2013 Grassroots Citizen Advocate Award Recipients
Amy Jo Smith
You know what Lucille Ball had to say, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” Amy Jo Smith is a very busy person, she is the Executive Director of Environment Erie, is CEO of Eco-Cheeks (a cloth diaper business), and a Mom.
As a Board Member for Freshwater Future, when she was asked to do something, Amy Jo always followed through quickly and thoroughly. She was a great ambassador for Freshwater Future, promoting our services and programs and connecting other groups working in Pennsylvania. Thank you Amy Jo serving six-years as a board member and your role as Secretary on the Freshwater Future Board.
Energetic, enthusiastic, and woman of action is what comes to mind when Freshwater Future staffers think of Stacey Smith—and this impression was made over phone conversations. Stacey Smith has channeled her positivity to restore the health of Onondaga Creek in Syracuse and revitalize her community.
he grassroots group she helped organize, Onondaga Creek Conservation Council, is transforming a decrepit urban park into an oasis with climate savvy plantings. Stacey led the charge by asking for help and input from everywhere she could. (It is hard to say no to an energetic, enthusiastic, woman of action.) Several universities, Roots & Shoots club, and 100 Black Men from Syracuse have all helped. What matters most to Stacey though is when the children from the neighborhood help with planting projects and take pride in their accomplishments and enjoy the restored park.
As a single-parent, working, homeschooling mom, Stacey’s work has helped many reconnect to the natural world in their neighborhood.
Concerned Citizens of Big Bay
Persistence is a key attribute for environmental advocates and Concerned Citizens of Big Bay has just that. This small group of dedicated individuals in the U.P. continues to be involved in the unfolding of Eagle Mine in Marquette County. While the permits have been issued for the mine, there is still a great deal of work yet to be done.
Concerned Citizens of Big Bay has been instrumental in shedding light on the dealings between the mining company and local authorities in the construction of mine haul roads. Originally, there was a plan to build a 22 mile long road through the wilderness to service the mine. When that plan was defeated, all eyes were on “improving” existing roads. Members of CCBB dug deep into the notes of meetings and found that the “improvements” were actually plans to build brand new sections of road through the watershed. They began organizing and alerting fellow activists about public hearings, meetings, and comment opportunities. They were able to work with the Marquette County Board of Commissioners and request that the planning process be slowed in order to allow for more time in reviewing the plans. CCBB was successful in getting that board vote because of their persistence and desire to protect this beautiful area of the U.P.
With a limited budget and no staff, it is amazing to see how much power we all wield simply through our actions. We can choose to watch from the sidelines or we can get in the game like Concerned Citizens for Big Bay. Freshwater Future is pleased to present this award to these unsung heroes and we hope they keep their persistence up.
Mike Layton is a dedicated environmental and community leader in his home-town of Toronto. Commitment to the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes has led him to serving on the Boards of Freshwater Future and Great Lakes United, acting as a member of Environment Canada’s Great Lakes Canadian Advisory Panel and working at Environmental Defence as Deputy Outreach Director where he championed initiatives such as the Green Energy and Green Economy Act.Most recently, Mike was elected as one of Toronto’s youngest Councillors. He brought his experience and commitment to the Great Lakes to city council. In the summer of 2013, Mike spearheaded the “Cut the Carp: Taking Action on Invasive Species in the Great Lakes” campaign to raise awareness on the threat Asian carp pose to the ecological and economic health of the Great Lakes. Mike’s motion to call on governments on both sides of the border to take action to fight the invasive species in the Great Lakes was passed by the city council of Toronto.
Thank you Mike for your dedication to keeping the Great Lakes clean, healthy, and Asian carp free!