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.

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