Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods Honored Environmental Leaders Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern at Smith Nature Symposium Awards Ceremony
RIVERWOODS, IL -- Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods welcomed honorees Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern to the 37th Annual Smith Nature Symposium Awards Ceremony, live-streamed at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 9th.
“Sue Halpern and Bill McKibben have helped shape one of the largest grassroots environmental movements of the 21st century and they are inspiring people around the world to take a stand for the environment and climate justice. This is a critical moment requiring thoughtful action to move our society toward more just and sustainable solutions and Brushwood Center is thrilled to honor Bill and Sue’s work in this pursuit,” said Gail Sturm, Chair of the Brushwood Center Board of Directors.
Brushwood Center bestowed the Environmental Leadership Award to Halpern and McKibben, a couple that has influenced millions of young people through their powerful writing and activism on behalf of nature, democracy, and the climate. Brushwood Center also welcomed environmental allies and Masters of Ceremonies Bill Kurtis and Donna La Pietra, live-streamed from their treehouse, to facilitate conversation with the honorees.
The program featured guest appearances from previous honorees, including Robert Redford, Sibylle Szaggars Redford, Amory Lovins, and Judy Hill Lovins.
The Symposium included a special musical performance as a tribute to nature during COVID-19 by Multi Grammy Award nominee and violinist Philippe Quint and former “Chicagoan of the Year in Classical Music” Vladimir Kulenovic. It was performed directly from Brushwood Center at the heart of Ryerson Woods as a calming tribute to nature in the midst of COVID-19.
The Distinguished Environmental Leadership Award was first presented in 1984 to Roger Tory Peterson, the esteemed American naturalist, ornithologist, artist, and educator. In 2019, Amory Lovins and Judy Hill Lovins were recognized for their commitment to a low-carbon energy future and for using their art to inspire people to be environmental stewards. In 2018, the award was presented to Robert Redford and Sibylle Szaggars Redford for their lifelong devotion to land preservation and climate change work.
The Smith Nature Symposium memorializes the significant civic legacy of Hermon Dunlap and Ellen Thorne Smith, who donated their land and cabin to help form Ryerson Woods. The Awards Ceremony was the culmination of a seven-part live-streamed series on critical environmental issues that examined how we can shape a more just, sustainable future in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing climate crisis. This series was also a celebration of nature, arts and individuals who make extraordinary contributions to environmental conservation and deepen understanding of and appreciation for the natural world.
All funds raised from the Symposium directly supported Thrive Together, Brushwood Center’s COVID-19 crisis response for a more just and sustainable future.
Visit www.smithnaturesymposium.org to learn more about the 2020 Smith Nature Symposium series.
Bill McKibben is an author, environmentalist, and founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea. He is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Prize, Gandhi Prize, Thomas Merton Prize, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences with honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. McKibben’s 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
Sue Halpern is a contributing writer at The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone covering science, technology, and social issues. She is the author of seven books, including Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly, which was made into an Emmy-nominated film. She is a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, where she serves as Director of the program in narrative journalism. Halpern was a columnist for Mother Jones, Ms., and Smithsonian Magazine. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim and Echoing Green Fellowships, and earned BA from Yale University and a doctorate in political theory from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.