Leadership Awards Recognize Efforts Of Environmentalists
An eclectic group of citizen-environmentalists was honored by Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) for varied contributions to the economic health and well-being of the Princeton community at a January 29 ceremony in the Community Room of the Princeton Public Library.
Winners of the 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards, given out by Mayor Liz Lempert and Sustainable Princeton board member and founder Heidi Fichtenbaum, include a municipal employee, three high school students, three residents, and a local business.
Chosen from 20 nominations by a volunteer review team of five individuals deeply involved in sustainability activism, the winners were selected for activities such as protecting and improving the natural environment; reducing waste and/or increasing recycling; educating others about sustainable practices, and conserving energy or using it more efficiently.
The annual awards are intended to identify and reward Princeton’s best, brightest, and greenest in their efforts to create a sustainable environment. Each nomination was reviewed for its impact and innovation. The committee also looked for unsung heroes working to create positive change.
Nominations were made for individuals, organizations, and/or businesses that are “catalysts and models within our community and have preserved and improved the natural, social, or economic fabric of our town,” said Sustainable Princeton’s Executive Director Diane Landis. “It is heartening to see the diverse types of environmental efforts going on in our community.”
The 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards recognized seven individuals and one downtown business, whose singular activities range from planting special municipal gardens to hosting zero waste school picnics and conducting a Greenhouse Gas Assessment at a local school.
The recipients were: environmental activist Alexandra Bar-Cohen; gardener Vikki Caines; columnist Hutchinson “Huck” Fairman; high school students Tag Quijano (see story page 5), Zach Woogen, and Kate Yazujian; curbside organic waste program champions Penny Thomas and Susie Wilson; and the local business, Princeton Printer.
Ms. Bar-Cohen was honored for her volunteer work to create zero waste events and a zero waste culture at the Jewish Center and at Littlebrook Elementary School. Her advocacy on behalf of the county-wide plastic bag referendum was also recognized. She was thanked for “changing the daily habits of countless numbers of Princeton residents and, in so doing, helping to steer us all toward a more sustainable future.”
“We feel that it is important to celebrate those who go about making positive changes quietly: individuals like Alexandra Bar-Cohen who does behind the scenes nitty-gritty work that has an impact in changing habits that can be hard to change,” commented Ms. Landis Monday.
Ms. Caines went above and beyond her 9-to-5 duties at the Princeton Recreation Department with her idea for special gardens at the municipal complex at 400 Witherspoon Street, which she went on to plant and tend. Her work was commended for “bringing smiles to visitors’ faces and for providing an example of the way in which forgotten patches of dirt can be turned into thriving gardens.”
Mr. Fairman’s regular volunteer newspaper column “Huck’s Solutions” was cited for inspiring “important environmental action,” through “consistent, persistent, and successful efforts to inform our community about environmental issues.”
Several projects at Princeton Day School garnered an award for the collective efforts of students Tag Quijano, Zach “Woogie” Woogen, and Kate Yazujian, who organized an annual Harvest Dinner for 250 as well as the school’s Student Environmental Conference. In addition, the three were part of a Greenhouse Gas Assessment team and are leaders at the national Student Climate and Conservation Congress run by the Green School’s Alliance.
Constitution Hill residents Penny Thomas and Susie Wilson shared an award for their tenacious work with neighbors, the property owner’s association, and Princeton’s recycling coordinator to successfully implement Princeton’s curbside organic waste program.
As well as individual citizens (teachers, school administrators, government employees, and religious leaders, among others) the awards recognize businesses and this year, Princeton Printer was recognized as “a model and a knowledge-resource for everyone about how to run a green business.” The company has installed solar panels on its rooftop and uses soy ink.
Sustainable Princeton’s goals are to reduce the town’s fossil fuels energy use by 20 percent between now and 2020 and to reduce waste to landfill by 50 percent by 2016. “We are a hub and a catalyst for change, providing information, vetting ideas, educating and exciting the community to action,” said Ms. Landis.
In addition to its website: www.sustainableprincton.org, members of the public can find out more about Sustainable Princeton through hour-long open office hours in Monument Hall on Wednesdays, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. These “tea and talks” are an opportunity to chat about sustainability concerns and ideas while enjoying a brew from local sources such as InfiniTea said Ms. Landis.
For more information, call (609) 454-4757 or visit: www.sustainableprinceton.org.