On Earth Day under sunny blue skies at the Hood River Waterfront Park, the Columbia Gorge Earth Center announced the winners of the 2012 Tod LeFevre Gorge Sustainability Champion Awards. These awards celebrate the commendable commitment, leadership and compassion of Hood River’s Tod LeFevre, who passed away last spring after a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis.
According to the Earth Center’s Nick Kraemer, “In organizing the first Gorge Sustainability Awards, many asked, ‘What qualifies someone to get this award?’ and ‘How does CGEC define ’sustainable?’”
The answer: LeFevre’s way is the most accurate, authentic and solid example of how CGEC can define what a sustainability champion is. Nominations were submitted from throughout the Gorge and awards were given to business/organization, individual and student.
Dirt Hugger is a regional composting company based in The Dalles that supports a sustainable, local economy by collecting, processing and utilizing valuable organic nutrients locally. Since beginning Dirt Hugger has composted more than 5 million pounds of material with more than 2 million of those pounds landfill-diverted (i.e. used to go to the landfill).
On the product side, Dirt Hugger produces a Certified Organic (OMRI listed) which has found its way into hundreds of backyard gardens, CSA farms, fruit orchards and vineyards throughout the Gorge region.
This past year Dirt Hugger has doubled the staff and quadrupled production capacity to meet local demand for compost and compost services. Dirt Hugger now has a commercial food scraps collection program in Hood River and The Dalles, and is working toward a residential organics program in both cities as well as across the river.
Linda Short has been a longtime resident of Hood River and volunteers with organizations that span a wide variety of topics. In particular, CGEC was impressed with Linda’s spearheading of the Country Living class series and reinvigoration of the Rockford Grange.
Short developed the Country Living Series by reaching out to community members and finding topics that interest rural folks. The series includes classes from seed collection to food preservation.
Short has worked with other dedicated members of the Grange to preserve the organization and recently joined the “green granges” movement. From a historical perspective, the Grange was a radical populist movement from the 1870s that formed in opposition to both monopolistic corporations and their middlemen. Sound familiar?
In 2007 the Hood River Valley Leos started and still maintain a bottle and can recycling program which recycles the nickels from redemptions back into the community.
Through this monthly project, in wind, rain, snow and occasional sunshine, the Leos have recycled and redeemed more than 310,000 bottles and cans while returning more than $15,000 to community nonprofits and local community projects.
This work is not only helping to keep trash out of landfills, but also keeps those dollars from deposits in our community. This program certainly meets the triple bottom line of sustainability: people, planet and profit.