|An Arizona girl who organized a youth group to stop a
proposed hazardous-waste incinerator and a South African who united his racially divided
community to close an illegal toxic dump are among six winners of the 1998 Goldman
The awards were presented at
an Earth Day kickoff event in April, and now the San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental
Foundation is seeking nominations for its 1999 prizes. The total of $600,000 given
annually with "no strings attached" to heroes from each of the six continental
regions -- North America, South/Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Island Nations
-- makes it the world's largest award for grassroots environmentalists.
"They're looking for courageous individuals who have
been fighting the good environmental fight despite personal losses," said Stephen
Mills, Human Rights and the Environment Campaign director for the Sierra Club. "It's
important to recognize these people because they've given so much, sometimes losing their
livelihoods or facing harassment and harm for standing up for a cause."
Kory Johnson of Phoenix, Ariz., was awarded the prize this
year for founding Children for a Safe Environment. Johnson founded the group in 1989, when
she was just 9 years old, after her older sister had died from a heart problem doctors
suspect was caused by contaminated water. Johnson's group helped defeat the incinerator
proposed for a poor Arizona community, and now works on environmental health issues
Also honored was Berita KuwarU'wa, an indigenous Colombian
who has organized an international campaign to keep multinational oil companies from
drilling in his remote homeland. Oil is the element that holds the Earth together, in
their tradition; if it's extracted, their world would end. Kuwar and 5,000 other U'wa
tribe members have pledged to throw themselves off a 1,400-foot cliff if the unauthorized
drilling goes forward.
Honoree Anna Giordano launched a campaign in defense of
migrating raptors -- traditionally shot for sport by poachers in Sicily, where she lives
-- and has since lowered significantly the number of birds killed. In the process she
narrowly escaped a firebomb placed in her car by irate hunters.
Award-winner Hirofumi Yamashita of Japan has dedicated
more than 25 years to fighting a land-reclamation project planned for Isahaya Bay, one of
the richest wetlands in the world. Due to his efforts, the scale of the project was
Prize-winner Sven "Bobby" Peck of South Africa,
a native of the highly industrialized South Durban area who suffered from severe
respiratory illness as a youth, pulled together his diverse community to close an illegal
Atherton Martin of Dominica was honored for stopping a
proposed copper mine through extensive local and international organizing. The mining
operation would have devastated 10 percent of the island nation, which is mostly covered
with tropical rainforests and contains some of the greatest biodiversity in the Caribbean.
The deadline for nominations for the 1999 prize is July
15, 1998. Nominees don't have to be Sierra Club members.
For more information and details on how to nominate
someone, contact Stephen Mills
408 C St. N.E.,
Washington, DC 20002