Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 Goldman Award Ceremony, San Francisco

photos: Jayms Ramirez


The Goldman awards last night at the SF Opera house proved to be a beautiful event. The stories told by the 7 recipients were both inspiring and heartfelt, as they revealed the details of how their stories. Each of the recipients have championed a cause in their homeland to save or protect a part of their country and bring to light the need for more sustainable policies around the world. Because of their outspoken actions, many have been threatened, harassed and even jailed for simply asking "why" in the face of greed and misuse of Earth Mother.

Richard Goldman, the founder of the prize, has been spotlighting the unsung heroes of the environment for 20 years now. Goldman brought these 7 award winners from around the globe to accept their award in front of a packed house in the glorious Opera House of San Francisco. Mr Goldman gave a short intro speech to kick off the ceremonies, which lasted a couple of hours.

I was fortunate enough to be part of the press corp to cover the event which began at 3:30 pm with a "green carpet" arrival of the Goldman family, Al Gore, Robert Redford, Tracey Chapman, Christine Amanpour among others. A pack of photographers and film crews shot the arrivals against a staged background with all the shouting as it were Oscar night.... "Mr Redford!!, Tracey!!!, Mr. Gore...... and so on to get that one bit of eye contact for the respective lensmen.
It was cool! and the guests were gracious, in their pose striking.

Once inside the opera house, the Mistress of Ceremonies, Christiane Amanpour from CNN started the festivities with a passionate description of the trials and tribulations facing those who speak up to confront government, corporations and wrong doing in order to do what is right. The crowd cheered and crave more from the seasoned news reporter.....

Next up was Al Gore, and the rood began to quiver from the noise that erupted in applause for the Ex- Vice President. His speech was short and concise peppered with a good bit of humor that went over well with this liberal crowd. He wrapped up his words with the idea that the time is now my friends.... The time is now.

Gore strolled off the stage and the lights went dim for a minute, as another figure came out in a quiet manner and humble swagger. Robert Redford was the narrator of the 6 video clips explaining each recipients' cause, which would play throughout out the evening. (at the end of this post is the video clip of Redford's intro)

The first clip was about Marie Gunnoe from West Virginia, who then was handed her award from Christiane Amanpour. Marie kissed Mr Goldman and thanked him for the spotlight he had granted..... This continued with the other 6 recipients, only broken up by a short musical segment performed by Tracey Chapman! She performed two songs for an adoring audience and revealed that she looked and looked for an uplifting song about environmentalism, but the search was so difficult, which brought a wall of laughter from all the treehuggers.... She covered a Counting Crows song about 'Paving paradise to put up a parking lot......."

The other recipients accepted their awards:

Wanze Eduards and S. Hugo Jabini - Suriname, Syeda Rizwana Hasan - Bangladesh, Olga Speranskaya - Russia, Yuyun Ismawati - Indonesia, Marc Ona Essangui - Gabon

The last award given was to Mr Marc Ona Essangui, from Gabon and his was the most emotional for the crowd as his story was truly inspiring.
He is wheelchair bound and has been fighting for the natural areas and Kongou Falls in his country for many years so the next generations may enjoy them as well.
He has been jailed and still faces charges in his country for 'questioning the power of the President'. The US ambassador worked hard and true to make it possible for Mr. Essangui to be here tonight.

He sat on stage at a customized podium in his wheelchair and closed the evening with a anecdote from his youth. "... When I was a boy my father would put me on his back to walk me to school and others would shout out 'don't waste your time with that one, he is a cripple...'
My father would reply that we would leave no baby chick behind if it was still alive.
...I would carry this notion for the rest of my life, and I will never leave behind the precious Kongou Falls and protected areas in my country, as they are still alive....."

The crowd erupted again into a standing ovation and you could see the calm appreciation in Mr. Essangui's eyes.

All 7 recipients came back on stage and gave a hands-in-the-air victory salutation.....

A beautiful night.

Photos and Video

clip by Amin Saidi

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goldman Award Recipients 2009 - most prestigious environmental awards...

Here is list of 2009 recipients; the awards are tomorrow night, and I am shooting the event so I hope to have some images up soon!

Each winner receives $150,000 usd.

This year's winners are:

Marc Ona Essangui, Gabon: In Gabon, a country without a culture of civic engagement, Marc Ona led efforts to publicly expose the unlawful agreements behind a huge mining project threatening the sensitive ecosystems of Gabon’s equatorial rainforests. Ona’s efforts led to an unprecedented victory for civil society in Gabon, with the government adopting new environmental oversight regulations and significantly reducing the size of the mining concession.

Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh:
Working to reduce the impact of Bangladesh’s exploitative and environmentally-devastating ship breaking industry, leading environmental attorney Rizwana Hasan led a legal battle resulting in increased government regulation and heightened public awareness about the dangers of ship breaking.

Olga Speranskaya, Moscow, Russia:
Russian scientist Olga Speranskaya transformed the NGO community in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia into a potent, participatory force working to identify and eliminate the Soviet legacy of toxic chemicals in the environment.

Yuyun Ismawati, Indonesia:
As waste management problems mount throughout the Indonesian archipelago, Yuyun Ismawati implements sustainable community-based solutions that provide employment opportunities to low-income people and empower them to improve the environment.

Maria Gunnoe, USA:
In the heart of Appalachia, where the coal industry wields enormous power over government and public opinion, lifelong resident Maria Gunnoe fights against environmentally-devastating mountaintop removal mining and valley fill operations.

Wanze Eduards & Hugo Jabini, Suriname:
Wanze Eduards and Hugo Jabini, members of Maroon communities originally established by freed African slaves in the 1700s, successfully organized their communities against logging on their traditional lands, ultimately leading to a landmark ruling for indigenous and tribal peoples throughout the Americas to control resource exploitation in their territories.

I'm at the San Rafael half marathon today celebrating Earth Day!!!
Powering the event is a mobile solar panel grid. Very cool no???!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.

I made this quote, by Eugene Debs, available to some of my brothers and this is the discussion that ensued......

what do you think??

Here we go-

(a brother) ".......bet that line got him some chicks because there are some chicks who dig that idealistic stuff. However, who would he have organized to throw on Hitler? Or was Hitler just another citizen of the world.

It is easy to make quotes like that when you are a free rider on the dudes who have taken care of the bad guys an established a society based on law and order. If someone currently tried to make a statement like that in a middle eastern country, they would be dead. Thank god for the USA where studs like George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson established a land where guys like Eugene Debs can shoot their mouths off and still get laid.

Debs did get rad in the Pullman strike so I will give him some props for that. Once he established the International Workers of the World, however, I don't think he did much good for working people. He just started making a bunch of statements about how great Socialism would be which had no basis in reality.

(me) I'll play with you here Bru.

As a citizen of the world, I'm not saying I am not aware nor uncaring of the hitlers out there and I would surely be vocal and proactive in helping to put down wrong doing.

I am just not high on nationalism. I can't look at Hitler and say yeah USA , yeah Britain!!
The same or even More suspect and covert wrongs have been done by the great USA. I'm just in the middle where ill look at every situation with a broad eye, not an American eye or French eye etc.

I'm not going to advocate a Zapatista rebellion put down so a neo-liberal market can function, so as to make America strong and some of Mexico strong while sweeping aside a segment of Mexican society who do not add value to the world market.

Seems maybe you're subscribing to the idealism of nationalism based on the good deeds done.

Me, I'm still thinking of many perspectives. Do I appreciate my freedoms? Of course. But still doesn't let me blanket the actions of strong nations as being superior, moral or all that great by default.

(a brother) I am going to beg differ with you on Hitler .... I can look at the situation and definitely cheer for the USA and Britain. Without the nationalism of these two countries, there wouldn't be any citizens of the world .... just of bunch of fools living under an imperialist dictator.

Now, I am not big on nationalism either. However, you have to choose your side at some point. I can't be a "citizen of the world" on every issue. You might as well resurrect Sadam Hussein to come back and take over the world if that is your perspective. If dudes don't bind together and protect their shit, they are going to get their shit fucked up. Borders have to be draw and people have to bind together because we can't all be "citizens of world" and make decisions without borders. For right or wrong, I draw my borders at the USA. Now that Obama is running the show, I am feeling a lot better about my "clan" and the decisions that are being made.

I still put the same question to the "citizens of the world," .... can you go to Iran right now and be a "citizen of the world"? ... can you take a trek across Africa and be a "citizen of the world"? .... where are the only places you can stand up and declare you are a "citizen of the world" and not get thrown in prison? ... as far as I know it is the economically advanced democratic nations. And, without the wars fought by the advanced democratic nations, you would never get to declare you are a "citizen of the world." Thus, Debs statement is fucked.

(me) I don't know bru, the saddam statement is a little extreme and your last sentence said to me, " choose... you're either with us or you're against us."

You've made your decision about liking your "clan" I'm not loyal to the clan for clan sake.
I'll charge into the dying of the light, if I feel need be.

I also think there more places than not I can walk freely in more places than not on this earth, yet surely I would be safe if I did not say I was representing the "clan.

(a brother) I never said I "liked" my clan. My clan has had some tremendously good moments (like George Washington not becoming a dictator after the Revolutionary War and taking down Hitler and the Japanese Emporer in WWII) and some very bad moments (like Vietnam, Iraq, and all the wrongdoings done by international corporations). I am just saying that without this clan, the "citizens of the world" wouldn't be able to mouth off and say how fucked everything is and how pure their integrity is. So, I am not a "you are either with us or against us" guy, I am just calling bullshit on bullshit. I am all for the "citizens of the world" enjoying life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness the same way I do. However, when these "citizens" start acting up a bit, I preserve my right to talk shit and hopefully rain on their parade a bit. Just because the "citizens of the world" say a bunch of words that are pure and sound beautiful doesn't mean they have any real world application.

( a different brother) Saying you are a citizen of the world is kind of saying you can take things from all cultures without having any responsibility to any one culture. Take what you want from a certain society and move on. Like a parasite.
I agree with having a little of that thinking but like (deleted) said it is not really helping to protect anyone or fight for the causes of society.

(me)... you might mean to learn and appreciate other cultures.. so to understand where they're coming from etc... Taking what where?

helping to protect as opposed to exploit or rape for financial gain under the banner of freedom?

You guys seem to be caught up in philosophies based on taking, policing...

We tried our best with expansionism, manifest destiny, slavery, imperialism.....
That doesn't seem so sustainable to me in this day and age.

And I think you are mis-construing. I don't understand why your thinking involves having freewheel burning of humans walking the earth.
The point is to change mindset, to think about other cultures, think as a collective. I guarantee you, your president obama is leaning toward citizinery of the world vs what he inherited."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

San Francisco bar and good music....

Hung with a buddy's band at the Hotel Utah in beautiful San Francisco a few days ago. They are Alma Desnuda..... A four piece playing acoustic grooves with heaps of zen.

The crowd wailed and the band went hard with a set that makes you feel good!!