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Environmental board honors seven for activism

The Evanston Environmental Board presented stewardship awards Monday to seven individuals and groups for their efforts to protect the environment.

Mayor Morton congratulates Steve Perkins on his award.

Mayor Lorraine Morton presented the awards at the City Council meeting. Here are the names of the winners along with excerpts from the statements of their accomplishments:

  • Debbie Hillman, for environmental activism and tireless support of the Network for Evanston’s Future.

    Debbie has a long history of environmental activism in Evanston. Her tireless efforts as well as her time commitment to the support of the original Network for Evanston’s Future has been instrumental in developing the organization into a strong, dedicated, and environmentally focused organization. Debbie is skilled at keeping the lines of communication between so many people and organizations, open and productive. Debbie’s leadership role in last month’s citywide Environmental summit brought the issue of sustainability to the forefront. Debbie arranged a special session for City of Evanston management staff on municipal sustainability. Debbie’s newest pursuit involves heading up a group focused on the quality of food and it’s relation to sustainability known as the Evanston Food Policy Council.

  • Steve Gravabic, for dedication to energy efficiency at ETHS.

    Steve’s dedication to reducing energy use at Evanston Township High School is legendary. He readily investigates new and alternative methods to generate and/or supply the High School with energy. In Steve’s work he is the front line staff that deals directly with the real life issue of how to optimize energy use in a large public facility on a limited budget. Steve continues to have a long range vision concerning energy production and utilization. This is especially commendable as so many other operational engineers are prone to take an easier path.

  • Steve Perkins, for environmental leadership of the Evanston Inter-religious Sustainability Circle and the Network for Evanston’s Future.

    Over the past six years Steve Perkins as provided essential leadership for the Network for Evanston’s Future. From its beginnings as the Evanston Inter-religious Sustainability Circle, new groups have developed focusing on energy, transportation, affordable housing, community land trust, and food; now all constituting the Network for Evanston’s Future. Much of the organizational environmental growth that has taken place in Evanston since 1999 is due to the encouragement and leadership skills of Steve Perkins. Acting as a volunteer, he has used his ability to stimulate independent actions, leadership and group development. The ability to develop new organizations is unique and seldom encountered. Those working for environmental sustainability in Evanston have benefited greatly from Steve’s efforts and abilities.

  • Green Sanctuary Committee, Unitarian Church of Evanston, for sustainability initiatives and environmental practices.

    For several years, under the chairmanship of Marjorie Fisher, a committee of a dozen or so Unitarian Church members has embarked on a mission of sustainability. The church used wind power for part of its energy needs last year and plans to continue. Committee members are actively working on reducing the church’s energy use through sustainable practices. The Green Sanctuary Committee provides environmental information on a community bulletin board and communicates to all the membership through a weekly column in the church’s newsletter. The Green Sanctuary Committee additionally focuses on individual actions promoting cloth grocery bags, reusable tableware, recycling initiatives, and green cleaning products. Members are committed to increasing their knowledge and have toured a number of environmentally oriented facilities including the waste disposal and recycling centers as well as the Chicago Center for Green Technology to glean ideas and green practices.

  • Rich Seaman, for dedication to the environment through social activism.

    Rich Seaman has been actively involved in a number of environmental organizations throughout the North Shore for the past few years. Beginning with the Sierra Club, Rich began to promote programs and activities from the Chicago Group. Once involved he expanded networking opportunities for non-Evanston groups including the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Friends of the Chicago River. Rich produces a consolidated calendar of events that highlights environmental actions and activities throughout the region which he regularly sends to his extensive targeted e-mail list. Rich recruits volunteers and makes a point of establishing relationships and networks with a goal of increasing opportunities for participation in environmentally related programs, activities, and events. In addition to his environmental activities Rich has been involved with the Evanston Recreation Board, Robert Crown Community Center Advisory Board, Fourth of July association and the Kiwanis Club of Evanston.

  • Louise Willis, for her dedication to community beautification.

    As a member of Evanston’s Traveler’s Garden Club Louise Willis, who just celebrated her 101st birthday, thinks that she joined the garden club in the 1930’s “However” says Louise, “there’s no one around to ask!” Louise is a life-long resident whose volunteer work centered on Evanston. For years she actively participated in the Evanston Garden Fair, now in its 56th year, bringing in herbs, wildflowers and perennials to beautiful home and civic gardens. Beautification efforts have included tree planting, children’s and school gardening, as well as civic gardening at corners and intersections. Louise, along with her husband, Amos, were early supporters at the benefactor’s level of the original Ecology Center built in 1974.

  • Linda Lutz, for integrating environmental commitment and education with the community.

    Linda has been the dedicated Ecology Center Coordinator for almost 20 years. In addition to being the designated staff liaison for the Environment Board since 1992, Linda also staffs the Ladd Arboretum Committee/Evanston Environmental Association and the Lighthouse Landing Committee. Linda is actively involved in a number of community organizations including the Rotary Club of Evanston, Traveler’s Garden Club and the Garden Council which are involved in the beautification of public areas all over Evanston. Never one to sit on the sidelines, Linda devotes much time and energy advocating for improvements in the Ladd Arboretum. She is an excellent resource for those on the journalistic environmental beat providing information for those calls or who stop in to talk. Linda is a shining example of a City of Evanston employee establishing relationships between and providing leadership to many of Evanston’s environmental organizations.

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