Earth Day enjoys extended stay in NWA

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 138 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — The nation’s longest-running Earth Day festival resisted the urge to put on the longest awards ceremony at the first-ever Eco-Awards Celebration Monday (May 13) at Greenhouse Grille.

Presenters Steve Clark and Tracy Neal sped through 48 awards for the area’s “green, greener and greenest” businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Each winner received a certificate and a native plant.

“This is our green community here in full force,” emcee and organizer Mikel Lolley told the packed house at Greenhouse Grille. The awards honor those with the strongest commitment to sustainability, and to that end, the Eco-Awards were like the Oscars of the cause.

Heather Atripe of Ozark Natural Foods, Greenhouse Grille owner Jerrmy Gawthrop and Lori Boatright with the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market won “Best Green Business” awards in the order of “green,” “greener,” “greenest,” respectively. Fayetteville’s two mayoral candidates (so far) — Mayor Lioneld Jordan and former mayor Dan Coody — were there and won awards. Stephen Luoni with the University of Arkansas Community Designer Center and the group’s work on the Fayetteville trolley were recognized as greenest in the category for of “Best Sustainable Investment.”

The noise level rose considerably when Bill Ball of Power by the People accepted the greener award for “Best Green Technology.”

“Bill has been pushing the renewable energy rock — up hill — every since the ‘70s,” Lolley told the crowd.

It was no surprise that writer and activist Fran Alexander was the “Green Prix” winner, “which basically means she’s the greenest person in town,” said Lolley. Alexander is now the Green Will Ambassador for Fayetteville until a new Grand Prix winner is named at next year’s festival.

The awards ceremony capped the local 2012 Earth Day festival, now in its third year organized under Lolley. His first, the 2010 affair, included 20 events over a nine-day period. In order to incorporate elements of the Walton Arts Center’s Artosphere celebration, Lolley extended the festival to 50 events over 40 days and nights. Earth Day was April 22.

Lolley refers to himself as the Grand Poo Bah of Earth Day Northwest Arkansas; he deflects an official title, preferring to let the sustainability experts name their own. His day job is as vice president of stewardship for the nonprofit Treadwell Institute, which co-sponsored the Eco-Awards with Greenhouse Grille. Even before he took the reigns, an Earth Day festival in one form or another has been going on in Fayetteville longer than any other in country, dating back to the start of the green movement, which began in 1970.

After the Eco-Awards were all handed out, guests socialized some more, then took in the second annual Get Trashed Fashion Trashion show by Chadd Wilson. Models donned recycled clothing made from material, such as bubble wrap and pieces of vehicle tires.