemicals. That led her to found the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center. Its mission? "Identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children." One of its biggest successes has been its "Greening the Cleaning" program to remove toxic substances from cleaning products. Approximately 500 businesses, including 70 healthcare institutions and 100 schools and school systems, have participated.
Why do so many children have asthma, allergies, autism, cancer, developmental problems and other diseases? Deirdre Imus is trying to find out, and helping inspire many more parents to ask the right questions. She is a winner of a 2009 Heart of Green award. See all 2009 Heart of Green Award winners, and Watch her acceptance speech!
Alicia Silverstone took off her clothes.
Where were we?
Oh, right. Alicia Silverstone took off her clothes to demonstrate her commitment to animal rights. As part of PETA's revolutionary ad campaigns, the actress declared that she'd rather wear nothing than wear fur or eat meat, for that matter. She got our attention.
A vegan for more than a decade, Silverstone has consistently used her celebrity to discuss the issues that matter to her. Later this year, she will publish her first book, the The Kind Diet about "the connection between what we put in our bodies and what we're doing to the planet how choosing the right foods in the kitchen can help you feeling lighter, sexier and more alive."
For her commitment to human health animal rights through ethical eating, The Daily Green declared her an Eco-Original and honored her with a Heart of Green Award. Watch her acceptance speech!
The Truth Teller
Gloria Reuben has helped save lives as a physician's assistant on NBC's ER, and in real life she's turned her attention to saving the health of millions of children.
As the spokesperson the Waterkeeper Alliance's "The Dirty Lie" campaign, she is leading the effort to dispel the notion that coal is somehow "clean." The coal industry is promoting "clean coal" as a present-day solution to America's energy problems, but the coal burned today to make electricity contributes mightily to smog, acid rain, mercury contamination and, of course, global warming.
"Clean coal" is a term used to describe largely theoretical technologies that have yet to be employed comprehensively to burn coal without producing significant air pollution. As Reuben knows, there is no clean coal today.
Reuben says, "Profits from coal are being made at the expense of our health and the health of our children. Its time to create a new energy future for America." Thats why The Daily Green honored Gloria Reuben as its Truth Teller during this year's Heart of Green Awards ceremony. Watch her acceptance speech!
The Star Connection
There's plenty of Hollywood gossip to go around, but only one correspondent who makes sure all the gab is about going green.
As the host of Hollywood Green, on Planet Discovery, Maria Menounos captivates her audience by celebrating the good green deeds of her fellow celebrities.
Whether she's highlighting Lindsay Lohan's eco-friendly leggings, super model Cheryl Tieg's new hydrogen fuel cell car or Virginia Madsen's green home renovation, Menounos lets her audience peek in on their favorite stars and invites the masses to emulate the stars' better habits.
Menounos has always been environmentally conscientious, and she says she takes away the same message from Hollywood Green as her audience does: That every day we can make choices with the environment in mind.
For shining a light on Hollywood's green stars, and helping to put their celebrity wattage to good use, Menounos is the 2009 Heart of Green Star Connection. Watch her acceptance speech!
Ebay Green Team Community Award
Wonder what does a green business looks like?
Take a look at Dyscern. Founded by Jennfer Canty six years ago, Dyscern takes in, scrubs and resells on eBay all manner of electronic equipment. It hits every "R" of the movement's mantra reduce, reuse and recycle -- and it keeps toxic e-waste out of landfills and incinerators at the same time. (Electronics equipment is the fastest growing category of municipal solid waste, and heavy metals and other ingredients can contaminate air an water if not recycled and reused.)
Better still? Canty (pictured here with her husband and partner, Bill Frischling) is co-owner of TradeUps.com, which pays consumers for sending in their old electronics. Or maybe what's best is that Canty turns a profit, and employs 12 people, all with a Web-based business she started after having her first child and looking to start working from home.
For building a sustainable and profitable enterprise, Jennifer Canty earned the eBay Green Team Community Award. Watch her acceptance speech!
New York City
Does New York City really need another distinction? I mean, already it's a big fruit....Some say it's the capital of the world....Its most famous street has already been blamed for the collapse of the global economy....(Hmmm, no wonder it doesn't sleep.)
So, maybe NYC could use a little boost. And, anyway, the city deserves accolades for its efforts to go green. Mayor Mike Bloomberg's PlaNYC is that rarest of political beasts: A long-term vision for sustainability that involves real investment, real sacrifice and promises real results. It was among the first and most comprehensive green city plans of its kind, and remains among the most ambitious. Ambitious, you scoff? Yeah, ambitious like planting a million trees, charging drivers for the privilege of traveling downtown (despite political odds, it still could happen, like a third Bloomberg term) and closing down vehicular traffic in Times Square to create an urban pedestrian park in the midst of the neon glow. Oh, and don't expect to grease up at the local McDonald's while you're visiting, either, because the city has banned trans fats, and requires fast-food joints to post calorie counts to discourage unhealthy eating.
But it doesn't stop there. As any New Yorker knows, the heart of the city isn't in its government, but in its people. And New York is home to some of the most innovative and exciting entrepreneurs on the planet. From the eco-entrepreneurs of Brooklyn to Sustainable South Bronx, New York has about 8 million reasons to deserve a Heart of Green.
Rit Aggarwala, the director of the city's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, accepted a 2009 Heart of Green Award on behalf of the city. Watch his acceptance speech!
Planet Green, The Influencer
Do we need another home improvement show? Yes if it's a home improvement show about reclaiming for second use the abandoned pieces of a house on the demolition block. Do we really need another reality TV series? Yes if the subject of scrutiny is pioneering eco-celeb Ed Begley, Jr.
Discovery Channel's Planet Green is a case-study in going whole hog. Many companies reacted to the swelling of the green movement by offering new content. Only Discovery decided to launch an entire cable channel, with a full schedule of programming, all of it with a green hue.
Not yet a year old, the Discovery Channel remains fresh and relevant, insightful and exuberant. We hope that it, like the green movement's influence, is here to stay.
Laura Michalchyshyn (center), president of Planet Green, accepted a 2009 Heart of Green Award on behalf of Planet Green. Watch her acceptance speech!