The environment has fallen on tough times in the United States. We don’t believe in climate change; we don’t even believe in science. We no longer think it’s necessary that someone who believes in protecting the environment should oversee the agency charged with doing so. We deem it too hard to make fuel-efficient cars. And we’ve decided that the desire for clean air and clean water; fewer dangerous pesticides and more organically grown foods; better public transportation and fewer polluting cars; survival of more critically endangered species and preservation of more vitally important wild lands – the list goes on – are Democratic or Republican issues. Call me naive, but it seems to me if there is anything our profoundly divisive government should be able to work together on, it’s the preservation of our home, all of our homes – the planet Earth.

One bright spot in the gloom is that if the nation lacks the political will to do anything about our intractable environmental problems, we don’t lack for individuals and groups with such grit. For the third year, our Source Awards honor the nonprofits, businesses and individuals who are working in Maine to find replicable, real-world solutions to environmental challenges, large and small.

This year, we recognize a man who is working to get more local food on the tables of university students; a woman who is modeling a sustainable life for her community, and encouraging her neighbors to follow suit; a venerable outdoors organization that is making conservation viable – and accessible – in northern Maine; a librarian who pursued one small, seemingly nutty idea to “green” an ordinary product; a man who puts his money where is mouth is; a woman who took an old-fashioned idea, coupons, and gave it a new-fashioned environmental spin; a nonprofit that is helping small businesses figure out and implement the hard work of sustainability; and several young people who have convinced us that small family farms really do have a future.

As a small token of our deep appreciation for their work, we are again giving our award winners handsome, handmade bowls from woodworker Jeff Raymond (see page S11). In turn, they – along with the many impressive nominees for these awards – have given us something we desperately need this year: hope.