Left to right: Muriel MacDonald (Sunrise activist),OCR Communications Director Daniela Huson,OCR Director Michael Stocker, Jerry Mander, Brower Youth Awardee Mackenzie Feldman, Sunrise Movement West Coast training coordinator Sally Morton
Early in October we attended the 20th anniversary of the Brower Youth Awards (BYA). Modeled to some extent on the Goldman Environmental Prize and honoring environmental Arch-Druid, David Brower, the award recognizes six young environmental activists ages 13-22 who are making more-than-adult strides in local to global conservation, environmental equity, and social justice.
Previous awardees include 350.org Executive Director May Boeve, youth climate activist Alec Loorz, and anti-mountaintop removal activist Junior Walk (“you people have been promising wealth and riches to my family for five generations, and now you want to destroy our town!”).
I suppose if this year’s roster of awardees is exceptional, it is that all of them are women. I could highlight each one of these courageous young women with deep emotion, but I want to focus on Mackenzie Feldman – because she is a pal of my cousin/niece Muriel MacDonald (who herself is a firecracker in the Sunrise movement).
Mackenzie is a UC Berkeley student. When her volleyball coach warned the team to not retrieve balls that rolled on to the lawn because of a recent application of herbicide, she took matters into her own hands, forming Herbicide Free Campus – and organizing, training, and mentoring students on how to ban Glyphosate (Round-Up) from their campuses, and promote alternative grounds-maintenance practices.
I got to meet Mackenzie at the BYA reception, and was really pleased (although not surprised) to run into Muriel. As you might expect, the reception for this event was populated by a whole passel of storied activists; but few with the bona fides of Jerry Mander.
If you have ever seen the Grand Canyon and been moved by the stunning vistas – or been fortunate enough to have taken a raft down that stretch of the Colorado, you can thank Jerry Mander.
Jerry had been a big player in the San Francisco advertising industry, but facing the prospect of using his talents to advance consumerism, or doing something meaningful, he selected the later, and has ever since helped us reframe our relationship with television, Capitalism, technology, and globalization.
I don’t know yet what Mackenzie, Muriel, or OCR Communications Director Daniela Huson will make of their lives, but with Jerry Mander, Mackenzie, and Muriel in the room, I saw an opportunity not to be missed. May the legacy of all of these people be remembered 50 years from now – surrounded by the fruits of their collective passions.