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The Goldman Environmental Prize Honors Heroes of the Earth

Gar Smith
Friday May 03, 2019 - 03:17:00 PM

On April 29, the Goldman Environmental Prize marked its 30th anniversary with a stellar event that included an extraordinary demonstration of "projection mapping" artistry (courtesy of Immersive) that turned the interior of San Francisco's Opera House into a cathedral of moving imagery with huge butterflies appearing to drop through the roof and flutter over the proscenium, only to dissolve into the next episode of eye-popping imagery—twin waterfalls that suddenly appeared to thunder down the stage walls to the floor. 

The event was hosted by Alexandra Cousteau (Jacques-Yves Cousteau's grand-daughter). The featured speaker was former VP Al Gore. Musical entertainment was provide by Michael Franti and Oakland's Vocal Rush choir. And, as usual, Robert Redford was the voice behind the inspiring mini-docs that introduced each of the year's six eco-heroes. 

Each winner was memorable and their victories inspirational. Some had colleagues who were murdered. Some were forced to flee their homes and seek asylum abroad. One winner, Chilean Mapuche land activist Alberto Curamil, was arrested and jailed in November 2018. His award was accepted by his daughter. (The Goldman's are activists as well as philanthropists, so, if you want to help free Alberto Curamil, you can go to 

Defending the Earth from plunder can be a dangerous business that requires an exceptional degree of commitment. During his speech, Alfred Brownell (forced to flee his native Liberia after successfully challenging the palm oil plantations that are destroying Indigenous lands) paused to admonish the audience for applauding. He suggested a better response: "Don't clap! Act!" 

You can watch the entire event below: