Announcing our 2020 Environmental Initiative Awards winners

The wait is over – it is time for the 2020 Environmental Initiative Awards! While this is the first time in the 26-year history that the Awards event will not convene in person, we remain committed to highlighting innovative, impactful and collaborative people and projects working in partnership at the nexus of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy and an equitable society.

The 2020 honorees truly jump off the screen with their stories – and we can’t wait for you to learn more about them.

Courageous Innovator: Kira Liu

Presented by Aveda 

Kira Liu is the Community Engagement Coordinator at Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy where she leads the Band Together Podcast and activation campaign for Climate Generation and is the co-editor of Eyewitness: Minnesota Voices on Climate Change, a collection of climate stories, poems, and artwork from Minnesotans across the state.

Critical Collaborator: Michael Chaney

Presented by Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Michael Chaney is an activist, storyteller, poet and founder of Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farm training program for youth in horticulture, entrepreneurship and marketing. Michael works to develop visions for climate justice to inspire and motivate action towards a better, more just, environmentally sound future.

Energy & Climate: Solar Possible

Presented by Stoel Rives 

Solar Possible is the first ever collaborative procurement process for solar on public buildings and lands in Minnesota aimed at overcoming clean energy barriers. Eight local government entities participated in Solar Possible, resulting in four public entities installing 2 Megawatts of solar power over 11 individual sites, which in return avoided 1,804 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Honorable Mention: Cities Charging Ahead!

Environmental Innovation: The CREATE Initiative

Presented by Environmental Law Group 

The CREATE Initiative advances research and education at the intersection of environment and equity through community engagement, interdisciplinary scholarship, and graduate training. Through the CREATE Scholars program, a new generation of researchers are trained to see across disciplinary boundaries that centers positionality, equity, and power by applying research in historically marginalized urban communities.

Honorable Mention: Turbid Lake Chain Drawdown

Large-Scale Sustainability Impacts: NativeGreen: Community Sustainability

Presented by Wenck 

NativeGreen is a community-wide effort to increase environmental stewardship, ensure long-term financial sustainability, and enhance social stewardship. This initiative reinforces the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s (SMSC) value of being a good steward of Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth).

Honorable Mention: BizRecycling

Local Sustainability Impacts: Spark-Y And Edison High School Green Campus

 Presented by Barr Engineering 

Spark-Y and Edison High School Green Campus catalyzed curriculum to provide students with the opportunity for hands-on learning about sustainability and entrepreneurship. This partnership is helping to reinvent education with an environmental and entrepreneurial edge to create a better, more prepared workforce and inspiring next-generation leaders who will be more cognizant of the necessity to live and work in a more sustainable world.

Honorable Mention: First We Should Consider Manoomin

Rural Vitality: Wolverton Creek Restoration

Presented by Houston Engineering  

Wolverton Creek Restoration is an ongoing restoration project working to improve over 800 acres of riverine habitat and expand buffers to contain the 10-year floodplain to reduce farm field erosion. The project engaged an estimated 450 landowners within the 105 square miles watershed to build support for this effort and deepen understanding of the need for healthy ecosystems, floodplain connectivity, and improved water quality.

Honorable Mention: RISE Together

Once again, congratulations to all of 2020 Environmental Initiative Awards honorees.