On Monday, Vermonters for a Clean Environment received our formal invitation to next Thursday’s award ceremony at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington. We knew we had been nominated for our work on wind energy in the “Courage in Leadership” category, and made it into the finals.  What we did not know until Monday is that also in the category for this award, which was pitched as being for “individuals and organizations,”  is Green Mountain Power, a corporation, and that VCE has been set up to compete directly against GMP for the award.  The “Courage in Leadership” award is

For an individual or organization taking up a cause of environmental conservation or stewardship issues because of a principled position in the face of likely public or political criticism.

Something doesn’t seem right about this.  GMP is a corporation, not an organization, and its Lowell project is lacking in principles while enjoying virtually no political criticism.

The program lists an Advisory Committee.  VCE learned today that they are not the judges, but were involved in deciding the categories.  The judges of the award are not identified.

We are rather surprised that ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and the Burlington Free Press have allowed two for-profit businesses, GMP and Small Dog Electronics, into the finals of something that was billed as acknowledging the environmental leadership of organizations and individuals.  The business community has several high profile awards, including the Deane C. Davis Award and the Terry Ehrich Award, both of which reference the importance of the natural environment as part of their criteria.   Even the majority of Vermont’s Governor’s Awards for Environment Excellence are given to businesses rather than individuals or organizations.  With this new award, ECHO and the BFP seemed to be creating the first award in the state to honor individuals and organizations focused on environmental work.  If the award was open to businesses, it should have explicitly been stated in the announcement.

The winners each get $1000, so it will be interesting to see if the Canadian corporation, Gaz-Metro, owner of Green Mountain Power, ends up receiving a cash prize for developing a for-profit project using tax and rate-payer dollars that would require massive environmental destruction on a scale never seen before in Vermont.   Gotta wonder how the judges, whoever they are, might spin the requirement that the winner’s cause show environmental conservation and stewardship.

We thank those of you who nominated VCE.  We are honored to have been nominated. However, the sponsors’ choice to pit a small non-profit against a major corporation has put us in the position of not really looking forward to being part of the awards ceremony. On the other hand, this is the story of VCE, taking on corporate Goliaths in the face of what some people think are insurmountable odds.

Community. Continuity. Creativity. Courage

The First Annual Green Mountain Environmental Leadership Awards Ceremony

Hosted by FreePressMedia and
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

WHEN: Thursday, April 14, 2011 6 – 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
1 College Street
Burlington, VT 05401
SCHEDULE: 6:00 p.m.
Meet and mingle with our fourteen finalists7:00 p.m.
Keynote Speaker David Donath
Freedom, Unity, and Green Mountain Environmentalism:
Vermont as a Wellspring of the Environmental Movement

Awards Ceremony

TICKETS: $25.00 – Single Ticket 

$20.00 – Member Ticket

Members of ECHO or any of the 14 award finalist organizations receive a $5 discount. Please be prepared to show your membership card/affiliation at the door if you purchase this ticket.

Purchase tickets online or call 1.877.324.6386 ext. 100

Substantial hors d’oeuvres and cash bar

About the Keynote Speaker

DAVID A. DONATH is president and a trustee of the Woodstock Foundation,
which owns and operates the Billings Farm & Museum and is the primary operating
partner of the Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park.


What a Great Idea!

  • Going “Blue”/Lake Champlain International
  • Nursery Launch/Branch-Out Burlington!
  • Pellet Stoves/Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative
  • Tech Recycling/Small Dog Electronics
  • “Free-air” Refrigeration/Richard Travers

Courage in Leadership

  • No! – Industrial Wind Power/Vermonters for a Clean Environment
  • Yes! – Industrial Wind Power/Green Mountain Power
  • Calkins Natural Area/South Burlington Land Trust
  • Amphibian Crossing/Monkton Conservation Commission
  • Population Growth/Population Media Center

Citizen Scientist

  • Milfoil Eradication/Lake Fairlee Association
  • Toxics Monitoring/The Lake Champlain Committee
  • Floodplain Forest Invasives/Camels Hump Middle School
  • School-wide Composting/Ferrisburgh Central School

Advisory Committee

Annie Bourdon John Ewing Ben Rose
Darby Bradley Chris Kilien Mara Welton
Elizabeth Courtney Madeline Kunin Mike Winslow

The Green Mountain Environmental Leadership Awards were created by
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and FreePressMedia to recognize
environmental stewards and their initiatives that have shaped, inspired, encouraged
and supported successful and long-term leadership of Vermont’s rich and diverse natural environment.