Congratulations to these Sustainability Champions!

Gorge Owned announced the winners of the 9th annual Tod J. LeFevre Sustainability Champion Awards during Earth Week. This award celebrates individuals, businesses, organizations and students working on innovative, creative solutions to the environmental and social issues facing the Gorge while also demonstrating that such solutions can be economically viable. They are passionate leaders who exemplify the importance of trying to meet our current needs without compromising the well-being of future generations. 

2019 Award Winners

Pamela Springer, of White Salmon, through her connection with Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network’s Ban the Bag Committee, spearheaded a reuse and recycle art education program with White Salmon Schools. Pam worked with local businesses to acquire old windsurf and kite sails and then coordinated a group of volunteers to go into the schools and help students turn the sails into reusable grocery bags. Many students learned a new skill – sewing – while learning about the environmental issues with single-use plastic bags. Pam also coordinated with Jeff O’Neal of Harvest Market, who agreed to sell the bags and give all proceeds back to reuse and recycle education in White Salmon schools.

The Renewal Workshop, based in Cascade Locks, is creating a circular economy in the apparel and textile industry by renewing products that would otherwise be deemed as “trash”. The Renewal Workshop is putting local sewers to work repairing slightly damaged apparel and renewing them into new products. In addition to taking apparel out of the waste stream, The Renewal Workshop itself is a zero-waste business. The company uses state-of-the-art cleaning technology that uses recirculating carbon dioxide rather than water for cleaning products, and they also create something usable out of all of the items our brand partners send us. Plus, in just under a few years, they have created 25 new jobs.

Streets Alive Hood River started out as a wildly ambitious event and has since evolved into an advisory group providing recommendations to the City of Hood River around active transportation solutions that make our streets safer for pedestrians and people on bikes. Last September, Streets Alive, powered by a team of volunteers, closed streets to automobile traffic, so that children, young and old, could freely walk, bike, play or share food, music and art with their neighbors. They were committed to making their website and educational materials available in both English and Spanish and included stops at numerous locally owned businesses, many of which were minority-owned.

Adam Smith and his 6th grade Science Enrichment class at the Hood River Middle School were recognized for their powerful “Voices from the Land” stop-motion animation film about the Eagle Creek fire. With help from Arts in Education in the Gorge, the students created an engaging place-based study of the Eagle Creek fire. Using relatable language and playful illustrations, the film educates people about the impacts of wildfires, the rejuvenation process, and the importance of being good stewards of the places we love and the places that have been sacred to Native Americans for generations.

2019  Tod J. LeFevre Sustainability Champion Award Nominees

In the Individual Category:

  • Pasquale Barone
  • Peter Cornelison, Friends of the Columbia River Gorge
  • Lorri Epstein, Water Quality Director, Columbia Riverkeeper
  • Kathy Fitzpatrick, Mobility Manager, Mid Columbia Economic Development District
  • Julie Larson, Lyle resident
  • Megan Ramey, Hood River Planning Commission and Streets Alive Hood River
  • Pamela Springer, Ban the Bag art education project
  • Cindy Thieman, Director, Hood River Watershed Group

In the Student Category

  • Adam Smith and the 6th Grade Science Enrichment Classes at Hood River Middle School

In the Organization/Nonprofit Category

  • Columbia Insight
  • Gorge Grown Food Network
  • Hood River Community Action Vision Council
  • Adams Creek Cohousing
  • Peace Through Culture Foundation
  • Streets Alive Hood River

In the Business Category:

  • Arome (Hood River)
  • Emerald Systems (Cascade Locks)
  • Green Thumb Projects (Hood River)
  • Hood River Hotel
  • The Renewal Workshop (Cascade Locks)

About Tod J. LeFevre


Tod J. LeFevre, a longtime resident of Hood River and a true champion of sustainability. Tod passed away on March 7, 2011 when his long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis ended before donor lungs could be found. Among many other things, Tod was a respected civil engineer, green building advocate, a mountaineer, skier, adventurer, innovator and teacher. He launched a solar engineering and installation firm, Common Energy, which is now owned by Scott Sorensen. Tod and Marti have two children, Cassell and Sutton Bell. This award honors Tod and his humble determination to collaboratively tackle environmental problems, through his business and through community service.

The selection committee will consider the following when making its selections of the award winners:

Local Connection — The impact of the champion’s work should be in the Columbia River Gorge.

Environmental Impact — Tod was committed to being the change he wanted to be in the world. The nominee must be helping protect the environment through their actions — whether at home, work, school and/or or in the wider community.

Social Impact — Tod loved to volunteer and do good in the community for the sake of doing good. Nominees that are having a positive social impact, in addition to environmental impact, will be looked upon favorably.

Innovation — An engineer and small business owner, Tod embraced innovation and creativity. Nominees and projects that are testing a new concept to solve an environmental and/or social problem in our community will be looked upon favorably.

Educational – Tod loved to educate and often taught classes on green building and renewable energy. Nominees with some type of educational component will be looked upon favorably.

Past Winners

2018 Winners

Individual: Samantha and Jeff Irwin 

Business: Analemma Wines

Organization: Hood River County for its efforts to produce the Hood River County Energy Plan


2017 Winners

Individual: John Nelson

Business: Columbia Gorge Women’s Action Network

Student: Isis Stenn


2016 Winners

Individual: Heather Staten

Business: Rebuild it Center

Student: Clare Davies


2015 Winners

Individuals: Jurgen and Susan Hess, Hess Photography and Envirogorge

Business: Solstice Wood Fire Cafe and Bar

Student: Charley Boonstra, HRVHS Climate Action Club

2014 Winners

Individual: David Skakel, Tri-County Hazardous Waste and Recycling Program

Business: Humble Roots Nursery, Kristin Currin & Andrew Merrit

Students: Daeuthen Dahlquist and Erik Siekkinen


2013 Winners

Individual: Michael Becker, Hood River Middle School

Business: Cascade Acupuncture Center

Student: Paul Cook, Columbia Gorge Community College


2012 Winners

Individual: Linda Short

Business: Dirt Hugger



2011 Winners

Individual: Tod J. LeFevre

Business: Springhouse Cellar