NRCM’s Annual People’s Choice Award
Our annual People's Choice Award honors a Mainer who has worked tirelessly to protect a special place, or has helped pass legislation safeguarding Maine’s environment, or has helped stop polluting companies from contaminating our state—someone who selflessly goes above and beyond to make sure future generations will enjoy the kind of Maine we know and love today.
Voting has closed for the 2022 People's Choice Award
2022 People's Choice Award finalists are (in alphabetical order):
Don’t Waste ME of Old Town, nominated by Dana Colihan
Don’t Waste ME is a powerful group of community leaders directly impacted by the negative impacts of waste facilities, fighting for policies that actually protect communities on the frontline of these threats (and in turn protecting us all). This year the group did exactly that. After almost 20 years of grassroots organizing DWME has a massive victory, passing LD1639 — a bill that closed the out-of-state waste loophole that allowed for more than 200,000 tons of out-of-state waste get brought into Maine and dumped at Juniper Ridge Landfill every year. This is a huge win not only for members of Don’t Waste ME and the Penobscot Nation, who live in the shadow of the landfill, but also a huge win for everyone living across the state as it preserves landfill capacity as a resource for us all.
Jamie Ecker of Brunswick, nominated by Marcia Harrington
Jamie has been a steadfast community leader in support of clean energy, conservation, coastal protection, waste reduction and recycling in Brunswick. He has been particularly effective as Chair of Brunswick’s Recycling & Sustainability Committee since 2018. While many town committees meet with little to show for their efforts, this committee has had an enormous impact on Brunswick’s sustainability practices. Under the tireless efforts of Jamie’s leadership, the committee has done research, sought bids, developed grants, written articles for the local newspaper, and advocated before the town council. The results have been amazing. The committee has spurred the town of Brunswick to: Transition from taking waste to Brunswick’s environmentally disastrous landfill to waste disposal and recycling at ecomaine; convert streetlights throughout the town to LED lighting; enlist more residents to compost their organic waste through a public awareness campaign; the distribution of back yard composters and kitchen collection caddies; and creation of two drop-off sites for compost; and sign a 20-year contract with ReVision Energy to purchase enough off-site-generated solar electricity to meet 66% of needs of municipal buildings and schools. As Jamie once wrote, “No matter how overwhelming many of our environmental challenges may seem, we can make a positive difference when we engage and act locally. It’s definitely the place to start!”
Enock Glidden of Bethel, nominated by Zach Stegeman, Adaptive Outdoor Education Center
Preserving Maine's natural resources is critical, admirable, and I am so grateful to NRCM & everyone who is working toward that. Preserving and opening access to those lands and spaces is an integral part of that effort. Enock Glidden is on the vanguard of opening and preserving access to these special places for Mainers with disabilities and other challenges who may not be able to "get out there" without capital-A Accessible trails. How can we empower the 17% of Mainers living with a disability to access our natural resources? Enock is leading the way in answering that question. As an adaptive adventurer himself, he represents the very population he is trying to assist and is a tremendous advocate. Enock writes a blog titled, “Enock’s Adventures” for Maine Trail Finder, for which he is the Maine Trail Finder Accessibility Ambassador. He visits and reviews Maine trails for accessibility. For that work and his fearless approach to encouraging EVERYONE to go explore outdoors, I wholeheartedly nominate Enock Glidden for the 2022 NRCM People's Choice Award. Learn more about Enock at www.gobeyondthefence.com.
Dot Kelly of Phippsburg, nominated by Allison Hepler and Rebecca Schultz
Dot Kelly has spent a lot of her time in recent years improving sustainability at home. Two specific projects come to mind, although others may have other examples. One is her work with the Public Utilities Commission on the CMP Corridor project. It is extremely difficult for a layperson to advocate for consumers at the PUC, and she found a way to that, by patiently attending so many meetings and then translating it for the rest of us.
The second project is closer to home but has statewide implications. The Basin in Phippsburg used to be home to oyster beds and was looking for a way to introduce them back into the area. She partnered with the Nature Conservancy to create the Basin Oyster Project, a pioneering habitat restoration project, and has created a team including scientists from Bowdoin College and local oyster farmers to develop and test the results. The work has wide-ranging ramifications for both the local ecology and economy as well as our statewide efforts to enhance sustainable marine fisheries.
John Meader of Fairfield, nominated by Susan Adams
Protecting our incredibly special dark skies from light pollution here in Maine and beyond has often been left out as an environmental issue. Northern Maine, in recent history has begun to realize the need to educate and protect this amazing resource. John volunteered with us at Elliottsville Foundation Inc. long before Katahdin Woods and Waters (KAWW) became a National Monument. He did educational programs with the schools and joined the second Stars Over Katahdin (SOK) event on the lands that are now KAWW. This event continues on with his continued volunteer support and through the support of the Friends of KWW organization. John has spent time lugging large heavy telescopes and setting up in a remote area 15 miles in on gravel roads, camping out at night, taking and sharing beautiful photographs of the night skies, sharing his knowledge with others, giving campfire chats, telling his story of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, and more. Since those early SOK events John has made countless trips north for educational purposes. He was a co-founder of Dark Sky Maine, a nonprofit that promotes Maine’s dark sky heritage through sensible lighting and education. He was a contributor to the efforts to get the dark sky designation for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument as well. I think John deserves this honor because he has directed his life's work toward teaching others, in particular Maine youth, to understand, love, and protect something so many of us in Maine take for granted.
Eileen Willard, Kathy Graham, and the Road Rangers of Kennebunk/Wells, nominated by Pamela Cloutier
Six years ago, my friend, Eileen Willard, started a volunteer group to pick up roadside trash in Kennebunk. When Eileen met Kathy Graham, who was doing the same thing in Wells, they banded together and formed a group which they named, Road Rangers. Road Rangers works in tandem with the public works departments of Kennebunk and Wells. Each week during the summer months, Road Rangers focus on a different area in either Kennebunk or Wells and for one hour voluntarily pick up roadside trash. They then alert the public works department as to where the bags of litter are located so that the town can collect them. Over the six years, Eileen estimates that the group has removed 1,000 bags of roadside litter. It's hard, hot, and tick-prone work, which is why I think she (and the Road Rangers volunteer group) deserves recognition.
People's Choice Award winners include:
2021: Sam Saltonstall, of Brunswick, for for almost two decades of tireless advocacy for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation
2020: Eric Sherman, of Greenville, for incredible work to on the No CMP Corridor campaign ranging from gathering petition signatures to delivering signs to fundraising and keeping others informed, and for his dedication and hard work for the greater good of Maine's North Woods
2019: Sandi Howard, of Caratunk, for her dedication to administering the Say NO to NECEC Facebook group and organizing one of the groups of intervenors in the CMP corridor proceedings at the Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission
2018: Robin Robinson, of Brunswick, for creating a flourishing online educational community of people who share photos and information about all aspects of Maine’s wild birds, including threats to their habitats and opportunities to make a difference
2017: Addie Farmer and Lainey Randall, of Portland, for their work keeping plastics and other pollution out of Casco Bay. Read a blog post, written by Lainey and Addie, about their work.
2016: The Larouche family, of Old Town, for the family’s commitment to wildlife protection and habitat conservation as well as environmental education for children and adults through the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge.
2015: Bonnie Pooley of Bethel, for her outstanding success in engaging young people in the work of protecting Maine’s environment.
2014: Robert Godfrey of Eastport, for his perseverance in protecting the beauty and heritage of Down East Maine by leading the grassroots organization, Save Passamaquoddy Bay.
2013: Thanks But No Tank of Searsport, for exceptional efforts mobilizing and engaging citizens to protect Searsport and surrounding coastal communities from potential harm posed by a proposed LPG tank and terminal.
2012: Bob Iles of Bethel, for exceptional efforts preserving the summit of and maintaining trails on Whitecap Mountain in Rumford, and for continued work to obtain public access to area lands and waterways as a member of the board of the Mahoosuc Land Trust.
2011: Belfast Co-housing and Ecovillage, for exceptional efforts and tireless work to establish a model environmentally sustainable, affordable, multi-generational cohousing community.
2010: Vera Francis of Perry, for serving as a leader in a true citizens’ movement in her efforts to protect Passamaquoddy Bay from a proposed LNG terminal.
2009: Evelyn Dunphy of West Bath, for her exceptional efforts in protecting Katahdin Lake from development.
2008: Willy Ritch of Woolwich, for exceptional leadership in mobilizing the citizens of Wiscasset to defeat plans for a coal gasification facility in their town.
2007: Maggie Shannon of Belgrade Lakes, for her dedication to the work of the Congress of Lake Associations and the inspiration she provides to others
2006: Eric Brown of Waterville, for starting Gang Green, an environmentally focused group of teachers and students at Lawrence High School. Note: Eric was the winner of our first annual People’s Choice Award.