Telluride Mountainfilm: Lani Alo for the Goldman Environmental Prize

Telluride Mountainfilm: Lani Alo for the Goldman Environmental Prize

Lani- for Susan and Telluride [click "Play" button to hear Susan's interview with Lani Alo]

Entrepreneur/author/environmentalist Paul Hawken was a Telluride Mountainfilm guest in 2007. Telluride was a stop in a tour explaining the idea behind his latest book "Blessed Unrest," a sprawling grassroots movement comprised of tens of millions ordinary and not-so-ordinary individuals and groups busily working to safeguard the environment, ensure social justice, and resist the threat of globalization on indigenous cultures. The movement consists of research institutes, community development agencies, village-and citizen-based organizations, corporations, networks, faith-based groups, trusts and foundations, all trying to defend against corrupt politics and climate change, corporate predation, and death of the oceans, governmental indifference and pandemic poverty, industrial forestry and farming, depletion of soil and water, and more… Trying to describe the breadth and depth of the global grassroots commitment would be like trying to hold the ocean in your hand.

Mountainfilm regular, ethnobotanist/author/environmental activist Wade Davis once described the people Hawken is talking about in "Blessed Unrest," as "dharma saints." In a big way, "dharma saints" is what The Goldman Environment Prize is all about, ordinary people taking extraordinary action.

One morning over breakfast in his home in San Francisco, civic leader/philanthropist Richard Goldman was reading an article announcing the winners of the Nobel Prizes in 1988. He wondered whether there was anything comparable that recognized ordinary people for their contributions to the environment. A survey of other prizes revealed that there was not. Richard and his late wife Rhoda Goldman began laying the groundwork for the establishment of the Goldman Environmental Prize, which would become the world’s largest prize for grassroots environmentalists, fearless  leaders who are willing to take on government and corporate interests and work to improve the environment for everyday people in their respective communities.

The first Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony, timed to coincide with Earth Day, took place on April 16, 1990. To date, the institution has doled out award to 133 people from 75 countries. At the presentation of the 2009 winners, each of whom receives $150,000, no strings attached, a 2008 Mountainfilm guest, CNN's Christiane Amanpour made the introduction, Al Gore gave the keynote address and Robert Redford introduced the recipient's videos. The Goldman Prize honors a world busy saving itself.

Lani Alo is the Prize's program officer. Every year, she works with the Prize recipients from Islands and Island Nations and North America, hosting them in San Francisco and introducing them to prominent NGOs, fellow environmental leaders and policy makers in Washington. With her colleagues, she researches and vets nominees and final candidates of the Prize and presents them to the Prize jury.

Lani has been with the Goldman Prize for 10 years. In graduate school, she studied international relations, with a focus on environmental policy.

For more about this year's recipients and what Lani will talk about at Mountainfilm, press the "play" button on her podcast.

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